Who was auditioned to replace Blaze?


Ancient Mariner
It does frustrate me that the current era of Iron Maiden is frequently referred to as the "reunion era". The "reunion" was 20 years ago and the current line-up has lasted longer than other line-up in the band's history.
And produced the most studio albums.


Ancient Mariner
Unofficial : Blaze hasn't been worse on VXI tour live than on TXF
Sure? I doubt it. Some gigs excepted, I think Blaze did better during the VXI tour. Read his biography to learn more about problems during the tour.


Sorry, I read wrong.


Ancient Mariner
I'm going to go ahead and say it: I don't think it's possible to fit all the separate narratives we have into a cohesive whole. Some of the details are wrong, someone is misremembering or even altering facts to suit the big picture. The RTTH book is one source I'd trust the least since it has plenty of editorializing from the band to keep up the general narrative (including things like Clive's firing). Plus the chapter dealing with the reunion was written right around the time it was happening; there's no way Steve and Rod would've accepted a tell-all on the messy process it was to get there.

Now, Roy Z's drunken ramblings are probably at least semi-accurate since it seems like something he'd been bothered by for a long time now, but there could be some embellishment or maybe wrong dates - humans aren't the best at remembering details of events that happened close to 20 years ago. I'd generally trust his take despite the fact that it is well possible he may have exaggerated his role in the reunion somewhat, because it's not like he has anything to gain by lying about it.

However, that leaves us with a problem. Nicko's interview is pretty recent so there's no reason he'd have to pretty up the truth, it's all long in the past. He's also been surprisingly honest in interviews before regarding this matter specifically and the general consensus is he was the one to originally push for Blaze's replacement. But! It seems to directly contradict both the official story in its various permutations (not surprising) and also Roy Z's account from back in the day (a whole lot more surprising).

Long story short, the question is which of these distinct narratives is ultimately the correct one? They can't all be a 100% true because of the contradictions made within each. We can't know for sure because we can't go chat up the people involved and try to get a clarification. It is because of this uncertainty that I suggest caution be taken when trying to weave a cohesive narrative out of these accounts and retellings, as I feel that is about as productive as putting together a conspiracy theory on the back of contradictory and lacking evidence. These different takes just don't fit together very neatly, if at all.

If I had to make a suggestion, I'd go with focusing on building a cohesive timeline that doesn't contradict itself at any point and going by what's likely to have happened based on assessments of each individual's character (Bruce being nervous about the reunion because he'd be boarding a ship led solely by Steve seems perfectly believable, for example) and past events. Less focus on the individual nuggets of information and more on the big picture.


Ancient Mariner
-I think Bruce was happy with his solo career at this point. But there might be something there. Roy Z was absent during TCW tour, because of the combination of pursuing his producing career and personal issues. Despite Bruce saying that Guru was a good stand-in for Z, I still think Roy was much better, judging from bootlegs. I think Bruce was a bit displeased by this and this could be one of the factors why he wanted to ditch his solo career, since his main creative partner wasn't fully commited and somewhat unreliable.
Interesting theory. I never understood why Z preferred to produce one Downset record over doing this amazing tour.
So, IMO, Bruce rejoined in January 1999 and no other singers were auditioned.
Agreed. It might even be February 1999, including the meeting.
I'm suggesting both. Band knew from the day 1 it is going to be shit. When the chance of getting an appropriate vocalist without risk of getting a new, potentially unfit as Blaze vocalist presented itself they took it. As such Blaze is only to blame cause he took the gig far above his capacity, while Harris is to take the brunt of the blame because he hired him. People blame Blaze's worsening performance while the thing was doomed from the start.
It depends on how you look at it. It depends on the setlist, it depends on the problems Blaze addressed in his book. If these were addressed, things may have turned out better.
How do you explain the Nicko interview? What is the most important there is the mention of Adrian Smith. That means Dickinson, Harris and Smallwood already talked and agreed on a three guitarist line up.
This explains one demand. Not the meeting itself which brought in other demands. As told, Harris wanted to know a few things more. Finding this out meant a good talk. The return of Bruce and Adrian happened after the meeting with Harris. Which happened in January or February 1999.
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Ancient Mariner
Interesting theory. I never understood why Z preferred to produce one Downset record over doing this amazing tour.
I was surprised about this back in 1998, but seem to remember that back in the day it was mentioned Roy Z had to stay in the USA to take care of his parents, who were not well. Bruce mentioned in his autobiography that Roy Z was usually sick on tour, so that might also been a contributing factor to him not touring.


Automaton Sovietico
This explains the demands. Not the meeting itself which brought in other demands. As told, Harris wanted to know a few things more. Finding this out meant a good talk. The return of Bruce and Adrian happened after the meeting with Harris. Which happened in January or February 1999.
I think that words "Bruce and Adrian are coming back" uttered by Rod Smallwood to Nicko McBrain and Janick Gers, and immediate explanation that they'll become a 6-piece, clearly outlines the outcome, and not the demands.


Ancient Mariner
Nicko might have worded this wrong. We may add "are willing to come back" or "we are organizing their comeback".

Even not: "are coming back" is different from "are back". The former: it is going to happen but we are not there just yet. The latter: it happened.


Ancient Mariner
Just for the benefit of those who might not have read Nicko's words, here they are:

Classic Rock Magazine issue #257 said:
Q: How were things going for Maiden in 1998?

Nicko: Obviously it was a bit of a lean period for the band, in the respect that Bruce had gone off to pursue a solo career, we had Blaze in, and we did two great albums with him. The Virtual XI tour was mixed emotions for me: some nights it was absolutely amazing and other nights it wasn't so.

Q: Critics were hard on that Virtual XI album.

Nicko: Well, we kind of expected the reviews. When you change the profile of a band - especially when your frontman leaves and you get a new guy in - you're always going to have some criticisms. I've got to be honest with you, we do care. Don't get me wrong, we are selfish. We do the stuff that we do for us, primarily. We're very blessed to be in that position... But as you say, there was a bit of a downer in terms of the Virtual XI album not being received too well, and the critics slating it a bit. I'd be lying if I said it didn't make a difference, but we shrug it off.

Q: Bruce and Adrian came back in 1999. What are your memories of that time?

Nicko: Well, it was twofold. First of all, Bruce decided that he missed the band as much as we did miss him. The added bonus was that after we had the first meeting after we got back from Japan on that Virtual XI tour, and it was decided that we couldn't carry on with Blaze, it all fell into place. All the stars aligned. I still believe it was divine intervention.

Q: What was your reaction?

Nicko: I've got to be honest with you, when I first was told, I was sitting in a sake bar in Roppongi, Japan, with Rod and Janick. And Rod turned round and told me that Adrian was coming back with Bruce and asked what did I think about it. I said: "I don't think that's a good idea". Janick said: "We're traditionally a two-guitar band. Three guitars? I don't get that. I'll step down." Rod said: "You're not going anywhere, mate." Then I looked at Rod and I said: "By the way, are you going to cut your comission down?" And he said: "What the fuck do you mean, cut me bloody comission down?" I said: "Well there's six of us in the band to be paid now." He just looked at me: "Fucking typical drummer!"

Q: It all worked out, though, didn't it?

I laugh about it, but to he honest we had the icing on the cake with Bruce deciding to come back, and then there was the cream and the cherry on top of that. It was a complete win-win situation. Really, if that hadn't happened, I don't know whether you and I would be having this conversation. We are very blessed Bruce came back.