This was Iron Maiden's first single. It was written by the band's bass player Steve Harris and Paul Di'Anno, who was their original lead singer. In our interview with Di'Anno, he explained that the musical idea was based on the beat from the Gary Glitter song "Rock And Roll Part 2." Said Di'Anno: "It was the same drum beat, we just sped it up a little bit."
This song is about living a life of hell and unrest, and enjoying the freedom that comes with it. Lead singer Paul Di'Anno says it was based on true tales of his youth. He told us: "I've always been a rebel. I don't know why, I just don't like conforming to the norm if I can help it. I don't respect authority, which is a bit unfortunate, as it's a bad thing for me sometimes!"
The cover art featured a one-armed junkie skeleton watching lead singer Paul Di'Anno run. This was an early version of Eddie, the band's mascot. Since "Running Free" was their first single, this creature appeared only in shadow form in this version, as they wanted to wait for the album release to make the full reveal.
The band was invited to perform this on BBC-TV's Top of the Pops, where the musical acts typically mimed their performances. Iron Maiden refused to lip-synch, and said they'd only appear if they could perform live. The BBC agreed, and they became the first band to perform live on the show since The Who six years earlier.
Ryan from Pataskala, OhBruce Dickinson was on the recording of the 1985 live single, but I don't believe he ever participated in a studio recording.
Caitlin from Colmesneil, TxIt's not Bruce Dickinson on the cover. It was a picture of what the kid might look like running down the street (the song is about a sixteen-year-old boy who runs away from home). The fact that it looks like Bruce was just a big coincidence... though fitting considering Bruce did have a troubled childhood. His parents didn't want anything to do with him when he was little because he was conceived accidentally, he was raised by his grandparents, when his parents finally did get custody of him when he was thirteen they shipped him off to boarding school (which he was kicked out of at sixteen), and his mother has told him that the only reason he's here is "because the damn doctor's abortion didn't take", all stuff kids have run away over. It's sad...
Nikhil from Mumbai, Indiamy favourite maiden track!
Jeff from Baltimore, MdDid Bruce Dickinsin ever do a studio version of this song?
Kevin from Campbell River, CanadaThe best version I've ever heard of this song was when they played it on a German Rock & Pop show. It was when Adrian Smith first joined the band and it was just awesome.
Oscar from Stockholm, SwedenThe line "Out of money, out of luck" tells that the song is about someone with a gambling habit. "Spent the night at an L.A. jail" tells that the gambler probably had some unpaid debts or something...I think...
IngÃ?lfur from ReykjavÃ?k, Icelandthis was the first time Eddie appeared
Erik from Franklin Square, NyYea, the lead singer at that time was Paul D'ianno, and Eddie didn't really have one arm, the other arm was at his side, out of view.
Lp from Chandler, AzBruce Dickinson wasn't the singer on this record, it was Paul Dianno.