Welcome to the second day of the A to Z Challenge April 2016. Today I am supposed to write about something that begins with the letter B. I thought and racked my brains all day, but couldn't think of anything close to my heart. My wife helped me with a few suggestions - Babies, Black, Bands, Blogging, Bollywood, and many more B-words. Some words that came to my mind were Bosses, Bed and Beautiful, but I eventually deemed them too risque for my own good. Luckily my MP3 playlist came to my rescue and an Iron Maiden song (Hallowed Be Thy Name) reminded me of someone who happens to be my God from the world of Heavy Metal music - the legendary lead vocalist of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson.
The story of my craze for Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson is an interesting one. In my early years, I never really liked Hard Rock and Heavy Metal music, and thought of these genres as nothing but a whole lot of senseless noise. As time went on, however, as is the case with most teenagers, there was this phase when I experienced feelings of angst and rebellion. My rebellious streak made me try to experiment with things that were 'evil'. Not one to get too adventurous (read smoking and boozing), I chose to experiment with what I perceived to be dark and evil. I borrowed an audio cassette bearing a rather ghoulish and satanic looking cover image from a friend of mine. Since it looked kinda creepy, I was careful to keep it hidden from my folks, and decided to play it on my walkman in the middle of the night.
Believe me, the first time I played it, I couldn't listen beyond five seconds, because what I heard freaked me out. I heard the opening drum fill, which sounded like a splatter gun firing bullets real quick, and really fast guitars and bass guitars, which were ear-piercing. The singer possessed a breath-taking mix of banshee-like wails and an operatic vocal range. My heart was pounding and I could feel a chill run down my spine. It took me almost 20 minutes to actually listen to the five-and-a-half minutes track. But ever since then, I've been hooked to the band. The song was 'Where Eagles Dare' from the album 'Piece of Mind' by Iron Maiden, with Bruce Dickinson on vocals. You can see the album cover on the right.
As I discovered, the lyrics to the songs on the album were not senseless violent gibberish. The lyrics and themes of the songs were actually very intellectual. Some songs dealt with historical themes, some with religious doctrines, some about war and politics, and so on. It completely changed my outlook towards Heavy Metal music, and I learnt to not take things at face value.
Bruce Dickinson, by the way, is not just a musician. He is a genius, who is able to juggle a plethora of roles. Apart from touring with Iron Maiden, he also possesses a commercial pilot license (he still flies the band to and from tour locations in a Boeing aircraft named Ed Force One). In the past, apart from commercial operations, he has been involved in rescue flight missions in war zones like Afghanistan and Lebanon. Bruce is also a TV presenter, having hosted aviation-related shows on BBC and Discovery Channel. It doesn't end here. The guy is also an avid fencer. And last, but certainly not the least, the man is also an entrepreneur. He is the Chairman of Cardiff Aviation, which is involved in the business of Aircraft Leasing and Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul Operations, and also runs a successful distillery business which produces a beer brand named 'The Trooper', after a popular Iron Maiden song. Bruce is an inspiration for many of us underachievers, who blame paucity of time and other commitments for our inability to pursue multiple interests. I am no different. Bruce, for me, represented the positive and motivational side of what many others perceived to be mindless, cocky, narcissistic, sex, drug and booze-laced music scene. He was my Hero and whenever I had the chance, I'd tell my friends and acquaintances about him.
The best part of this post, however, is about something special that happened on October 31, 2015. IndiBlogger organised the Blog Now Live Forever event at The Lalit in Mumbai. Guess who was the Star Guest Speaker at this event - it was Bruce himself! He spoke about Entrepreneurship and about the importance of converting customers into fans. It was a dream come true for me. Fortunately, I was able to ask him a question, and was also lucky to receive a handshake from the Legend himself at the post-session get-together. Unfortunately though, I thought it would be rude and irritating to beg him for a photograph, and hence missed out on one (many others, who were not even metal fans, got their photo op). Nevertheless, there is one picture in which both of us are in the same frame. It is something I will cherish for a lifetime, and maybe even brag about to my grandchildren.