The time Blaze Bayley and Bruce Dickinson sang together at an Iron Maiden show in 1990

Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson performing onstage and Blaze Bayley posing offstage
(Image credit: Gie Knaeps/Mick Hutson/Redferns))

Bruce Dickinson left some massive shoes to fill when he quit Iron Maiden in 1993 after 12 years and seven albums. The man tasked with the mammoth job of replacing him was Blaze Bayley, former singer with British heavy metal livewires Wolfsbane.

Blaze’s recruitment before 1995’s The X-Factor album took many Maiden fans by surprise – ex-Helloween singer Michael Kiske was the bookie’s favourite. Except perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise given that Blaze had actually sung with Iron Maiden back in 1990 - when Bruce was still in the band.

In an upcoming interview with Metal Hammer, Blaze reveals how he came to sing with the band he’d go on to join a few years later. The story began in the late 80s when the two singers met at metal convention the Concrete Music Foundations Forum in LA. Wolfsbane were a buzz band at the time, having become the first British band to be signed by star-making Slayer/Beastie Boys producer Rick Rubin to his new label Def Jam.

“Wolfsbane were out at there and so was Bruce,” Blaze tells Metal Hammer. “People used to say we looked like each other back then, so we had a laugh about that, and he bought us all a drink.”

In 1990, Wolfsbane bagged the opening slot on Maiden’s No Prayer For The Dying tour, an opportunity they seized with both hands. “We were so ambitious,” recalls Blaze. “It sounds so arrogant, but we were going to do our best to rob the Iron Maiden fans off Iron Maiden. We’d go out there and tear it up and push it. I’d be climbing all over the place, climbing all over the speakers, running everywhere.”

Blaze was waiting for someone from the headliners’ camp to reprimand him for his antics. When he was cornered by Maiden bassist Steve Harris, he assumed he was going to get a roasting.

“Steve came up one and said, ‘Bloody hell, it’s nice to have a band that’s pushing us.’ Wow, that‘s confidence. He didn’t send the tour manager around to tell us not to climb on the speakers. His attitude was, ‘Well, we’ll have to step it up if these lads are doing that.’ It was brilliant.”

So impressed were Maiden with their support band that they turned a blind eye when they muscled their way onstage to sing backing vocals on the song Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. “They always got fans up to sing the ‘Whoah-oh!’ parts,” says Blaze. “And occasionally we’d storm the stage and go and sing as well.”

But it was at a show in London’s Hammersmith Apollo on October 18, 1990 that Maiden fans in the audience unwittingly got a taste of the band’s future. During Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter, Blaze once again gatecrashed the stage to add backing vocals to the song. “I was really cheeky, I sang quite a bit of Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter,” says Blaze.

Luckily, this prescient moment was captured on audio tape. by an enterprising fan. 

“This is Mr Blaze Bayley of the band Wolfsbane,” says Bruce halfway through the song, to cheers from the audience. He then goes onto jokingly acknowledge the similarity in appearance between the two men. “This is what he looks like, this is what I look like. We just want to thank Wolfsbane for being on the tour, they’re a good bunch of lads, they’ve got terrible taste in beer, they can’t play football.”

At which point, Blaze chips in: “Bruce, I’d just like to say, I’m a lot better looking than you.” That’s when Bruce hands his microphone to Blaze, who proceeds to sing a the chorus for a few seconds.

“Afterwards, the rest of the band were like, ‘Wow, Bruce never does that, he never gives that mic to anybody,’” Blaze tells Metal Hammer.

The next time Blaze sang with Iron Maiden was four years later, when he auditioned for the band following Dickinson’s departure. He got the job and recorded The X-Factor and 1998’s Virtual XI before leaving in 1999 when Bruce returned to the fold.

“Nobody ever seems to put it in any articles – I was actually singing onstage with Iron Maiden in 1990,” says Blaze, whose new live album, his new live album, Damaged Strange Different And Live, is out now. “Who knew what would happen!”

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.