Back in 1981, Bruce Dickinson auditioned with Iron Maiden to replace singer Paul Di’Anno but the vibrato juggernaut with the impressive vocal range of 4.25 octaves had intentions to front Maiden as early as 1977. Though Di’Anno insist otherwise, Steve Harris and Iron Maiden grew tired of his drug abuse. Paul’s last performance with Iron Maiden was in Copenhagen, Denmark in September 1981.
Listen below to Bruce Dickinson perform Killers, Twilight Zone, and Wrathchild during his Iron Maiden audition.
Bruce Dickinson Full Audition Tape for Iron Maiden (1981)
On that same day, September 10th, 1981, Iron Maiden made the official announcement of Di’Anno’s departure and the arrival of new singer Bruce Dickinson.
“I left Iron Maiden because they were going too heavy metal, and Iron Maiden is a money-making machine, and I don’t give a f— about it, it was not about drugs. It was nothing like that. But you need to take drugs when you’re with Iron Maiden because they’re so f—ing boring. And the only drugs were aspirin, because Steve — F—in’ headache.” -- Paul Di’Anno
Steve Harris responded to Paul’s soreness in nothing short of diplomatic fashion during a 1981 interview.
“The first two albums were the songs that were written over the four-year period before we were signed,” he said. “I think it’s probably more down to the songs than Paul’s voice, really. I thought Paul had a really good voice, but there’s no way we could have carried on with Paul because he didn’t want to do touring and that anyway. We had to make a change. If we didn’t make a change, I think maybe the band would have split up or something. I don’t think that Maiden would still be here if we’d have stayed with Paul.” -- Steve Harris
“I knew that I had joined a great band. I also knew I could make it even better. I had a vision for The Number Of The Beast: my voice glued on to Maiden equals something much bigger. We did it fast – four or five weeks. We’d be in the studio till five or six in the morning. Hallowed Be Thy Name was a precursor to Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. That song, and the whole album, took Maiden to a different level.” -- Bruce Dickinson
Some may argue that Iron Maiden’s finest live performances where back in 1984 during the World Slavery Tour where a few select dates were chosen to soundboard record for the 1985 release of the live double album Live After Death, and not many would be wrong.
But the reason we titled this article “Hallowed Be Thy Name: Greatest Live Vocal Performance” is because of the flawless showing of Bruce Dickinson on March 20th, 1982 at the Hammersmith Odeon, London.
The Hammersmith show was also filmed and soundboard recorded during the Beast On The Road Tour for another amazing live album, Beast Over Hammersmith.
It seemed that Bruce Dickinson really wanted to prove his presence as the new vocalist for Iron Maiden to the London home crowd during that entire Hammersmith show, but in particular, he really settled in and went full blown vocal dynamo during Hallowed Be Thy Name. We consider it be one of the greatest Bruce Dickinson vocal performances in Iron Maiden history.
With the recording of the album The Number Of The Beast producer Martin Birch really pressed Bruce, trying to drag out just a little bit more from his vocal arsenal, so much in fact that it escalated to the point of chairs flying across Battery Studios London. It seemed Bruce still had those studio sessions fresh in his mind during Hallowed because that pitch perfect live vocal performance would have left Martin “The Farmer” Birch smiling ear to ear!
Bruce Dickinson certainly has amazing breath control and you can hear that in his larger than life long notes which carry such good use of vibrato to find those resonate sounds. Most vocalist would find Hallowed Be Thy Name a real intimating nightmare of a song, but for “The Air Raid Siren” it’s a “walk in the park”.
Listen below to what we consider to be Bruce Dickinson’s finest live vocal performance.
Iron Maiden -- Hallowed Be Thy Name (Live)