Bruce Dickinson’s voice alone is enough to inspire most people to do better. The Iron Maiden frontman’s soaring vocals make one feel as though they can hurdle all the shallow bullshit in society and be the philanthropic zombie-fighting zeppelin pilot they want to see in the world. That said, it helps that Bruce Dickinson is also an incredibly giving, thoughtful human being whose behavior as a rock star shows us that it doesn’t always have to be about heroin and groupies. Maybe he’s not perfect, but what that dude does outside of his band, and what he’s been through, is pretty incredible.
In honor of his birthday, here are 9 stories about Bruce Dickinson that make us believe in ourselves a little more every day…
He played the Siege of Sarajevo in 1994.
During the Bosnian War, the city of Sarajevo experienced the longest siege in modern warfare. To Bruce Dickinson, it was obvious what his Bosnian fans needed was some rock and roll to lift their spirits. In 1994, Bruce traveled to the besieged city with his act Skunkworks and played a show in the middle of the war zone. The story became the subject of a documentary titled Scream For Me Sarajevo, and earned Bruce honorary citizenship to the city–proof that music can change everything in the hearts of the hopeless.
He overcame cancer after having a tumor the size of a golf ball.
In 2014, Bruce was diagnosed with tongue cancer after having two tumors discovered, one of which was the size of a golf ball. But in 2015, the singer bounced back after dealing with radiation. In classic Dickinson fashion, he still managed to be humble about it. “I’ve been through what a load of people go through every day,” he told the BBC. “There’s thousands of people every day in the UK and around the world who have treatment for this kind of thing. In that respect the only thing that’s special about it is that I’m quite a well-known person. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve had a really good bounce back.” Any survivor’s story is inspiring–this one just happens to get us in our metal hearts.
He called out Nazi metalheads, saying they had “no place whatsoever in any kind fo music community.”
In December of 2017, a man was ejected from a Vancouver metal show for throwing the ‘Sieg Heil’ hand gesture. This didn’t sit right with Mr. Dickinson, who publicly roasted the jackoff. “People in this country — across the USA, Canada, the U.K.— fathers and grandfathers fought and died to build a world in which this kind of thing doesn’t go on,” he told CBS. “Nazi salutes have no place whatsoever in any kind of music community I want to belong to.” It’s sad that in the world today, this opinion is probably perceived as politically charged — but at least it’s a world where Bruce Dickinson exists to tell these dickheads to fuck off forever.
He does music therapy work with special-needs kids
Plenty of musicians give to charity, but not as many offer their time to charity. Dickinson, however, made himself available to Nordoff Robbins, a music therapy group for children with special needs. “I’ve always thought that music therapy makes sense, because music is a universal language, and it crosses every border, every disability,” said Bruce. “People just like making a racket and it’s very fulfilling, especially if you can make a good racket with somebody. It’s sharing, it’s communicating, but it doesn’t have to be in words.”
He flew an endangered turtle back home to Spain
We swear to God, this happened: in 2016, when an endangered turtle washed up on a beach in Jersey suffering from an infection, a crowdfunding campaign was started to get her back home. Not to pass up such an adorable opportunity, the Iron Maiden vocalist flew her back to Spain, where she was accepted by a sanctuary. Once again: not a joke. Reported in the news. Bruce Dickinson saved an endangered turtle. What have you done today?
He said he’d refuse an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It’s easy to think of Bruce Dickinson as simply one of the biggest rock stars in the world, but the singer has always had an underground metal edge to him, taking the side of the average headbanger where most arena rockers wallow in their critical acclaim. Case in point, when asked by the Jerusalem Post about his feelings on Iron Maiden’s continual snub by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, Bruce laughed at the prospect. “I’m really happy we’re not there and I would never want to be there,” he said. “If we’re ever inducted I will refuse — they won’t bloody be having my corpse in there. Rock and roll music does not belong in a mausoleum in Cleveland. It’s a living, breathing thing, and if you put it in a museum, then it’s dead.” Right the fuck on, man.
He stopped an Iron Maiden show to call out a security guard for assaulting a fan
In September of 2019, a drunken fan at a Tacoma Iron Maiden show got beaten up by security guards who thought that was an appropriate thing to do. Well, the Voice Himself don’t tolerate his fans getting assaulted, so he stopped the show to give the dude the third degree. “It’s not necessary,” Bruce admonished. “it’s not big, it’s not clever. It’s just called bullying. It’s as simple as that.” It would later be insisted that the fan in question was bothering other concertgoers, but it just goes to show that if you’re coming for one of Bruce’s people, you might as well be coming for him.
— Nicole (@RHandLMindCole) September 6, 2019
He dreams of creating a giant aircraft to aid starving children
Part of Bruce’s lifelong ambition has been to help create the newest generation of airships, huge airborne vessels that can carry massive amounts of cargo. His reasoning? It will make it easier to help children in impoverished nations. “You want to put a hospital into Africa?” he told The New Yorker. “You put the whole hospital in the inside of this—whoosh. Start the generator. ‘Here’s your hospital, buddy!’ Job done…And water! With these vehicles, you could drop off a twenty-ton slab of water that is clean, drinkable, to an African village. It’s astonishing what you can do that you just can’t do with anything else.”
He paid his staff’s overdue wages out of his own pocket
In April of 2017, many staff members of Cardiff Aviation, the company that Bruce chairs, hadn’t received pay for two weeks. To make up for that, Bruce paid half of their overdue wages out of his own pocket. “I, and the wider management team, truly regret this situation, and appreciate the impact it will have on our team,” he said, via Wales Online. “We expressed our apologies to staff during a briefing earlier today, and reaffirmed our commitment to address the shortfall as soon as possible.” If the lead singer of Iron Maiden can pony up his own cash to make sure his employees stay afloat, maybe the world ain’t so bad after all.
Words of Chris Krovatin