"2 Minutes to Midnight" is the first single release from British heavy metal band Iron Maiden's fifth album Powerslave. It was released as the band's tenth single on 6 August 1984 and rose to number 11 in the UK Singles Chart and number 25 on Billboard Top Album Tracks.


 [hide*1 Track listing

Track listing[edit]Edit

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "2 Minutes to Midnight"   Adrian SmithBruce Dickinson 6:04
2. "Rainbow's Gold" (Beckett cover) Terry Slesser, Kenny Mountain 4:57
3. "Mission from 'Arry"   Steve HarrisNicko McBrain 6:43
Total length: 17:44


'2 Minutes To Midnight' was written by Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson.

The song has references to the Doomsday Clock, the symbolic clock used by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In September 1953 the clock reached 23:58, the closest it ever got to midnight.[1] This occurred when the United States and Soviet Union tested H-bombs within nine months of one another. Despite popular belief,[2] the song does not reference Cuban missile crisis, nor did the Doomsday Clock note any change related to it.[3] In fact, at the time of the crisis, the clock was showing seven minutes to midnight.[1] In 1984, when the song was recorded, the clock was showing three minutes to midnight.[1]

The first guitar solo is played by Dave Murray, followed by a guitar solo played by Adrian Smith.

Rainbow's Gold[edit]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 vocalist and guitarist of Beckett. On the original release, it was titled 'A Rainbow's Gold'.[4]

According to Nicko McBrain commenting 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)."[5]

The solo is played by Adrian Smith.

Mission From 'Arry[edit]Edit

Another B-side, titled "Mission from 'Arry", is a recording of an argument between bassist Steve Harris and drummer Nicko McBrain.

The argument happened after a show in Allentown, Pennsylvania during the band's World Piece Tour, and occurred due to a misunderstanding on stage between the two due to technical issues with Harris' bass, which had led to McBrain's drum solo going wrong. Because Harris' bass was not working, he asked the closest man he could find - a light rigger - to tell McBrain to extend the solo. Rather than following proper procedure, the man started shouting to McBrain, which allegedly caused the drummer to ruin his solo. An angry McBrain had a confrontation with the man (it is unclear if anything physical happened) that Harris felt was unnecessary.

Vocalist Bruce Dickinson was recording the argument with a concealed tape recorder. Allegedly the argument had calmed down before Dickinson started recording it and riled the two men up again by asking McBrain what he would have wanted the man to do had he been trying to tell him that the lighting truss above his drum kit was about to fall down, to which he replied "Well, I guess someone would've had to drag me out the fucking way or else I'm dead!". The recording ends when the tape recorder was found. The last sound is of Harris saying "Some cunt's recording this". It was said that, after the tape recorder was found - and quickly turned off - the tape was rewound and played back, causing all of the men involved to "sit around and had a good laugh".

In an interview with McBrain and Harris the story is told differently. After Harris turned off the cassette McBrain stamped his boot on it, jamming it between his heels. Dickinson then jabbed him in the ribs and made off with the cassette. When McBrain subsequently chased Dickinson down, Dickinson said he had some lyrics for the upcoming Powerslave album on the tape and apologized. McBrain mentions that he then said "Oh well, that's different then" but also that had Dickinson not apologized he could well have quit the band! The tape finally resurfaced during the recording of Powerslave and by then it was funny enough to laugh about.[6]

Music video[edit]Edit

The video of the song, '2 Minutes to Midnight', is featured on the 2003 video collection Visions of the Beast. On the bonus disc of the 2008 DVD release of Live After Death, Bruce Dickinson said of the scene in the video of the soldiers in the apartment, "They came to us with the location and said, 'We've got the perfect location. It's this dingy, grotty East End tenement on the Isle of Dogs. It's all boarded up and there's cat piss everywhere and it's just really foul'. And I looked at this thing and I'm like 'That's Roffy House, on the Isle of Dogs. I used to live there!'"


Production credits are adapted from the 7 inch vinyl,[7] and 12 inch vinyl covers.[8]

Iron Maiden

Cover versions[edit]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 TurnerRichie KotzenBob KulickTony FranklinChris 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]Edit

Chart Performance[edit]Edit

Single Chart (1984) Peak


"2 Minutes to Midnight" German Singles Chart 70[9] Powerslave
Irish Singles Chart 10[10]
UK Singles Chart 11[11]
Single Chart (1990) Peak


"2 Minutes to Midnight / Aces High" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 11[12]
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