Nicko McBrain feared he wouldn’t be able to play drums again after suffering a stroke.

The 71-year-old Iron Maiden drummer was hospitalized earlier this year and he admitted his first thought was that he’d be unable to honor his commitments to the band’s tour, but worked hard to regain his fitness and stamina.

He told Metal Hammer magazine, “It was very, very difficult. When it first happened I thought, ‘This is it, I’m not going to be able to play. I’ve got a tour coming up in three months time.’

“I had a lot of time for reflection in the hospital," he continues. "My wife was really my bastion of strength and encouragement and she was with me throughout. I did a lot of strength exercises, a lot of stretches with weird weights that they have and I got my stamina back.”

Nicko praised his bandmates, particularly bassist Steve Harris, for being so supportive throughout his recovery.

He said, “Throughout all this period of time I was in touch with Steve, obviously all the guys, and I’d have a bit of a chat with them on the phone and they were all very, very encouraging, and none more so than Steve. He said, ‘Look the most important thing is that you get well and work on getting yourself together.’“

READ MORE: How an Injury Changed Nicko McBrain's Drum Playing

The drummer felt it was important to share with fans what had happened because he hoped to be a positive example. He explained, “I felt they deserved to know why I wasn’t giving it 100 percent and that was my primary reason."

“The secondary reason was that if I can help one person as an example of my striving to get better then it’s worth doing, so it was kind of a double-barreled thing for me to let the fans know and help someone say, ‘Well, if Nick can do it, I can do it. He had 13 weeks of recovery and he’s ended up doing a tour of Europe.’“

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