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Music

The hilarious moment Bruce Dickinson accidentally leaked an unreleased Iron Maiden album

Bruce Dickinson is an undisputed titan of heavy metal. He has been the frontman of iconic metal pioneers Iron Maiden for over four decades, and his operatic style of vocal delivery is one of the most influential in the whole of metal, helping to spawn subgenres like power metal, black metal and symphonic metal. 

Aside from being able to hit notes that were once thought possible only for eunuchs, Dickinson is also one of the most interesting characters in music and has undertaken everything from authoring books to piloting across his illustrious career. Understandably, for a man who has seen and done it all, Dickinson has his fair share of anecdotes to tell about his hellraising 40 years of stardom.

One of the most riotous stories involving Dickinson saw the convergence of his two favourite things: music and piloting, but in a way that could have really messed things up for Dickinson and Iron Maiden. 

Working as a commercial pilot around the time that Iron Maiden had completed their 2003 record Dance of Death, the metal frontman revealed that he accidentally broadcast the unreleased record over the airwaves and subsequently found himself in a spot of bother with an air-traffic controller. 

“We were coming back empty from somewhere down in Egypt or somewhere,” Dickinson told listeners at a recent spoken-word event in Austin, Texas. “And we’re flying over Italy… autopilot’s on, thumb in bum, mind in neutral, you know. And my first officer was a big rock fan, a big AC/DC and Airbourne fan, right?… He’d bought his boombox with him, and he said, ‘Hey boss, listen. Do you mind if I listen to music?’ I went, ‘Of course, it’s not strictly company procedure. Fuck it, yeah. Come on!'”.

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Duly, the pair listened to some of the hard-rocking sounds of Airbourne and AC/DC, and then Dickinson realised that he had the new Iron Maiden album in his possession, “which nobody in the world has heard apart from the band and the management”.

The laidback Dickson asked if his colleague wanted to hear it, and of course, he did. “[We] put it in the CD player, as it was then, and put the boombox on the pedestal and we start playing it,” Dickinson recalled. “I shout back to the girls and boys, ‘Anyone wanna hear the new Maiden album?'”.

In the presence of a bonafide rock god, the crew also wanted to hear his new record. Dickinson put his microphone to the speaker. “Probably ‘Rainmaker’ or something is blasting out all through the cabin,” he said. “And it’s been about four minutes or so, and I’m thinking, ‘I haven’t said much on the radio recently'”.

At that point, it dawned on Dickinson that the crew weren’t the only ones who were hearing the unreleased Iron Maiden music. He’d been broadcasting it outside of the plane too. “I finally get on to Rome, and all I can hear is this bloke going, ‘Who is transmitting? Who is transmitting the music? What airline are you? Who are you? Own up!'”.

Although this could have spelt the end of his career as a commercial pilot, the plucky Dickinson managed to dodge any punishment for flaunting the rules. He concluded: “The great thing was, he wouldn’t have a fucking clue who it was because the album wasn’t released yet”.

Watch Dickinson recount this hilarious tale below.