BRUCE DICKINSON: Why IRON MAIDEN Hasn't Had Any Lineup Changes In 25 Years

March 28, 2024

In a recent interview with Stereogum, Bruce Dickinson was asked why he thinks there haven't been any lineup changes in IRON MAIDEN since he and guitarist Adrian Smith rejoined the band in 1999. He responded: "I think we've all grown up just enough to appreciate that we were all separate individuals who got together to play IRON MAIDEN music. I think what pissed Adrian off, and me to a certain extent, was this idea that we were just this homogenous blob that was IRON MAIDEN. That we were a single block of concrete. Adrian rebelled against that. I didn't particularly like the idea either. Because it was, like, 'Are we not individuals then?' And then it was, 'To a certain extent.' Well, no. Now we've rejoined."

He continued: "The reason we've rejoined is because we wanted to, so it's a choice. And it was actually our choice. It was a request, and it was our choice to rejoin. And now, having done that, let's have more adult relationships between everybody. It became a lot easier to get on with everybody, a lot easier to speak more honestly and open about things. And also, not to get bent out of shape about things, about somebody has a bad day or somebody's turned into a megalomaniac this afternoon. Just walk away, because tomorrow morning, they won't be like that. Whereas back in the '80s, we'd have had a fucking argument about it, or people would have gone away and sulked about it for weeks. And that just breeds resentment and discontent and things like that."

Dickinson added: "We're in the state now where the band's really successful, and we all get on, probably because — with the exception of [MAIDEN guitarist] Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, who lived in the same street together when they were growing up — none of us would ever have met each other if it wasn't for IRON MAIDEN. I would never have met [MAIDEN drummer] Nicko McBrain. I would never have met [MAIDEN bassist] Steve [Harris]. What brings us all together is MAIDEN. So, this is a great place to be. We're probably one of the biggest heavy metal bands in the world. We mean a huge amount — and I do understand that — to millions of people around the world. And what's not to love about still being able to do it?"

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.

In a 2019 interview with Spain's RockFM radio station, Dickinson said that he had no interest in reconnecting with MAIDEN 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 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.

Dickinson is considered one of the world's most storied musicians. Aside from decades spent delivering high-octane performances with his larger-than-life persona in IRON MAIDEN, Bruce has lived an extraordinary off-stage existence too. A true polymath, his accomplishments include: pilot and airline captain, aviation entrepreneur, beer brewer, motivational speaker, film scriptwriter, twice-published novelist and Sunday Times best-selling author, radio presenter, TV actor, sports commentator and international fencer — to name but a few.

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 later told iNews that he wanted to cover his cancer battle in his 2017 autobiography, "What Does This Button Do?", to raise awareness of the condition, which affects people who often have no or minimal history of tobacco or alcohol abuse. The individuals with HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer who undergo treatment have a disease-free survival rate of 85 to 90 percent over five years.

Bruce's new solo album, "The Mandrake Project", was released on March 1 via BMG. Dickinson and his long-term co-writer and producer Roy "Z" Ramirez recorded the LP largely at Los Angeles's Doom Room, with Roy Z doubling up as both guitarist and bassist. The recording lineup for "The Mandrake Project" was rounded out by keyboard maestro Mistheria and drummer Dave Moreno, both of whom also featured on Bruce's previous solo studio album, "Tyranny Of Souls", in 2005.

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