Published on www.markcordory.com on 30.12.2019
Author: Mark Cordory
I've been meaning to tell this story for a few years: the story behind us landing the job to make Eddie for Iron Maiden's ‘Fear of the Dark’ album back in 1991-92.
So please; put your comfy slippers on, settle yourselves in your favourite chair by the log fire and top up your glass of finest single malt whiskey - are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin…
Our story takes place sometime back in the dim and distant past of 1990 when MC Hammer, New Kids On The Block and They Might Be Giants ruled the airwaves (at least they did here in the UK) – they were simpler times.
I was working for my friend and mentor Bill Talbot at his small props company ‘Talismen’ in Cardiff back then and we were busy on such UK childhood staples as ‘Knightmare’ and ‘Maid Marian And Her Merry Men’ and generally enjoying life covered in plaster and stinking of latex and fibreglass.
One day a couple of blokes who we’d never seen before, Phill and Trevor, turned up at the workshop. They explained that they were really interested in getting into music videos, somehow they’d found out about us but I honestly don’t remember how, (don’t forget, this was pre-internet, even the dial-up sort!), but find us they had.
Phill and Trevor discussed how they wanted to go and visit some major music artists and see if they could get a job producing music videos for them, names like Kate Bush, Iron Maiden and Peter Gabriel were mentioned which certainly got me interested since I was a fan of all 3. They were looking to do something that would get them to stand out from the crowd – would we be interested in working together?
Bill and I figured it was a long shot but worth a try, so we agreed and they duly went off and made a few phone calls. Eventually they got an appointment to go and see Sanctuary Records, (Iron Maiden’s label) in London and for some reason I suggested dressing up as a zombie as a way to show off the sort of things we could do, (please don’t ask me why, it honestly seemed like a good idea at the time because, y’know – IRON MAIDEN DUDE!).
They also seemed to figure it was a good idea for whatever reason, and so the day arrived and I went into the workshop at around 5am to put the prosthesis on.
On my own.
I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to look at the side of your own head to check whether the edges are blended in properly, but it turns out it’s remarkably difficult – who knew?!
Photograph courtesy Phill Anstice
Anyway, after a couple of hours I eventually managed to apply the makeup in the photo (this photo was taken by Phill when he and Trevor arrived to pick me up that morning, looking back on it now it's not a particularly great prosthesis, but it was 30 years ago, and I was applying it to myself so I guess I won't be too hard on it), I was going to end up wearing this for around 10 hours straight with numerous trips to various toilets to do touch-up throughout the day ahead.
As a last minute thought I grabbed a corpse prop that we had kicking around the workshop and slung it over my shoulder – we were ready to go.
So, since our appointment with Sanctuary wasn’t until after lunch, it turned out that Phill had decided to take a bit of a detour and drop by at Box Studios in Bath – Peter Gabriel’s studio, just on the off-chance that we could get an impromptu meeting with him.
Seemed worth a shot.
This was also pre-SatNav days and so it took us a while to actually find the studios but eventually we arrived, pulled up the drive and parked in front of a pair of steel mesh security gates with an intercom.
Oh, did I mention the guard dogs? No? Ah…
Well, as Phill and Trevor got out of the car to go and ring the buzzer two quite impressively large German Shepherds arrived on the other side of the mesh gates – and I’m not talking the sort who wander the Bavarian Alps looking for lost lambs, I’m talking the type with really big teeth and jaws like bear traps. I decided, all things considered, that I’d stay in the car and cuddle the corpse.
They gave Phill and Trevor a warm, welcoming low growl and showed us just how nice their teeth were. However, the intercom was answered after a short while, and after a couple of minutes of explanation, they were admitted through the side gate.
I stayed. And so did the German Shepherds.
It’s remarkably difficult to look friendly and non-threatening when you’re dressed up like dead meat, and since the car was parked only a few yards from the gate we all 3 spent a few happy minutes eyeing up each other and wondering whether that gate was really as sturdy as it looked.
Thankfully Phill and Trevor returned within a few minutes - surprisingly Peter wasn’t in so; “Thanks for the enquiry, we’ll let him know you called” (although if the security camera was working I suspect it was equally the case of “Nope”, definitely not, tell them to bugger off”). So they hopped back in the car and we left.
I’m sure the dogs were sad to see their All-You-Can-Eat buffet leave though…
Anyway, one down, one to go so off we headed once again to Olde London Town.
If you’ve ever tried parking in London you’ll know it’s not easy, so we trawled around the streets for a while, (getting the occasional odd look from whoever spotted me and the corpse sitting in the back seat) until we found a space within reasonable walking distance of the Sanctuary offices and parked. We still had a couple of hours to kill before our appointment so we decided to grab a pub lunch in the meantime.
Slinging the corpse over my shoulder we headed off to a nearby pub for a hearty meal of pie ‘n’ mash ‘n’ peas ‘n’ gravy, (which as you all know is the only meal available in London).
I remember the pub was a pretty traditional London pub – bottle glass windows, dim lighting, dark wood walls, cosy booths with shabby cushioned benches, suspicious looking locals who’d probably taken an hour off from murderin’ and dodgy dealings with shady types in dark fog-shrouded, gas lamp-lit alleyways – that sort of place, probably called The Slug & Gristle or something like that.
So in we walked. Fair do’s though, the landlord didn’t try to beat me to death with a cricket bat.
I turns out that another surprisingly tricky thing to do in full prosthesis with and extra set of teeth, (besides not looking tasty to a couple of German Shepherds) is eat.
And drink a pint.
Guinness really doesn’t taste the same through a straw and pies have to be cut up into really small chunks. Unfortunately you also can’t eat mash or peas (even the mushy sort) through a straw, but I gave the gravy a good seeing to.
Food consumed, pint drunk with minimal spillage and locals confused, I headed off to the toilets to touch up my makeup and wipe away the remnants of mash and Guinness froth, which made me look like I was developing early-stage rabies, and we headed out to walk to our appointment.
I’ll give this to the people who work at Sanctuary Records – they must’ve seen some shit in their time, because the receptionist barely batted an eyelid at me walking in behind Phil and Trevor.
After this it all became a bit of a blur, (possibly because by that point I'd been up since 4.30am and had had a pint of Guinness on a pretty much empty stomach - I'm not sure of the calorific value of gravy).
I remember we were shown up to the offices and introduced to the two guys who we were booked to see, and again, barely a raised eyebrow at the corpse and the zombie that was lugging it. But I guess if you work for Iron Maiden…
The meeting was polite and relatively brief, I think we spent maybe 15-20 minutes in there while Phill and Trevor did their spiel and I sat quietly to one side holding my corpse. Eventually the meeting was over and we all stood up, they said thanks for coming and shook hands. The only comment I had right at the end was; “Nice outfit by the way” – and that was it.
We walked back to the car and I tore off as much of the makeup as I could along the way; the human face really isn’t designed to be encased in latex for that long and with all the sweat that had built up, (much of it pooled in my chin by that point) it didn’t take long to remove the main pieces and let my skin breath fresh air at last – FREEDOM!
We chatted about the day on the journey home, wondering if we’d hear from them and eventually arrived back in Cardiff late afternoon/early evening where Phill dropped me off and I spent another hour or so in the workshop scrubbing off the remaining glue and latex and pulling out any that had stuck in my hair, (along with a fair bit of the hair itself) and finally went home to enjoy my first real solid food of the day.
We didn’t hear a thing from Sanctuary for almost a year I think, (and absolutely nothing at all from Peter Gabriel or Kate Bush who we also submitted concepts to - which wasn't a complete surprise TBH), and we’d all pretty much forgotten about it until Bill had a call one day in 1991.
“You’ll never guess who that was!”
“Sanctuary Records, they want us to design and make an Eddie for Iron Maiden’s next album!”
“You’re shitting me?”
“GET IN!!!” (...or at least words to that effect).
And so that’s what we did. I got the job of producing various concepts for them which we submitted to Sanctuary.
There was a fair bit of back and forth and eventually I ended up talking to Bruce Dickinson on the phone where he explained that what he and his wife were really inspired by was the demon figure from the ‘Night On Bald Mountain’ segment in Disney’s ‘Fantasia’, so that’s where the concept went and how we ended up with a winged figure.
Bill gave me the task of sculpting the final figure, and it was cast in latex and foam-filled in sections, (eventually – our first try at filling the body mould with around 50ltrs of liquid latex ended up with the mould seams splitting under the pressure and spilling about half of it all over the workshop floor which was fun…), before being assembled and finally painted.
(Laying up the clay wall around the original body sculpt prior to moulding - sadly this is the only photo I have of the original sculpt)
The painted figure prior to the addition of the teeth and eyes.
The photos for the album were shot by Phill at Margam Park in South Wales UK, (so thankfully he did eventually get something out of the trip too), and we spent a full day dressing the set and installing Eddie.
(The finished Eddie figure being installed on set - yup, that's me)
The figure was supported on an engine hoist hidden behind him (in the first photo below you can just make out the support at the back of his head).
Phill took a number of photos of him once he'd been installed, and personally these are still my favourite shots of him.
The following day the band arrived in their tour bus for their turn on the set and I got to meet all of them prior to the photo shoot, they seemed a genuinely nice bunch of blokes from my very brief meeting with them, I kinda wish I’d got autographs on one of the original sketches but live and learn eh?
(A couple of the photos from Phill's shoot that made it onto the final album
And that’s basically how it happened.
The figure eventually ended up on the CD insert and the design made it onto various promotional pieces such as tee shirts and a huge stage banner for their tour that year.
Talismen got mentioned on the sleeve credits (although I seem to remember that it was spelled wrong?), but I don’t think I got a specific mention, I’d check but I can’t seem to find my copy alas, the cats have probably knocked it down the back of the shelf as they do with most things so it’ll probably turn up one day.
As to the tee shirts; I completely failed to get myself one at the time, however, following the posting of this story recently on my Facebook Creations Page, I did finally get a very kind donation of an original Monsters Of Rock tee shirt with my Eddie on so all is well at long last.
As a final note; the original head from this Eddie still exists in the personal collection of an Iron Maiden fan and memorabilia collector, considering his age he's not looking too bad!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this little anecdote from my brief foray into the world of Rock Gods, maybe next time I'll tell you all about how we made the dragon Smirkenorff for Anglia TV's 'Knightmare' series and how they fitted a horse in a lift, but that's a story for another day...
Many thanks for reading.
Source of the article and images: www.markcordory.com
Author: Mark Cordory
Edited and translated by: Lyubomir Baliev