Lady Gaga and Iron Maiden have a longstanding mutual respect that might surprise some, but we’re absolutely here for it

Lady Gaga and Iron Maiden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Anyone who’s even loosely followed Lady Gaga’s career over the last 15 years knows she has a special affinity for rock music. The pop megastar, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, has made no secret of the influence that British rock icons Queen have had on her art, or the inspiration she’s taken from the likes of Kiss when it comes to her love of stagecraft and big-ass live shows. Then, of course, there was her iconic, if chaotic, collaboration with Metallica at the 2017 Grammys.

If there’s one band in history that Gaga has most proudly gone to bat for, however, it might just be Iron Maiden. The heavy metal legends have struck up a longstanding mutual respect with the chameleonic singer-songwriter, dating back well over a decade; in 2011, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Gaga gushed over a Maiden concert she had attended earlier that week, stating: “It was just awesome.”

Gaga had begun the show watching, as most major celebrities would, from a corporate box high up in the venue. When the band launched into hallmark anthem The Number Of The Beast, however, she rushed out of the box and into the crowd itself, mixing it up with the pleasantly surprised metalheads suddenly finding themselves in the presence of pop royalty.

“We were dancing and singing and everyone was just so into it,” she recalled joyfully. “Jumping and dancing… I mean, it was like absolute no judgment, no prejudice, [just] freedom and love for music. It doesn’t matter who you are; you don’t need to know anything about music to love it. Everybody was hugging me, high-fiving, fist-pumps in the air.”

Gaga even went one step further in her praise of the show, noting that the relationship the band have with their famously passionate fanbase had inspired her on a professional level. “The devotion of the fans moving in unison, pumping their fists, watching the show, when I see that, I see the paradigm for my future and the relationship I want to have with my fans,” she explained. “Iron Maiden‘s never had a hit song, and they tour stadiums around the world, and their fans live, breathe and die for Maiden, and that is my dream. That is my dream.” Photos would soon emerge of Gaga posing with members of the band backstage after the concert, quickly going viral within both the online metal community and Gaga’s own fanbase of ‘Little Monsters’.

Four years later, Gaga would appear on the cover of high-end fashion publication CR Fashion Book, making a point of wearing a Maiden shirt for the shoot. “I wore my own personal Number Of The Beast tee-shirt on a major fashion cover,” she said on Twitter afterrwards. “I’m so proud to be a fan.”

“They’re one of the greatest rock bands in history, in my opinion,” she told CR Fashion Book in the accompanying interview. “Some people really don’t know the importance of metal and the scope of it. Those guys were filling stadiums, and they still are.

“And it’s because of the culture of the music, the poetry that’s so powerful, that whenever the fans come together they unite in the essence of what Iron Maiden is all about,” she continued. “I always used to say to people, when they would say, ‘Oh, she’s the next Madonna.’ No, I’m the next Iron Maiden.”

The appreciation was very much reciprocated by Iron Maiden themselves. Responding to Gaga’s comments a few weeks after the CR Fashion Book interview, Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson told Corus Radio: “I think she’s great, and I agree with her: she’s not the next Madonna; she’s way better than that.

“First of all, she can sing – she’s got a belter of a voice,” he explained. “She’s a really good instrumentalist. And, I mean, she’s got a great sense of drama. And anybody that could turn up to an awards ceremony dressed as a bacon sandwich gets my vote. I mean, she’s great.”

Speaking to Metal Hammer last year, Iron Maiden founder, bassist and band leader Steve Harris discussed meeting Gaga back in 2011 at the metal titans’ own show.

“Yeah, she came to one of our gigs,” he recalled. “My youngest, Maisie, she’s 20 now, but she was pretty young at the time; she had her little mates there and she had her photo done with her.

“I didn’t talk to her much,” Harris admitted, noting that the band’s drummer, Nicko McBrain, was “full on with it all, larger than life character that he is.” “I just said hello and stuff like that, asked if she minded having a photo with me daughter, that was about it,” he added. “And my daughter said: ‘Daddy, why has she got no clothes on?’ She didn’t have much covering her up! I said, ‘I’ve got no idea!'”

While it seems unlikely we’ll ever get a Gaga/Maiden team-up a la her Metallica Grammys collab, it seems this is, at least, one of those unexpected but wholesome mutual appreciations that will go down in metal history.