Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson began his professional career as the singer in a band called Samson. The Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England, native was called “Bruce Bruce” – after a beloved Monty Python sketch – at the time. In 1981, after two albums with the group, he was looking for a change. He found it in a band that had opened for Samson.
In September 1981, Iron Maiden had parted ways with singer Paul Di’Anno. Dickinson was called in to audition. He had learned all the songs from their first two records, but bassist and band leader Steve Harris was running late. “So we just started playing old Deep Purple songs, which we all knew,” Dickinson recalled. “Suddenly, we discovered that we all liked the same music. The atmosphere was fantastic. And then Steve turned up. And we went, ‘Hey, we’ve been buzzing away. What should we do?’”
A run-through of the Maiden catalog sold Harris on the singer, and Dickinson made his Iron Maiden debut a month later during a tour of Italy. The rest of the world got to hear the new singer the following March, when The Number of the Beast appeared in record stores. That launched a string of four consecutive U.S. platinum albums for the band; the next two went gold.
Dickinson released a solo LP, Tattooed Millionaire, at the dawn of the ’90s. Tensions within Iron Maiden soon grew and, after touring behind 1992’s Fear of the Dark, he left the band to concentrate on his own career.
Beginning with 1994’s Balls to Picasso, Dickinson put out four records in as many years, but none of them sold all that well. Similarly, Iron Maiden’s attempts to carry on with Blaze Bayley as their frontman didn’t exactly soar up the charts either. Peace was eventually made, and Dickinson – along with guitarist Adrian Smith, who quit the band in 1990 – returned in 1999. Brave New World arrived a year later.
Dickinson has remained in front of Iron Maiden ever since. Throughout his career, he’s shown that there’s more to him than that powerful voice. He’s the pilot for the band’s plane, Ed Force One, and has competed internationally as a fencer. His interest in beer spearheaded Iron Maiden’s successful foray into brewing, beginning in 2013 with Trooper Premium Ale. Several other varieties following in subsequent years. His four-decade career is mapped out below in Bruce Dickinson Year-by-Year: Photos 1980-2020.