Former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno, while reflecting on his tenure in the band, has said that he thinks they made the right decision to kick him out in 1981.
After joining the ranks of Iron Maiden in 1978 as the replacement for Dennis Wilcock, Maiden’s identity truly began to take shape. One year later, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal mavens released their influential three-track demo, The Soundhouse Tapes as buzz around the band, who melded a punk attitude with the burgeoning metal scene, continued to grow.
Di’Anno’s gruff voice and street-savvy image offered the punk balance to Maiden’s thunderous metal gallop and twin guitar harmonies, which positioned the group as a standout among their peers.
“We knew that what we had was unique compared to every other band around, and we had spent the previous couple of years playing every shithole in the U.K., also some decent venues as well,” Di’Anno told Classic Rock in a new interview.
“The only person who might have had any doubts was me. Though I was a cocky frontman, I was all mouth and no trousers,” the singer, who will turn 63 in May, reflected.
“What I do know, is that all the songs on that first album are fucking great. It’s such a shame that the production is complete dogshit,” Di’Anno lamented, expressing a common gripe about the sonic value of Maiden’s self-titled 1980 debut.
“By the time of Killers, the band was getting a bit more technical and losing some of that edge for me. I didn’t think that the songs had the same sort of attack, and then I started losing interest,” he continued.
In the past, Di’Anno hasn’t been shy about admitting his personal disconnect with Maiden’s trajectory, coupled with his own abusive substance habits and disillusion with life on the road, which also contributing to his ouster.
“I felt that I might be letting people down by voicing my doubts so I said nothing but then it all built up to the point where I was rubbing Steve [Harris] up the wrong way. I don’t blame them for getting rid of me. The band was Steve’s baby, but I wish I’d been able to contribute more. After a while that got me down. In the end I couldn’t give a hundred percent to Maiden anymore, and it wasn’t fair to the band, the fans or myself,” he elaborated.
After his exit from Maiden, Di’Anno remained active with numerous other groups in decades since, though he never reached a similar level of acclaim as he did fronting Maiden’s first pair of records.
“The two albums I made with the band were pivotal [to the genre]. Later on in my life when I met Metallica, Pantera and Sepultura and they told me that those albums were what got them into music, it made me incredibly proud,” he beamed, understanding of his rightful place in metal’s pantheon.
After Di’Anno was dismissed from Iron Maiden, the group tabbed Samson singer Bruce Dickinson as his replacement. Dickinson made his live debut as Maiden’s new frontman on Oct. 26, 1981.
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