Bruce Dickinson: Historically Underutilized Bohemian Intellectual — A Biographical Sketch, by J.D. Meyer

Top musicians in the hard rock/heavy metal industry rarely receive the widespread serious respect and attention that they deserve. Hence, the subtitle for this biographical sketch is a play on words, a take-off on the Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) certification for predominantly minority or female owned businesses. Nevertheless, Bruce Dickinson succeeds in carving a wide range of niches for himself though his achievements largely go unnoticed as far as mainstream pop culture is concerned.

Best known as the lead singer for Iron Maiden since 1982 with a break for a solo career in the mid 90s, Bruce is a noted fencer who has a line of fencing equipment. Bruce has contributed his share of song lyrics to Iron Maiden, and he has written two novels. Dickinson also flies jets, does BBC documentaries on jets, and hosts a BBC music talk show.

Bruce began fencing at the age of 13 (1971) and became captain of the school fencing team by age 15. Music got his attention, so he quit fencing until 1983 when one of Iron Maiden’s roadies brought back his interest in the sport. Two years later, he endured a rigorous fencing trainers’ camp and earned a certificate. Bruce entered tournaments around Europe between the Powerslave (1984) and Somewhere in Time (1986-1987) tours. Bruce moved to Bonn in West Germany for tax purposes and to be close to the outstanding national center for fencing. Bruce ranked as high as seventh in Great Britain in men’s foil fencing, and his club—the Hemel Hempstead Fencing Club—represented Great Britain in the European Cup of 1989. Bruce founded a fencing supply company, Duellist.

Bruce wrote two novels, and they were translated into German. Bruce’s novels are about an English landlord, Lord Iffy Boatrace, situated in northern Scotland. Iffy’s problem in both novels is the lack of money. In The Adventures of Lord Iffy Boatrace, Iffy tries to solve his money problems through all-year long grouse hunting. But Iffy needs some grouse built for him, so his next-door neighbor, retired wing commander, Bill Symes-Groat builds some indestructible grouse. But first, the commander introduces Iffy to a huge plum pudding with a cherry on top, a very special and magical pudding. Then Iffy invites some folks from his old boarding school under the pretense of a school reunion. The guests arrive and strange things start to happen. The book was written during the Somewhere in Time tour (1986-1987) and published in 1990. It sold 30, 000 copies.

The sequel to this novel is The Missionary Position. The story begins with the Battle of Hastings in 1066 then switches to a flight to Los Angeles where an elderly couple meets Lord Iffy and his butler, ex-con John Butler. Lord Iffy and his butler scam the elderly couple of their money and tickets. Meanwhile, Lord Iffy’s new scheme is to become a TV evangelist under the guidance of Jimmy Reptile. The evangelist was modeled after a corrupt character in the Iron Maiden song, “Holy Smoke.” At the time of that song’s writing, there were at least two TV evangelist scandals, and they involved Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. There are a few other fascinating bizarre characters, including a US senator, a Japanese businessman golf fanatic, a rock manager who spends his days in an earthquake proof Jacuzzi, and a porn star.

Bruce Dickinson’s flying career started with getting a private license before being taught by British Airways pilot, Phil Dales. Bruce passed his commercial pilot’s license and later his ground and flight exams. Now Bruce flies Boeing 757s for United Kingdom airline, Astraeus. He flew the Rangers Football Club (soccer) to a UEFA cup game against Hapoel Tel Aviv. Bruce feels that the greatest innovations in jets are the aerodynamics of swept wings and power plants. Bruce’s flying career and radio/TV career have intersected through the documentary, Flying Heavy Metal, a five-part aviation series on Discovery Channel UK. He was even a guest on a Discovery Channel about trains, and he drove a Russian T-34 tank for a program on tanks.

Dickinson presents the Friday evening rock show on BBC Radio Station Six. Bruce interviews up-and-coming musicians and plays their songs. You can find this program easily in the US on the Internet, along with archives of the series. He has taken over the BBC Radio Two serial, Masters of Rock. Bruce’s documentary career led to a show entitled, “Inside Spontaneous Combustion with Bruce Dickinson.”

Iron Maiden songs represent the peak of thinking man’s lyrics. Like Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, bass guitarist, also was a history major in college and writes many of the lyrics for Iron Maiden. For example, Iron Maiden’s longest song (over twelve minutes) adapted Samuel Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” “The Flight of Icarus” comes from the ancient Greek myth. True to the British Air Force, “Aces
High” shows the life of the fighter pilot. “Trooper” recounts a cavalryman’s tale of the Crimean War between Russia and England in the mid 1850s. Yet “Mother Russia” (1990)hails the end of Soviet domination and welcomes the beginning of a new era; time has shown the change to be a major improvement over the Cold War era. Bruce may not have written all these songs, but his influence has always been felt in the lyrics of the band.

Bruce Dickinson certainly fits the definition of a Renaissance Man, someone with a wide range of intellectual pursuits and curiosity. Furthermore, he has taken all of them into moneymaking professions. Bruce can say that he has been 42,000 feet above earth in a Boeing 757 and played in front of 300,000 fans at Rio de Janeiro with the rest of Iron Maiden. What will he do next?

Note: This information came from various websites—Wikipedia, Bruce Dickinson’s Official Website, Discovery Channel, and BBC Radio Six. Originally, this article was published at the now defunct Voices.yahoo.

Trooper 2: A Short-Story Sequel to the Iron Maiden song

By J.D. Meyer

As she tromped through the field, a battlefield, where the lifeless and wounded warriors lay, the now-famous nurse–Florence Nightingale–tried to help the living while other personnel carried away the dead. The time is the 1850’s; the war is the Russian-British Crimean War (1853-1856); the battle is the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. Alas, The Trooper himself was one of the slain. Ms. Nightingale burst into tears when she saw this soldier dead on the ground, for she heard of his legendary bravery from previous battles.
The Russian musket fire killed our Trooper and even his beloved horse. A couple of bugles lay on the ground amidst the fallen soldiers—no longer to summon the troops to battle. Florence Nightingale and the other nurses had to hurdle the lifeless bodies to reach the wounded—although often mortally wounded. Nurse Nightingale told another nurse, “Such carnage! I’m ready for peace, so we can return to dealing with colds and sprained ankles.” The other nurse agreed, “Our calling is tough. But it’s really becoming a modern science.”
The last round of fire in the Battle of Balaclava got The Trooper; he feared the end was near during this bloody battle. At first, it looked like either side could have claimed a pyrrhic victory. But then the British blundered with a final cavalry charge, immortalized in Tennyson’s, “Charge of the Light Brigade,” that wiped out many British cavalry. Ottoman Turk losses were extra heavy too.
A few Turkish allies lay near the Trooper—some clinging to life. One Turk told Nurse Nightingale about The Trooper’s bravery. “The Trooper seemed like a man possessed. He kept charging toward the Russian lines, dodging many a bullet until the last ones felled his horse then him. We didn’t think he’d last as long as he did.” Nurse Nightingale wept.
No country had more to lose in the Crimean War than the Ottoman Empire—now known as modern Turkey, a smaller but stronger country. Long known as “The Sick Man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire’s decline was well under way. World War I, some sixty years later, finished the Ottoman Empire’s demise: only to be reborn as the first secular Moslem country in history—Turkey—through the leadership of Attaturk in the 1920’s.
Now we have Indonesia as the second predominantly Moslem secular country. It has a constitution that protects non-Moslems, and it’s even has had the Confucian Church of Indonesia since the late 19th century through the efforts of Chinese immigrants.
Thanks to the noble Turk soldier at the Battle of Balaclava and Nurse Florence Nightingale, The Trooper is not forgotten and never was alone. Nurse Nightingale even sent a message by telegraph about the tale of The Trooper to her former hospital administrator back home in England—just in case she didn’t make it back, but she did.