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What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,898 ratings  ·  562 reviews

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 & 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

Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published October 31st 2017 by Dey Street Books (first published October 19th 2017)
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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 ...more
I was a bit disappointed with this book. In fairness my disappointment stems from fact that this is not the book I was I was expecting. Reading the Afterword Bruce states he did this on purpose. If he filled the book with stories, anecdotes and other people it would have been an 800 pages book. Really I would have preferred that.

The problem for me with this book is with out all the stories, people and emotions Bruce comes across very robotic. Even from an Iron Maiden fan point of view the book
Twerking To Beethoven
Plenty of funny anecdotes never made the cut, simply because they didn’t advance the narrative. Somewhere there is a book of anecdotes, but it’s not a coherent tale.
Had I chosen to include airships, wives, divorces, children and entrepreneurial activities this would have been approaching 800 pages long. It would have been the type of book that people use to commit murder, or help change tyres on London buses.

Actually, that would have been an ace book. I'm all about ex wives, divorces &
Michael Legge
Shame he dies in the end.
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
Whispering Stories
Book Reviewed by Steve on

Bruce Dickinson is the iconic front-man to heavy metal band Iron Maiden. His journey through life thus far has been filled with adventure and challenges. Not only is Bruce the lead singer of the most famous metal band to come from the UK, but also a world-class fencer, airline pilot, brewer, author (not just this book!), amongst other things. The man is legendary!

If you are looking for a warts-and-all look at Iron Maiden, dishing dirt along the
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen Robert Collins
This bring back so meny happy public school days for me as I read it.Bruce end up at Oundle public school were he was bullied day in & nights. Unlike me who if anything I was more the bully.
At school I was very popular because I lived in sweet shop & always had tuck box full of stuff from the shop that sold for favours so no one but no want to upset the free sweets.One boy did & I was told the broken nose & two black eyes & broken arm when slipped in the shower was his
L. McCoy
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: IRON MAIDEN FANS!
I haven’t read many autobiography books. This is one that is 100% worth reading!

What’s it about?
The frontman of Iron Maiden (the best band ever) talks about his life and his music.

Why it gets 5 stars:
The story is very interesting. The pre-Maiden stuff is like the origin story of a musical superhero and it is great! The stuff about Iron Maiden is freaking awesome. The stuff that is about things in Bruce’s life outside of Iron Maiden are often interesting too, Dickinson is an interesting man with
Josh Holmes
It was written okay, fun to read. But where were the details about how songs were written and the dynamics of the band?

It was essentially ' I learnt how to fly a plane, then we made an album, then I flew a plane again and we made another album and then I got an even bigger plane!' Repeat for 400 pages.

One morning the LA Times lay strewn about the floor...'Thought for the Day' was a feature I seldom noticed, but on this day I read it. It was a quote from the writer Henry Miller: 'All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without the benefit of experience.' So at that moment I decided to leave Iron Maiden. You can blame Henry Miller.

I was going to begin this review by saying that there's no particular reason to read this book if you're not an Iron Maiden (from this
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The story of a remarkable and talented human being.

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 Samson 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
Matt Tandy
Bruce is a multitalented, intelligent character, helping shape Iron Maiden into the unique force it is with his amazing voice and interesting lyrics. A world class fencer, airline pilot, author and brewer I was eagerly awaiting his autobiography with bated breath. While not a bad book, What Does This Button Do? is somewhat of a letdown as Bruce skims over so much of an interesting life and career, while bogging down chapters with unnecessary technical jargon. The writing style is a bit odd, with ...more
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
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really hoping that Bruce would dig deeper into his emotions and the way relationships within the band and his family ended up shaping his motivations and professional life. Instead it's a lot of facts about Bruce Dickinson written in his voice.

I'm a huge fan, and enjoyed the book, but it wasn't what I hoped that it would be.

Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jim C
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This book is an autobiography of the lead singer of the greatest metal band (this is a fact and not just an opinion) Iron Maiden. It tells about his time with the band, his love for fencing and piloting, and his battle with cancer.

I have been a fan for the band for many, many years and reading this seemed like a no brainer. I am not the biggest fan of autobiography novels but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I think the aspect that I liked is how Bruce told the story. It wasn't
N.N. Light
Such a fantastic memoir! A must-read for every metalhead and fan of Iron Maiden!!

My Rating: 5 stars
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever since I heard the soaring vocals in the chorus of Iron Maiden's iconic tune Run to the Hills 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
Mike Wallace
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you think heavy metal is dead, think again. Bruce Dickinson tells his story of his life as the front man for Iron Maiden and all that goes into it. Including playing in front of crowds 250 thousand strong! (Try that you banjo-playing, whistling hipsters).
He also ties in his growth of becoming an airline captain, a script writer, a fencer, and obviously an author. Bruce is full energy and inspiration and his writing nothing less than brilliant. I recommend the audio book. What delivery!

Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not what I expected from an autobiography of a rock start frontman of one of the worlds most successful heavy metal bands. I always knew from interviews that Bruce Dickinson was never part of the party until near-dead self-destructive personality that describes many others who have had great success in that genre, but in this book he shows himself to be a highly intelligent multi-faceted individual who also happens to be a frontman for one of the worlds most successful heavy metal ...more
Sean Keefe
The most disappointing autobiography I’ve read for a very long time. It’s clear that flying is where Bruce’s passion lies, and this is what seems to fuel the main body of the book.

Is Bruce married? Is he gay? Which of his songs are his favourites? He does he feel about his art? How does he feel about ANYTHING?

...none of these questions have anything even resembling an answer here. Its almost as though he’s embarrassed to be in Iron Maiden, given the paucity of information. It’s the equivalent
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed it immensely! Coming into this as a long time Maiden fan, it was very cool to be able to read about how he got to where he is today and how much Iron Maiden has been a part of his life. What I love is that it wasn't his whole life. I did come away with long list of music to check out and a strange desire to learn to fence!
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic-music
In the afterword of the book, Bruce Dickinson says how he decided to leave out "births, marriages, or divorces." Instead, he packed it full of fencing and flying airplanes, along with stuff about his music and Iron Maiden. I found the "fencing" part mildly interesting but have to admit to being completely bored with the assorted details of the planes he has flown and the pilot licenses that he's gotten. I would have much rather had the personal information about his life. I had to go to ...more
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-counts-too
I listened to this because my menfolk are big Iron Maiden fans. Pleasantly surprised to discover Bruce Dickinson is one cool dude. He focuses on music, flying, and fencing in this autobiography. He is also a big reader. I liked him so much I'll forgive him his dislike of Jane Austen. Last Chapter is entitled F**k Cancer. If it doesn't move you, you've got no compassion in your soul. I can now truly say with my menfolk 'Up The Irons'.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I wasn't planning on reading this book. Biographies and memoirs really aren't my thing these days. However, a friend of mine who shares my Iron Maiden fandom insisted that I read it, going so far as to mail me his copy. In the end, I'm glad that he did.

This isn't the "aging rock star looks back to cash in with a salacious tell all." Yes, there's bits of Iron Maiden in here, particularly how he came to be in the band, why he left, why he came back. Notes about recording the albums are there, too,
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-books
As a teenager who was discovering a proper punch in music (sound of the thousand scremaing devils as my mother calls it), I came across a cassette with a very attractive decaying 'being' at a friend’s place. Immediately borrowed it, took it home and boom, it was thousand Aces High for me. Another life long Maiden fan was born within minutes! Next day he showed me a picture of a bunch of topless long haired blokes and pointed out this very hairy guy with an awkward grin; ‘that’s the vocalist, ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book started out as a 3 and ended up a 5. I’m not the worlds biggest Iron Maiden fan, but thought I’d read it anyway. Fell in love with this writing style maybe because it’s how I think, talk and write. Pleasantly surprised that he is not your average rock star with drug addictions. He has addictions but they are more of the positive kind, like aviation flight, fencing, critical thinking and analyzing. As reported by other reviewers he did not delve into relationships, kids and divorce. ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Bruce Dickinson is one heck of an impressive man! His life story is very interesting from the "ups and downs of school" (as he puts it) to his battle of cancer. My favorite chapter is "Organ Pipes" because Bruce describes how the voice works. That chapter got me really intrigued. One more thing: I loved the audio book more because Bruce is one heck of a fantastic storyteller! This is one of the best autobiographies I have ever read. :)
Mat Davies
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were always going to be plenty of readable tales to tell in Bruce Dickinson’s autobiography and so it proves with What Does This Button Do, Dickinson’s memoir of a life well lived, most of it at the centre of Iron Maiden, one of the best and most successful heavy metal bands of all time.

This is autobiography as romp and what emerges is a narrator of genuine warmth, self effacement and unfailing politeness. There is very little dirt dished out and, for readers expecting an Anglo-Saxon
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Paul Bruce Dickinson is a British singer, airline pilot, radio show host, DJ, Historian, television presenter, fencer and songwriter, best known as the lead singer in the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. According to Allmusic, Dickinson "was the most acclaimed and instantly recognizable vocalist to emerge from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the early-'80s".
“Nothing in childhood is ever wasted.” 8 likes
“Bullying happens because weak people need to prop up their ego by beating up or humiliating others.” 5 likes
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