March 24, 2022

Bruce Dickinson says that felt that he "had to leave" IRON MAIDEN nearly 30 years ago in order to "learn what it was like" to live life away from the band.

Dickinson joined MAIDEN in 1981, replacing Paul Di'Anno, and made his recording debut with the band on the 1982 album "The Number Of The Beast". He quit the group in 1993, pursuing several solo projects, and rejoined in 1999.

Bruce touched upon his departure from MAIDEN during the question-and-answer portion of his March 23 spoken-word show at MTelus in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Asked about the reasons for his exit from the group, Dickinson said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Honestly, I was as surprised as anybody else. I don't think people really believed that at the time. I just thought that if I stayed with MAIDEN forever, all I would learn about was what it was like to be in MAIDEN. And in order to learn what it was like outside MAIDEN, you have to leave, because, unless you left, nobody would take anything that you did seriously. It would always be, like, 'Oh, bless him. He's doing a solo record. Let him have his fun and then he can go back to being in IRON MAIDEN.' I hated that. So I thought, 'Fuck it. I'll just leave.' And [people said], 'What happens if your [solo] career doesn't work out?' I said, 'Well, that's God or fate saying maybe that's [for] the best.' And I said [it's] better [to take a chance] now and do something else with your life than sit there somewhere in fantasy world and end up just grumpy."

Back in 2019, Dickinson said that he had no interest in returning to MAIDEN more than 20 years ago if it meant only focusing on nostalgia.

"Well, all I needed to know was that we were not gonna come back as some sort of a reunion-type thing," he explained. "I didn't want to go back to the past. This was gonna be about putting a band together that was looking ahead to the future — to do a great new album and to really restart the whole impetus and direction of the band. And Steve [Harris, MAIDEN bassist and leader] said that's what he wanted to do, and I was, like, 'Okay. Let's do it.' And, of course, the first album we came out with after that was [2000's] 'Brave New World' — I think one of the best MAIDEN albums that we've ever done."

During Dickinson's absence from MAIDEN, the band released two albums with his successor, former WOLFSBANE singer Blaze Bayley — 1995's "The X Factor" and 1998's "Virtual XI" — which saw MAIDEN relegated to playing small theaters in America for the first time in years.

Bruce's two-month North American spoken-word tour kicked off on January 17 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and will run through the end of March.

Dickinson, who had a golf gall-size tumor on his tongue and another in the lymph node on the right side of his neck, got the all-clear in May 2015 after radiation and nine weeks of chemotherapy.

Bruce will hit the road with IRON MAIDEN for a new North American leg of the band's "Legacy Of The Beast" tour in September.

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