Every metalhead in the world is familiar with that first line from the spoken-word introduction to the Iron Maiden song “The Number Of The Beast.” The man who lent his voice to that iconic intro, Barry Clayton, has died, according to the Islington Tribute. He was 80.
For the title track off their 1982 album, Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden had wanted horror icon Vincent Price to recite the intro for the song, but his fee turned out to be too high. That’s when the band turned to Clayton, a deep-voiced actor who read ghost stories at Capital Radio, to do the 25-second recitation taken from the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
According to the Islington Tribute, Clayton, who a resident of Islington, England, for 40 years, was also a pioneer of black television and radio programming who produced the Black Londoners radio program for the BBC, which was the first black daily radio programm.
Clayton also did voiceovers for movie trailers, produced the show People and Places, and narrated the children’s television program Count Duckula from 1988 to 1993.
But, Clayton will always be known for his haunting introduction on “The Number Of The Beast,” which has been and always will be one of the greatest contributions to heavy metal ever.
“Woe to You Oh Earth and Sea
For the Devil sends the beast with wrath
Because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding
Reckon the number of the beast
For it is a human number
Its number is six hundred and sixty six.”