Bruce Dickinson admits to having no idea that Tears Of A Clown was about the late Robin Williams until after he’d recorded it.
The track appears on latest Iron Maiden album The Book Of Souls and pays tribute to the actor and comedian who took his own life in August last year.
But the lyrics were penned by Maiden bassist Steve Harris and vocalist Dickinson says he didn’t make the connection himself – even as he was recording his parts.
Dickinson tells Corus Radio: “Steve wrote the words to the song. He didn’t tell anybody what it was about, and I had no idea when I was singing the song that it was about Robin Williams. So I finished doing the tune, and I went up to him and I said, ‘These words are really cool. What’s the genesis of the tune?’ And he said, ‘Robin Williams.’ And I went, ‘Wow!’ It surprised the hell out of me, because it was so specific.”
The singer says his surprise was mostly down to the fact that Harris’ lyrics usually don’t touch on recent, tragic events.
He adds: “It’s unusual for Steve to be so direct about a subject matter. I was really surprised. It felt really good that he’d written in that way, because I think, in some way, he maybe felt some kind of affinity to the sense of isolation and things that Robin Williams maybe felt.
“There’s some speculation in the song about exactly what it feels like, but you get the impression that some of those things are maybe quite close to home with Steve himself.”
The Book Of Souls hit the top of the charts in 24 countries and Maiden will tour the world in 2016. Maiden are the multiple-cover stars of the latest edition of Classic Rock, on sale now in print, digital and via TeamRock+.