Bruce Dickinson on Why He Loves Chiswick

Rock legend tells us it reminds him of Sheffield at the Oxjam Festival

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From opening a music festival in Chiswick to flying pilgrims to Jeddah in the space of a weekend - Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson's life is nothing if not varied.

The heavy metal star, who has lived locally since the early 1980s, spends half his year touring with the band, and the rest flying as a commercial pilot. This could see him flying to Cyprus, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, or even Iceland, and he admits he is as happy at 30,000 feet as he is on stage.

" It's was a hobby that became a career. I realised that if I wanted to fly planes I had to take it seriously and it coincided with a period of time with the Maiden guys where we took a bit of time off touring - for many years we would tour for over half the year. I've been flying as a commercial pilot for ten years, and am marketing manager of an aircraft leasing company, but I got my licence about 20 years ago."

Bruce, who officially opened the Oxjam music festival at the Hogarth Club on Saturday, described the fundraiser as a " lovely idea".

"It's people doing local stuff, playing music locally and trying to raise money. And everyone can have a terrific time." he commented.

Bruce at the Hogarth Club during Oxjam

In between the world of music, and aviation, he also manages to pack in the sport of fencing and is involved with the London Thames Fencing Club at Roehampton.

He first came to Chiswick in the late '70s while visiting a friend in St. Peter's Square, near Hammersmith.

" I came out of the Tube and decided to take a walk along to Chiswick. I liked the vibe straight away- of course in those days it was more bohemian than it is now - most of my mates were students or sound engineers and didn't have much money. But I liked the people here, and there were some great little pubs.

"It felt very villagy but also very open. I loved the fact that there were beautiful trees everywhere- it reminded me of where I grew up, in Sheffield".

Bruce bought a terraced house in 1981, which is has passed on to his children- and as his career in the rock world progressed, he climbed along the property ladder to purchase a large Edwardian house close to the High Road.

"I'm not a fan of high-rise, and I love the old Edwardian houses of Chiswick."

He is also relieved to live in a part of London where he is not constantly the subject of attention. One of the best parts of living in Chiswick is the fact that people leave him largely alone when he is out walking or drinking in favourite pubs - he declined to name his favourite watering-holes.

One thing that he does feel strongly about is the lack of any public plaque to comedian Tommy Cooper, a long-time resident of Chiswick.

"When I came to live here, taxi drivers would always pass by his house when dropping me home, and every one of them had a story to tell about him. I think there should be a blue plaque outside his house- I know it's probably been sold and I don't think any of his family live there now, but he was a great character and he should be honoured ".

The Dickinson family - there are three grown-up children- were born and schooled in the area and still live here. Bruce's eldest son, Austin has followed him into the music world and is the lead singer in metalcore band Rise to Remain. Bruce,who is widely regarded as one of the most acclaimed heavy metal vocalists of all time, was presented with an honorary music doctorate from Queen Mary College last July in honour of his contribution to the music industry.

Dickinson quit Iron Maiden in 1993 in order to pursue his solo career, being replaced by Blaze Bayley, which saw him experiment with a wide variety of heavy metal and rock styles. He rejoined Iron Maiden in 1999 along with guitarist Adrian Smith, and they went on to release four further studio albums. While he still finds touring enjoyable, he says he goes away a lot less than in his younger days "no point is going to the grave with it, its nice to sit back and enjoy other things too ". He has also worked as a radio broadcaster.

He has also released solo albums, most recently the record, Tyranny of Souls.

Has the veteran of the heavy metal rock world any advice for would-be rock stars- on a day when sixty bands all seeking fame and fortune were playing across Chiswick?

"Never take No for an answer and never believe it's impossible. Okay realistically not everyone will make it , but the most important thing is not to compromise your integrity.

"Have a great time, do what you do with real passion not just for the passion of the cheque book".

October 23, 2011