What Does This Button Do?
- Narrated by:
- Length: 11 hrs and 5 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
Anyone who knows me will know two of my favourite things are audiobooks and heavy metal. Especially Iron Maiden. So I was very happy to find their lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, had written an autobiography and it was available on Audible.
I quite like biographies – I’ve read a few by, or about, rock gods like Lemmy, Slash, Motley Crue and Ritchie Blackmore. The ones I enjoy most are those that don’t just go on about sex, drugs and partying – Duff McKagan (G’N’R), Phil Collen (Def Leppard) and Dave Mustaine (Megadeth) all wrote interesting and inspirational books and I knew Dickinson’s would be along similar lines.
As well as being an iconic singer (known as “the air-raid siren” for his operatic howls), Bruce is also a commercial pilot (captain no less) of jumbo jets, tv and radio presenter, movie producer, Olympic fencer and successful novelist (although when he said his first book had sold 30,000 copies I had to smile since Wolf’s Head has passed that and I’m not in the world’s greatest metal band!). He also recorded Maiden’s latest album with throat cancer which, of course, he defeated. All this is why the book is titled “What does this button do?” He likes to try anything.
The book is even read by the man himself and he’s a great narrator. His early life wasn’t particularly interesting but he makes it entertaining and quite funny – his impressions of people, accents included, are amusing and add a lot to the overall experience. Unlike those books by Slash and Motley Crue you won’t find any tales glorifying substance (or people) abuse – yes, there are points where he got drunk and acted like a dick but they’re not badges of honour, they’re experiences he learned from. This is a book by a grown-up, not an LA rock star.
So, inspirational, yes, certainly. But, being critical, there’s an awful lot of talk about planes which gets a tad boring and not enough about the music or its creation. He covers those topics but much of the book is about fencing and flying.
Or cancer. I think everyone now is terrified by that terrible disease but guys like Bruce, and Nergal from Behemoth, who also beat it, really give people hope. The parts of this book where he talks about his illness are moving and self-effacing and, yes, truly inspirational. Hell, he beat cancer and actually flies Maiden – crew, gear, band and all – around the world in a special 747!
If all he’d ever done was sing in Iron Maiden he would be a legend to millions of people – he is undoubtedly in the top 3 greatest vocalists of all time in the metal genre, if not number 1 (I think so). But to do all those other incredible things and still come across, as he does here, as a humble, normal guy, well…For me, Bruce Dickinson typifies Maiden, and heavy metal as a whole, and this book should be required reading for everyone. Metal fans with any intelligence will enjoy his tales and non-metal listeners who think the genre is for spotty pseudo-Satanists might just find their eyes being well and truly opened.
A brilliant listen I recommend to everyone.
Now where’s his knighthood?
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