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What Does This Button Do?: The No.1 Sunday Times Bestselling Autobiography Hardcover – 19 Oct 2017
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‘A chatty and anecdote-filled autobiography… There is much fun to be had, such as trying to put a certain part of his anatomy in the ear of the singer in rival band Quiet Riot (clue:not his finger) Sunday Times Books of the Year
‘The entertaining chronicle of a spotty anorak who escaped his grey existence into the absurd drama of life as Iron Maiden’s frontman’ Daily Telegraph Books of the Year
‘What Does This Button Do? is a genuinely fascinating and funny look back at Dickinson’s life. From his early days growing up in the Nottinghamshire mining town of Worksop (where he was raised by his grandparents until the age of six) to his roller-coaster 40-year music career, it paints a candid picture of a life well lived.’ Classic Rock Magazine
‘If you only read one book this year, it absolutely must be Bruce Dickinson’s new autobiography, What Does This Button Do? … The book is every bit as entertaining and bursting with energy as you might expect.’ Metal Hammer
‘Whether you are a Maiden fanatic, an aviation enthusiast, a fencing aficionado or none or even all of the above, you will most definitely get something from this extremely well written and entertaining book, such is the calibre of the man, his philosophies and the level of his accomplishments.’ Metaltalk
From the Inside Flap
'I was spotty, wore an anorak, had biro-engraved flared blue jeans with "purple" and "Sabbath" written on the thighs, and rode an ear-splittingly uncool moped. Oh yes, and I wanted to be a drummer...'
Bruce Dickinson - Iron Maiden's legendary front man - is one of the world's most iconic singers and songwriters. But there are many strings to Bruce's bow, of which larger-than-life lead vocalist is just one. He is also an airline captain, aviation entrepreneur, motivational speaker, beer brewer, novelist, radio presenter, film scriptwriter and an international fencer: truly one of the most unique and interesting men in the world.
In What Does this Button Do? Bruce contemplates the rollercoaster of life. He recounts - in his uniquely anarchic voice - the explosive exploits of his eccentric British childhood, the meteoric rise of Maiden, summoning the powers of darkness, the philosophy of fencing, brutishly beautiful Boeings and firmly dismissing cancer like an uninvited guest.
Bold, honest, intelligent and funny, this long-awaited memoir captures the life, heart and mind of a true rock icon, and is guaranteed to inspire curious souls and hard-core fans alike. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.
From the Publisher
Dickinson turns his unbridled creativity, passion, and anarchic humour to reveal some fascinating stories from his life, including his thirty years with Maiden, his solo career, his childhood within the eccentric British school system, his early bands, fatherhood and family, and his recent battle with cancer.
Bold, honest, intelligent and very funny, his memoir is an up-close look inside the life, heart, and mind of one of the most unique and interesting men in the world; a true icon of rock.
What Does This Button Do
A 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 and 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 singing style, and stage presence of its second, but twice-longest-serving, lead singer, Bruce Dickinson. As Iron Maiden’s front man—first from 1981 to 1993, and then from 1999 to the present—Dickinson has been, and remains, a man of legend.
But OTT front man is just one of the many hats Bruce wears. In addition to being one of the world’s most storied and well-respected singers and songwriters, he is an airline captain, aviation entrepreneur, motivational speaker, beer brewer, novelist, radio presenter, and film scriptwriter. He has also competed as a world-class level fencer. Often credited as a genuine polymath Bruce, in his own words (and handwritten script in the first instance!), sets forth many personal observations assured to inspire curious souls and hard-core fans alike.
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Dickinson writes in an accessible, conversational way so the biography is easy to read. Some of the stuff about his childhood, growing up with his grandparents and going to public school is engaging (or “not wasted”, to paraphrase Bruce).
There are also some fascinating insights into Iron Maiden. It might be a band but it’s more of a business. I thought that the fellas in the group might be mates but, from the book, it seemed to me that Maiden is more like a company and the band members are co-workers. For example, there was no evidence of any real friendship between Bruce and Steve Harris, the two were presented more like sparring partners, think a sales director clashing with an operations director. When Bruce left Maiden and went solo, the prose was crafted in such a way that it felt like a change of job rather than anything more emotional.
When Dickinson writes about his later return to Maiden, I came away with the impression that his reinstatement was about business objectives more than comradery.
I was fascinated to read about Bruce’s battle with tongue/throat cancer. I wanted to know how it affected him, how he felt during the treatment and remission stages. What was included was thought provoking but, like a lot of other content in the book, more was about actions, events and facts than it was about feelings and emotions. Dickinson is an alpha male, arrogant, action man of an individual and it was one of the few times in the book that there was any real suggestion of vulnerability, but even in this scenario, it was more implicit than explicit.
Whilst some of the prose was bright and engaging, other elements were rather more prosaic. I’ll be honest, when Bruce was writing about the creation of various albums, I got a bit bored. I didn’t really care which recording studio was used in which part of the world. Even some of the Maiden tour content was rather bland and a bit too staccato.
Perhaps frustratingly for me, my lasting impressions will be about the stuff that only got touched upon, or the material that was missed out altogether.
To illustrate the former, lots and lots of references in the book to the movie “Chemical Wedding” but there was nothing about the critical success of the film and how Bruce felt about it. Most of what I have read elsewhere would indicate that it got panned, so maybe that is why.
He writes about the Balkan conflict forever changing his view on the value of human life – but never expands on it. There’s a poignant picture taken in Sarajevo of a dead child but it’s not referenced in the copy, maybe it was related to Bruce’s observation but you don’t know for sure.
Late in the tome, Bruce almost gets to grips with his difficult relationship with his dad. There was potential for some deeper soul searching (I thought “excellent, this could be fascinating") and then there wasn’t, the topic effectively parked.
With regards to the latter, there was nothing about him piloting “Ed Force One” into Japan as the tsunami and Fukushima disasters unfolded. From a fencing perspective, there was lots of coverage of that topic but … I have read that Bruce was good enough to compete for the UK in the Olympics but couldn’t because of Iron Maiden commitments. Not a mention of this (but then maybe it’s just an urban myth).
Most glaringly absent was anything about his immediate family. Personally I would have been interested to read about how he managed the demands of his careers with being a parent, how he managed to keep his marriage (the second one primarily) alive whilst being away for so much of the time. I’d like to have understood more about the qualities of his wife who must a real trooper herself (behind every great man and all that).
As a family man myself, balancing all the responsibilities of being a husband, father, son, brother, grandson, friend, employee, manager etc. is hard enough and I am just a no one who works in an office. How hard must it be for a celebrity polymath?
The absence of family orientated detail was bugging me but it got resolved (sort of) when I completed the book and got to the acknowledgements. Bruce makes the statement that he intentionally left out anything about births, marriages, divorces, deaths etc. That was a genuine shame in my opinion.
Bruce never goes into detail about his regrets (and he must have some), his failings (ditto), his weaknesses or his desires for the future. He, perhaps sensibly, avoids comment about politics, religion, but all those subject areas would have added much more human interest.
Bruce stated that his original work was about 800 pages long (the book is only 384 pages), with half the content side-lined, it’s perhaps no wonder that it felt patchy and incomplete in places. Bruce states that nobody would have bothered to read the thing if it was so long but I suspect the reading would have been more rewarding without so much cutting.
In summary, and in reference to the title of this post; for me, the button in question is one of those infra-red dimmer type switches that you can activate with your finger or a remote control. The lights can be bright and then fade to black at a touch. As an analogy, bright and then fading reflects how well I was gripped by the book.
Having stated that, it is still worth a read so why not get a copy and make your own mind up. But if you want some alternative recommendations, “I am Ozzy” is more engaging and funny. “White Line Fever” is more cerebral. Both are better reads.
I have read this book in depth up to the Oundle phase, and speed-read it through the QMC era. I'm not sure I will finish it. His writing style is jerky -- there are too many bracketed phrases to my taste -- and the editing is poor. I could quibble about details: the Arthur Brown concert at Oundle was in 1973, not 1976, for example. And it was a sheep, killed by anthrax, -- not a cow -- which was found in the Nene and ended the outdoor 'Boat Test'. But most of his coverage of the era of interest to me seems true. What it brings home to me is how little, in that pre-Facebook decade, I knew Bruce. In those days, we had almost zero contact with our school friends outside of term-time. We didn't phone -- too expensive -- and we we didn't write letters -- couldn't be bothered. When someone got expelled, that was the end of all contact with him. You couldn't just send him a WhatsApp of commiseration.
I remember in my first year at Oundle, 7-10 boys got expelled for drugs possession. Headmaster Barry Trapnell called the entire school to the Great Hall where he told us that none of those expelled would be able to become chartered accountants. The effect of this, by the way, was to put us more off chartered accountancy than off drugs. When Bruce got expelled, there was no announcement or lecture — just a before-lights-out visit to the senior dormitories of Sidney by its housemaster to assure us that Bruce would likely do very well in life: "Those who get expelled always do."
I was due to share a study with Bruce in Sidney the term after he got expelled. He kindly left me his electric kettle. From a subsequent career point of view, I am glad I wasn't around on that fateful weekend evening when Bruce and Neil added some fluids to the beans they had been entrusted with. I might have joined in. Bruce had a talent for concocting stunts aimed at the masters, but the problem was that there was no glory unless other boys knew who was behind those stunts. And there lay the seeds of Bruce's destruction at Oundle. The stunts got bigger, and the house prefects leaked the identity of the perpetrator to the authorities. But they were the fools in the first place for subcontracting the cooking of the headmaster's vegetables.
I have been more irritated by the press interviews Bruce has given to promote this book than by what he has written in the bok itself. Yes, Bruce was victimised at Oundle, and for no good reason. But I do not believe he was 'beaten' or even beaten up 'every day'. There may have been molestation of boys by other boys, but not, to my recollection, by any teacher. Nor was this a 'tea and crumpets' culture. No boy would waste their limited pocket money on crumpets when there was abundant bread available to be toasted at Sidney House.
There was no hot-housing, to my recollection. This was an era when, for most future careers, it really didn't matter what class of degree you eventually obtained. At Oundle there was no great pressure to succeed academically or on the sports field, and we had enormous amounts of free time to explore almost any avenue we wanted. The Oundle chapter in Bruce's book indicates how many different activities he could try out at the school.
Many of the pupils (and some of the teachers) were anti-establishment, except perhaps for a few of those who became house prefects. The secret to not being victimised was to keep your head down, and that was not Bruce's way.
Because he was expelled, Bruce, I assume, is not a member of the Old Oundelian Club. This possibly deprives him of the receipt of the annual 'Old Oundelian' journal. He has, to my knowledge, never been mentioned in this magazine. The damaging effects of his exclusion do not appear to have done him too much harm, and the refusal to acknowledge his success may say more about the stuffiness of the club than his character.
The book has, for me, brought back memories of long ago, some of which may be more accurate than Bruce's versions. Some of his paragraphs read like much-repeated anecdotes, intended to impress the uncritical fan.
Occasionally I was startled by the venom with which Bruce attacks the authority figures he encountered at Oundle. But overall I have been intrigued by what I've read.
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