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Bruce Dickinson: 'What Does This Button Do?': An Autobiography
Out Now (Harper Collins)

metal talk
Words: Steve Göldby
13th November 2017

bruce dickinson

The most anticipated Heavy Metal autobiography for many years, possibly even of all time, does not disappoint in many areas but also asks more questions than it answers at certain points.

Whether you are a Maiden fanatic, an aviation enthusiast, a fencing officianado or none or even all of the above, you will most definitely get something from this extremely well written and entertaining book, such is the calibre of the man, his philosophies and the level of his accomplishments.

It is often rightly said that the most important part of Iron Maiden history is Bruce joining the band and that the second most important part is Bruce re-joining the band but we all know that and we also know that he has excelled at most of his extra-curriculum activities too, hence the expectation for his autobiography to tell us things we did not know or expand upon things we did.

There are surprises, the biggest perhaps being Bruce's almost early departure from Maiden, on 'The Beast On The Road' tour in Newcastle shortly after the band hit the highway to promote what would be their defining opus up until that point in time and their first number one album.

"He's got to fucking go!" bellowed Steve Harris at manager Rod Smallwood who was busy trying to separate the pair as they rolled up their sleeves in readiness for an almighty ruck in the Tyneside car park.

Revelations indeed, but other collossal moments in Maiden history are not afforded the detail you would expect them to be granted, for example his reinstatement as frontman of Maiden, not just a gigantic moment in Maiden history but a supersonic event in Heavy Metal history and the 2008 'Somewhere Back In Time' tour, easily the most ambitious trek undertaken by any band in any genre, ever, apart from perhaps last year's 'The Book Of Souls' tour, but this book ends just as that trek is about to begin.

Perhaps lengthy bouts of touring do not register on Bruce's catalogue of significant memories and pale into insignificance alonsgide actually being in New York on the day of 11th September 2001 and a handful of near-death experiences, especially at the beginning of his flying career.

There was an expectation that his A320 Airbus project would take up significant space in the book, however this project has not yet reached completion which is almost certainly the reason it warrants only a brief mention.

Whilst Led Zeppelin-esque tales of rock'n'roll excesss and debauchery were unlikely, given Bruce's well known preference for healthy pursuits since the 80s and the fact he was driving the flying tour bus further down the line, having a major say in the organisation and execution of the grandest tours ever undertaken by anyone, ever, surely warrants more book pages than the infant and school years, to which a suprising amount of detail has been afforded.

But nothing in childhood is ever wasted.

Bruce explains in the Afterword just why he has omitted certain life events and chopped out over 50,000 words to create the final draft and there are two massive clues as to what to expect in the future.

"There is enough here to be getting on with," says the author of this truly incredible tale and he's absolutely right because after two complete readthroughs, I am still referring back to certain points within the pages and gleaning more and more knowledge and information, and secondly, the title itself - 'An Autobiography'.

Not 'The Autobiography', but 'An Autobiography'.

Many things resonate from these pages, not least Bruce's massive respect for mighty Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, as well as the author's sheer modesty. Amongst his many attributes, he possesses a humbleness that leaves the reader even more in awe of a life that could fill several volumes.

It's not completely without fault however as there is at least one glaring timeline error, as well as Bruce stating at the same point that he got a band together for a certain trip when it is in fact well documented that he already had a full time band at this time and it was indeed they who completed this expedition.

Having said that, 'What Does This Button Do?' is not just a fabulous story but a lesson on how to live life to the full, and beyond and if you want to know what 'Star Trek lemons' are, you'll find out within these captivating pages, gloriously penned by this potential Holy War winner.

If Bruce's story was filed under fiction, many would find it too far fetched but disciples, followers and those with a passing interest will find it truly inspirational, will also discover something about "creative drinking" and that Bruce actually used to be a fish, amongst other snippets that have never been revealed before.

'What Does This Button Do?' can be ordered from Amazon right here.

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Steve Göldby's Heavy Metal Chronicles, 2008 - 2017


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