Paul Bruce Dickinson (born 7 August 1958 in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England)Besides being the lead singer of Iron Maiden, Bruce is an airline pilot, radio show host, historian, television presenter, fencer, producer, novelist, and songwriter. According to Allmusic, Dickinson "was the most acclaimed and instantly recognizable vocalist to emerge from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the early-'80s". He is the older cousin of Rob Dickinson, lead singer of British alternative rock band Catherine Wheel.
Before Iron Maiden, Dickinson was the singer in a similar band called Samson from 1979 until he joined Iron Maiden two years later in 1981. In Samson and previous bands, he went by the name of "Bruce Bruce". During previous years, he was in Styx (1976) (not to be confused with the Styx American band of the same name), then went on to sing for Speed (1977 - 1978). When Speed split up, he joined Shots until the summer of 1979. He made his recording debut with Iron Maiden on their The Number of the Beast album in 1982.
Dickinson quit Iron Maiden in 1993 in order to pursue his solo career and was replaced by Blaze Bayley, who had previously been the lead singer of the metal band Wolfsbane. Dickinson's solo work ranges from the alternative rock sound of 1996's Skunkworks, to the all out Metal style of Accident of Birth. Dickinson was releasing an artistic energy he felt was suppressed by Iron Maiden's strict progressive metal format, which he claimed could not accommodate emotional reflection as evidenced in the lyrics of "Tears of the Dragon." After releasing two traditional metal albums with former Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith (which were arguably more akin to the genre than Maiden's epic format), Dickinson rejoined the band in 1999 along with Smith. Both are still in the band to date. Since then, Dickinson has only released one more solo album (Tyranny of Souls) but says his solo career is not over. He has signed a contract with his label to do 3 more solo albums. Soon after Dickinson's solo career he flew to Australia to join the Alternative Punk band Option, however this was short lived due to the re-joining of Iron Maiden.
Paul Bruce Dickinson was born in the small mining town of Worksop, Nottinghamshire. His mother worked part-time in a shoe shop and his father was a mechanic in the army. Dickinson's birth hurried the young couple into marriage. Initially, he was brought up by his grandparents; his grandfather was a coal-face worker at the local colliery and his grandmother was a housewife. These pieces of information are actually referred to in his song 'Born In '58' from his solo album 'Tattooed Millionaire'.
Dickinson started school at Manton Primary. Soon afterwards, when he was six, his parents moved from Worksop to Sheffield and he consequently had to go to a new school, Manor Top, which Dickinson disliked. After six months, his parents decided to move him out to a small private school called Sharrow Vale Junior. Of this period, he recalled "I grew up in an environment where it struck me that the world was never gonna do me any favours. And I had very few close friends, because we were always moving. I think that's partly why I grew up feeling like such an outsider. I didn't have an unhappy childhood, but it was unconventional, to say the least".
Dickinson's first musical experience was dancing in his grandparents' front room to Chubby Checker's "The Twist". The first record Dickinson recalls owning was The Beatles single "She Loves You" which he managed to persuade his granddad to buy him. "I was only four or five but I really loved that scene, The Beatles and Gerry & The Pacemakers. ... I noticed they had B-sides, and that sometimes I liked them even more than the A-sides. That was when I first began noticing the difference between 'good' music and 'bad'." He believes that this marked the beginning of him thinking like a musician. He tried to play an acoustic guitar belonging to his parents, but it blistered his fingers.
By this time, Dickinson's parents were earning a good living from selling estate. A lot of Dickinson's childhood was spent living on a building site, until his parents bought a boarding house where his father sold second-hand cars off a forecourt. The income from their business success gave them the opportunity to give Dickinson—then 13 years old—a boarding school education and they chose Oundle School, a public school in Northamptonshire. Dickinson enjoyed being away from home. "I didn't particularly enjoy being with my parents, so I saw it as an escape. I think it was because I hadn't built any real attachment to them when I was very, very young."
At Oundle, however, Dickinson was picked on and routinely bullied by the older boys of Sidney House, the boarding house that he belonged to. His interests at Oundle were often military. He co-founded the school wargames society with Mike Jordan, and he rose to a position of some power in the Combined Cadet Force.
Oundle was also where Dickinson became attracted to heavy rock. He has said :"I was 13 when I first heard Deep Purple's In Rock album, and it just blew me away! I heard this thing coming out of someone's room one day, and I went in and said 'Whoa! What's that?' And they just looked at me disdainfully and went 'It's "Child in Time" by Deep Purple. Don't you know anything?' But I was too amazed to care. The first album I ever bought was Deep Purple in Rock, all scratched to fuck, but I thought it was great."
Dickinson obtained bongo drums from the music room and practised. Dickinson remembers trying to learn "Let It Be". Other than this tinkering though, he never learned an instrument at school, and as far as his contemporaries can recall, he could not read music. Any technical musical skills that Bruce now possesses were acquired after his stay at Oundle. In an episode of BBC2's Seven Ages of Rock, Bruce said in interview that, like Sinatra's "My Way", Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" was based on "rising sixths". Whether or not his illustration was correct, it has to be said that Bruce knew nothing about rising sixths when he left Oundle.
Dickinson was later expelled from Oundle for urinating in the Barry Trapnell headmaster's dinner. Neil Ashford, his co-urinator, was sent home for the rest of the term rather than being permanently excluded from the school, on the grounds that the contribution to the headmaster's beans had been Dickinson's idea. Returning home to Sheffield in 1976, Dickinson enrolled at a local Catholic school, although not a practising Catholic himself.
In the summer of 1976, he joined his first band. He had overheard two other pupils talking about their band and that they needed a singer. Dickinson volunteered to do the vocals. They rehearsed in the drummer's father's garage and the band were impressed by Dickinson's singing. It was at this point Dickinson decided to buy a microphone. The first gig Dickinson's new band did was at the Broadfield Tavern pub in Sheffield. Originally called "Paradox," the band changed name upon Dickinson's suggestion, to "Styx", unaware of the Styx American act with the same name. They made local newspaper headlines when a steel worker was awoken by their performance. Of the incident, it was said: "He bottled the guitarist and chucked the drums off-stage". Soon after, the band split up.
After leaving his school Dickinson didn't really know what he wanted to do. He joined the Territorial Army for six months, which he did not enjoy. As army life was not what he wanted, he applied for a place at University. He had met the minimum grades for getting in and read history at Queen Mary, University of London, in London's East End. His parents wanted him in the army, but he told them that he wanted to get a degree first. "That was what they wanted to hear so that was my cover story. When I got down there I started immediately finding and playing in bands."
In college, Dickinson got involved in the Entertainments Committee. "One day you'd be a roadie for The Jam, the next you'd be putting up the Stonehenge backdrop for Hawkwind or whatever." In 1977, Dickinson met a guy called Paul "Noddy" White. He was a multi-instrumentalist and he had a PA and other equipment. Dickinson suggested that, along with drummer Steve Jones, they form a band together. This would eventually evolve into the band "Speed", described by Dickinson as sounding like a 'crossover between Judas Priest and The Stranglers with a Hammond organ on top of it.' Dickinson recalled: "It had nothing to do with taking speed, we were a completely drug-free band, we just used to play everything ridiculously fast. Like speed metal, but ten years too early." Dickinson was the vocalist and occasionally played guitar. "I got Noddy to give me guitar lessons and I ... started writing stuff straight away. He showed me three chords and I'd write stuff just from those three chords."
Speed didn't last long, but it encouraged Dickinson to continue to work to be a musician. Dickinson spotted an ad in Melody Maker with the caption "Singer wanted for recording project". Since he had never been near a recording studio he replied immediately. He "wailed, wolfed, hollered and made noises" onto a tape and with it went a note that read; "By the way, if you think the singing's crap, there's some John Cleese stuff recorded on the other side you might find amusing." They liked what they heard and Dickinson came down to the studio. The band was called "Shots" and were formed by two brothers, Phil and Doug Siviter. They were amazed by Dickinson's vocal abilities and they started talking about what music they liked. "I started saying Ian Gillan, Ian Anderson, Arthur Brown, and Doug goes, 'That's it! Fucking Arthur Brown, man! Sometimes your voice is a dead ringer for Arthur! We've got to form a band.' This guy's got a studio and he wants to form a band with me! I was like 'Yes'." A song "Dracula" from this session can be heard as the closing track on The Best of Bruce Dickinson, disc two. According to Dickinson, this song is first thing he ever recorded.
Dickinson played pubs with Shots on a regular basis. One particular night, Dickinson suddenly stopped in the middle of a song and started interviewing a man in the audience, heckling for not paying enough attention. He got such a good response he started doing it every night until it became a regular routine. "Suddenly everybody was paying attention, cause they might be next. The first time I did it, afterwards the landlord of the pub was like 'Great show, lads, see you next week'. So we started sort of building this bit into the show. And that was when I first started to get the hang of, just not being a singer, but being a frontman, too."
The next step in Dickinson's career was taken in a pub called the Prince of Wales in Gravesend, Kent, where Shots were playing regularly. One night, Barry Graham("Thunderstick") and Paul Samson paid a visit. The legend says that Thunderstick, who was there in his every day guise, became the victim of Dickinson's gimmick. "He looked a bit weird so I did a spiel on it". Obviously impressed with his stage-act, Thunderstick and Samson talked with Shots after the performance. A couple of weeks later, Samson called and asked him if he was willing to join their band, Samson. Dickinson was interested since this meant he could play larger gigs in London. Dickinson wanted to "do things with a bit of a weird edge to it". By then, Shots had almost become a heavy metal comedy act; the show had completely taken over the music.
Formed by Sidcup-born guitarist Paul Samson in 1977, the band had already been established with their debut, "Survivors", released on an independent label. The band toured quite extensively in the UK. Dickinson finished his final exams in the morning and in the afternoon he went down to Wood Wharf Studios in Greenwich to rehearse with them.
Since he was not sure of what to expect from a professional rock band, he decided just to jump in and make the best of it. "In fact, the first rehearsals I went down to with Samson pretty much set the scene for my entire time in the band. I left my girlfriend who I had been with for three years at University. I told her I was gonna turn into a complete arsehole. I thought it was what I was gonna have to do, frankly. Because it was not at all what I expected. In my naivety I thought people who were in rock 'n' roll bands were great artists, and it was a huge shock to the system to realise that they weren't, that they didn't even aspire to be, really. Some of them did, maybe, but some of them, like Samson, were very frightened of the idea, some of them just wanted to have a good drink, a good shag and take some drugs, and I found that really, really difficult to relate to. I thought 'I've got to find out if I'm gonna work with these guys and we're gonna make music'. And as soon as I sort of accepted that, I thought 'Right, I'd better go down and find out what all this drug-taking and shagging's all about then'."
He did smoke a bit already and he had tried dope at college. And in Samson it was more of a habit. "I discovered quickly that if you were straight you couldn't actually communicate with anybody. It was impossible. So I just thought I'd have to smoke a joint, otherwise I wouldn't be able to write anything, and that's pretty much how it went. I more or less resigned myself to it. I thought it was just part of the price that had to be paid. To be honest, every single thing I ever did at that time, I believed it was just a step towards my goal, of just wanting to be a singer in a rock 'n' roll band." Dickinson nowadays refers to his time in the band as "a blur of chemicals".
During the first rehearsals they wrote songs that would be recorded and released on the album called 'Head on'. "I had loads of stuff kicking around and they had loads of bits so we just glued it all together." The songs were slipped into the live set on the coming tour, which was to promote the "Survivors" album. This was a step forward for Dickinson as his first real tour was third on the bill with Randy California and his all time hero Ian Gillan. During his time in Samson, Dickinson was billed as "Bruce Bruce" (derived from Monty Python's "Bruce's sketch" ), a nickname that was forced upon him by their management. They insisted on making all the cheques out to "Bruce Bruce" which had the effect that Dickinson had to go through enormous trouble to cash them in. The management was one of Samson's recurring problems. They booked the band on rather ill-matched support tours, which saw them playing a venue, only to return one week later with another act. Eventually this chain of events culminated in high court leaving the band unable to play gigs and get paid. When the legal side of things were settled and the band left their management in 1981 they discovered that their record company was going bankrupt. "We made every mistake in the business" Dickinson acknowledges.
Frustrated with the fact that the band never seemed to get anywhere, Dickinson contacted guitarist Stuart Smith with the idea of forming a band. They had a few rehearsals and wrote some material together but then Samson seemed to get a better deal and the obvious thing for him to do was to stick with them. During the "Shock Tactics" tour, Thunderstick left the band and was replaced with Mel Gaynor, a black funk/rock drummer who was in the band very briefly and later ended up in Simple Minds. "When you took Thunderstick out of the equation and replaced him with Mel, this phenomenal drummer, there was no excitement in it there anymore. When he played, he played everything perfectly. Everything was in time, there was no mistakes, there was no danger anymore. So I got bored. I had time to think about the shopping list on stage and that's not good. And I realised that this was what Paul wanted. It enabled him to go into more ZZ Top, boogie sort of areas."
Dickinson's last gig with the band was at the Reading Festival in 1981, a gig which was immortalised by the BBC and subsequently released on the album "Live at Reading 81". "Listening to some of these old tracks they stand up really well" says Dickinson. "Certainly all the stuff on Shock Tactics does. When you hear the Reading Live album the band was really cooking. And the songs don't sound dated at all." Around that time, Iron Maiden had begun considering change of vocalist due to increasing problems with Paul Di'Anno. Steve Harris and manager Rod Smallwood came to Reading to check Dickinson out for the job. Dickinson was asked to come down to auditions for the band.
After accepting the invitation to audition for Iron Maiden, Dickinson spent a week rehearsing with the band, and recorded some demos, and was convinced that they were the band for him. "When I first heard Maiden I got the same buzz of them I did when I heard Deep Purple In Rock. It was like a steam train coming at you and none of the other bands did that anymore". Dickinson discovered that the routines in Maiden were very strict and regimented. Where Samson would just fool around aimlessly, Maiden were working with a very clear idea of the result. "The intention behind that changed after the first couple of records for me, because it became obvious that Maiden worked to a time table. A table that wasn't absolute but it had to be stuck to. 'Now you'll write for six weeks, now you'll make a record for three months, now you're rehearsing for two weeks, now you'll tour for eight months'. It was organized like that and that seemed to suit the style of writing of the band."
After a few gigs in Italy to 'break him in', the band started writing new material for their third album. This was the first time the band had decided to write an entire new album; The two released previously basically consisted of songs the band had been playing for years, with a couple of exceptions, on Killers. The album The Number of the Beast, was put together in five weeks. In the wake of Samson's contractual problems, Dickinson could not be credited on the songs to which he had contributed. "I think you could say I had a very big moral contribution to certain songs, like 'Children of the Damned', 'Run to the Hills' and 'The Prisoner' Those three songs were the songs in which I had the biggest moral contribution." "Moral contribution" refers to the fact that the contribution that he had made was equal to those of the other band members.
"Run to the Hills" was a huge hit in the UK peaking at #7 in the UK singles chart and the album and the following world tour was the band's most successful to date. During the "Beast" tour, Dickinson had fitted well into the role as the band's frontman, and the next two albums, Piece of Mind and Powerslave, showed a very tight and creative band. With Smith and Dickinson contributing half of the songs on the albums, Harris's monopoly of the song writing would be pushed aside in favour for the other members' ideas. "It wasn't always easy, we didn't always agree... In fact we fought like cat and dog at various stages, but we made great music."
On the World Slavery Tour, Dickinson was sporting a feathered, supposedly Ancient Egyptian-inspired, mask during the title track. This was an attempt to introduce more theatrical elements into the stage show. In terms of sales and popularity, the band was peaking. The tour lasted for over a year, as dates kept being added all the time. "It got to the point where me and Harris said 'If they add another week's shows to this tour, we're both going home.'" Dickinson continues, "I thought of leaving. If it's gonna carry on like this, if I'm gonna feel bad all the time, this imprisoned, then I don't really want to go on tour."
After a six month break, of which Dickinson spent a great deal indulging in his favourite sport, fencing, Maiden were about to start writing for a new album. "When it came to writing for a new album, whenever I started to write very heavy metal things, I found I was thinking along these lines, you know, 'I should do one of these, one of those.' So I ended up writing a lot of different things instead for bagpipes, folk things, stuff like Jethro Tull. Bang went my royalties." Though Somewhere in Time marked a departure for the band, introducing a cleaner progressive rock influenced sound, Dickinson was unhappy with the effort, and has no writing credits. It was during this tour that Dickinson started writing what would become his first published novel, The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace. "Plotting it out was the doddle. It came from a series of mad conversations, actually, that all gestated together along with some Sherlock Holmes, some Biggles and Penthouse, and out it came." It was released in 1990 and due to the loyalty of Maiden's fanbase, 40,000 copies were sold, on the strength of which he produced a sequel, titled The Missionary Position, in 1992.
When Somewhere on Tour was finished, Iron Maiden was looking forward to the next album. This was also unexplored territory for the band as it was a concept album. Harris had written the song The Clairvoyant. Dickinson really liked the idea and the band was quite keen on producing the entire album based around this character with the gift of clairvoyance. When the recordings were finished in December 1987, Dickinson moved to Bonn, so that he could be close to the West Germany training centre for fencing. At the end of the '80s Dickinson was at the peak of his fencing career, eventually ranked as high as 7th in Great Britain in the men's foil (fencing) discipline, while his club side, the Hemel Hempstead Fencing Club, represented Great Britain in the European Cup of 1989.
After the Seventh Tour of a Seventh Tour in 1988, which climaxed when Maiden headlined the Donington festival in front of 107,000 people, the band decided to take a year off. Rumours were floating around that the band was splitting up, as various members were seen pursuing various solo projects. In 1989, Zomba was looking for someone to do a track to the movie Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5 and Dickinson was asked to contribute. There was a budget, a studio and a producer, Chris Tsangarides. Dickinson was delighted to take up this opportunity and immediately phoned up an old friend of his, Janick Gers. A short time after meeting up they had the track "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter" ready for the studio.
With assistance from the same musicians as on the previous single - Andy Carr on bass, Fabio del Rio on drums and Gers on guitar - Dickinson's intention was to do something he wouldn't normally do in Maiden and the album was written and recorded in two weeks. Dickinson regarded this album as a follow up from where he left off with Shock Tactics in Samson.
Around this time, Dickinson appeared in one episode of the TV-series Paradise Club, playing the part of a rock guitarist wanting to break free from the dictatorship of his record company. Some tracks were recorded by Dickinson to be used in the episode, mainly cover tracks, with exception of "Ballad of Mutt" which Dickinson played solo on an acoustic guitar.
The album, Tattooed Millionaire, was released in May 1990. By this time, Gers had replaced Adrian Smith in Iron Maiden and the mini world club tour that Maiden embarked upon during the summer introduced his audience to the new Maiden guitarist. The same band was used as in the studio except for Fabio del Rio who was replaced by Dicki Fliszar. With Gers in the league, Maiden was flooded with energy and enthusiasm. Dickinson says, "There were several ways the band could have gone at that point but as it turned out, the next one, No Prayer for the Dying, was a huge backward-step, I thought."
When it came to making a new album in 1992, Dickinson felt that Dream Theater's demos sounded better than No Prayer. He was determined to make sure the over all sound of the album would be given a good treatment. By now, Harris had set up a studio of his own and it was a foregone conclusion that the new album, Fear of the Dark, would be recorded there. "I think it was the first album where we were attempting to recapture something of the past. In many ways I think that we were looking backwards to other albums that we've done in the past while other bands are looking forward to something new."
Dickinson always thought of himself as more than a singer in Iron Maiden. He had been a top fencer, written two novels, done some acting and was doing an increasing amount of guest DJ-ing on various radio-stations. His US label, Sony Music, asked him if he could do another solo album. Dickinson felt it would offer a welcome "break" for him. The Fear of the Dark tour was divided into two parts and in the gap between Dickinson entered the studio to record his second solo album, backed by the band Skin (UK band), again with Chris Tsangarides at the technical helm. Manager Rod Smallwood emphasized that if Dickinson was to make a solo record, it had better be a good one. This had the effect that Dickinson went full-stop and canned the whole thing on the merit that it sounded too much like average metal. "I realized I was just going along with the flow, making my solo album in the same way we were motoring on with Maiden."
This was when Dickinson first started questioning his ambitions. He wanted to break out of the routine and do something "really out there." So off he went to America to record with producer Keith Olsen. "The recording was basically put together electronically, written on computers and keyboards," Dickinson explains. "I wanted to do something quite unusual and quite mad." With the feeling of being tossed between two camps, Dickinson started thinking of leaving the band. "I wore a groove in the kitchen floor for that one." Bruce played his last show with Iron Maiden on 28 August 1993.
Along with Adrian Smith, Dickinson rejoined Iron Maiden in 1999. As a 6-piece (Janick Gers remained in the band as well) they embarked on a small tour. Afterwards they set about recording the first Iron Maiden studio album with Bruce on vocals since 1992, Brave New World. The Brave New World tour culminated with a performance at the huge Rock in Rio festival, which was captured on DVD.
Dickinson along with Adrian Smith have continued on as full members of the 6-piece band, recording the albums Dance of Death, A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier, Death on the Road live album and DVD, and most recently their newest studio album The Book of Souls while also pursuing his solo musical and airline pilot careers.
Solo career Edit
Bruce Dickinson's career outside Iron Maiden started with the recording of "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter" which appears on the A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child soundtrack and Disc Two of The Best of Bruce Dickinson album. A different version of the song was recorded by Iron Maiden for the No Prayer for the Dying album. The original version got him a studio deal for a full album. Along with friend and soon-to-be Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, Dickinson wrote the Tattooed Millionaire album within two weeks. The result was a rather poppy rock album. It was, however, far away from Iron Maiden's progressive sound and fantasy lyricism - the bawdy sexual innuendos of "Dive, Dive, Dive!" would never find themselves on one of Iron Maiden's releases.
Before the release of his second effort, Balls to Picasso, Dickinson left Iron Maiden and went through two different efforts with two sets of different collaborators. The first was with Myke Gray of the band Skin (UK band), and the second with the producer Keith Olsen. Of the second, a few songs surfaced as B-sides and one, "No Way Out... Continued" appears on the 2-disc The Best of Bruce Dickinson collection. Dickinson was not happy with the majority of the material on these efforts. Salvation came at last in the form of Tribe of Gypsies guitarist Roy Z. He agreed to work with Dickinson to improve the Keith Olsen album and ended replacing all of it except "Tears of the Dragon". Balls to Picasso was recorded with the Tribe of Gypsies and was a far more mature record than Tattooed Millionaire, with some very well-crafted songs, spurred along with the melodic and shredding leads of Roy Z.
The Tribe departed to tour and record under their own steam, leaving Dickinson to track down another band. Dickinson's new writing partner was Alex Dickson, and after touring his current song catalogue (documented on Alive in Studio A) with him and the rest of the new band, sat down to write Skunkworks. The idea was that the band would be called that, but the record company insisted Dickinson's name be on the release. Dickinson likened that to David Bowie attempting to do the same with Tin Machine and how it did not work for him either.
The Skunkworks entity ceased to be after the touring due to musical differences (Dickinson wanted the next album to be more metal), and after a period of inactivity Dickinson once again teamed up with Roy Z to record Accident of Birth. Adrian Smith was asked to guest, and played on the whole album and tour. The album marked a return to heavy metal for Dickinson; in fact the album is much heavier than Iron Maiden, with a less progressive influence. It was a big success and for the first time, a follow up was inevitable. The Chemical Wedding, a semi-concept album on alchemy and the writings of William Blake followed. This record proved to be even more successful, with engaging lyrics and powerful songs. Scream for Me Brazil was a live album that documented a show of the Chemical Wedding tour, and featured songs from the last two albums and two from Balls to Picasso.
The Best of Bruce Dickinson album with two new Roy Z songs and a limited edition disc of rarities was released in 2001. Dickinson is said to have wanted to record another album with Roy Z, but he was busy with Judas Priest vocalist, Rob Halford, and the window of opportunity was missed. Tyranny of Souls was finally released in May 2005. This time the songwriting was all split between Roy Z and Dickinson, with Roy playing all guitars and even bass on some songs. Much of the writing was done by Roy sending recordings of riffs to Dickinson which he wrote lyrics and melodies for while on tour. With the release of Tyranny of Souls, Dickinson's back catalog was reissued with a bonus disc of extra tracks for each album except The Chemical Wedding which included 3 bonus tracks on the same disc as the original track listing. The two live albums, Alive in Studio A and Scream For Me Brazil were packaged together in a three-disc set.
A three-disc DVD package, named simply Anthology, was released June 2006 and contains three recorded concerts from his career, promo videos and footage from his Samson days.
Dickinson's interests include literature, Fencing (at which he has competed internationally, and he also founded a fencing equipment company under the brand name "Duellist"), aviator (flying Boeing 757 charter jets for the United Kingdom charter airline Astraeus. He was taught to fly by British Airways commercial pilot Captain Phil Dales.
In the summer of 2006, Dickinson flew about 200 UK citizens home from Lebanon during the Israel/Hezbollah conflict. On 12 February 2007, Dickinson was given permission to fly Rangers F.C. to Israel for their UEFA Cup game against Hapoel Tel Aviv F.C. Dickinson asked if he could pilot this flight as soon as he found Astraeus had the contract for it. After the collapse of XL Airways UK in September 2008 he piloted an Iceland Express aeroplane and flew home 180 stranded holiday makers from Egypt, as well as a Boeing 747 with a group of british Royal Air Force|RAF pilots from Afghanistan. "A lot of them recognised him because they are Maiden fans, but he was there in his professional capacity as a pilot," says an RAF spokesman.
In 2015, Dickinson underwent seven weeks of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for a cancerous tumour found at the back of his tongue. Dickinson's medical team expected him to make a full recovery as the tumour was discovered in the early stages. On 15 May, Dickinson was given the all-clear by his specialists.
Dickinson has three children with his wife Paddy Bowden: Austin Dickinson (born 1990), Griffin Dickinson (born 1992), and Kia Michelle Dickinson (born 1994).
TV and Radio Edit
Dickinson currently presents the Friday evening "Rock show" on BBC radio station (BBC 6 Music). Bruce had Jean-Jacques Burnel, bassist with The Stranglers, take over for him while touring the US. He has recently taken the helm of BBC Radio 2 serial 'Masters of Rock'. He also presented the 5-part historical TV series about aviation; Flying Heavy Metal was shown on the Discovery Channel, which is now shown on the replacement for Discovery Wings, Discovery Turbo in the United Kingdom. He was also a guest on a Discovery Channel show where he shared his enthusiasm for trains. He was also a guest on the Tanks episode, where he drove a Russian T-34 tank. The most recent television programme he has presented was a show on spontaneous human combustion for Sky On] called Inside Spontaneous Human Combustion with Bruce Dickinson, in which he investigates the phenomenon of this occurrence by enlisting the help of several experts and performing various experiments to determine its possible cause.
Dickinson has also turned his hand to scriptwriting, having written a film script entitled Chemical Wedding which has been made into a film starring Simon Callow. Dickinson played a few small cameo roles and has composed the soundtrack.
Dickinson was trained operatically to get his famous broad range of notes and enormous screams. He was given the nickname "The Air Raid Siren" because when he joined Iron Maiden and recording his first album The Number of the Beast, their sound engineer Martin Birch wanted to get the right sound for the first four lines of the title song, and forced Dickinson to sing them over and over again for hours, until Dickinson grew so frustrated that he let out a tremendous scream originally not written in the song, but found to be so fitting by the band that they kept it as part of the intro. In reality, this scream soon became one of the things that the song is most recognized for.
Dickinson's singing varied notably in the 1990s in the recording of albums such as No Prayer for the Dying, Fear of the Dark and his first solo work Tattooed Millionaire, making use of a much more raspy and unpolished sound, befitting of the stripped down style of the albums. Since returning to Iron Maiden in 1999, his singing style has returned to much like it was in the 1980s with Iron Maiden, though soft and reflective passages have been incorporated with the familiar operatic wail to suit the more progressive direction of Iron Maiden since the reunion.
Over the years, his vocal range has extended from C#2 to F5 in chest and mixed voice, as demonstrated on tracks featuring vocals as low as those on "Believil" (C#2) and the live version from Rock In Rio of Hallowed Be Thy Name (F5). Using falsetto he could go as high as those on "Gangland" (B5). However, following Powerslave in 1984, Dickinson cut out the use of all screams in the band's future studio material, with the only exceptions being the G5 "Be Quick or Be Dead" in 1992 and the E5 "Speed of Light" in 2015. During live performances, though, he has always continued to prove himself of still achieving such notes.
During Iron Maiden's 1986-87 world tour and in the wake of a divorce, Dickinson started writing his first book. He spent sleepless night trying to give birth to the main character, "Lord Iffy Boatrace". Iffy was an English landlord, whose problems were always related to the lack of money and quested a wealthy life. The first book, The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace, was released in 1990 and sold more than 30,000 copies almost immediately. Due to the high demand, the publisher, Sidgwick & Jackson, asked him to produce a sequel, 1992's The Missionary Position.
- 1990: The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace (ISBN 0-283-06043-3)
- 1992: The Missionary Position (ISBN 0-283-06092-1)