Bruce Dickinson says he wanted to front Iron Maiden from the first time he saw the band in action.

In a recent interview with Record Collector, the vocalist said he’d already heard about Steve Harris’ group when Samson, his own outfit at the time, hired them as openers for the show at the Music Machine, London, in May 1979.

“We were headlining because our management had bankrolled the gig and said, ‘We want the top slot’ – although we didn’t really deserve it,” Dickinson recalled.

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“That became obvious when Maiden came on, because the whole place was rammed. I’d heard rumors about how good they were, and I thought I’d better see them. When they came out, I thought, ‘I’ve never seen Deep Purple, but this is what it must have felt like to see Deep Purple in their prime, rocking up a storm.’”

He added: “I remember thinking, ‘Good God, I’d love to front that band.’ And as soon as they finished playing, everybody in the venue left and we were headlining to about three people!”

What Bruce Dickinson Thought of Paul Di’Anno

Asked what he thought of Maiden’s then singer, Paul Di’Anno, Dickinson replied: “He was okay, but he didn’t have a lot of flex to his voice. I thought his voice had come as far as it was going to get.” But he noted: “I saw what the rest of the band were capable of straight away.”

He went on to replace Di’Anno in 1981 before quitting in 1993 ahead of his return six years later. Earlier this year he said that, if he had his life over again, he’d still have left Maiden – but noted: “I would have done it better. I would have had more of a plan.”

Describing the “shock” of realizing he felt institutionalized in Maiden, with no idea how to behave outside the organizaiton, he recalled: “I thought, ‘What do I do about that?’ I made the decision that I either stay… for the rest of my life, or I have to leave.”

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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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