What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography by Bruce Dickinson

What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERA long-awaited memoir from the larger-than-life, multifaceted lead vocalist of Iron Maiden, one of the most successful, influential and enduring rock bands ever.Pioneers of Britain’s nascent Rock & Metal scene back in the late 1970s, Iron Maiden smashed its way to the top, thanks in no small part to the high-octane performances, operatic singin...

Title:What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography
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Edition Language:English

What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography Reviews

  • Twerking To Beethoven

    Actually, that would have been an ace book. I'm all about ex wives, divorces & debau

    Actually, that would have been an ace book. I'm all about ex wives, divorces & debauchery in general. That's what I look for when reading a rockstar bio. Also, I don't care much about aviation and fencing which, needs to be said, cover roughly 60% of the book.

    Three stars.

  • Geoff

    Rock biographies can be patchy things, often written quickly for the hard-core fanbase and released just before Christmas as a cynical cash-in. For rock autobiographies this counts double, with the added risk that the author is a neanderthal with just enough writing skill to avoid a ghost writer, but nowhere near enough to make for a good book.

    The result in most cases is a lot of self-indulgent tosh, but no doubt acts as a good pension plan for the author.

    This book is not one of those. I should

    Rock biographies can be patchy things, often written quickly for the hard-core fanbase and released just before Christmas as a cynical cash-in. For rock autobiographies this counts double, with the added risk that the author is a neanderthal with just enough writing skill to avoid a ghost writer, but nowhere near enough to make for a good book.

    The result in most cases is a lot of self-indulgent tosh, but no doubt acts as a good pension plan for the author.

    This book is not one of those. I should state here that I am a huge fan of Iron Maiden and Dickinson's other musical work, so I was looking forward to the publication of this book immensely.

    But there's plenty here for everyone. The author writes well, and avoids the normal pitfalls of streams of largely similar on-tour anecdotes about drink, drugs, and ephemeral romantic entanglements, choosing instead to write about a whole range of subjects, most of which he appears to be an expert in. Apart from rock music, he is utterly passionate about fencing and flying, and quite well versed in other media, notably books and films.

    If you like reading about interesting lives, you will enjoy this book, whatever your taste in music. Highly recommended.

  • Les

    Ever since I heard the soaring vocals in the chorus of Iron Maiden's iconic tune

    as an impressionable kid in the 80's, Bruce Dickinson has been in my head. I've been eager to read his autobiography, right from when it was announced that one of the most legendary metal vocalists of all time was going to tell of his life and career in his own words.

    Bruce is someone who I've always wanted to meet and share an ale and a yarn with, it always seemed to me as though he and I have a nu

    Ever since I heard the soaring vocals in the chorus of Iron Maiden's iconic tune

    as an impressionable kid in the 80's, Bruce Dickinson has been in my head. I've been eager to read his autobiography, right from when it was announced that one of the most legendary metal vocalists of all time was going to tell of his life and career in his own words.

    Bruce is someone who I've always wanted to meet and share an ale and a yarn with, it always seemed to me as though he and I have a number of things in common. Bruce's story confirmed that, and as he explains the major events of his life I could see that we have a similar worldview in lots of ways. One thing that he has in truck loads, and that which I often lack, is confidence. By 'eck, this bloke has some confidence. This is evident from his career as the front man of Iron Maiden and also from his inspiring journey to becoming a commercial airline pilot. As a professional aircraft engineer of 20 years and currently also as a student pilot, I know how fraught with obstacles and trials the aviation industry is. Even so, this guy just walks up and says to himself "F@#k it, I'm gonna do that", and he does so, very successfully.

    Now to the book itself. It's written by Bruce's own hand in a very entertaining and vibrant style that reflects his personality and adds a rich layer to the stories. He doesn't go into all that many things in much depth or detail, but when taken as a whole life-story, he does a reasonable job of squeezing a lot into the book. What is noticeably absent from the book is anything of any real substance about other people. There's no relationship details, other than professional, with anybody whether it be band mates or family members. Initially I found this rather disappointing because I was looking forward to learning a bit about Bruce the family man, for example, but there's nothing like this in there anywhere. I've since seen a couple of interviews with Bruce where he addresses the issue and explains why he didn't wish to reveal personal details about others. I can see his point and generally agree with his reasoning, which shows him to quite clearly be a very private person, and all of that stuff is none of my business anyway. That said, this autobiography does seem a little incomplete without at least some of these details.

    He does spin some more detailed yarns about his flying exploits, which I found incredibly interesting. Again, I'm impressed with Bruce's confidence and tenacity as he tackles challenge after challenge. He's clearly very into what he does, whether it be flying any number of different aeroplanes, or crafting songs. In a word, inspirational. Toward the end of the book, there is one part of his life where Bruce does get quite candid, and that is the story of his battle with cancer. He opens up about his treatment and recovery enough for us to appreciate the depth of his struggle, and his stubborn grit shines through again as he just gets on with the job of kicking the big C into touch. Again, noticeably missing is where his family fitted into this picture.

    In summary, this is a good autobiography about a very interesting person. I enjoyed it immensely and drew inspiration from so many aspects of Bruce's journey through life. Essentially it's a good autobiography recounting Bruce's professional life and career(s), but what would've made it a great autobiography would be more depth to his personal story. For what it is, though, it's pretty solid and well worth a read.

  • Ian

    Bruce Dickinson's autobiography doesn't tell your usual rock'n'roll story. There's little in the way of hedonism here, Bruce is a man who'd rather learn how to fence, pilot a jumbo jet or write a best selling novel in his spare time. As the lead singer of best selling heavy metal band Iron Maiden he's accomplished an awful lot and it's all well told with a good sprinkling of humour here.

    He writes at his most passionate when discussing aviation, with memories of his first flights and hair raising

    Bruce Dickinson's autobiography doesn't tell your usual rock'n'roll story. There's little in the way of hedonism here, Bruce is a man who'd rather learn how to fence, pilot a jumbo jet or write a best selling novel in his spare time. As the lead singer of best selling heavy metal band Iron Maiden he's accomplished an awful lot and it's all well told with a good sprinkling of humour here.

    He writes at his most passionate when discussing aviation, with memories of his first flights and hair raising trips. For me there was a lot less Iron Maiden than I'd have liked, often new albums and tours are brushed over in a paragraph. I was hoping for some more band anecdotes, and thoughts on the albums themselves. He's chosen to leave out his most personal details, there's nothing here on his marriage, divorce or children and frustratingly little on the relationship with the rest of his band, particularly the fractious time around the early 90s when he left Maiden. He hints at being displeased with the band's direction but I always got the impression from the media at the time that there was a little more going on. So don't expect much dirt to be dished (perhaps not surprisingly considering they're all happily together again now!).

    That said, it's a very entertaining read. The best chapters are the time he performed in war torn Bosnia and towards the end, as he battles and overcomes throat cancer. Whilst this may not have given me everything I wanted it is what it is and that's a well written, funny account of a man who has led a fascinating life.

  • Michael Legge

    Shame he dies in the end.

  • David Pain

    Bruce is a great bloke. This book does not detract from that. It's not that scintillating a read, though. The odd chortle or revelation (see what I did?) here and there but not essential reading by any means. I'm a huge fan of Bruce so I did enjoy it but would be hard pushed to recommend it to anyone but a big Maiden fan.

    EDIT: I've just started Robert Webb's autobiography following this and it's clarified what i felt about this one. There's not much of Bruce in his biog, oddly. Mainly a dry set

    Bruce is a great bloke. This book does not detract from that. It's not that scintillating a read, though. The odd chortle or revelation (see what I did?) here and there but not essential reading by any means. I'm a huge fan of Bruce so I did enjoy it but would be hard pushed to recommend it to anyone but a big Maiden fan.

    EDIT: I've just started Robert Webb's autobiography following this and it's clarified what i felt about this one. There's not much of Bruce in his biog, oddly. Mainly a dry set of facts. For the most part, there's no emotion in it. Almost nothing about family/friend/band relationships at all.

    There's no deeper insight into Maiden either. I think I learned almost nothing new. It's clear that revealing anything about the inner workings of the band was pretty much off the table. I guess this was a condition of him publishing it.

    The writing style is pretty uninvolving too. I didn't feel connected to it. In short, this was adequate but fell way below what I had hoped it would be.

  • Niels

    I have been an Iron Maiden fan for over thirty years and I have always enjoyed hearing interviews with Mr. Dickinson. Bruce Dickinson's tale takes you from his early childhood being raised by his grandparents and onto Private School, College, his time in Sampson which lead to him joining Iron Maiden, one of the greatest metal bands of all time and his adventures as a pilot which took him all over the world. He tells his tale with humor and cour

    I have been an Iron Maiden fan for over thirty years and I have always enjoyed hearing interviews with Mr. Dickinson. Bruce Dickinson's tale takes you from his early childhood being raised by his grandparents and onto Private School, College, his time in Sampson which lead to him joining Iron Maiden, one of the greatest metal bands of all time and his adventures as a pilot which took him all over the world. He tells his tale with humor and courage, even as he addresses his battle with cancer in the final chapter of the book.

    I must admit that I was shocked by the lack of debauchery in the book but then again Maiden always seemed a bit above that for the most part. There is some debauchery but not in the excess of Maiden's contemporaries. (Keep in mind that Iron Maiden introduced many young fans to Coleridge with "Rime of the ancient Mariner." Iron Maiden was a band that got kids into literature as opposed to drugs.)

  • Glenn Pillsbury

    I eagerly anticipated this, but in the end was a little disappointed. Dickinson is a fine writer, having published a couple of novels earlier in his career as well as being responsible for some of the finest lyrics in metal history, and this is a rare rock autobiography that is self-written and justifiably so. The book has to juggle a number of different objectives: tell Dickinson's personal history, discuss his involvement with Iron Maiden (and music more broadly), and talk about fencing and th

    I eagerly anticipated this, but in the end was a little disappointed. Dickinson is a fine writer, having published a couple of novels earlier in his career as well as being responsible for some of the finest lyrics in metal history, and this is a rare rock autobiography that is self-written and justifiably so. The book has to juggle a number of different objectives: tell Dickinson's personal history, discuss his involvement with Iron Maiden (and music more broadly), and talk about fencing and then piloting as the two extra-musical pursuits he's widely known for. In the end, it does the last of these the best, but those were, for me, the least interesting of the lot. It was always something of a mark of difference to know, even in the 1980s, that the lead singer of a heavy metal band was also a dedicated fencer instead of just a beer-swilling Satanist, and the reader really does get a full picture of how important fencing, and later airplane piloting, filled Dickinson's time away from Maiden. It's certainly more interesting than if he'd spent that time selling life insurance.

    That said, for all the detail we get here about the path of his fencing "career" and especially the progression of his piloting career from a single engine prop right through the training to be a full-on commercial airline captain, the trade-off of comparable lack of detail regarding Iron Maiden and his inter-personal life is noticeable. For example, other people in Dickinson's life are conspicuously absent except as an occasional drinking partner and maybe as a bandmate or producer. No relationships are more than superficial in this book and it feels incredibly "thin" in terms of his personal biography. Dickinson freely admits to this approach in the epilogue, but it remains baffling why he would think it improved the book. In particular, the suppression of anything having to do with family life, or of politics, or any number of other issues, largely distorts the discussion of his musical career. Dickinson could be political in the lyrics of his solo material (e.g. "Born in '58"), and I wanted to more about how he arrived at certain views and how they affected his relationships with those around him. Or, I wanted to know much more about why he joined Iron Maiden in the first place. There had to have been something about the music that attracted him, especially given the difference in style that Maiden presented compared to Dickinson's previous band, Samson. And, coming as it does at the beginning of the commercial ascendancy of heavy metal music in the early 1980s, there has to be some interesting discussion about what it was like for him to be in that segment of the music industry at that time. The 1980s were fraught with contestations over which bands could be counted as "metal", and I wanted to know how much of that contestation was felt by the band as they rolled out their mid-80s classic

    . Overall, I wanted to know more about his own aesthetic development aside from the never-ending series of Iron Maiden albums and tours.

    Ultimately, Dickinson seems to stand alone in the book, and that's probably how he sees himself, as an independent, "free thinker" of an individual, but that's not actually how people operate in the world. Dickinson, in fact, has children, has been married, has a sister, and has all the usual family and friend relationships. And, most importantly, those relationships have helped shape everything he's done in his (quite remarkable) life. Thus, it's disappointing that so much of that was left out here. I would much rather he explored those things than shared another pages-long anecdote about producer Martin Birch's drunken alter ego, "Marvin."

  • Pericles

    This is NOT your typical rock star biography. This is NOT a story about a talented musician who almost lost everything to drugs and sex. You will not find love affairs, undesired children or the discovery of love. Nor is it the story of the troubled band who disbanded and then got back together again because of money.

    Well, kind of.

    What this is, is the story of Bruce Dickinson's CAREER. He will tell you how he found his love for music and his trajectory to Iron Maiden. Bruce then elaborates on

    This is NOT your typical rock star biography. This is NOT a story about a talented musician who almost lost everything to drugs and sex. You will not find love affairs, undesired children or the discovery of love. Nor is it the story of the troubled band who disbanded and then got back together again because of money.

    Well, kind of.

    What this is, is the story of Bruce Dickinson's CAREER. He will tell you how he found his love for music and his trajectory to Iron Maiden. Bruce then elaborates on his time with Maiden until his departure, what he was searching for with his solo career and the years after his return. In between the lines he will also tell you how he became an airliner pilot and how he beat cancer. He will not tell you about his wifes, divorce and children and I honestly thought he was single with no children, until he explains that he's chosen not to talk about those things. And, honestly: reading the story of Bruce Dickinson, you notice that you really don't care about those details of his personal life, because they simply don't concern you.

    Bruce is that kind of an unique person who is curious, smart, talented and lucky, all at the same time. The title of "What does this button do" alone tells a lot about Bruce: a curious guy who is keen to learning more and more, always. And when he wants to learn, he digs into manuals and bootcamps to really understand how things work, but only if the subject really matters to him. Even though he's got a degree in history, he would take on complete different adventures like learning how to fly 757, 737 and 747s. He's so obsessed with learning that the very reason why he left Iron Maiden was because he felt like the only music he had any contact with was Iron Maiden's. So he had to leave the band in order to grow personally and professionally.

    This book also tells a lot about what it takes to become successful. Bruce always worked hard to sell his bands to local bars, knocking door to door and distributing poorly-recorded demo tapes. He chased those things. And when the opportunity came to audition for Iron Maiden, he knew the job was his. So he was lucky for being there at the right time, but he was also well prepared for the audition (they asked him to learn two songs, he learned both albums) and talented enough so that it was an easy choice for Steve Harris to hire him - hence the combination of luck, talent and hard work. This is what it takes. And he's got no problem in saying he's made mistakes and learned from them, so much that he would not change any of the decisions he's made if he had a chance, because of the learnings that life brought to him.

    Bruce Dickinson is a real role model for anyone, in any career, or in pursue of any personal goals.

  • Angelo

    Fascinating anecdotes, nicely written and performed. Hey, I'm a fan.

    However, for my taste, the book is a little too "clean" and light on details. I know a lot about the stories Bruce tells to his buddies at a birthday party, but I don't really feel I _know_ Bruce now.

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