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The 2 rock stars who said Iron Maiden’s Paul Di’Anno is one of the best singers of all time

Iron Maiden
Image from the right by @theorshos


The 2 rock stars who said Iron Maiden’s Paul Di’Anno is one of the best singers of all time

Born in Chingford, London, England in 1958, Paul Di’Anno was the vocalist of Iron Maiden from 1978 until 1981. He recorded with the group their first two studio albums: “Iron Maiden” (1980) and “Killers” (1981). Even though the band achieved a higher commercial success with his replacement Bruce Dickinson, the records with Di’Anno are still highly influential and loved by millions of fans worldwide.


There also two legendary fans that even chose him as one of the best singers of all time when they’ve made the list to Rolling Stone of the best singers in history in their opinion back in 2008. Rock and Roll Garage selected what those two famous rock stars said about Di’Anno, Iron Maiden and Heavy Metal music over the years.

The 2 rock stars who said Iron Maiden’s Paul Di’Anno is one of the best singers of all time

James Hetfield

Metallica and Iron Maiden are two of the biggest Heavy Metal bands of the last 40 years and both of them continue to play for millions of fans around the world. But the British band was a big influence to the American group in the early days and the singer and vocalist James Hetfield is one of the legendary rock stars that picked Paul Di’Anno as one of the greatest singers of all time. Hetfield placed him in the position number 6, in front of names like Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury and Johnny Cash. In front of Di’Anno, Hetfield only picked names like: Bon Scott, Chris Cornell, Rob Halford, Layne Staley and Ronnie James Dio.

Over the decades, the Metallica frontman often praised the early days of Maiden, especially the era that had Di’Anno on vocals. Talking with the Colombian radio station Radioacktiva in 2016 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he was asked about his influences and he mentioned Maiden. “Early Iron Maiden albums. I love the new wave of the British Heavy Metal. That makes me feel good. It reminds me of youth”.

Hetfield recalled the experience of buying the first Iron Maiden album

He also praised Maiden’s debut album in a video posted on Metallica’s official Youtube channel in 2016 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). He talked about some of his memories of going to record stores when he was young. One of them was buying that Maiden record. “I bought this (Maiden’s debut album) just because of this (the cover), because look at that! Why would you not buy this?”

“That dude look really menacing and evil. I bought that and I had never even heard of them. So I bought it, put it on and I’m glad I did. Because it was a really was a big inspiration for me in the early days,” James Hetfield said.

Fanboy moment with Iron Maiden before they were famous

Hetfield and his bandmate Lars Ulrich formed Metallica in 1981, when Iron Maiden already their first two albums released. The two musicians already were big fans of those records and as the frontman recalled in an interview for Metallica official channel in 2017 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) they chased Maiden’s founder, main lyricist and bassist Steve Harris in the streets of Los Angeles.

“1981, hanging out in Hollywood, California driving around. It’s Ron McGovney (First Metallica bassist), me and Lars (Ulrich) in the back seat. Seeing Steve Harris (Iron Maiden bassist and main lyricist), (we) found out were they stayed. (So) seeing Steve Harris walking down the street and us, you know. Dorky shy metalheads (screaming) ‘Hey Steveeee’. He actually turns around and starts walking towards and we are like ‘Ahhhh’ (In total shock).”

“It was our first brush with somebody kind of cool and famous. So that always stuck with me. Steve Harris, super down to earth and really cool guy. Nothing has changed. I mean, he showed up at the show that we did. It’s really cool when other musicians are hanging out watching you do what you do.”

James Hetfield continued:

“It takes you to another level. You gotta kind of go to ‘Olympic Metal’, ‘Medal! Whatever (laughs), you got Olympic mode. Like you step it up. Our setlist was at least like 5 minutes faster, the set time. Lars was so nervous ‘Oh my god, Steve Harris is watching me! This part sounds too much like Iron Maiden?’ (Laughs).”

“Usually halfway through the show you figure ‘Okay. He is gone and he moved on to the next thing’, But no, the whole show was standing there. The whole show to the very end and not only he was there the whole time. He got in the vehicles with us (laughs), came to the hotel with us, like, super cool guy. Then we got to see them a couple days later and likewise, super hospitable there,” James Hetfield said.

Billy Gibbons

The rock star that many fans would never expect to like Iron Maiden’s music and Paul Di’Anno is the legendary ZZ Top vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons. But, on the list he made for Rolling Stone in 2008 of the best singers of all time he placed the ex-Maiden frontman in the position number 6. He was in front of names like Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Robert Plant, James Brown and Johnny Cash on the list made by Gibbons.
The only names that appeared in front of Di’Anno were Gregg Allman,  Bobby “Blue” Band, Brian Wilson, Steve Winwood and Little Richard. Curiously, Maiden is not the only heavier band that Gibbons admires. He already praised Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and even Motörhead. In an interview with The Quietus in 2016 he picked Motörhead’s final album “Bad Magic” as one of his favorites of all time.
“Motörhead on the other hand are very much included in that heavy metal thing. My tribute to Lemmy would be that he was genuine, through and through. He never posed behind any manner of falsehood. He was exactly what he stood for: a rock & roller through and through. I once heard it said that he caught one of his sons, He caught his youngster extolling the virtues of speed. Lemmy said: ‘Naw, don’t get too much behind speed. What you want is weed!’” Billy Gibbons said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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