As Maiden entered the 90’s their sound and lineup changed. Bruce singing was also notable change and we clearly witnessed how the band entered a new stage in their career!
“Fear Of The Dark” represents the end of another era for Iron Maiden - after the tour, Bruce Dickinson left the band to continue with his solo career until his return in 1999. Unfortunately, one can almost sense Dickinson's discontentment on this album. He continues the rough and raspy style of singing that we first heard in “No Prayer for the Dying” album and on a few songs it sounds like he has completely lost his voice.
“Fear Of The Dark” also marks the first time in Maiden's career when the cover artwork is not by Derek Riggs. The 'new' Eddie was eventually supplied by Melvyn Grant, and is no less gruesome than you would expect him to be. The band actually took the somewhat surprising step of inviting other artists as well as Eddie-originator Derek Riggs to come up with ideas for the “Fear Of The Dark” sleeve.
"We just wanted to see if we could do something new with Eddie," explains Steve. "It didn't mean we didn't want Derek involved again, we just thought for the album sleeve itself, we would try and go for something a bit different this time." The painting that Derek suggested and never finished was Demon-Eddie looking figure leaning over the bed of its victim, probably something like a nightmare figure with a long thongue and sharp nails. Apparently that’s when the band decided to go with the really scary and better looking Tree-Eddie picture.
Derek actually did some amazing artworks for the following “A Real Live/Dead” albums and the “Be Quick Or Be Dead” “Fear Of The Dark Live” and “Hallowed Be thy Name Live” singles. In my opinion these are one of the last good images that Derek did for the band (Not counting the “Best Of The Beast”compilation and the “Virus” LP single). The most important thing is that they are done using the “classic way” – Oil paintings. In the later years Derek would be working for the band quite rarely and because of his health issues he will start to make his paintings digitally. The most Typical in the classic painting of Riggs is that they have so much atmosphere, dimension and attention to details that cannot be done proper by any other artist working for the band so far!
The “Be Quick or be Dead” single image done by Riggs is using the well-known formula of Eddie attacking a politician or a media celebrity (see Sanctuary). The cover itself depicts Eddie strangling a character who bear an uncanny resemblance to Robert Maxwell, a press tycoon who was at the time involved in a financial scandal, with a collage of newspaper clippings in the background. All of the clippings appear to be related to various scandals and corruption, which matches the topic of the song.
Robert Maxwell Robert Maxwell (1923 - 1991) had taken a vast amount of money from two of his public companies and from employee pension funds in order to try and prevent his business empire from collapsing. At the time of the release of the single, Maxwell had recently died in mysterious circumstances, his body having been recovered from the sea off the Canary Islands after he had been reported missing from his private yacht. These causes of his death remain a mystery to this day was it murder? Suicide? No conclusive evidence seems to have been found. In any case, he was a rotten businessman and the symbol of financial corruption and misdemeanor, and this is probably the reason why Riggs and Maiden chose to put his image on the front cover of a single whose A-side song deals with this very topic.
Another interesting artwork is for the “Hallowed Be Thy Name Live” Single. Where Eddie is illustrated as a devil figure stabbing Bruce Dickinson with his trident and holding him above the fires of Hell. This might be the band and Derek’s joke on Bruce leaving the band! This is not the first time this happens after all. In the end of 1981 The concert EP "Maiden Japan" is released. The EP is recorded during the tour of the band in Japan. The cover shows Eddie with samurai sword. Shortly after the release of this EP Paul DiAnno was fired. Cover of the copies are not yet released (Venezuela) were it was changed with Cover of Eddie holding the head of Paul DiAnno.
Another interesting artwork from this album era was done by Mark Wilkinson, who worked with bands like Marillion, Fish and Judas Priest. Mark was approached by Bravado [tour merchandise company] who wanted him to design the mascot for the 1992 edition of Monsters Of Rock Festival. Of course because Maiden were the headliners they wanted an Eddie based on a winged character, which got made into a stage dressing and then used a few years later from Maiden themselves for the live album Live At Donington. That was when Mark met Rod Smallwood who was really happy with the result and said that he is glad to meet an artist who understands that Eddie isn't just a skull. This actually gave the opportunity for mark to work on various Artworks form maiden through the years like “The Book Of Souls”, “The Wickerman”, “Out Of the silent Planet”, “Best Of The B-Sides” and “Eddie’s Archive Box”.
You can find an Interview with Mark Wilkinson here.