BRUCE DICKINSON On IRON MAIDEN Drummer NICKO McBRAIN's Recovery From January 2023 Stroke - "He's Really, Really Determined Because Drumming's His Life"

February 27, 2024, 5 months ago


BRUCE DICKINSON On IRON MAIDEN Drummer NICKO McBRAIN's Recovery From January 2023 Stroke - "He's Really, Really Determined Because Drumming's His Life"

Currently on a press junket promoting his new solo album, The Madrake Project, Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson took part in a Q&A session at Bio Roy in Gothenburg, Sweden on February 25th. When asked abour drummer Nicko McBrain's ongoing recovery from the stroke he suffered in 2023, Dickinson offered the following:

"Honestly, what he did on the last (Iron Maiden) tour was nothing short of amazing. At the risk of going more into my medical history than you really (need to know), in February (2023)... both of my hips are worn out from jumping around on stage and fencing and doing stupid shit. So, I've got like metal ones, titanium, so it's not so heavy. They work great, and I'm running around and doing everything and doing all the stuff that I did before. It's exactly the same, no difference at all. So I had new one, a new right hip in February, and so all of that tour that I just did was all two months, three months after that. Nicko had a stroke almost at the same time. I'm wandering around going, 'Hey, look at me. I got rid of my walking stick and I've stopped taking paracetamol. Everything's fine....' and Nick just sent us a little e-mail going, 'Chaps, just so you know, I had a little bit of a stroke the other day.' I was, like, 'What the fuck?' And it wasn't a little bit of a stroke; it was a proper full-on. Lluckily, his wife got him to hospital, because it happened in his house. They knew exactly what to do, and they gave him this fairly new drug, which kind of, it's kind of like Control-Alt-Delete for strokes; it reboots your system and hopefully it comes back. And the answer is most of his left side all came back within a matter of hours, except his left hand. And Nick, that's his snare drum hand. So how he coped with that, it was just amazing."

"He started learning to drum again because he couldn't hold a stick. He couldn't hold a fork. In fact, when we were mixing (The Mandrake Project) in April in Florida, I invited him up to the studio. I thought he probably needed cheering up a bit, because we didn't start rehearsing until May, so he still had a month to go. So he came up to the studio, and the first thing I thought when I saw him was, 'Wow, you look sensational!' He was tanned and he was skinny; he lost a bit of weight. He goes, 'Yeah, I couldn't hold a fucking fork. I couldn't get out of bed last months.' So, he had not lost his sense of humor there. He explained to me everything he was doing to get his drumming chops back, and he acknowledged he won't be able to do everything that he did - not within a year or two years - but it will come back. He's working every day. He's got a little band and he's made them learn the Iron Maiden set. He's really, really determined because drumming's his life."

In the December 2023 issue of Metal Hammer, McBrain spoke to journalist Alexander Milas about the transient ischaemic attack (TIA, or ministroke).

“Well, it was very, very difficult,” says Nicko.“When it first happened I thought, ‘This is it, I’m not going to be able to play. I’ve got a tour coming up in three months’ time.’ I had a lot of time for reflection in the hospital. My wife was really my bastion of strength and encouragement and she was with me throughout. I did a lot of strength exercises, a lot of stretches with weird weights that they have and I got my stamina back.”

The drummer then comments on how supportive his Iron Maiden bandmates, especially bassist Steve Harris, were as he recovered.

“Through all this period of time I was in touch with Steve, obviously all the guys, and I’d have a bit of a chat with them on the phone and they were all very, very encouraging, and none more so than Steve. He said, ‘Look, the most important thing is that you get well and work on getting yourself together.’”

Read more, here.

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