Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Never Could Be a Typical Rock Star; Iron Maiden Singer Bruce Dickinson Tells Emily Retter about His Cancer Battle, His Other Job as an Airline Pilot and Why Drug-Addled Rockers Make Great Parenting Aids

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I Never Could Be a Typical Rock Star; Iron Maiden Singer Bruce Dickinson Tells Emily Retter about His Cancer Battle, His Other Job as an Airline Pilot and Why Drug-Addled Rockers Make Great Parenting Aids

Article excerpt

Byline: Emily Retter

I'M being passed a very cosy-looking tin of Bourbons and chocolate Hobnobs by Bruce Dickinson. "Do you take sugar?" he smiles, tinkling the teaspoon.

This is THE Bruce Dickinson - of Iron Maiden - a heavymetaller who, even at 57, roars on stage in spiked leather cuffs - when he's not 'being mother'. But I'm quickly learning that's his performer persona only.

"I never could be a typical rock star," he says, dunking. "In my case you don't get the stereotype. Rock stars should be tall, skinny and blond, concavechested and wasted - I'm short, brown-haired and English. I'm a bit of an anorak, sadly."

Yeah, I think. Nice try. This is Maiden's fourth decade and their new album The Book of Souls is their 16th. But, clearly, giving me a tales from a rock 'n' roll life on the road, past or present, isn't on his agenda.

"The old stories are irrelevant," he says. "What goes on in rugby clubs is more outrageous." And, as the day goes on, I start to believe him. The amiable frontman sounds like he's always been pretty steady.

Yes, in the early days - he joined the band in 1981 - there was booze. "Only beer" though, he insists. And girls, naturally, although he plays that down. "You would think there was more opportunity - but it depends how high or low your standards are," he shrugs.

But drugs? No. He never got into them. He insists he has never had friends who took drugs either and, when it came to his kids - Austin, 25, Griffin, 23, and Kia, 21, with second wife Paddy - he decided early on he was going to make sure they never wanted to touch them.

"What was great for my kids was when they were growing up and we took them on the road.

"Backstage, there would be some idiot who'd done too much coke sweating profusely, teeth chattering. 'That's because he's on drugs,' I'd say. 'Drugs? Are they a bad thing?' And I'd say, 'Judge for yourself.'.

"The best possible antidote for people not to take drugs is to see a bunch of people who are completely messed up. They got an education in drugs and made good decisions."

There's not much nonsense in Dickinson. He may be worth millions as part of one of the world's highest-earning acts - they've sold 90 million albums - but he uses the Underground and likes steam trains.

And today, we're drinking tea after he's flown us from London to Cardiff in a five-seater Eclipse, a PS2m "nip-about" jet. Because, as well as a rock star, Bruce is a proper pilot, who flies commercial jets as an extra job.

He learned to fly at 30 as a hobby, prompted by a life-long interest in planes triggered as a child when his godfather, who was in the RAF, took him to air shows.

He decided if a job was worth doing "it was worth doing properly", so trained to fly commercial jets and worked as an airline pilot for 10 years from 2000, adding a month of unpaid holiday to his annual leave so he could tour with Maiden. …

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