23rd May 1980
'Sanctuary' first appeared on the
Metal For Muthas compilation, but was released again as a single a few
months later after the release of the first album. However, this version of 'Sanctuary'
was a new and better recording of the original song, which rose as high as 29 in the
U.K. charts. The Sanctuary single sleeve picture also supposedly exposed
the band to their first taste of public controversy, with its depiction of Eddie wielding
a knife over the dead body of
Margaret Thatcher who had presumably been caught in the act of tearing down
an Iron Maiden poster. Maggie Thatcher was the Conservative
Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time, and had been nicknamed the "Iron
Maiden" by the press after her tough negotiations with the Soviet Union.
So in a sense the Sanctuary sleeve was a mild pun linking this political 'Iron
Maiden' with the musical Iron Maiden. However, it was viewed as particularly bad taste
by the British media, and, according to the legend, drew condemnation from Margaret
According to the official Iron Maiden biography written by Mick Wall, the sleeve picture
was censored on most of the Sanctuary singles with a black bar over the face
of the slain woman, thus masking her identity. Still, a great deal of controversy was
said to have been generated, which predictably only served to provide free publicity
for the band.
However, in an
given in May 2001 to www.ytsejam.com, Derek Riggs was asked if he had taken any flak
from the media about this, along with the band. He then declared:
"The "flak" for that single (Margaret Thatcher being knifed by Eddie,
from the song lyric "[I've] never killed a woman before but I know how it feels"
– lovely state of mind...) was invented by the band's management. They
"banned" it and they put the black square over her face and then they
showed it to the press and cried "censorship", but there really wasn't any.
The flak was all imaginary and self-generated for publicity. It's an old trick and it
nearly always sells records... go and ask all the rappers who swear on their records
all the time, if it depressed the record sales they would soon stop doing it."
This explanation would indeed make sense considering what a shrewd businessman
Rod Smallwood is. Besides, it is quite unlikely that Riggsy would lie about this story
some 20 years later, even considering his fallout with Maiden.
Rod Smallwood's comments are taken from the
Best Of The B'Sides album booklet included in the
Eddie's Archive box.