Last week, Bruce Dickinson abruptly postponed the last two dates of his U.K. spoken-word tour because a member of his immediate household had tested positive for Covid-19. So the Iron Maiden frontman returned home to quarantine for 10 days, per government guidelines. For the first few days, he mostly felt bored — until he started feeling like he was getting a cold.
About three days ago, Dickinson, who is double-vaccinated, took a lateral-flow Covid test, and it came back positive. “I thought, ‘Oh well, shit,’ ” he tells Rolling Stone, sounding upbeat over Zoom. “I was kind of sneezing a bit. For a couple of days, I felt a bit groggy, kind of like the flu, and that was it. And I’m 63 years old. I’ve pretty much got no doubt that had I not had the vaccine, I could be in serious trouble.”
Dickinson has since rescheduled the dates he missed for October and he’s using his downtime to accommodate interviews about Iron Maiden’s upcoming double album, Senjutsu. (Rolling Stone will run the rest of its in-depth conversation with Dickinson about the record closer to its September 3rd release.)
The band will kick off a European tour next June, and Dickinson says he’s ready to get back in front of audiences. Although he personally doesn’t believe that fans attending shows should be required to get vaccinated — “It is a personal choice,” he says — he hopes they will be. “Personally, I think people are just very badly advised if they don’t go and get themselves double jabbed as quickly as possible, not for the reasons of going into concerts, but for their own health,” he says.
“Having said that, even if you’ve had a double jab, you can still get Covid, and therefore you can spread it to other people who might not have been vaccinated and they might get very sick and die,” he continues. “Now you cannot legislate against mortality. There are many things in this world that kill people and they’re not illegal but are unfortunate. Cancer kills a lot of people. Heart attacks kill a lot of people. Obesity kills a lot of people. Malaria kills a shitload of people every year. … So at some point, we have to just go, ‘We’re probably going to have to live with this. And if we’re going to live with it, then you have your vaccination.’ “
Dickinson says he has refused the flu shot in the past but, in his opinion, Covid is different because it’s more transmissible and could be deadly to those who aren’t vaccinated. He says “the jury’s out” on requiring Covid vaccine passports for concerts. While he sees wearing masks and getting vaccinated as “a personal choice” that shouldn’t be government-regulated, he adds that it’s “a responsible choice” and it comes down to common sense.
As for his own breakthrough case, he believes it could have been much worse if he were unvaccinated. “I thought I had a cold and these lateral-flow tests came back negative, negative, negative, and suddenly like, ‘Oh, it’s not a cold,’ ” he says. “So after a vaccine, that’s the extent of the discomfort. The biggest issue is just stay indoors so you don’t go and pass it on to somebody else who might go and pass it on to somebody who actually is vulnerable.”
And when the time comes for the singer, who’s known for his athletic onstage leaps, to get back on the road, he’ll be ready. “I famously snapped my Achilles just before recording the album,” he says, referring back to the band’s 2019 sessions. “So that was a question of doing the album in a boot and then trying to get my ass together to do rehab and touring three months later. But we managed that and then they put a new hip in me on the other side in October, which was great. The surgeon was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve seen what you do onstage. You’re going to be able to do that now better than you did before.’ Before it was giving me a lot of pain. And the [physical therapist] actually set up fake monitors in the gym so that I could jump on and off and bounce around and really literally leap off the walls. I was impressed.”