Iron Maiden Once Auditioned 12 Singers to Replace Bruce Dickinson, Says Blaze Bayley
After Bruce Dickinson announced his intent to leave Iron Maiden in 1993, the band was tasked with replacing one of heavy metal's greatest frontmen during an already tumultuous period in their career amid the changing rock and metal landscape. Ultimately, they chose Wolfsbane's Blaze Bayley, who discussed his audition as one of 12 finalists after the band sifted through well over 1,000 demo submissions.
Bayley, who sang on Maiden's The X Factor and Virtual XI albums, recalled thinking, "I'll have a go for it," upon learning that the metal legends were holding auditions for Dickinson's replacement. Talking about the experience with Rockfiend Publications Scotland, the singer went on, "I think they had 1,500 demos that they had listened to, and then there were, like, the 12 disciples that were chosen for the audition. And I was lucky I was one of those 12."
There's not much known about the behind-the-scenes details of these auditions and fans have long speculated as to which other singers were seriously considered for the role, making the note of a dozen potentials a bit of a revelation.
Further detailing the process, Bayley continued, "You went to the studio to sing live. There was 10 songs that were in the set at the time — 10 of the classics that you had to learn — and I went and I'd done my best." He mentioned being "very, very surprised" that he was chosen, especially because his voice is "so different to Bruce."
"We did look a little bit alike, but our voices were radically different," said Bayley, who explained, "But I think what it was they wanted a change, and the albums that I did, The X Factor and Virtual XI, that was the real start of the progressive era of Iron Maiden and I learned so much about songwriting and about my voice. And it was an incredible, incredible experience. The music that we came up with was just fantastic, I think."
Maiden had no pre-written material before Bayley was instated. "So you get to rehearsals and talk about your idea. 'Well, maybe that's not so good.' 'Oh, yeah, that's really good.' And if it was good, it went on the album, and it didn't matter," he said of the songwriting process. Proud to have contributed, the singer beamed, "So I had a few songs on the album. 'Man on the Edge' was something that I co-wrote with Janick Gers, and that went Top 10 around the world in the rock charts. It was a fantastic — absolutely fantastic — thing, with a big video and everything. It was unbelievable."
Since splitting with Maiden after Dickinson's return, Bayley set out on a solo career. Between 1999 and 2007, the project was simply dubbed Blaze, switching to the Blaze Bayley moniker in 2007. The singer has released six albums under this name, the most recent being 2018's The Redemption of William Black (Infinite Entanglement Part III).
Meanwhile, Iron Maiden will embark on the North American leg of the "Legacy of the Beast" tour. See those dates here.
Every Iron Maiden Song Ranked