Two of my all-time favorite things are the classic bodybuilding film, Pumping Iron and the British heavy metal group, Iron Maiden (up the irons!).
Both have heavily influenced my life personally and professionally, and while I’m not about to put ’em in a duel to see who’d come out ahead, today I thought I’d share a li’l background (and possible similarities?) behind the two “Irons” that have been my biggest inspirations.
In The Beginning…
Pumping Iron: Released in 1977. According to IMDb, it’s classified as a “Documentary/Sports” film. Brought the sport of bodybuilding into mainstream consciousness.
Iron Maiden: Formed in 1975 (first album released in 1980). Led the charge of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal [NWOBHM].
Pumping Iron: Stars champion bodybuilders Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu (also competed in the first “World’s Strongest Man” competition), Mike Katz (formerly of the NY Jets) and many others
Iron Maiden: The band is the creation of bassist/songwriter Steve Harris. He turned down a career in professional soccer to pursue his musical vision. Singer Bruce Dickinson excels at the sport of fencing. Guitarist Adrian Smith loves fishing while drummer Nicko McBrain and guitarist Dave Murray are both avid golfers.
Pumping Iron: Features bodybuilder, turned action hero, turned governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Iron Maiden: Features a larger-than-life mascot named “Eddie” – once pictured on the cover of the single “Sanctuary” wielding a knife while standing above the lifeless body of then British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Pumping Iron: Arnold is seen smoking marijuana in one scene and has also admitted to steroid use.
Iron Maiden: No newsworthy drug use (other than early singer Paul DiAnno’s cocaine problems but he’s been out of the band since 1981), but as full-blooded Englishmen, they have been known to enjoy a pint of beer now and then.
Pumping Iron: Released in Japan in 1986
Iron Maiden: Released live EP, “Maiden Japan” in 1981
Pumping Iron: Arnold went on to become a major Hollywood star and governor of California. Co-star Lou Ferrigno never was able to capture the Mr. Olympia title, but he did have a starring role as the alter-ego of Dr. David Bruce Banner in the 1977-1982 Incredible Hulk TV series.
Iron Maiden: Front man Bruce Dickinson also has a successful solo career on the side (and is even a licensed pilot, often taking the band to gigs aboard the “Bruce Goose”)
Pumping Iron: I once worked out with a friend near Monticello, Indiana in a gym that was converted from a church. At one end of the gym, smack in the middle of the outline where a cross once hung was a poster of Arnold‘s classic black & white side chest pose. How’s that for fan-appreciation?
Iron Maiden: Even with limited air play, they’ve sold over 80 million albums world-wide.
Pumping Iron: You can still find Arnold‘s “long lost workout” in bodybuilding magazines
Iron Maiden: Quickly sell out stadiums worldwide to this day
If only the producers of Pumping Iron had the foresight to use Iron Maiden‘s music as a soundtrack, my world would be absolutely perfect.