Iron Maiden may have enjoyed their biggest commercial success with singer Bruce Dickinson at the helm, but it was original singer Paul Di'Anno who played an important role in the British metal quintet's early formative days. Born on May 15, 1956, Di'Anno grew up in England - spending his teenage years singing in various rock bands and working as a butcher and chef. He befriended bass player Steve Harris, who was looking to find a replacement for a singer that just left his up-and-coming heavy metal band in 1977, Iron Maiden. Di'Anno tried out and got the gig, but times were tough for the band initially, as punk rock was at its apex in Britain, with many considering metal a dead dinosaur.

But with the emergence of several new metal bands (Def Leppard, Saxon, Motörhead, Judas Priest, etc.), Iron Maiden soon found themselves as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. 1979 saw the release of Maiden's self-issued debut recording, The Soundhouse Tapes, which instantly sold out its initial pressing of 6,000 copies, as the band built a devoted following. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide