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12 things I learned from "What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography" by Bruce Dickinson

This is the amazing life story (so far!) of the lead singer of Iron Maiden.


    1. He is a polymath, speaks quickly and is very funny

    Among other things he is the singer of Iron Maiden, author (besides this book: humor novels that are highly collectible and out of print), movie producer, jumbo jet airline pilot, fencer, beer manufacturer, radio and TV personality and public speaker. The book did not mention that he also created a pilot and maintenance training company

    2. Learning to fence “changed his life” and he was a competitive fencer and competed and trained during the Iron Maiden tours. He has been internationally ranked.

    3. Interesting conscious decision to not mention any wives, children or divorces (of anyone) in the book

    He did that to make the book a reasonable length. I was starting to wonder whether he had any relationships (he did and does).

    As he said in his book, it was a pragmatic choice so that the book did not drone on forever, and he could focus on telling an interesting story. As much as he has done in his life and mentioned in the book, he left a lot out.

    I can't recall seeing it done this way in other autobiographies, but it is a very good idea, especially for people with complex relationships. They end up telling the story of the relationship instead of everything else. It also drags a lot of people into a book that they may want no part of. It was a wise decision.

    4. He developed the Iron Maiden shows and brand to be very theatrical

    He was the second singer in the band but when he was hired he wanted to have a strong role in the direction of the band. After reading this I watched a concert video from 2018. I was always a fan of Iron Maiden's albums but I thought that their shows and vocals seemed a little corny. Now I "get it" and it is a lot of fun. In the concert that I saw Bruce was sword fighting with a giant Eddie puppet. They play for their fans, not the music press.

    5. Deep purple’s Speed King was the song that inspired his passion for music

    6. To sing the first lines of a song you need to put your life into it

    7. He seized disks in his neck from head banging early in his career and had life long nerve damage

    8. He became a professional big jet pilot, working full time, flying with passengers while touring with Iron Maiden as a break!

    He told an anecdote of an Iron Maiden fan that asked him for directions in an airport and did not recognize him.

    9. He starred in a flying reality show for the discovery channel

    10. He purchased a WWI Fokker tri plane and flies it in air shows

    11. He is a cancer survivor and had an extremely practical and stoic approach to overcoming adversity

    He got his flight physicals up to date before the treatment started. He also ate to gain weight before the treatment and then focused on beating cancer like it was his job. He did it! The cancer was in his head and tongue, and he trained himself to sing and tour again.

    12. Iron Maiden toured on chartered airplanes for years: Ed force One with Bruce and 2 other pilots doing the flying

    Bruce is very entrepreneurial and managed to lease airplanes during the off season to become Ed Force One. This let Iron Maiden tour worldwide in comfort and lease planes at bargain rates because they would have been in storage. As the planes got bigger he kept getting new licenses to fly them.


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