Loudwire 2015 Artist of the Year: Bruce Dickinson
In 2015, no musician accomplished more than Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. The singer enjoyed success in a host of areas. Early in the year, his cancer battle made headlines, but he eventually beat cancer and was able to return to music. There was also a variety of aviation triumphs both in hobby and profession, the tremendous efforts of Maiden’s 16th studio album, The Book of Souls, along with the announcement of an autobiography as well as Bruce making headway on another solo album.
The year started off on considerably shaky ground in February when the announcement that the seemingly ageless — save for a head of grey hair — and possibly immortal Bruce Dickinson was diagnosed with cancer. While fans exclaimed that cancer would be no match for the god-like singer, the bravado served as a cover-up for something we all knew deep down could send our hero to the same fate as others we once spoke of in the same breath of physical immortality.
The cancer had struck in a most inopportune place: the tongue of one of metal’s most battle-tested singers. One month after being given the “all-clear” from doctors in May, it was revealed that Dickinson actually had two tumors: one on his tongue and another on his lymph node. In an exclusive interview (seen below), the Iron Maiden frontman told us he was painfully aware of his situation when the band was recording The Book of Souls (more on the album later), but he soldiered on knowing there was a chance this could be the last time he ever got to sing. Following the recording, a doctor inspected the visibly protruding lumps and the diagnosis ensued.
While the world waited for Bruce to return to his “usual indefatigable levels of fitness before going out on the road,” he kept busy with his passion for aviation. In June, he turned his focus towards launching his own airline under his aircraft maintenance business, Cardiff Aviation. Talking about his newest business venture, Dickinson stated, “If you are looking to establish an airline, we will do all of the procurement, technical execution and administration on your behalf. We can give you a one-stop ‘airline in a box’ — all you need to do is sell the tickets, and we’ll do the rest.”
Biding time before the September release of The Book of Souls, the singer’s love affair with flying met at a cross-section between hobby, business and Iron Maiden in August. Taking a joy-flight on his personal Fokker triplane, Dickinson ran low on fuel and diverted his course to make an emergency landing at the Royal Air Force Halton in Buckinghamshire, England. The RAF applauded his decision-making, stating, “To see such a well-regarded pilot, and world-renowned rock singer, make this decision is great for our student pilots to see. It makes them realize that anyone can find themselves low on fuel due to unforeseen circumstances and that the right decision is to divert.”
Later in the month, Bruce opened a pop-up shop in London in collaboration with Aeris Aviation at the famous Harrods department store. The reason? To sell a $3 million Eclipse 550 private jet. Speaking more about the aircraft, he stated, “The market for it to reach its full potential is enormous. There are no other twin engine jets that can come close to the Eclipse in terms of cost and economy and, with a range in excess of 1000nm, it is ideal for Europe. It is great to fly and I am excited by the future for this remarkable aircraft.”
The Eclipse 550 is the same type of jet Dickinson piloted on Iron Maiden’s last three tours before they made the decision to upgrade Ed Force One to a jumbo jet in late August. The plane, twice as large and three times the size of the Boeing 757, will make its maiden Maiden voyage on the band’s 2016 world tour. At the time of the announcement, Bruce was still undergoing training to attain his license to pilot the new touring aircraft.
Sept. 4 marked the release of the double album, The Book of Souls, ending a five-year drought between Iron Maiden albums. The wait was well worth it as fans were treated to another stellar effort from the British sextet. Steve Harris had sung the praises of Dickinson’s efforts earlier in the year and deservedly so. Venturing into the back half of his 50s and with two yet-to-be diagnosed tumors to contend with, the singer pulled off one of the most impressive performances of his studio career. Co-authoring the songs “Speed of Light” and “Death or Glory” with guitarist Adrian Smith, the duo laid their collective fingerprints down together for the first time since 1984.
Bookending the album are two tracks penned exclusively by Dickinson. The album opener “If Eternity Should Fail” was originally intended to appear on his next solo album, but, with some convincing, it landed on The Book of Souls. Closing the record was the song that forced a double album. The epic, 18-minute “Empire of the Clouds” features four movements, all lead by a gorgeous piano melody. Despite self-admittedly being a “terrible piano player,” Dickinson displayed his remarkable talents as a songwriter as well as showcasing his propensity for brilliant storytelling complete with his signature operatic vocal style.
With another acclaimed Iron Maiden album under his belt, the frontman announced two more endeavors. Long overdue was the news that Dickinson will be writing an autobiography, tentatively targeting a fall 2017 release. On the musical side, he announced he has about half of a new solo album written, which will be the first since 2005’s Tyranny of Souls. With a pending world tour in 2016, Iron Maiden’s ‘air-raid siren’ shows no signs of slowing down, which is what makes him Loudwire’s 2015 Artist of the Year.
Bruce Dickinson Opens Up on Cancer Battle
See Where Bruce Dickinson Ranks Among the Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Frontmen of All Time