It is not unusual when an up and coming band releases their own cd on their own label, either to try to acquire a recording contract or to sell to fans at their shows. There are many hard rock bands who actually gained popularity this way before their major label debuts, such as Motley Crue, Ratt, and Queensryche, and those releases have become collectibles for their fans.
Yet in the metal world, there is maybe nothing rarer and sought-after than “The Soundhouse Tapes”; a three track 7-inch vinyl single by Iron Maiden. The London based quartet pictured above - bassist Steve Harris, guitarist Dave Murray, vocalist Paul DiAnno and drummer Doug Sampson – where gaining a following in the late 70s and fans who attended their shows wanted to know where to buy their music. Influenced by Def Leppard, who released a self-financed EP “Getcha Rocks Off”, the band decided to press three tracks from a four track demo they recorded on New Years’ Eve 1978. Released in November of 1979, the run was limited to 5,000 copies on their own imprint, Rock Hard Records and sold out immediately. Manager Rod Smallwood was receiving calls from major record store chains such as HMV and Virgin who wanted to carry the EP in shops, but the band refused to press more copies, especially since they were about to sign a major record deal with EMI. In fact, their debut single with EMI, “Running Free”, came out several months later.
Go Here for a great site describing every aspect of the single - this is so detailed it makes even me question if my copy is real! As I have been collecting Maiden items since the early ‘80s, all of these singles are quite nice to own but can be listened to via a simple search on youTube.
On a side note, original Iron Maiden drummer Doug Sampson left the band in December of 79 as he was unable to keep up with the band’s excessive tour schedule. Although he is featured on many Iron Maiden releases, he did not continue to play drums professionally.