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'Bruce Dickinson: Maiden Voyage' by Joe Shooman
Out Now (Music Press Books)

6th January 2017

metal talk
Words: Steve Göldby

bruce dickinson

The biggest compliment I can pay Joe Shooman's excellent biography of Bruce is that it got me wishing I could make more time to read books. From page one to page 388, it's a rollicking and riveting read, thoroughly enjoyable and action packed all the way through with captivating stories that will keep you enthralled.

The second biggest compliment I can pay the book is that although I had heard all the stories before and actually discovered very little that was new to me, I was still captivated, eyes agaze with wonder at the glorious tales within these pages.

'Maiden Voyage' is actually an updated version of Joe's previous Bruce biography, 'Flashing Metal With Iron Maiden And Flying Solo', which was a superb read in itself and this new version brings us bang up to date. Well almost, because it's immensely difficult to stay up to date with Bruce as he moves at the speed of light, as this volume demonstrates.

bruce dickinson

You knew that anyway, but what you didn't know is some of the finer detail concerning Bruce's recent and past adventures, most of which have been more than well documented. All kinds of names, both big and not so well-known, add their version of events to this remarkable story which stretches right back to the 1950s and starts with a mighty bang that resonates into a different era some fifty-plus years later and doesn't let up at all at any point in-between.

However, time does warp memories somewhat and certain dialogues have been distorted over the years, or to put it in a kinder way, certain versions of events are different to when they were originally told but this just adds to the entertainment value and gives further scope for discussion.

Of the many discourses within the book, two that especially stand out are from Robin Guy, former drummer with Bruce's solo band, who found himself in a tricky situation in Belgium and was bailed out in memorable style by Bruce and that of MetalTalk's Chris Dale who puts across several most memorable and excellently told narratives.

bruce dickinson

Interestingly enough, irrepressible gobshite Paul Di'Anno actually comes across as more thoughtful and intelligent than ever before while Blaze Bayley appears to be running off at a tangent and into some sort of fantasy world with his recollections.

There's no fantasy at all about the success that Bruce has deservedly enjoyed in his music career and his many different diverse offshoot projects and this biog will obviously appeal to aviation enthusiasts as well as Metal fans.

However, much as Bruce is to be admired for all he has achieved and the way he has attacked life, he is not superhuman and one observation I made is that he can be very loose lipped when talking to the press and doesn't always say the right thing but such incredibly minor details should in no way deflect from a personality with more drive than anyone else you can name and a heart bigger than a 747.

Ian Gillan was the singer Bruce most admired before he made it big himself and the Deep Purple singer has written the foreword for this book, including phrases such as "Bruce Dickinson. What a guy," and "he sucked all the air out of the room with his talent."

bruce dickinson

Tales of Bruce standing on the side of the stage while Gillan was performing in the late 70s give an unprecedented insight into how Bruce got to where he is. Samson, Bruce's pre-Maiden band, supported Gillan on a full scale UK tour and the benchmark was set. When you've played as main support to your musical 'hero', for some that is as big as it will get but for this stand out character, it was merely the beginning of a journey that will likely never be matched and still has many more volumes yet to be written.

The book is not without fault. There are typos aplenty and the occasional factual error, Bruce's birthdate being the standout one, but I still consider this the definitive Bruce Dickinson biography so far.

Apparently there is another one due out sometime this year but that's an autobiography, not a biography and most definitely one to really look forward to. Whether time has warped memories on that one obviously remains to be seen, as does the discussion it will no doubt provoke.

'Maiden Voyage' can be ordered from Amazon right here.

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Steve Göldby's Heavy Metal Chronicles, 2008 - 2017


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