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Why Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson refuses to retire


Ageing gracefully is essential in rock music. Nobody likes to see a band on-stage forget this vital rule and allow their growing guts or receding hairlines to dictate their swagger. For Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, retirement isn’t an option, he never wants to hang up the microphone. There’s quite literally nothing else he’d like to do with his life.

Dickinson still gets that same buzz from performing as he did when he first joined Maiden all those years ago, and there’s no replacement for the endorphin release he gets during a concert. It’s all he’s known for the entirety of his adult life, and the singer wants it to stay as his occupation until he draws his final breath.

Retirement in rock is a strange phenomenon because it’s not a traditional job, and the overwhelming majority of musicians are in it solely for the love of the art itself. In fact, artists such as Phil Collins, Tina Turner and David Bowie all reversed their retirement plans after realising there was little else they could do which would fulfil them as intently.

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As long as their health is stable, most musicians will carry on working in the studio and touring until they no longer can, albeit on a reduced, lighter schedule. However, that’s not on the agenda for Dickinson, and he believes Iron Maiden will never die.

“I don’t see any reason why we should ever retire,” Dickinson once explained. “As an airline captain, I was always told that nobody ever dies on an aeroplane. Even if the guy’s head is severed from his body, he’s not dead, because if the boss, the captain… If somebody says, ‘The guy’s head has fallen off.’ ‘Well, is he dead?’ ‘Well, he’s not dead until somebody legally says he’s dead.’

“So, nobody dies until somebody stands up and says, ‘Yup. He’s definitely dead.’ ‘Ha! You’re responsible then. You killed him.’ It’s the same with rock and roll bands. We will never die. Even if we are actually dead, we will still never actually die.”

Dickinson reiterated these claims in 2022 when Dickinson admitted he could foresee a scenario where the band literally die during a performance, which would be a spectacular and fitting way to end Iron Maiden. However, let’s hope that frightful moment doesn’t occur anytime soon.

“We’re not planning to retire at all, really,” Bruce said. “I think we’ll probably drop dead on-stage. I can think of worse places to drop dead. But no, we’re not planning on retiring. We’re all still firing away [with] loads of energy and loads of enthusiasm, so I can’t wait to get back together [with the other guys to start rehearsing for the upcoming tour].”

Dickinson still has years left of being able to parade energetically on stage, and at 64, he’s a whippersnapper compared to some of his peers in the music business. It’s no longer solely a young person’s game with the endless buoyancy of Mick Jagger, proving age is just a number.