Bruce Dickinson biography
UniversityAfter leaving school with A-levels in English, History and Economics, Dickinson confessed, "I didn't really know what I wanted to do." The first thing he did was join the Territorial Army for six months. Although he enjoyed his time in the TA, Dickinson realised that it was not a career choice, and so he applied for a place to read history at Queen Mary College, in London's East End. His parents wanted him in the army, but he told them that he wanted to get a degree first, which acted as his "cover story", and immediately began playing in bands.
In college, Dickinson got involved in the Entertainments Committee: "one day you'd be a roadie for The Jam, the next you'd be putting up the Stonehenge backdrop for Hawkwind or whatever." In 1977, Dickinson met Paul "Noddy" White, a multi-instrumentalist who owned a PA and other equipment, with whom Dickinson, along with drummer Steve Jones, would form a band together called Speed. According to Dickinson, the band was called Speed because of the way in which they played, rather than a reference to drug-taking. In Speed, Dickinson began writing his own material after White taught him how to play three chords on the guitar.
Although Speed would play several gigs at the Green Man pub in Plumstead, the band did not last long, but it encouraged Dickinson to continue to work to be a musician. Dickinson spotted an advertisement in Melody Maker with the caption "Singer wanted for recording project" and replied immediately. He recorded a demo tape and sent it with a note which read: "By the way, if you think the singing's crap, there's some John Cleese stuff recorded on the other side you might find amusing." They liked what they heard and invited Dickinson down to the studio to make "Dracula", the first song he would ever record, with a band called "Shots", formed by two brothers, Phil and Doug Siviter. The song would later appear on the second disc of The Best of Bruce Dickinson compilation. The brothers were impressed with Dickinson's vocal abilities and asked him to join their group.
Dickinson played pubs with Shots on a regular basis to small audiences. One particular night, Dickinson suddenly stopped in the middle of a song and started interviewing a man in the audience, heckling for not paying enough attention. He got such a good response he started doing it every night until it became a regular routine used to catch the audience's attention. Dickinson states that this experience taught him how to be a frontman.
The next step in Dickinson's career was taken in a pub called the Prince of Wales in Gravesend, Kent, where Shots were playing regularly, when Barry Graham ("Thunderstick") and Paul Samson paid a visit. Impressed with his stage-act, they talked with Dickinson afterwards and invited him to be their new singer. Dickinson agreed to join their band, Samson, but only once he'd finished taking his History finals two weeks later. Until that point, he had been neglecting his University education. As a result, the University had tried to kick him out for failing his Second Year exams and not paying his accommodation fees, but was saved because of his role as Entertainments Officer. After writing 6 months worth of essays in the space of two weeks and some last minute cramming for his exams, Dickinson achieved a 2:2.
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