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What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography Hardcover – October 31, 2017
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“Illuminating and very entertaining…a compelling read about someone who is much more than just the guy who sings for Iron Maiden.” (Loudwire)
“An engaging memoir from the restless, curiousm and exploratory mind of Bruce Dickinson, a Renaissance man who is actually worthy of the nomenclature.” (Houston Press)
About the Author
Bruce Dickinson has been the lead singer of Iron Maiden for more than thirty years, and has pursued a successful a solo career, as well as a host of interests beyond music. Iron Maiden has sold over 90 million albums & performed over 2000 shows worldwide, making them one of the most successful rock acts of all time. He lives in London, England.
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What is even more frustrating is that the first quarter of the book wasn't like that. He starts out the book explaining his childhood and schooling and this is the best part of the book. Once he gets past his years in college and into Iron Maiden the book really starts to fall apart. For someone who was in a band with 5-6 other people for nearly 30 years, he really has next to nothing to say about them. He touches on his relationship with Steve Harris a little bit, but it feels brief and incomplete. He shares a few anecdotes about Nicko McBain and a few of the other bandmates but they are all in passing and never in much detail.
Once his autobiography gets to the Iron Maiden era it really becomes a memoir of his signing, fencing, and flying career. While those things are interesting and I expected him to go into detail of them it all still feels superficial. It is hard to say it is an autobiography. He never mentions family, and even states in the afterword that he chose not to include them when setting out to write the book. I can understand a person wanting to have a private life, but when you are selling an autobiography. It feels odd when describing your life's events they all occur in the absence of family. His cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery is an event that I can't imagine going through alone. Yet the way he writes it you would think it was only him and his doctors.
Would I recommend the book? Yes, I guess so if your are a Maiden fan or a fan of his solo work. Of the autobiographies I have read this is one of the poorer ones that i have ready though.
As I read the book, all I could think was how it was like an apple peeler: it gives the skin of the story and nothing deeper. Iron Maiden is barely mentioned (I felt he talked more about his short life in Samson than Maiden) and all of the wonderful records and tours that have changed my life in so many ways are just brushed over. When you get to the short chapters that mention certain albums and tours, he seems to push the "Warp Drive button" and blurs over all the details that you know exist. He only gets into brief details on a few events in the book: schooling, fencing, Sarajevo, piloting, and throat cancer. There is no mention of the relationships in Iron Maiden, the creative process of the songs, the logistics of touring, and not the origins of "Tattooed Millionaire" or even the problems with Sharon Osbourne.
After I finished the book, I read the afterword on pg. 367 where he explains how he chose not to write about personal relationships with people. I think this page should be read first before you begin this book so you know what your are getting. I can't help but feel the spirit of Steve Harris looming over this book, restricting it from being what it should be: honest and open.
Lead singer for the worldwide phenomenon Iron Maiden, competitive world-class fencer, airline captain, novelist, beer entrepreneur, screenwriter: Bruce Dickinson is no ordinary rock star. With all his varied pursuits and his 30+ years with Iron Maiden, I was eager to get more of the details and background of this interesting life.
Sad to say, though, that as good as the book is -- and it is a fun read -- Dickinson leaves us wanting more, as he glosses over so much. There’s certainly not enough about Maiden, and next to nothing about his family or mates. I can understand Dickinson wanting to keep a certain amount of his life private, but then this is an autobiography. Leaving out current bandmate squabbles, though, and I assume there are some, was a good idea. Tell-all books are the ruin of many a band.
There is a great gallery of photos included, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters detailing his aviation exploits, as well as his devotion to the art of fencing. As a fan of Iron Maiden, I could not pass it up. I just wish there’d been more.
I'm a huge Iron Maiden fan. They were the first band I ever really got into back in Jr. High school in the mid-80's. Here, Bruce's career with Iron Maiden serves as a backdrop for most of his life's story, yet he devotes almost as much detail to his experience with aircraft and job as a commercial aviator.
Iron Maiden fans expecting intimate details on band dynamics, recording sessions, crazy tour stories, etc, might be disappointed (although the book covers some of that); likewise, anyone expecting this to be an in depth study of Bruce's personal life might find this book lacking in that regard. However, as far as cataloguing Bruce's interests and career with humility and humor, "What Does This Button Do?" is spot on.
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He's obviously a pilot, because his entire adult life is written from a 30 thousand foot view.Read more