|Paul Natkin, Getty Images|
by Eduardo Rivadavia October 26, 2014 12:52 PM
But, in retrospect, there’s little doubt that Dickinson’s recruitment provided the final ingredient needed to accelerate Maiden’s inexorable march towards global dominance, beginning with the following year’s watershed third album, ‘The Number of the Beast.’
Indeed, since 1978 Di’Anno’s gruff melodic vocals and even gruffer bad boy charisma had capably shepherded Harris’ musical vision — from the self-recorded ‘Soundhouse Tapes’ to the major label release of 1980’s ‘Iron Maiden’ and ’81’s sophomore effort ‘Killers’ — but the grueling tours and punishing press tasks that ensued had steadily taken a toll on the fun-loving singer’s mood.
To Di’Anno, Iron Maiden now seemed more like a tightly run corporation than a rock and roll band, and he would later mince no words in comparing Harris and Iron Maiden’s ambitious manager, Rod Smallwood, to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, based on the ruthless, military precision with which they ran the ship.
That replacement was of course Bruce Dickinson, who had been laboring with Iron Maiden’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal rivals, Samson (under the questionable stage name of Bruce Bruce!) since 1980, and had reportedly long secretly coveted Di’Anno’s job, along with the more professional ambitions that his present band clearly lacked.
Harris, for his part, had long admired Dickinson’s powerful air raid siren of a voice and saw no reason to change his opinion after Bruce’s successful audition for the band in September of 1981, mere days after Di’Anno’s dismissal. Dickinson was offered the job on the spot and told “Oh, by the way, we’re touring Italy next month!”
And this was how Bruce Dickinson suddenly found himself on stage that night in Bologna: facing the daunting prospect of fronting Iron Maiden’s well-oiled touring machine as they ripped through a seventeen-song set bursting with Di’Anno-era staples like ‘Sanctuary,’ ‘Wrathchild,’ ‘Running Free,’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera.'
And as the newly fortified quintet set off towards incredible new heights that are obviously well documented elsewhere, the musical marriage between Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson seemed all the more ideal and inevitable — as though it had been destined to be consecrated by the very gods of heavy metal from the dawn of time!
You Think You Know Iron Maiden?