Going through a very serious health issue can be terrifying, as one bad condition can forever alter your life and career. And apparently that’s exactly what Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain was worried about when he experienced a transient ischaemic attack, or ministroke, this past January.
While speaking with Metal Hammer‘s Alexander Milas, the iconic drummer discussed what the incident was like, stating that he was worried things would never be the same once he recovered.
“Well, it was very, very difficult. When it first happened I thought, ‘This is it, I’m not going to be able to play. I’ve got a tour coming up in three months’ time.’ I had a lot of time for reflection in the hospital. My wife was really my bastion of strength and encouragement and she was with me throughout.
“I did a lot of strength exercises, a lot of stretches with weird weights that they have and I got my stamina back.”
As previously reported, the general public didn’t know McBrain even went through such a harrowing ordeal, having only revealed it to everyone this past August — roughly seven months after the fact. Hell, the drummer said he wasn’t even fully recovered, stating that he was “85 to 90 percent” back to normal as recently as this past October.
At the time, McBrain said he’s had to change how he plays Iron Maiden songs live while he works on getting back to 100%.
“[I’m] doing good [right now]. I’m still probably — I’d say I’m 85 to 90 percent back to strength, but I still have a little less dexterity with speed in my fingers. My fingers are the ones that — this is the last thing to strengthen up. But I had to change certain drum fills. Some fills that everybody knows me for on certain songs, I’ve had to improvise those at rehearsals to be able to actually play the songs.
“So now I’m starting to actually be able to kind of embrace it a bit more. And I can’t do that live. I have to wait until we start doing some rehearsals again or whatever it is. But I’m definitely getting stronger. And I’ve had great support from [Maiden manager] Rod [Smallwood], the band, and all of the fans out there. They’ve been absolutely — they’ve shown me so much love, it’s amazing.”
Iron Maiden has been touring pretty regularly ever since the release of their latest album Senjutsu back in 2021. Despite it all, he wsas able to perform each night.
When recovering, McBrain said he was thankful that his bandmates like bassist Steve Harris were there by his side, even when they couldn’t physically be there.
“Through all this period of time I was in touch with Steve, obviously all the guys, and I’d have a bit of a chat with them on the phone and they were all very, very encouraging, and none more so than Steve. He said, ‘Look, the most important thing is that you get well and work on getting yourself together.’”
There’s a whole lot more about McBrain’s condition, as well as what’s going on with Iron Maiden in the future, in the newest issue of Metal Hammer, as well as online.
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