“I’m 85 to 90 percent back to strength.” Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain gives health update following stroke

Nicko McBrain behind a drum kit
(Image credit: Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

Nicko McBrain has spoken about his health following his stroke in January.

The Iron Maiden drummer, 71, revealed in August that he had suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA, or “mini-stroke”) seven months prior, but was still able to perform on the band’s Future Past tour, which started in May.

“It’s going great,” McBrain told Eddie Trunk in a new interview on SiriusXM’s Trunk Nation Power Trip Special (transcribed by Blabbermouth).

“It started off a little shaky for me, but as the time [went on] and the more shows we performed, I started to get a little bit more strength and they’d been really rocking out well. And the last couple of months have been fantastic.”

The musician then said, “I’m 85 to 90 percent back to strength,” and that he’s had to alter parts of his playing as he recovers.

“I had to change certain drum fills. Some fills that everybody knows me for on certain songs, I’ve had to improvise those at rehearsals to be able to actually play the songs. So now I’m starting to actually be able to kind of embrace it a bit more. And I can’t do that live. I have to wait until we start doing some rehearsals again or whatever it is. But I'm definitely getting stronger.”

McBrain first revealed that he had suffered a TIA in a video message on Iron Maiden’s YouTube channel.

The TIA left the drummer paralysed on his right-hand side from the shoulder down. He required 10 weeks of “intensive therapy” before being able to join the band’s rehearsals for the Future Past tour.

McBrain told fans (transcribed by NME): “Of course I was very worried that my career was over but with the love and support from my wife, Rebecca, and family, my doctors, especially Julie my OT [occupational therapist] and my Maiden family I was able to bounce back to somewhere near 70 percent recovered.”

McBrain has been drumming for Iron Maiden since 1982, replacing the late Clive Burr shortly after the band released their first UK number one album, The Number Of The Beast. He has stayed with them ever since, appearing on every album since 1983’s Piece Of Mind.

Iron Maiden are currently taking a break from touring, but will bring the Future Past show to Australia and New Zealand in September 2024.

Metal Hammer attended Iron Maiden’s Future Past show in Prague on May 30. Writer Merlin Alderslade wrote in a 4.5-star review: “Maiden continue to age like fine wine. Metal remains lucky to have them.”

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.