Our weekly column "White Whale Vinyl" spotlights the most sought-after rare vinyl in the heavy-music universe. Shop for vinyl, including a selection of limited-edition Revolver-exclusive variants, via our store.
When future heavy-metal legends Iron Maiden dropped their "Twilight Zone" single in March of 1981, they couldn't possibly have anticipated the ripples they would create in the record-collecting world — or the astronomical prices one particular version of this classic metal 45 would eventually fetch. Released as the lead single from the band's Killers album with "Wrathchild" on the flipside, "Twilight Zone" didn't actually appear on the original U.K. version of Killers — but it was added to the North American edition, which came out a few months later.
The song captures a fleeting period of Iron Maiden's early days, in which vocalist Paul Di'Anno, drummer Clive Burr and guitarist Adrian Smith (who joined Maiden shortly before Killers) were all in the band together. This lineup lasted less than a year, producing Killers and the Maiden Japan live EP before Bruce Dickinson replaced Di'Anno in September of 1981 and Nicko McBrain replaced Burr in '82. With a soaring chorus and gloriously harmonized guitars cresting over one of Steve Harris' patented galloping bass lines, the track provided a fascinating preview of the heights Maiden would scale with 1982's Dickinson-helmed The Number of the Beast.
Copies of the "Twilight Zone" 7-inch single were pressed on black, red and clear vinyl in the band's native U.K., while a 12-inch version was released in Germany. In fact, there were at least 10 different versions of the single available commercially in 1981, not to mention the many promo and white-label copies that made their way to radio stations, magazines and pub DJs. But the rarest version of all is the infamous "brown vinyl" edition. As a result of a color mix-up at the pressing plant, a few of the singles came out in a light brown hue. It's believed there are only a handful of these brown bombers in existence. On June 15th, 2020, one sold on eBay for a staggering $8,304!