Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden: ‘Mr. Google Told Me I Had Cancer’

Bruce Dickinson on Skavlan - Photo courtesy of Skavlan

Famous Frontman Talks About Health Scare on Skavlan


Bruce Dickinson first discovered he had throat cancer by using Google, he said in an interview this week.

On the Swedish-Norwegian talk show Skavlan, The veteran heavy metal singer for Iron Maiden said that three years ago he was diagnosed with throat cancer, but was prepared for the news because he did his own due dilligence first.

“I had a lump in my neck, here,” he told host Skavlan. “I could feel it and of course straightaway I went to my doctor, Mr. Google. And at the time I was doing the Iron Maiden album The Book of Souls. I was singing away, it was all sounding great and everyone was saying ‘Wow it’s all sounding terrific.'”

But Dickinson knew something didn’t feel right. He didn’t feel any discomfort, but there were odd symptoms.

Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden discusses his cancer diagnosis on Skavlan show - courtesy photo
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden discusses his cancer diagnosis on Skavlan show – courtesy photo

“I couldn’t feel anything,” he said. “I know my body quite well. I was a fencer, I did a lot of athletics. I know my body, I don’t take any drugs or anything. So when something’s wrong I could feel it. And I couldn’t exactly tell you what I thought might be wrong. but something just didn’t feel right. I thought, ‘Maybe I’m getting a cold.’ but I never get a cold. Maybe I’m sweating at night, but I don’t feel ill. So I Googled all this stuff. Hmm I’m 55 years old I don’t smoke, I don’t take drugs, don’t drink a lot, except a little beer a little bit, but If I have a lump here, if I’m in this age group and I have this and this and this, I could have – um – throat cancer. What? What would cause that? Answer: Human Papilloma virus. Cause that’s what causes it in guys 45-55 years old, there’s an epidemic of it in the world.”

Dickinson joined Iron Maiden in 1981 and debuted on the album The Number of The Beast in 1982. He quit Iron Maiden in 1993 to chase a solo career and returned to the band in 1999. He is considered one of the orginal operatic style power metal singers in the vein of Rob Halford and Ronnie James Dio.

Skavlan asked how the band reacted to the news of the cancer.

Bruce Dickinson - courtesy photo
Bruce Dickinson – courtesy photo

“It’s a strange lonely place,” Dickinson said. “Even though people want to support you, there’s nothing anybody can do. It’s only you, your doctors and daytime television. And daytime television is brilliant. You watch daytime television, the first thing you see is life insurance adverts, ‘help with funeral costs,’ and ‘Please make donations to cancer charities.’ Sorry I’ve got it already, can I have my money back?”

Iron Maiden - Photo courtesy of Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden – Photo courtesy of Iron Maiden

Dickinson said his friends in Iron Maiden rallied.

“Steve our bass player, he’s a very private person,” Dickinson said. “He sent me a couple of books. ‘Never Fear Cancer Again.’ Then this big box arrived. So I opened it up and it was a trampoline. And I said, ‘Why the trampoline?’ He said, ‘It’s really good for your recovery and you jump up and down on it, it’s low impact, I thought it would be good for your cancer.’ I nearly died on this thing.”

Check out the interview with Bruce Dickinson here:

And this was all in the comfort of his own home, he didn’t go to the hospital.

“I was at home the whole time,” he said.  “I used to go on the train every morning for my radiation. then I’d go for a walk in the park then I had the trampoline, and that was the thing that nearly killed me. I was watching the rugby and was on the trampoline and went whoa! I thought ‘This trampoline is bloody dangerous’ and I put it in the corner.”

Skavlan asked Dickinson about his other dangerous experiences — in flying.

But Dickinson who is also a well-regarded airline and general aviation pilot, said he is confident that while he is trained for urgent situations, he hopes it won’t ever come to that.

You are a pilot and you can fly a 747, have you been in dangerous situation? Skavlan asked.

“It’s my job to avoid dangerous situations,” Dickinson said. “That’s what I’m trained to do. There’s an old saying the job of a skilled captain is to make sure he doesn’t have to use his skills as a captain.”