Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson has said he was “surprised” when the band decided to replace him with Blaze Bayley in 1994. The lineup change came after Dickinson decided to leave the NWOBHM giants, although he returned in 1999 and has remained in place since then.

“I really like Blaze. I like him just as a human being,” Dickinson said in a new interview with Do You Know Jack? (via Blabbermouth; audio below). “He’s a lovely guy. I remember going to the management offices and there was a guy - he doesn’t work for management any more  -  but he was telling me how great this whole thing was and how brilliant it was going to be. I said, ‘Look, he's got this great gig. Of course, he's going to take the job. He's been offered the job. Of course, he's going to take it.’

“I said, ‘Has anybody given any thought to where he's going to go with the old stuff? Has anyone given any thought to how he is going to manage it? Not just singing, but how are you going to deal with the fan reaction?' Because I was surprised it was Blaze. I was delighted for Blaze, but there was a whole bunch of other really good singers out there. I thought. 'Wow, they could have picked somebody with a voice that could do what my voice did.' But they picked Blaze. Obviously, they picked somebody different, but that came with its own set of challenges. I just wondered whether anybody in the management was really giving anybody any serious words of truth on how hard this could be.”

Wolfsbane frontman Bayley faced a barrage of criticism throughout his tenure with Maiden, which lasted for five years and two studio albums - 1995's The X Factor and 1998's Virtual XI. “You can’t help but take it personally,” he told TeamRock last year. “You’re human. Early on I said – as dumb as it sounds – I only believe the good reviews. Every bad review, I thought, it’s wrong. I put myself in that place, and that was how I survived.” He added: “To join this legendary band, it was an incredible opportunity for me.”

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