Iron Maiden is one of the best known and most popular heavy metal bands of all. During the 1980s, Maiden was one of the biggest bands in the world, undertaking tours that would last for years at a time and developing more and more elaborate stage shows for each until they became virtual circuses of enormous proportions. Their album sales eclipsed those of almost every other artist on their label (EMI) for several years and almost all of their singles from that decade did good business on the British charts. After Smith left however the band began to falter and after two more lacklustre albums Dickinson also quit the band for a solo career. The first Blaze Bayley album is an under-rated classic, very different in style and outlook for the band but in the mid-90s Maiden was at its lowest ebb. 'Virtual XI' showed a marked lack of creativity and Bayley was fired, allowing for the return of Smith and Dickinson for the very strong comeback album 'Brave New World', perhaps one of their very best albums. Since then Iron Maiden has seen a reversal of fortune and returned strongly to favour, although the albums since 'Brave New World' have been rather formulaic.
Iron Maiden helped to define heavy metal and their influence on the music world in general has been enormous.