Wasted Years

"Wasted Years" is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It is the band's fourteenth single released and the first from their sixth studio album, Somewhere in Time (1986). It is the only song on the album that features no synthesizers. Released in 1986, it was the first single solely written by guitarist Adrian Smith, who also sings backing vocals. It reached number 18 in the UK Singles Charts.

"Wasted Years"
Single by Iron Maiden
from the album Somewhere in Time
  • "Reach Out" (The Entire Population of Hackney cover)
  • "Sheriff of Huddersfield"
Released6 September 1986
FormatVinyl (7", 12")
GenreHeavy metal
Songwriter(s)Adrian Smith
Iron Maiden singles chronology
"Run to the Hills (Live in 1985)"
"Wasted Years"
"Stranger in a Strange Land"


The song deals with subject of homesickness and alienation,[2] as well as the negative aspects of the band's nearly year long previous tour and personal problems that Smith and other band members were going through in that period.[3] At the same time the chorus suggests the idea that one should move beyond past troubles and look forward. The original working title was "Golden Years", as can be heard on numerous Somewhere on Tour bootlegs.

The cover depicts the band mascot Eddie's point of view as he flies a time machine.[4] Only a part of Eddie's face is seen, as a reflection in a screen.[4] According to artist Derek Riggs, this is because the band did not want to reveal the mascot in his new cyborg guise until the album was released a few weeks later.[4] As with the Somewhere in Time album sleeve,[5] the single cover also features the TARDIS from the BBC series Doctor Who.[4] Riggs describes the illustration as "a duffer. It's a technical illustration of a keyboard of a time machine, with Eddie reflected in the window, because it was the only thing we could think of that wouldn't give Eddie away".[4]

The promotional video features black-and-white footage of the band playing the song in a studio in Frankfurt, West Germany, mixed with various scenes from band's previous promotional videos, together with clips of off-show activities during the World Slavery Tour.

"Wasted Years" is featured in the video game Rock Band.


The b-side "Reach Out" was sung by Adrian Smith, with regular lead singer Bruce Dickinson providing backing vocals. This song was previously performed live by Nicko McBrain and Smith's side project The Entire Population of Hackney.

The demential song "Sheriff of Huddersfield" is about Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood's decision to move to Los Angeles and buy a house in the Hollywood Hills. Apparently he had trouble adjusting to the LA lifestyle and often complained to the band about it. Smallwood was unaware of the composition until it was released on the single, as the band had kept it secret from him. The song opens with the spoken line "We're on a mission from Rod", a parody of the tagline for The Blues Brothers, "We're on a mission from God". Later, a similar comedy piece called "Bayswater Ain't a Bad Place to Be", again mocking Smallwood, was released as an unlisted untitled b-side ("Space Station No. 5"'s epilogue) in the "Be Quick or Be Dead" single.


The song is composed in the key of E minor. Adrian Smith plays the guitar solo.

Live performancesEdit

"Wasted Years" is one of three tracks from Somewhere in Time that have been played on more than two concert tours, the other two being the album's second single, "Stranger in a Strange Land", and "Heaven Can Wait". It was featured on Somewhere On Tour,[6] Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour,[7] Real Live Tour (only on few dates),[8] The Ed Hunter Tour,[9] Somewhere Back in Time World Tour[10] and Maiden England World Tour.[11] It was the final song of the group's encore set on The Book of Souls World Tour, the first time it has ever been part of an encore performance.

Janick Gers played the solo on Real Live Tour due to Smith leaving Iron Maiden in 1990. He also played all Smith's guitar parts on few dates of Ed Hunter Tour, while Smith was absent. In current Iron Maiden line-up shows (since 1999), Smith's trademark intro riff is doubled by Gers.

During Somewhere On Tour years, the band used to lip-sync the track on various TV shows. The most famous recording comes from Germany, where Maiden swapped instruments on stage while the song was "performed", as a humorous protest to lip-syncing.[12]

Track listingEdit

7" single
Side one
1."Wasted Years"Adrian Smith5:06
Side two
1."Reach Out" (The Entire Population of Hackney cover)Dave Colwell3:25
12" single
Side one
1."Wasted Years"Smith5:06
Side two
1."Reach Out" (The Entire Population of Hackney cover)Colwell3:25
2."Sheriff of Huddersfield"Iron Maiden3:35


Production credits are adapted from the 7-inch vinyl cover.[1]


Chart performanceEdit

Single Chart (1986) Peak
"Wasted Years" Irish Singles Chart 11[13] Somewhere in Time
UK Singles Chart 18[14]
Single Chart (1990) Peak
"Wasted Years/ Stranger in a Strange Land" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 9[15]


  1. ^ Re-release of both singles as part of The First Ten Years box set. Exceeded the length limit of the UK Singles chart.


  1. ^ a b "Wasted Years" 7 Inch Single (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 6 September 1986.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ Iron Maiden - Wasted Years Live Sheffield 1986 on YouTube
  3. ^ Iron Maiden - Flight 666 DVD, History Of Iron Maiden pt 2
  4. ^ a b c d e Popoff, Martin (2006). Run for Cover: The Art of Derek Riggs (1 ed.). Aardvark Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 1-4276-0538-6.
  5. ^ Popoff, Martin (2006). Run for Cover: The Art of Derek Riggs (1 ed.). Aardvark Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 1-4276-0538-6.
  6. ^ "Somewhere On Tour Setlist". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  7. ^ "Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour Setlist". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  8. ^ "A Real Live Tour Setlist". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  9. ^ "The Ed Hunter Tour Setlist". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  10. ^ "Somewhere Back In Time Setlist". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  11. ^ Alderslade, Merlin (22 June 2012). "First Iron Maiden 'Maiden England' US Tour Setlist Revealed, Rest Of World Weeps With Jealousy". Metal Hammer. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  12. ^ Iron Maiden Playback on YouTube
  13. ^ "Irish singles archive". IRMA. Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  14. ^ "Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive 13 September 1986". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 September 2011.
  15. ^ "Top 40 Official Albums Chart UK Archive 14 April 1990". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 September 2011.

External linksEdit