Singer Bruce Dickinson was part of classic albums with Samson, Iron Maiden and in his solo career that became favorites of many fans worldwide. The musician fronted some BBC Radio shows over the years, one of them being “Masters Of Rock” and in the website of the show, Dickinson listed the 15 essential albums that everyone should listen. To show the perspective that the Maiden vocalist had on these albums, Rock and Roll Garage gathered his opinions about the bands in interviews over the decades and interesting connections he has with them.
The 15 albums that Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson listed as some of his favorites
Deep Purple “In Rock”
Over the decades Bruce Dickinson always shared his love for Deep Purple and especially for the singer Ian Gillan and in an interview with Double J back in 2018, he recalled his reaction when he accidentally first heard Purple’s album “In Rock” in school: “I was walking up and down the corridor at boarding school and I heard this racket coming from behind a door. I thought, ‘Oh my god, what is that?!’ So, I knocked on the door and this senior boy opened the door and looked at me with a big sneer on his face. I asked, ‘Who was that?’. He went, ‘Oh, it’s Deep Purple if you must know, ‘Speed King’’ and shut the door.
“That was that, I was hooked. We used to have little auctions in the boarding house. People would be short of money and wouldn’t have enough money to have enough to pay their bill at the school shop. So they’d auction their stuff off. LPs got auctioned quite regularly.”
“The second LP that I got was Deep Purple In Rock. Scratched to bits. So I paid 50 cents Australian for it. I loved it and played it absolutely to death. I think I might have blown up my parents’ stereogram with it.”
Dickinson sang live many times over the decades Deep Purple songs with some members of the band. In November 2021 he was part of the Jon Lord tribute in Hungary alongside Purple bassist Roger Glover.
Jimi Hendrix “Jimi Hendrix Experience”
Jimi Hendrix changed the Rock and Roll guitar in the late 60s with classic albums like “Jimi Hendrix Experience” (1967), listed by Dickinson, and inspired a whole generation of musicians, but he not only was important musically to Bruce Dickinson. In his lectures around the world the singer tells stories about his life and career and back in 2019 at the Campus Party festival in Brasilia, Brazil as reported by Brazilian’s Maiden fan club website Iron Maiden 666, he said that a Hendrix story inspired the Heavy Metal to have their own airplane.
“I read a book about Jimi Hendrix when I was learning to fly. I discovered that early in his career, people in America used to travel in old DC-3, something a little faster than walking. But not so reliable. Then the Hendrix manager said: Hey! Why don’t we just get a couple of guitars, some drumsticks and suddenly you can be in San Francisco one day and the next day in New York?”
“This will only cost us something like $ 500! Wow!! Okay, but of course someone asked: how will we do with the amplifiers and PA? Then the manager said: you can just rent them is simple! I read this and was inspired because I am basically a big child of 60 years old. So I thought that, quite romantic, I could also fly around with a band and do shows. Because I would fly the plane and I could do this by singing!”
“But of course it would not be that easy, because it never happens that way. The accountants said that we could not do that, that we didn’t have the money to go to South America, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. I then came up with this crazy idea because I was working as a pilot in an airline. I knew that in the winter of Europe the rental of airplanes was much cheaper. Why not have our own Magic Carpet?”
Jethro Tull “Aqualung”
Bruce Dickinson and bassist Steve Harris always shared their love for Progressive Rock music over the years and especially for Jethro Tull, what even made them cover Tull’s classic “Cross -Eyed Mary”, a track from “Aqualung”, back in the 80s that is available on Maiden’s “The Best Of The B’ Sides”.
Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson talked in an interview in 2021 with The Metal Voice about the two musicians that are fans of his work and even gave his opinion on Dickinson’s singing on the cover: “I think his interest in Jethro Tull is probably based on having gone in a direction kind of beyond the performances that you would associate yourself with Iron Maiden. So the first thing Iron Maiden seemed to be linked to Jethro Tull was a song called Cross -Eyed Mary which was on the Aqualung album. They did it on an early record release. I think they did it in the same key as I did. But that puts it in the impossible key for Bruce Dickinson. Bruce is a tenor and I am a baritone , a low baritone.”
“So for him to sing down here, he had to go up an octave but then he was going up really an octave which out it in a very uncomfortable high register that even as young Bruce Dickinson. He was pushing his luck singing it an octave higher, than my original vocal.”
Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin IV”
Released back in 1971, Led Zeppelin IV is the groups best selling album and it has many famous songs like “Black Dog, “Rock and Roll”, “Stairway To Heaven” and “Going To California”.
In an interview with Loudwire back in 2015, Bruce Dickinson talked about some vocalists he looks up to and Robert Plant was one of them. “The early Robert Plant stuff, really early Zeppelin was unbelievable. My favorite stuff from that era, they did like Danish TV shows and they did live. Wow, it is like completly unedited. Raw as it was and it’s just astonishing, it’s primal.”
But if he has to choose between Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, he prefers Purple as he said in an interview with Metal Hammer back in 2016: “I was always a bigger Purple fan than Zeppelin. But I never saw either Zeppelin or Purple when I was a kid, when they were in their heyday. Zeppelin were adopted by American radio big-style. But I’ve got to confess that the thing I loved most about Zeppelin was their English folk roots. Not their copies of American blues tracks.”
Iron Maiden covered Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” with Bruce Dickinson on vocals for the b-side of their 1990 single “Bring Your Daughter To the Slaughter”.
Black Sabbath “Vol. 4”
Black Sabbath‘s fourth album “Vol. 4” was released in 1972 and it was the first one that wasn’t produced by Rodger Bain, guitarist Tony Iommi was the responsible for it with a little help of their manager Patrick Meehan.
Some of the album’s classic songs are “Changes”, “Supernaut” and “Snowblind”. Bruce Dickinson already covered a Sabbath song, but it was “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” (From the album of the same name) with Godspeed for Sabbath’s tribute album “Nativity In Black”, released in 1994.
However, the singer dind’t like the result and said in an interview with Double J back in 2018 “I’m guilty as charged, I did a terrible cover of this song because somebody offered me money. I was out of Maiden and short of a few quid. So I went, ‘Yeah, go on then’. It just proved that you should never try and cover legendary things. They should just stay legendary.”
Rainbow‘s second studio album, “Rising” (1976) became the most famous of the Dio era in the vocals and had classics like “Stargazer”, “Tarot Woman” and “Run With The Wolf”.
Dickinson is a big Ronnie James Dio fan and in an interview with Loudwire in 2021 he praised Dio saying he was in the tenor range and it was one of his favorites: “I’m definitely in the tenor range. But obviously there’s different types of tenor. You’ve got a lyric tenor, which has a very light and fiddly type top end voice and there’s a robust tenor, which can almost go down into a baritone.”
“One of my favorite tenors is Ronnie Dio. Ronnie was kind of a hybrid. As he got older his voice was much more robust.”
Thin Lizzy “Live and Dangerous”
Recorded in 1976 and released in 1978, “Live and Dangerous” is a double live album that became Thin Lizzy‘s most acclaimed album of the type. It reached No. 2 in the UK album charts, ultimately selling over half a million copies in the UK.
Iron Maiden covered the Thin Lizzy song “Massacre” (That appears on “Live and Dangerous”) from the 1976 album “Johnny The Fox” that was released on the b-side of Maiden’s single “Can I Play With Madness” back in 1988.
Van Halen “Van Halen”
Like Hendrix in the late 60s, Eddie Van Halen changed the guitar in the late 70s, inspiring a whole new generation of guitarists that started to copy his technique. Van Halen’s debut album gave the world classic songs like “Runnin’ With The Devil”, “Eruption”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and “Atomic Punk”.
Released in 1978, the record peaked at number 19 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 10 million copies in the United States, receiving Diamond certification.
Aerosmith “Live Bootleg”
Another live double album listed by Bruce Dickinson, Aerosmith’s “Live Bootleg” (1978) had almost all the classic songs from the first era of the American band like: “Back In The Saddle”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Toys In The Attic”, “Walk This Way” and “Dream On”.
In his memoir Rocks (2004), the band’s guitarsit Joe Perry confessed that the idea behind the LP confounded their label Columbia: “We were working on Live! Bootleg!, an album of old shows that we intentionally wanted to sound bootlegged.”
“A couple of those tracks were recorded off air onto a cassette. It had hiss all over it. We left on the hiss because the hiss was real. But I’m not sure Columbia ever understood our concept. They wanted a clean sound. But we wanted to keep it real. That’s the thrill of a real bootleg,” Joe Perry said.
UFO “Strangers In The Night”
Considered one of the best live albums of all time, “Strangers In The Night” was relased in 1978 and it was UFO’s last concert recording with guitarist Michael Schenker before the band’s reunion in 1993.
Already a tradition in Iron Maiden concerts, the last song played in the venue before the group hits the stage is UFO’s “Doctor Doctor”.
Judas Priest “British Steel”
Judas Priest’s sixth album, “British Steel” remains as one of their best selling records and one of the most important albums in Heavy Metal history. It has tracks like “Breaking The Law”, “Metal Gods”, “Living After Midnight” and “United”.
Even though he listed “British Steel” as an essential album, Bruce Dickinson already criticized during his spoken-word performance back in 2020 in Hamburg, Germany, singers that use teleprompters on stage, using Judas Priest’s Rob Halford as an example, saying: “I don’t use an autocue on stage. A lot of singers now, they just have the words there: ‘Breaking the law, breaking the law.’ Breaking the what? ‘Breaking the law, breaking the law.'”
Ozzy Osbourne “Blizzard Of Ozz”
The first album of Ozzy Osbourne‘s solo career, “Blizzard Of Ozz” became an instant success when it was relased back in 1980, not only because the vocalist but due to the incredible band that had guitarist Randy Rhoads, basist Bob Daisley, drummer Lee Kerslake and keyboardist Don Airey. The album had hits like “I Don’t Know”, “Crazy Train”, “Goodbye To Romance”, and “Mr. Crowley”.
Even though Bruce listed the album, there was afeud between Ozzy and Iron Maiden back in 2005 at the Ozzfest as Sharon Osbourne recalled in an interview with Howard Stern back in 2005 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage): “We’ve know those guys since the 80s and we offered them the show. They were getting paid $185.000 dollars each night. Everything they wanted they got. They would go on stage and Bruce Dickinson, each night would slag Ozzy. (He would) Say really disrespectful things about him and Ozzy is the schmuck that is paying him!”
“So I’m thinking to myself ‘Let it go on. Just carry on your little shit’. So on the last night in L.A, I’ve got 200 hispanic kids, loaded them with eggs. They had peanut butter, they fucking pelted the shit out of them. Then I went on stage and I said ‘Look, don’t fuck with us. Don’t be disrespectful, this is what you get.”
AC/DC “Back In Black”
Released in 1980, “Back In Black” was the first album after Bon Scott’s death and the first one of feature vocalist Brian Johnson. It became the second best-selling album in music history with an estimated amount of 50 million copies worldwide.
In an Iron Maiden listening party promoted by the band on Twitter back in 2021, reported by Kerrang! The band’s guitarist Adrian Smith, recalled that AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson was one of the first people outside the band that heard the classic “2 Minutes to Midnight” because AC/DC were also a the Bahamas at the time. “I remember AC/DC arriving at the studio just as we were leaving. Bruce collared Brian Johnson and we played him a rough mix .”
During his solo career in the 90s when the now Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers was with him, he played live AC/DC’s song “Sin City”
Whitesnake “Come An’ Get It”
Whitesnake’s fourth studio album, “Come An’ Get It” was released in 1981 and besides vocalist David Coverdale, had two other Deep Purple members: drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Jon Lord.
At the time it was Whitesnake’s highest-charting release in the UK, hitting No. 2 and being kept off the top spot by Adam and the Ants’ Kings of the Wild Frontier.
Iron Maiden “Number Of The Beast”
Iron Maiden’s third studio album and the first one to feature Bruce Dickinson on vocals, “The Number of The Beast” (1982) it was the first album of the group to top the UK Albums Chart and reach the top 40 of the US Billboard 200. In an interview with Metal Hammer back in 2020, Bruce Dickinson discussed the making of “Number Of the Beast”, saying: “I had a vision for The Number Of The Beast. My voice glued on to Maiden equals something much bigger. We did it fast, four or five weeks. We’d be in the studio till five or six in the morning.”
“We were on tour in Winterthur, Switzerland when we got the news about The Number Of The Beast album. We got a telegram on the Sunday morning going: “Your album is number one!”. And we went: “Fantastic!”. But at the time, we were pushing a 30-seat coach to jump start it, because the driver had let the battery go flat.”