During a recent conversation on the Metal Talk podcast, former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley talked about the time when grunge dominated the music industry and revealed how it affected Iron Maiden at the time.
As we know, the early 1990s witnessed the rise of grunge music, and the leading bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam achieved worldwide fame. Although this was unexpected for the often Seattle-based grunge bands, their popularity kept increasing, and they eventually stole the spotlight.
The 1980s were dominated by glam rock, hard rock, and heavy metal, and it wasn’t possible to predict the forthcoming influence of grunge music. When Blaze Bayley replaced Bruce Dickinson as Iron Maiden’s lead singer in 1994, grunge’s popularity had peaked, which certainly affected other music genres. During his recent conversation, Blaze Bayley reflected on how Iron Maiden was affected by this situation.
According to what Bayley said, everyone assumed that Iron Maiden had come to an end as their album and tour sales had declined. Nirvana stood out as the most dominant band, and many thought it had replaced Iron Maiden. Bayley explained that they felt terrible when they heard these kinds of reactions. Blaze also noted that grunge lost its popularity, but Iron Maiden still remains standing.
In Bayley’s words:
“The year I joined Iron Maiden, EMI sold every factory that they had that produced vinyl, CDs, and cassettes. They were getting out of the manufacturing business, which had been the mainstay of the music business. Bits of plastic that you walked into a record shop and bought — be it vinyl or cassette or CD — all those bits of plastic, suddenly sales were plummeting. EMI got out. They thought everything was gonna be digital. Now we know that they were doing deals with Apple and all of that.
So, everything was going down. Everything was against us. The shape of the music business was changing. When we did ‘The X Factor’ and they said that Nirvana were gonna be the new Judas Priest or new Iron Maiden, it was bizarre, but that’s what we were facing.”
Then he added:
“We played in Seattle at the height of grunge, and the audience was split — visibly — from real metal fans, which was about the first five or 10 rows, ‘Maiden is my band. I’m here to see Maiden. That’s it. I’ve come to listen to the new songs,’ to the back where it was, ‘I’ve come to see the last gig of this dinosaur. I wanna say that I saw Iron Maiden’s last tour.’ It was horrible — absolutely horrible. And that’s how it was. And that’s what we were facing on ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Virtual XI’.
In the U.K., the magazines were saying ‘Maiden is dead.’ We were playing, across the world, 10 thousand people a night, stadiums with 70 thousand people, 50 thousand, headlining giant festivals, but in the U.K., in our home, they were saying, ‘Maiden’s dead. Maiden’s gone.’ Well, where are they now? Grunge is gone. Heavy metal has stayed. And Maiden has stayed.”
You can watch the entire conversation below.