Life is what happens when you are making other plans~ John Lennon
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind~Gandhi
The time is always right to do what is right~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bruce Dickinson: Flashing Metal with Maiden and Flying Solo by Joe Shooman

This is a biography of the man known as the "Air Raid Siren".
Essentially this is a biography. There is an official one due out in April, according to Amazon. But I'm still going with the story of his official biography being due out in Fall 2017. This one is pretty good to hold over any fans of the Air Raid Siren until his official story is released. Although the copy of this book I have has spelling errors in it, lol!! Someone misspelled Bruce's name as 'Burce', lol!!

This book is like any other biography. It talks about his parents, Sonia and Bruce Dickinson Sr. His mother was a promising ballet student enrolled in a prestigious ballet academy when she met Bruce Dickinson Sr. They fell in love and without any intention whatsoever, along came little Paul Bruce Dickinson. He was, essentially, an accident of birth. He was born by mistake. Later on, his parents had another child, this one intentionally, a daughter named Helen. Bruce describes his relationship with his sister as "She was planned, I was an accident". To this day, he says he feels estranged from his sister, which sounds really sad to me. It must be hard to be estranged from a sibling

He talks about living with his paternal grandparents while his mother and father went to Sheffield, looking for jobs. He says that his grandfather felt like his actual dad and that he thought his grandfather, who was in his 40s at the time, was at a great age to be a parent. He taught Bruce how to defend himself, which cam in handy later. After his parents had gotten some financial gain, Bruce went and lived with them. His parents were now flipping houses, by revamping them and selling them, which back then could have earned them their own reality show. Of course, when it came to schooling, Bruce has a pretty long list of schools he has attended. There was Sharrow Vale Junior, Manor Top Primary and finally Oundle. He describes Manor Top Primary as a "hellhole". At each school, he was the primary "new kid" and as such, he was bullied intensely. At Oundle, he endured some pretty brutal stuff. Like picking dried egg out of his bed, having to let his clothes air dry after being doused with water, daily beatings and late at night, his classmates standing around his bed as he was mercilessly pounded on by pillows from his other classmates. His time at Oundle came to an abrupt end when he and a friend got intoxicated at a student bar and let loose with telling people they had urinated in the dinner being consumed by prefects and headmasters celebrating the completion of construction on one of the housing buildings, Sidney House, where Bruce had been staying. For this prank, he was expelled. His grandfather instilled in him a motto to never let anyone grind you down, which came in handy later when things with Maiden seemed to be taking a turn for the worse
The one with the circle around his face is... you guessed it. Bruce Dickinson.
After going through high school, it was hearing Deep Purple's "Child in Time" that got the music bug in Bruce stirring. The first album he went and bought was In Rock. He was, more or less, hypnotized by the loud, wailing vocals of Purple front man Ian Gillan. Originally, he wanted to play drums, be what he called "Ian Paice's left foot." Since he had no room for drums, he tried singing. He was in the choir at school and when he sang, he noticed he could sing higher octaves than others, so he attempted singing. He went down to London to attend university, intending to read English as a major. During that time, he was in a succession of bands, mostly all starting with the letter 'S'. Like Speed, Styx (no connection to the American radio friendly band of such hits as "Come Sail Away), Shots and finally Samson, the band he was with while attending college in London. In fact, he balanced band life with college life at the same time. Around this time, Bruce was labeled with an annoying new moniker-Bruce Bruce. This arose from a conversation he had with Samson founding member Paul Samson. He had asked Bruce what his surname (last name for those unaware) was and Bruce thought he asked for his first name. He said "Bruce". Paul replied "Bruce Bruce?" with a strange expression. Then suddenly, Bruce's paychecks in music were suddenly being doled out this ridiculous name. He had made two albums with the band, Head On and Shock Tactics. He had to learn the band's whole Survivors album when he first joined
The album that inspired a young Bruce to attempt music
Bruce in one of his earliest bands, Shots. He's the one in white on the left
Bruce with Samson

Recording the band's compilation Head Tactics

The guys in the band often made fun of the way he dressed on stage sometimes. He had his hair cut short in a ridiculous bowl cut, a short pencil mustache and in terms of clothing, he wore spandex pants, the type of gym shoes boxers wear and muscle shirts. In promo photos, he would wear a vest over his bare chest, a bowler hat and carry an umbrella or he would wear a hat and street clothes like jeans and a t-shirt. Definitely interesting when you think about how he dresses today with Maiden-hoodie, cargo pants and boots, or muscle shirt saying "PSYCH WARD", winter beanie hat, cargo pants and ratty sneakers, etc. As an interesting side note, the then drummer for Iron Maiden, one Barry Purkis, who was nicknamed "Thunderstick" had switched places with then Samson drummer Clive Burr. When Barry entered the band, he was wearing a black leather S&M mask and wanted his drumming and flair for pyrotechnics to be the star of the show, rather than Paul Samson's bluesy guitar playing and the general hard rocking music

Of course, Samson and Maiden were each other's biggest rivals. Samson would have a corkboard with all things Maiden on it while Maiden would have a corkboard with all things Samson on it. When things started taking some massive bad turns with Maiden, in terms of their then singer, Paul Di'Anno getting loaded after the shows and complaining about his voice going out only to have Steve sing lead and Paul watch at the side of the stage, some changes had to be made. But no one knew that at the 1981 Reading Festival, where Samson and Iron Maiden were playing, that the "change" in mind was going to be there. Maiden manager Rod Smallwood and Maiden founding member Steve Harris watched the set Samson did and both were astounded with the wailing vocals of their front man, Bruce Dickinson. After having him audition for the band, he was in. The band set to work on their next album, which would be his first album with the band, The Number of the Beast.


With Bruce in tow, they could go places, sonically, that no other band had tried. Things with Maiden seemed on the up and up until 1986's Somewhere in Time was being recorded. The band had started utilizing then technology, such as keyboards, guitar synthesizers, etc. Not only that, Bruce was getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of songs he writes being put on the album, when most of the writing credits went to either Steve Harris, Dave Murray or Adrian Smith. Around this time, Bruce started considering a solo career. It wasn't until they finished Seventh Son of a Seventh Son that he really started working on what would become his first solo album, Tattooed Millionaire (This is an awesome album by the way). Things really came to a head in Maiden in 1992 when the band was touring Fear of the Dark. Bruce was just running through the paces until the tour finished, then announced his desire to leave the band to pursue a solo career. During this time, he had former White Spirit/Gillan guitarist Janick Gers helping him out on guitar

Bruce and Janick at The Hummingbird in Birmingham in 1990

His solo career, unlike some other musician's solo careers, had actually done pretty well, resulting in the amazing 1990 Tattooed Millionaire, 1994 Balls to Picasso (which features his first ballad, "Tears of the Dragon"), 1995's Alive in Studio A, 1996's Skunkworks, 1997's Accident of Birth, 1998's The Chemical Wedding, 1999's Scream for Me Brazil, 2001's The Best of Bruce Dickinson, 2005's Tyranny of Souls. During his time away from the band, he and guitar player Adrian Smith were replaced. Former White Spirit and Gillan guitarist Janick Gers replaced Smith on guitar while former Birmingham punk-metal band Wolfsbane front man Blaze Bayley replaced Dickinson. This lineup resulted in 1995's The X Factor and 1998's Virtual XI, which some Maiden fans say were not the greatest points in Maiden's career. I say otherwise. Opinions are opinions. I actually love both the Blaze albums. His voice is a combination of raspy Paul Di'Anno and operatic Bruce Dickinson.

During the tour for Skunkworks, Bruce had gotten inspired to get his flying license. At that point, he was taking the band he was touring with on a small twin engine prop jet. He started wondering if he could do flying on a larger scale. So then it was set into motion he would get his commercial flying license and after doing some flying for the now defunct airline Astraeus, he was fully licensed, clocking up the maximum amount of hours needed to fly. He then pitched an idea to management about getting a customized jet that allowed him and the rest of Iron Maiden to travel with their gear stowed aboard along with crew members and such. That is how Ed Force One was born. It's unclear where this jet is usually kept, but according to a 2011 documentary about Iron Maiden called Iron Maiden Behind the Beast, which is about their 2010-2011 Final Frontier tour, Bruce mentions the jet is stashed at Southend Airport in south London while the 2008 film Flight 666 says it's stashed at Stansted Airport in London. When he and Adrian Smith returned in 1999 to meet up with the band, it was like nothing had changed. Steve and Bruce were back to being old friends. It seems as though the solo albums helped Bruce blow off some steam and get some things out of him. Steve was ready to commence work on the band's next album, Brave New World. At first, he wondered how it was going to work with three guitar players, but after seeing the way Janick Gers, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray interact with each other, how they get along, any doubts were laid to rest. This book only goes up to about Final Frontier, which was 2010.


It does go into great detail about an incident at the 2005 Ozzfest in San Bernadino, CA. Bruce had made some rather disparaging remarks about reality TV, most likely referencing Ozzy's reality show. Of course, Sharon and family were there to defend the Osbourne name. They sabotaged Maiden's set, by urging fans to throw eggs and whatever they could get their hands on and pelting the stage with it. If you ever see Maiden in concert, you'll know where who stands. The ones out front are guitar players Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, Janick Gers, bass player Steve Harris and front man Bruce Dickinson. The only one protected is drummer Nicko McBrain. The other five members of Maiden would be nailed by a lethal storm of debris from the audience simply because Sharon wanted payback. Maiden's manger Rod Smallwood was furious. He said something to the effect of "in all the years I've managed music, I've never seen an act so unprofessional or disgusting as this". Also, Sharon said that she thought of Bruce as an arrogant prick and that she thought it was unprofessional of him to wave the English flag during the band's iconic song "The Trooper". She made a reference to the fact that British and American troops were overseas and said she thought it was unprofessional. HELLO? Anyone who is a Maiden fan is going to look forward to when they play "The Trooper". Bruce has waved that Union Jack since the band wrote it in 1983!!! It was almost as if she was trying to make it a political issue. Other moments of sabotage included the power to Dickinson's microphone and the band's instruments getting cut off during "Run to the Hills", "Hallowed Be Thy Name", "Number of the Beast". During certain moments when it was quieter, one can hear Dickinson accusing festival organizers of intentionally cutting off the power to the band's equipment. Not only that, but Bruce further enraged people by saying that no one would ever see Maiden in reality TV, a reference to Ozzy's reality show. Sharon said the rest of the band were gentlemen, respectful and kind in nature while Bruce is the one she had the issue with. Even Steve Harris had to come out and say that the whole band was embarrassed by the actions of their own singer

He doesn't really go into too much detail about his relationships. If anything, you have to go on the internet to find out this stuff. Most if not all the guys in Maiden are extremely private and keep their lives, well, private. But, he does mention his girlfriend Jane, who he would later marry. Later on, he met a woman named Paddy Bowden and with her they had three kids: Austin (b. 1990), Griffin(b. 1992), Kia(b. 1994). It seems that the music bug had also bitten his sons. Austin was the front man for a metalcore band called Rise to Remain, until they broke up in 2015 and went on to form As Lions. Griffin Dickinson worked as a carpenter for, surprise, Iron Maiden and then became the vocalist for a band called SHVPES, who changed their name from Cytota
Bruce Dickinson and wife Paddy Bowden

Bruce Dickinson and wife Jane Dickinson

Austin Dickinson

Rise to Remain

As Lions

Griffin Dickinson

SHVPES, originally known as Cytota
Bruce Dickinson and daughter Kia

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