2 Minutes to Midnight

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"2 Minutes to Midnight"
Iron maiden 2 minutes to midnight a.jpg
Single by Iron Maiden
from the album Powerslave
B-side Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett cover)
*"Mission from 'Arry
Released 6 August 1984
Format Vinyl (7", 12")
Recorded 1984
Genre Heavy metal
Length 6:04
Label EMI
Producer(s) Martin Birch
Iron Maiden singles chronology
"The Trooper"
"2 Minutes to Midnight"
"Aces High"
"The Trooper"
"2 Minutes to Midnight"
"Aces High"

"2 Minutes to Midnight" is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, featured on their fifth studio album, Powerslave (1984). It was released as the band's tenth single, and first from the album on 6 August 1984 and rose to number 11 in the UK Singles Chart and number 25 on Billboard Top Album Tracks. It was the band's first single to exceed five minutes in length, remaining the band's longest single until the release of "Infinite Dreams" five years later.


A protest song about nuclear war, "2 Minutes to Midnight" was written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson.

The song title references the Doomsday Clock, the symbolic clock used by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which represents a countdown to potential global catastrophe. In September 1953 the clock reached two minutes to midnight, the closest it ever got to midnight, when the United States and Soviet Union tested H-bombs within nine months of one another.[1] According to Dickinson, the song critically addresses "the romance of war" in general rather than the Cold War in particular.[2]

"Rainbow's Gold"[edit]

The first B-side is a cover of British progressive rock band Beckett's "Rainbow's Gold", which was featured on their self-titled album released in 1974. The song was written by Terry Slesser and Kenny Mountain, respectively the band's vocalist and guitarist. On the original release, it is titled "A Rainbow's Gold".[3]

According to Nicko McBrain, commenting on the single in "Listen With Nicko Part VI" (as part of The First Ten Years series), the members of Iron Maiden were friends with members of Beckett.

The band's manager, Rod Smallwood, commented this version: "This was originally done by a band called Beckett who the band liked a lot. Adrian used to do a cover of another of their songs 'Rainclouds' in his band 'Evil Ways'. Beckett were from Newcastle and had a great singer called Terry Wilson Slesser (incidentally I was Beckett's agent prior to meeting Maiden)."[4]

"Mission From 'Arry"[edit]

Another B-side, entitled "Mission from 'Arry", is a recording of an argument between bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain, which took place after a show in Allentown, Pennsylvania, during the band's World Piece Tour.[2] During the concert, Harris' bass gear broke down, so he asked the nearest roadie to tell McBrain to extend the solo. The crew member was unable to communicate the message effectively, which unfortunately distracted McBrain and had a negative impact on his solo, causing him to yell at the roadie afterwards.[2] Vocalist Bruce Dickinson states that he found the ensuing argument so amusing that he decided to record it with a concealed tape recorder.[2][5]

Track listing[edit]

7" single
Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "2 Minutes to Midnight" Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson 6:04
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett cover) Terry Slesser, Kenny Mountain 4:57
Total length: 11:01
12" single
Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "2 Minutes to Midnight" Smith, Dickinson 6:04
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett cover) Slesser, Mountain 4:57
2. "Mission from 'Arry" (spoken word) Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain 6:40
Total length: 17:41


Production credits are adapted from the 7-inch vinyl,[6] and 12-inch vinyl covers.[7]

Iron Maiden

Cover versions[edit]

Year Artist Album
1988 Decameron Made in Tribute: A Tribute to the Best Band in a Whole Goddamn World
1999 Deceased A Call To Irons Vol. 2
2005 The Iron Maidens World's Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden
2005 Joe Lynn Turner, Richie Kotzen, Bob Kulick, Tony Franklin, Chris Slade Numbers From The Beast
2005 Primal Fear A Tribute to the Beast, Vol. 2
2008 Glamour of the Kill Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden
2012 Maiden uniteD Across The Seventh Sea

Appearances in other media[edit]

Chart Performance[edit]

Single Chart (1984) Peak
"2 Minutes to Midnight" German Singles Chart 70[8] Powerslave
Irish Singles Chart 10[9]
UK Singles Chart 11[10]
Single Chart (1990) Peak
"2 Minutes to Midnight" / "Aces High" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 11[11]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ "Doomsday Clock Timeline". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The History of Iron Maiden part 2". Live After Death (DVD). EMI. 4 February 2008. 
  3. ^ "Beckett's 1974 self-titled album". Rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Smallwood, Rod (2002). Best of the 'B' Sides (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 
  5. ^ Noguera, Anthony (May 1992). "B-Side Or Be Dead". Metal Attack "Iron Maiden Special". London: Rock Team Publishing And Productions Ltd. 
  6. ^ "2 Minutes to Midnight" 7 Inch Single (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 6 August 1984. 
  7. ^ "2 Minutes to Midnight" 12 Inch Single (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 6 August 1984. 
  8. ^ "Single – Iron Maiden, '2 Minutes to Midnight'". Media Control Charts. charts.de. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  9. ^ "Irish Singles". IRMA. Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 1 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive 25 August 1984". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 27 August 2013. 
  11. ^ "Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive 31 March 1990". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 

External links[edit]