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Why Bruce Dickinson Never Gave In to Drugs

Bruce Dickinson
Karl Walter, Getty Images

Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson suggested that his attitude in controlling his arrogance on and offstage is the reason he didn’t become one of those rock stars who became a victim of drug addiction.

Likening his ego to a balloon, he explained to Rolling Stone that it was a case of looking after its size at any given moment. “You’re the lead singer of Iron Maiden, and you’re going to be arrogant every now and again, because it kind of goes with the territory,” he said. “Mick Jagger, is he arrogant? Yeah, probably – it’s Mick Jagger, for f—‘s sake. Do I make a distinction between me walking down the street and me onstage with Iron Maiden? Yeah.

“It’s like you have a little internal balloon. Normally you walk around and it’s in the little flaccid deflated state inside your head, and nobody sees it. When you walk out on that stage, you have to inflate that balloon, and it has to touch everybody in the audience. So out it comes, and, you know, the bigger the place is, the bigger the balloon. … Then at the end of the show, the balloon has to deflate all the way down, and you have to resume normal service with the rest of humanity. That takes a few hours, I can tell you.”

He noted that some performers never manage it, so “they end up doing heroin or whatever the f— they do, to try and adjust from that transition. The balloon is real and permanent, so they would around with this permanent balloon and they can’t manage to get through doorways or have a normal conversation with people. ‘There’s a 100-foot balloon in front or me – look at me!’ So it’s a skill.”

Dickinson said he’d learned to control his personal balloon during and after Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast tour in 1982. “I realized that I could do this thing,” he said. “I could project. I thought, ‘I can’t carry this thing around with me in everyday life.’ And you’re young, so what happens is you go on a high, you go out to clubs and bars and things, which I did back in the day a lot, and you have a few beers and all of a sudden here comes the big balloon. I’ve got a few beers, and it’s like Jekyll and Hyde. Mr. Hyde comes out and he’s onstage, and you have to learn how to deflate him and put him in his box and say, ‘Back to bed now. Your day is done’.”

But he argued that arrogance and ego were essential for the role of a frontman, and recalled the time he declared Iron Maiden were a better band than Metallica. “I went, ‘I know how to do this. I can blow up this bubble and I’m doing say that we’re better than Metallica. That’s going to f—ing piss everybody off,'” he said. “But I said it because I knew it would piss everyone off. I knew it wouldn’t piss Metallica off, because they’re Metallica. Why do they care?”

Dickinson is currently touring the U.S. to promote his autobiography, What Does This Button Do? Iron Maiden will release The Book of Souls: Live Chapter on Nov. 17.

Next: Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs

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