A Tribute to Eddie... The wonderful work of Derek Riggs.
In the late 1970s a young British artist named Derek Riggs came up with a character with punk rock hair a t-shirt and the body of a decaying corpse. In his twenties Rigg's would never of dreamed that this image he first titled " Electric Matthew " would for two decades be the face of everything cool in metal album cover illustration. The creature was inspired by a photo taken of a (so called) American soldiers head on a Vietnamese tank. The disturbing image stuck in Rigg's head and he did his first painting of Electric Matthew shown (at the end of the pictures) years later. After completing the painting he showed it to his agent and with a discouraging nod was told at the time... "That image is not commercial enough" Oh how those words would be eaten later.
Derek was doing album covers for EMI and his work was first noticed by Iron Maiden's manager. Wanting to see more a meeting was set up to see Derek's portfolio. "Electric Matthew" still held a place in Derek's heart and he kept him in his book. The early 80's was a magical time for illustrators because after punk Heavy Metal was just beginning to make a slow comeback since the days of Led Zepplin and Black Sabbath. Promotors and managers were always looking for slick painted gimmicks and hooks to attract new fans to a newer and louder style of metal music. Molly Hatchet was the earliest to do this with Frank Frazetta "Death Dealer" covers in the 70's. Derek was in the right place at the right time and his work was loved at Wessex Recording Studios where the entire band rehearsed. As he showed his portfolio he gained an instant fan. Steve Harris, bass player for Iron Maiden saw "Electric Matthew". Maiden had a self titled album coming out and Harris in his strong English voice to paraphrase stated " We do not not want typical paintings of half nude women and fantasy on this cover like every other band was doing." It then happened "Eddie / Electric Matthew" came out of the womb "Add more hair and we will take this painting just as it is" proclaimed the band. Eddie had arrived for the first time on the Iron Maiden self titled album. After a make over on their second album "Killers", Electric Matthew" had changed the world over into "Eddie." Rigg's and the revised Eddie began a two decade relationship as the exclusive icon for the band. Iron Maiden and Rigg's banked on "EDDIE" by including this character in fantastic stage shows, huge album releases, posters and some of the most popular concert t-shirts and merchandise of all time.
Rigg's worked in Acrylics in the earlier days then later transitioned to a combination of computer and traditional techniques. He was inspired as a child by Salvadore Dali and comic book artists like Jack Kirby. He tried his hand at comics unsuccessfully and later turned to more realistic illustration in his early twenties. Derek Rigg's and "Eddie" will always be a huge inspiration to me. My second painting ever done in my life was an incredible crude Derek Rigg's Iron Maiden "Number of the Beast" album cover done on a piece of poster board when I was twelve years old. Eddie had a lasting impression on me then and even today. His work is incredible.
Thanks Derek and keep up the great work. Enjoy the pics.
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