Exclusive: Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson previews Sunflower Jam charity shindig
Bruce Dickinson believes that holistic medicine should be taken more seriously than it is. The Iron Maiden singer, who takes part in the charity all-star show The Sunflower Jam at London’s Royal Albert Hall on September 16, stands firmly behind the event’s cause of administering natural treatment to alleviate the suffering of cancer victims.
Interview: Dave Ling
“It’s a sad fact that so many people die from the treatment and not the cancer itself,” states the singer. “If it’s possible to diminish the side-effects of the treatment by keeping the body healthy, that can only help.
“Holistic medicine can also benefit those around the people that have cancer – it’s tough for them too,” he continues. “The Great Ormond Street project recognises that, and it’s been so successful that they now want to roll it out elsewhere. I believe that’s a terribly worthwhile cause.”
The brainchild of Jacky Paice and her husband, Deep Purple drummer Ian, The Sunflower Jam began at London’s Porchester Halls in 2006, raising £90,000 from a show that featured Ian Paice and Jon Lord, Robert Plant, Bernie Marsden, Paul Weller, Phil Manzanera and more.
Two years later, Dickinson performed a three-song routine of his own and in the words of Jacky, “was having such fun that we couldn’t keep him off the stage” as he returned to duet with Ian Gillan during a set from Deep Purple. He also played at Sunflower again 12 months later in 2009.
“The first time I went along I had an absolute ball,” explains Bruce. “It’s a great excuse to sing a few tunes that maybe you wouldn’t normally be associated with, and to play with some great musicians, also of course to raise cash and awareness for a wonderful cause.”
Housed since 2011 at the larger and grander Royal Albert Hall, the show has taken on a life of its own. Other participants at the 2012 event include John Paul Jones, Alice Cooper, Brian May and Kerry Ellis, former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth, ex-Whitesnake guitarist Micky Moody, Sandi Thom, Steve Balsamo and Level 42’s Mark King.
Although Bruce has had a preliminary conversation with Paul ‘Wix’ Wickins, the keyboard player of Paul McCartney’s Band who acts as the event’s musical director, by its very nature the show runs on spontaneity.
“I’ve suggested a few songs that we might do and he’s considering them,” says Bruce. “It depends what everyone else wants to do; once that’s been clarified then we can mix and match. It’s cool that there will be three female backing singers, including Sam Brown, so that’s something else to consider. Normally it’s a three-song set, and there’s a bash at the end where the whole gang comes back on.”
When asked whether indulging in extra-curricular activity, also given that Steve Harris is on the verge of releasing his debut solo album, causes Dickinson to hanker to step away from Iron Maiden for a while, the singer merely laughs loudly and states theatrically: “Aaaaah, if I told you that I’d have to kill you.”
Has he heard Harris’ British Lion album yet?
“No. I’m going to wait till it comes out. There’s no intrigue there, though. We [Maiden] have just had the most fantastic America tour. It’s all going great.”
Indeed, Classic Rock’s recent review of the tour, from Toronto, said the show is so special that readers of the magazine are advised to keep “all 365 evenings” of next year free…
“Hahaha. Yeah. That’s good advice. We’re having a blast and I think it shows.”
Sunflower Jam tickets are priced from £30 – £130 (plus booking fee) and available from Eventim: www.eventim.co.uk Ticket Hotline: 08442491000
Or The Royal Albert Hall itself: www.royalalberthall.com/tickets Box office: 0845 401 5034
The Sunflower Jam website is here: www.thesunflowerjam.com