The Role of Sanctuary Management in Iron Maiden’s career 1978-1980 Pt2.

Demographic for Iron Maiden in 1978-1980

In the period concerning this article which is Iron Maiden early years, the audience was of a similar age to the musicians: late teens, early twenties. Musically the band appealed to rock audiences who did not or had stopped relating to old heavy metal acts such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and to those who did not like Punk music which was at its peak at the time.

Iron Maiden went against-the-grain for its time, they stuck to what they wanted to do and this earned them respect from a very loyal fanbase up until today.

What other artists Iron Maiden toured with

In the early days Iron Maiden often toured with other bands from the so called movement ‘NWOBHM’ such as Praying Mantis, Urchin, Samson, Tygers of Pan Tang. In 1980 they were asked by Motorhead to support a charity benefit gig at the Music Machine in Camden (Wall, 2004:97). For later European/US tours the band share the stage with, at the time, bigger bands like KISS and Judas Priest.

Iron Maiden Management Company

Rod Smallwood – Iron Maiden Manager and co-counder of Sanctuary Group

The management company was called (and it still is) Sanctuary Management and it was started by Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor to exclusively deal with Iron Maiden affairs. Rod would work on the music business side with is vast music industry knowledge and Andy would deal with the legal and financial aspects (Wall, 2004:74).

Signing of Iron Maiden.

Rod Smallwood (Iron Maiden’s manager) didn’t approach any major London record companies until the band had reached enough of a buzz around themselves as to be taken seriously by A&R representatives. The turning point was the October issue of ‘Sound’ magazine which featured Iron Maiden on the cover and a full interview inside. Rod seized the opportunity and organised a gig at the Marquee (Wardour Street) to which he invited A&R reps from EMI CBS, A&M and Warner Bros. An incredible effort was made to ensure this would be the best Iron Maiden gig to date. The venue was postered with black and white pictures of the band, the back of the stage was decorated with Maiden’s own backdrop and T-shirts were sold at the venue foyer. Also the venue window was adorned with a death head mask

While CBS and Warner turned down the band’s request for a record deal, EMI representative John Darley was said to be very impressed by the band and wrote an enthusiastic report to his boss Brian Shepherd (EMI head of A&R) , who was persuaded to go and check the band personally ten days later. That very same night (in September 1979), at the Neal Kay’s Bandwagon Soundhouse, Brian Shepherd of EMI offered the band a deal based on their performance, the fact that they had their own fanbase and the atmosphere they generated. (Rod Smallwood had previously made contacts with EMI when managing Cockney Rebel who was signed to the label).

However, the deal negotiations would last for two months, Rod Smallwood wanted to make sure that the deal with EMI was, in his own words: ‘a long term one and not just one where they can opt out if the first album isn’t an immediate hit’ (Wall, 2004:101)

Instead of resting on their laurels, Rod would keep the band on a busy schedule to ‘keep the name of Iron Maiden as much in the public eye as possible’. They decided to release 5000 vinyl copies with three of the four tracks demo as an EP called ‘The Soundhouse Tapes’ under their own label called Rock Hard Records. This release and the band being featured in the ‘Sound’ magazine made the band’s commercial potential evident to EMI.

The deal that Rod Smallwood reached with EMI was according to Mick Wall (2004:105) ‘a very clever an unusual for the time’ and it was one driven by creativity rather than by cash. The deal itself was for five-albums, plus a £50,000 advance on recording costs, to be spread over three albums. A big advance was not something Rod was looking for but a long-term commitment from the record company (Wall, 2004:105). Rod looked to protect the integrity of his act rather than pursue a big advance from EMI. Also, creative control was and has always been in Iron Maiden’s hands.

An important clause that Rod managed to insert in the contract stated that EMI did not have an option to drop the band until after the third album had been released (Wall, 2004: 105)

By Juan David Lopez, Legal Consultant

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Images source: Adels