BRUCE DICKINSON On Seeing IRON MAIDEN With PAUL DI'ANNO: 'He Didn't Have A Lot Of Flex To His Voice'

April 22, 2024

In an interview with Joel McIver for the new issue of Record Collector magazine, Bruce Dickinson was asked when he first encountered IRON MAIDEN. He responded: "The first time I saw MAIDEN was at what was then the Music Machine in Camden. SAMSON [Bruce's then-band] were headlining because our management had bankrolled the gig and said, 'We want the top slot,' although we didn't really deserve it. That became obvious when MAIDEN came on, because the whole place was rammed. I'd heard rumors about how good they were, and I thought I'd better see them. When they came out, I thought, 'I've never seen DEEP PURPLE, but this is what it must have felt like to see DEEP PURPLE in their prime, rocking up a storm.'"

Asked what he thought of MAIDEN's then-frontman Paul Di'Anno as a singer, Bruce said: "He was okay, but he didn't have a lot of flex to his voice. I thought his voice had come as far as it was going to get. I saw what the rest of the band were capable of straight away, and I remember thinking, 'Good God, I'd love to front that band.' And as soon as they finished playing, everybody in the venue left and we were headlining to about three people."

The new issue of Record Collector magazine can be purchased online at

Di'Anno recorded two classic albums with IRON MAIDEN before being replaced by Dickinson. He went on to front a number of other bands, including KILLERS and BATTLEZONE, and released several solo records.

In 2005, Di'Anno was asked by Classic Rock Revisited editor Jeb Wright about his previous comment that Bruce is a better singer for MAIDEN than he was. He said: "Yeah, I did admit that Bruce is a better singer for MAIDEN than me. I still do think that but only related only to the MAIDEN albums that were made after my first two initial MAIDEN classic albums. My feeling is that I could never have stamped my mark properly on the MAIDEN albums that came after 'Iron Maiden' and 'Killers' because Bruce's voice is much better suited to that material than my voice ever could be. However, that aside, I am not actually comparing our voices against each other either, as I feel as much as I could not sing Bruce's period of MAIDEN songs, Bruce definitely does not have — and never did have — the voice to replace me on the first two classic albums either. My voice is, and always will be, mega aggressive and that is what helped make those first two classic albums what they are. On the other hand, Bruce's high-pitched, and sometimes operatic voice, is what has helped give the later albums their different character. I will say this though: Bruce sounds incredible on many later MAIDEN tracks such as 'The Trooper', 'Number Of The Beast' and 'Two Minutes To Midnight' but let's face it — without meaning to sound arrogant here, just saying what everyone knows — when Bruce tries to emulate me on classics such as 'Remember Tomorrow', 'Running Free', 'Wrathchild', 'Killers' or anything from the first two MAIDEN albums, he just does not have the tools for the job as the aggression just isn't there. Your voice can often explain a lot about your background, and I think my voice shows the kind of rough, lower-class background I came from. Bruce's voice kind of gives an impression of a public schoolboy background."

In a 2022 interview with Sakis Fragos of Greece's Rock Hard magazine, Di'Anno addressed the circumstances that led to his departure from MAIDEN and whether it's true that it has something to do with his vocal performance. He said: "My record stands for itself. I've played more shows than IRON MAIDEN have ever played… They play a lot of concerts, but I played a hell of a lot more than they ever had. So it was nothing to do with my voice. It was nothing to do with that. I was just upset about certain things, which were private things in the band. And the way I dealt with them maybe was not right, but I dealt with them. And that's the end of it. And that's as much as I'm gonna say."

Pressed about whether it's true that he wasn't properly compensated for his work on the first two IRON MAIDEN albums, Paul said: "I have nothing to comment on that at all, because, to be honest with you, it's nobody's damn business. I got paid very well. I'm very happy with that. See, if I try to say, 'Oh, IRON MAIDEN didn't pay me enough money,' it's a bad reflection on IRON MAIDEN. And I'm not taking that. I got paid very well. They looked after me. End of story."

Bruce Dickinson photo credit: John McMurtrie

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