His parents, Sonia Hartley-Dickinson and Bruce Dickinson Sr, were just 16 and 17 when they got married and had little Paul Bruce Dickinson. Because they were so young when they had him, Bruce's parents were on a very poor financial standing and sent the young boy to live with his maternal grandparents. His maternal grandmother all but referred to him as the spawn of Satan, the reason her daughter disappeared while his maternal grandfather raised him like the son he never had. To get back on a very even financial keel, his parents flipped houses. They would buy and redo houses and then sell them. Bruce spent most of his childhood moving from house to house. He jokingly says that most people have addictions. His parents' addiction was moving houses.
Like most kids, he was bullied. He went to a variety of schools, ranging from extremely rough Manton Primary to Manor Top Primary, to the somewhat more posh Sharrow Vale Junior to straight up boarding school Oundle. At every school, he was given the annoying label of "new kid" and thus was subject to midnight beatings with pillows, clothes being sodden with water when he was elsewhere, dried eggs in his bed and other tortures. But one lesson his grandfather instilled in him was to never let someone get the best of you. They might be bigger than you, but they are most certainly not better. He also taught young Paul (his proper first name, as he was still going by that name at the time) to defend himself, but quickly had to reiterate the idea of when to hit and when not to hit. Something hardly anyone at all knows about Bruce is that he has a sister who is six years younger than he, Helena. While Bruce describes his birth as "accidental", her birth was planned, as in his parents planned on having a child while Bruce's birth could be described using the title of one of his solo albums, an "Accident of Birth".
What inspired young Paul to go into music was hearing Deep Purple's "Child in Time" blasting out of the study of one of his fellow Oundle mates. He was struck by the song and asked said classmate what it was, which was returned with a look of stupidity, as if he asked the world's stupidest question. Now Bruce had an idea of what he wanted to do. Like most musicians probably do, Bruce was in the choir in church when he was younger. He was even told that, while at Oundle, where he was also in the choir, that he was definitely not a candidate for singing. He had a letter sent to his house at Oundle, reading something like "Paul Dickinson, Sidney House. Definitely not a singer". How ironic
It was when he was in high school that he discovered he could really sing. While in class one day, he overheard some classmates saying they needed someone on vocals. He stepped in and offered his services. While at rehearsal one day, the bass player of this group tried to hit the high notes on "Let It Be" by The Beatles. Bruce stepped in to bolster said bandmate's vocals and something amazing happened-he could hit the high notes and every note in between. Suddenly, it was as if a light had been switched on. Now Bruce knew what he was made to do-sing! He went out and bought a microphone almost immediately. He decided to at least try and get some kind of education. He sat through exams and passed with enough good grades to get into college, so he applied for Queen Mary College in London, which confused his parents to no end. While happy their number one son was heading off to college, they were confused about the college he chose, as he had never been to London at all.
|Samson with Mel Gaynor|
|Iron Maiden 1981|
|Iron Maiden 1982|
Bruce was in Iron Maiden from 1982-1992. He made the majority of the albums with Maiden, each one breaking big records in America, which most if not all bands dream of making it big. As the 1980s started slipping into the 1990s, tensions started rising like floodwaters in the tight world of Maiden. Frustrated over the tensions of writing just as many songs as Steve Harris and yet Steve's songs getting used, Bruce was frustrated and seriously considering quitting. But then, tensions like this may have started as far back as 1984, the year of the World Slavery tour, in support of 1984's Powerslave. To this day, the entire band will describe that as the most punishing tour they have done.
Prior to the recording process of 1996's Skunkworks, Bruce had been in the progress of obtaining his pilot's license. He was fond of aviation history and was in possession of a twin-engine Cessna plane, which he flew while the band helping him tour the album Skunkworks flew with him. He then thought bigger. And as time went on, he upped his pilot's license to the point where he could now fly large engine Boeing 757's, 747's, 737's. He now could fly Iron Maiden around on a personalized jet dubbed Ed Force One. 2000 would mark the year of the return to Maiden for Bruce and Adrian. At first, it was questionable how a three guitar lineup would work. Adrian was, not shockingly, questioning it, saying "Three guitars? It'll never work!" Steve thankfully proved it wrong. And in no time, all three guitarists got along great, to the point of them being dubbed "The Three Amigos" or the "Triple Axe Attack". The first album with the now reunited band was 2000's Brave New World. The band would churn out album after album, such as 2003's Dance of Death, 2006's A Matter of Life and Death, 2010's The Final Frontier and most recently 2015's The Book of Souls.
Cancer aside, the chapter in the book that he mentions his cancer is titled, hilariously, Fuck Cancer. That should cause a few giggles. The book is hilarious in some parts, very serious in others, overall a good book. He talks about a type of ale called Red N'Black, The Trooper, referencing surprise surprise, Iron Maiden. He talks about losing his taste buds for a while because of the cancer treatment and relying more on sense of smell when it came to brewing the ale and he even mentioned that he used himself and Nicko as test drinkers, since he and Nicko are the only ale drinkers in the band. Shockingly enough, he doesn't mention meeting his first wife Jane or his second wife Paddy or mention the birth of his kids Austin, Griffin or Kia. He says that it would be overkill to go into detail of how he met his first or second wife or the birth of his children.