Sunday Old School: Paul Di’anno After Iron Maiden

In 1982, British heavy metal band Iron Maiden made what would be one of the biggest decisions of their career when they fired their singer Paul Di’anno and recruited Samson vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. As everyone knows, Iron Maiden then released their third album, “The Number Of The Beast” and subsequently became one of the biggest groups in the history of heavy metal. But what happened to Di’anno after he was sacked? Quite alot actually…

Following his departure, Di’anno formed a self-titled band, releasing only one album, also called, “Di’anno,” before breaking up in 1985. While touring in support of the record, the band angered fans by refusing to perform any Iron Maiden songs, instead focusing on their own material with a few covers thrown in. Before disbanding, the group was also able to release a live video, “Live at the Palace,” which is now available on DVD as “Live In London.” After his self-titled endeavour, Paul then found himself part of a new heavy metal supergroup called Gogmagog, which was intended to be a rock opera project. The band saw Di’anno reunited with his former Maiden bandmate Clive Burr and also featured original Def Leppard guitarist Pete Willis, former Whitesnake bassist Neil Murray and White Spirit/future Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers. The band didn’t fare well and folded after only releasing a three song EP, “I Will Be There.”

After Gogmagog’s demise, Di’anno decided to head to America to form a new band, initially named Strike but later rechristened as Battlezone. He brought Battlezone back to the United Kingdom where he recruited guitarists John Hurley and John Wiggins, the latter known for his work with Tokyo Blade. The band released their first album, “Fighting Back” in 1986 and embarked on a club tour of North America to promote the record. The trek was marred by internal problems, which ranged from musical differences to full on fist fights, resulting in the departure of Hurley and drummer Bob Falck. After replacing the void with Persian Risk members Graham Bath and Steve Hopgood, Battlezone recorded their second album, “Children Of Madness,” which was able to achieve a degree of commercial success due to the single “I Don’t Wanna Know” receiving regular airplay on MTV. Once again however, internal disputes caused numerous problems on the subsequent tour, causing the band to fall apart by the end of the decade.

Di’anno next found himself fronting another New Wave Of British Heavy Metal band, Praying Mantis, who had reformed in 1990 for a Japanese tour in celebration of ten years of N.W.O.B.H.M. The band had also recruited Di’anno’s former Maiden bandmate, Dennis Stratton. The tour was a success and spawned a live album, “Live At Last,” but Praying Mantis decided to rest once again afterwards.

Following this stint, Di’anno formed another new band, Killers, with Battlezone comrade Steve Hopgood. The band were able to sign a deal with BMG by performing a set of Iron Maiden songs (the group had not yet written any original material) and soon recorded their debut album, “Murder One.” The record was overshadowed by Di’anno’s druge use, which caused his recent marriage to fall apart and eventually factored into him being sent to jail in Los Angeles, after a police were called when he and his girlfriend were involved in a domestic dispute which featured the unwelcome addition of a knife. He was arrested and charged with spousal abuse, cocaine possession and firearms offences and sentenced to four months in L.A. County Jail before being deported back to the United Kingdom, where he resurrected Killers and released the album, “Menace To Society.” While the album was well received by Germany’s Metal Hammer magazine, it was panned more or less everywhere else, with critics disliking the group’s new groove metal orientation. “Menace To Society” proved to be Killers’ last studio album to date, with only live records being released by the band afterwards.

In 1998, Di’anno brought Battlezone back for another album, “Feel My Pain,” which was much darker and heavier than many previous albums Di’anno recorded. The record did well in South America, particularly Brazil where the band performed a sell out tour. The band folded once again however after they returned to Great Britain, where they were met with abysmal numbers in the audience. Deciding to start anew, Di’anno formed a new band entitled, Nomad, who released their self-titled album in 2000. The record was only released in South America but was able to perform well there. Since then, Di’anno has been performing under his own name, under which he released the Nomad album as “The Living Dead” in 2006. He has repeatedly stated that he is working on a new album in Brazil, which he claims will be more hardcore influenced than his usual heavy metal style. He courted controversy this year when he was arrested and served four months in British prison for benefit fraud, however he is now back on the streets again and performing all over the world.

For more information on what Paul Di’anno got upto after Iron Maiden, you can pick up his autobiography, “The Beast” online.

Battlezone – “I Don’t Wanna Know”

Killers – “Impaler”

Gogmagog – “I Will Be There”

Paul Di’anno – “The Living Dead”

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Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.