Last week I got an opportunity to interview one of my heroes, former Wolfsbane/Iron Maiden warbler Blaze Bayley for the Belfast Telegraph. I was really excited about it. Scratch that. I was over the fucking moon about it. Sadly my excitement didn’t last long…
I rang Blaze on Thursday as arranged. He picked up the phone, sounding confused, panicked and upset. I immediately told him i was happy to reschedule and he seemed relieved. At that stage I was well aware of his wife/manager Debbie’s coma and totally understood why he mightn’t fancy talking to some Irish super-fan on the end of the phone when his soul mate was lying in a hospital bed.
So I rang him again the following day and was gutted to hear that Debbie suffered a second stroke a handful of hours beforehand. All reports coming from the Bayley camp was that she was out of the woods and on the mend. Blaze, the utter proffessional and fucking legend that he is, insisted on still doing the interview. Debbie worked hard to put this tour together, he reasoned, and he wanted to honour that. For 40minutes we talked about everything from my days being in a band attempting to play Wolfsbane covers to the time he accidentally covered me in his own blood at a particularly raucous gig in the Rosetta in Belfast. It was obvious Blaze was worried and hurt, but he made sure to be as attentive as possible.
The next day, I read that Debbie sadly passed away. Even though I’ve only met Blaze a few times and have never had the pleasure of his other half’s company, I felt quite upset about it, if I’m honest. Even a little choked up. He had known her all of his life and eventually,after years apart, they found each other again. They married shortly after and she set to work taking care of Blaze and nurturing him after a life-time of people fucking him over.
I’ve always found Blaze a fascinating character. For whatever reason he was made the scape-goat by the mainstream music press and self-appointed internet “experts” when the world of hard rock and metal when tits up in the mid-nineties and for a long time was held accountable for events that had very little to do with him. When he was sacked from Iron Maiden, an event which truth be told I’m still not comfortable with, he remained tight-lipped about what really went on and refused to dish the dirt/stick the boot in like Bruce Dickinson, Paul Di’Anno and countless others did, preferring to support the band and remain the consumate gentleman.
This morning I finally wrote up my interview. I felt a bit odd about it. Growing up, I was never the “newshound” type. There was only ever two things I wanted to do with my life-1) Play in a band 2) Be a freelance music journalist and in many ways I approach journalism differently to my peers/colleagues. For me, it’s all about conveying the excitement that I get when I first hear an ace new record rather than being a cold, hardened “reporter.” I’m a music fan first and foremost, so I guess writing up this feature was a little too close to the knuckle for what I usually do. Still, I’m proud of how it turned out.I just wish it was under different circumstances.
At the monent I’m listening to Blaze’s latest record ‘The Man Who Would Not Die’ and thinking back to my final question to the former Dark Lord of Rock.
“If you had to go back in time and give one piece of advice to the Blaze Bayley of 1984, what would it be?” I said.
“Man,that’s a good question,” he said. “That’s such an interesting idea, isn’t it? I’d love to be able to travel back and help out a younger version of myself. In many ways the one thing I’ve always been guilty of doing throughout my life was never appreciating what I had until it was gone. Whether it was personally or proffessionally, I was always focused on what I was going to do NEXT instead of what I had acheived then. I think I pushed myself too much and wish I could’ve spent more time living in the moment. Sometimes life can be too short.”