Arts and Entertainment

Auburn author gets chance to interview Derek Riggs creator of iconic Iron Maiden mascot

Auburn resident Cyrus Aman got the opportunity to interview and write about Iron Maiden artist Derek Riggs. - Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter
Auburn resident Cyrus Aman got the opportunity to interview and write about Iron Maiden artist Derek Riggs.
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter

Cyrus Aman is not one for half-measures.

For the 38-year-old Auburn resident and lifelong music fan, it's all or nothing — especially when it comes to his favorite bands.

"I become obsessed," Aman said. "And when I get into an artist that I really like, I'll listen to their whole discography to see if I like it. And with Maiden, I did."

Aman, who graduated from Olympia's Capital High School in 1992 and moved to Auburn in the 1990s, said Iron Maiden first caught his attention in the English heavy metal band's heyday in the 1980s. And like many fans of the band, Aman's first exposure came via the band's album artwork, which always features its mascot, the zombie-esque ghoul, Eddie, created by English artist Derek Riggs.

"I got into Maiden because of the album covers," Aman said. "I remember when I was a real little kid, like 6 or 7, I had a button of the first album cover. And I only had that because I thought the artwork was cool. Didn't know anything about Iron Maiden. I think that's what a lot of people do, they get into Maiden because of the artwork. The artwork is like the bait on the end of the hook. I just remember obsessing over the album artwork back in the late 80s and early 1990s. My fascination with Derek was that the artwork was just incredible. I would just obsess over the details in them."

In 1992, however, after more than a decade as the band's artist, Riggs parted ways with the Iron Maiden camp.

For most fans, the fascination would have ended there. But remember, Aman doesn't do things halfway.

Throughout the bulk of the 1990s, Aman said, he pondered what had happened to Riggs and why he was no longer producing art for Iron Maiden. Then, in 2008 the Internet provided a clue.

"I came across Derek's website and saw his amazing gallery of artwork there," he said. "So I bought his book. I ended up emailing him a question about a change in the font for Iron Maiden's logo."

Much to Aman's surprise, Riggs responded.

"I had just put Derek Riggs on such a pedestal because of all the artwork," Aman said. "I just expected him to be wealthy and living in some house in Malibu because of all the amazing stuff he did. And I just figured he must be so busy. But as a shot in the dark, I sent him an e-mail."

Aman said Riggs' response, a rant against the band's management, sparked his curiosity.

"I thought, this sounds like a fascinating story," Aman said.

Aman took a chance and reached out to Riggs, asking the Englishman, now living in Southern California, if he would be up for a interview.

Riggs agreed and Aman soon penned Riggs' side of the story about his time with Iron Maiden, an insightful 3,400-word peek into the mind of one of rock music's most influential artists.

Eventually, Aman said, he forged a friendship with Riggs.

"I've stayed in touch with him ever since," Aman said. "It was amazing. My whole thing has been writing and doing articles as a means to getting access to people I'm interested in," Aman said. "People that I want to know about, people that I'm a fan of."

To read Aman's interview with Derek Riggs, visit www.auburn-reporter.com.

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