Metal gods Iron Maiden are back with a new album, The Book of Souls, their first offering to their legion of head-banging hessian devotees in five years. It could have been their last, too, it turns out.
Maiden singer/male diva/iconic frontman/legit rock god Bruce Dickinson has been in a pitched battle with throat and mouth cancer—one that he won, naturally. Dickinson is nothing if not of the vanquish-thy-enemies sort. But before he could beat it, he had to acknowledge it.
Although aware of something wrong, and suspecting the source, Dickinson ignored his symptoms during the Book of Souls recording process. Given the 18-minute vocal insanity that is the track “Empire of the Clouds,” it’s a feat nothing short of Herculean.
Immediately upon wrapping at the studio, Dickinson was at the doctor’s, where his suspicions were confirmed: He had golfball-sized tumors on his tongue and lymph node. As for the cause, Dickinson was quick to blame his legendary sexual exploits as a younger man, particularly his own desire to please the ladies. More specifically, he suggested during an interview that he contracted HPV by performing oral sex on a woman with HPV, a disease that can lead to cancer.
“And everybody makes the jokes about Michael Douglas [the actor famously claimed to have gotten HPV from cunnilingus], ’cause he was having oral sex,” Dickinson told Sirius XM’s Eddie Trunk, “and it’s just, like, OK, we need to get over that one, guys, because this is kind of serious. There’s hundreds of thousands of people at risk for this.”
The singer went on to warn that if men, especially over the age of 40, think they may have symptoms they should immediately get them checked out. The CDC warns that nearly all sexually active men and women will contract HPV at some point.
Dickinson said part of the reason he was secretive about the sickness was to keep fans from worrying, but eventually he had to spill the beans when a tour was postponed.
“It shortened the time that they [Iron Maiden fans] were freaked out, because if we told them before Christmas they would have been freaked out for months,” the singer told loudwire.com. “But this way, I was going to have a scan about three-and-a-bit months after they got told, so they just had to worry about it for three months. I had to worry about it for a little bit longer.”
No need to get your perm frizzy while in a tizzy fretting about him now, however: After a few months of chemotherapy, Dickinson is good as new, and 2016 will see a massive, 35-country world tour from Maiden, aboard, what else, their own custom 747.