It’s not that often when metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture. So when metal/hard rock acts do actually pop up in beloved sitcoms, dramatic films, cartoons or even reality series, it’s kind of awesome. So in the weekly column Remember When, Metal Insider recalls the most random instances of metal’s elite appearing in front of the camera.
Remember when Iron Maiden got a plug on Mr. Belvedere? Well, if you blinked, you may have missed it, but just the placement of a Maiden poster on prime-time, network television in the mid-1980’s was something big – especially in an immediate post-PMRC world.
In the episode of the sitcom that aired on September 26, 1986 titled “The Thief” (Maiden’s Somewhere In Time album was released just three days later), the character of Heather gets her first job at a record store, when she sheepishly allows a boy she’s courting to shoplift piles of records at a time. The poster is spotted during a scene, just over Heather’s shoulder, when the two are having a rather intense conversation at the record store.
What’s even more impressive about the appearance of an Iron Maiden poster is that during the remainder of the scenes in the record store, most of the other posters and albums shown are very much in the whitewashed Tears For Fears/Simple Minds/A-Ha pop vein of the era, with no other artist really being able to be distinguished (although when Heather’s crush first comes into the store, he asks for the new David Lee Roth album). The classic red Iron Maiden font upon the wall is easily visible above the pastel-colored circus below. For the show’s producers to deem Maiden cool enough for a visible headshot, especially in a TV era still very much family-centric in moral fiber, that was huge. The exact era of the poster is questionable, although it leads one to believe it may be from either the World Piece tour or World Slavery run, with a blurred yet unmistakable Eddie at the forefront of the shot.
While it would have been every 80’s kid’s spit-out-your-drink laugh riot to see Mr. Belvedere’s greying, mustachioed star Christopher Hewitt humming a few lines to “Wasted Years,” the presence of Maiden, in poster form, was a feat back in ’86.
Was there a closet Iron Maiden fan on the show? Could Tracy Wells, who played Heather Owens, have been rocking “Powerslave” in her dressing room? There was another Maiden mention on the show titled “The Outcasts” that aired in March of 1985. Heather’s character becomes a member of “The Iron Maidens,” which is said to be a community service club. The club’s main focus is reading books to elderly nursing home residents, which makes the name of the club seem that much more irrelevant and absurd, and further stokes our curiosity about someone in the Mr. Belvedere camp being into Maiden.
Clever marketing? Mere coincidence? Whether or not someone on the set was an actual Iron Maiden fan is anyone’s guess, but it’s clear that the name of one of the world’s greatest metal bands was indeed alive and well on 1980’s American television.