Dickinson talks cancer battle and getting back to business

bruce39Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson has talked about his recent battle with cancer, and also about getting back to singing on stage.

Maiden received the O2 Silver Clef award from the Nordoff Robins charity this week, in honor of their massive contribution to UK music. BBC took the opportunity to ask Dickinson about the health issue he has faced over the past six months, being treated for cancer.

The singer revealed that he had two separate tumors in his neck: “One was three and a half centimeters — the size of a golf ball. And the other one was two and a half centimeters, and getting a bit bigger. And that was the only symptom — I had a lump in my neck, and that was the second one. So I went to the doc, and they went, ‘Oh, that’s a bit weird.’ “

The doctors found that Dickinson had head and neck cancer. The singer underwent chemotherapy and radiology early this year and was declared free of cancer in May, at which point Iron Maiden set about getting back to business. They are about to unleash their new album, The Book Of Souls, and will go back on tour in early 2016.

But how has the illness affected the voice of Maiden?

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PHOTO COPYRIGHT JOHN McMURTRIE 2015

Janick Gers, Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith receive the Nordoff Robins award on behalf of Iron Maiden. (Photo: John McMurtrie)

Dickinson says that he is still healing and that he is not going to push things too far for a while. “The inside of my head has been cooked, pretty effectively. So, you know, that will all take a while to heal up and it’s coming back. But, I mean, I’ve got… I can sing, I can talk… I haven’t gone out and done the equivalent of trying to run a hundred meters in the same way that I used to sing before.”

None of this will affect the new album, of course, which was recorded in late 2014. At that point Dickinson had not yet been diagnosed, and bandmate Steve Harris tells Kerrang! that no one suspected anything was wrong.

“He wasn’t showing any signs of being ill,” Harris states. “There was no inkling of any of it. He’d finished all his vocal bits completely anyway, and then there were some other bits and pieces we were doing. Really, we didn’t know anything — he didn’t show any signs at all. I mean, his singing, when you hear it… He’s singing better than ever.”

The Maiden chief refuses to discuss how he or anybody else in the band dealt with such a very personal situation, but he does offer praise for Dickinson and a view to the future: “The one thing I can say is that Bruce is a trooper and more than ready for the next chapter of Iron Maiden. What matters now is that we’ve got an album coming out that I think our fans are going to love and we’re all excited to share with them.”

Thanks to Blabbermouth for the news!

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6 thoughts on “Dickinson talks cancer battle and getting back to business

    • Ha, I’m a bug Rush fan too. I saw them with brother last month in Boston, they’re his absolute favorite band ever, and it was an amazing show. Interestingly enough, he’s also a big Maiden fan, and they’re my favorite band ever. We share a lot of interests 😆

      Good to hear Bruce is doing alright, and that the therapy didn’t affect his larynx. It’s hard to imagine he could have a tumor the size of a golf ball on his tongue and not notice it, but I’m just glad they could get rid of it. Looking forward to finally seeing Maiden in 2016! Up the Irons!!!!

    • I wouldn’t know the difference, Ghost, I just go by what Rod tells me. 😉 Should have known better by now. This wasn’t the only mistake or distortion in the first press release, it seems…

      Anyway, I would think the swelling from the treatment would affect much more than just the tumour. In any case, his voice sounds a lot rougher now than it did one year ago. I hope he seeks some professional help in getting back into singing shape. No shame in that.

      • I agree with you about the press release, but what were they going to say? Our singer has 2 head and neck cancer with 2 tumours? It was probably better they kept it quiet.

        Regarding Bruce’s voice, he sounds rougher, but the swelling from the treatment is probably still there. That being said, his voice sounded less rough shortly after the treatment:

        Anyway, I am sure that he will be back on form, with professional help or without it. He is not daft. 😉

  1. @Ghost: I just don’t want to underestimate the challenge he is up against. Singing and performing like Bruce does, in his late 50s, is really extreme even without the cancer factored in.

    For all I know he could have had a severe cold at the time of the BBC interview. Sure sounds like it. Then again, they’ve been pretty clear that he will need lots of time to recover.

    • @Norwayman: My point is that after treatment he has sounded rougher than in the past (Nordoff Robbins event) or fine (radio interview I have posted from April 2015). I am sure he will take the time to recover completely and do anything that needs to be done to be his usual self.

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