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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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!