Life as a rock star is at best a precipitous one, todays shining light is tomorrows long forgotten history. A couple of years ago I set out on a quest, for no better reason than I could. My mission was to track down as many of my music favorites from the 70′s and 80′s as I could, and find out what they were doing today. I had taken a hiatus from the music world for about two decades so my knowledge was limited. What started as a harmless internet search turned into a huge series of reviews and interviews. A surprising amount of superstars from the 70′s and 80′s are still actively performing. Many with grueling schedules, playing between 150-250 gigs a year!
Gone are the 50,000 seat arenas, in are the smaller more intimate venues. Gone are the private jets, in are coach seats on cheap airlines. Gone are the extravagant 5 star lifestyles, in are Motel 6 and Travelodge.
Blaze Bayley for the latter half of the 1990′s was at the very pinnacle of his career, if you were a Metal fan, Blaze was The Man! Iron Maiden were the band that led the Metal pack. Music fans though are fickle creatures, genres of music rise and fall almost with the regularity of the tides. There are some that ascribe Iron Maidens lack of album success in the late 90′s to bringing Blaze Bayley in as vocalist. I actually call BS on that one. Just as punk had ousted the glam prog rock superbands in the late 70′s, Metal was feeling the heat from other genres in the late 90′s.
Lawrence ‘Larry’ Paterson has done an absolutely wonderful job in assembling At The End Of The Day. Yes it details Blaze Bayley’s career, but it also does much more. Often a biography consists of a life viewed through a single lens. Larry does not do that, he writes through the eyes of various different people. As the saying goes, there are three versions of every story, yours, mine, and the truth, which lays somewhere in the middle.
At The End Of The Day follows Blaze Bayley through is various incarnations. Without doubt the significant springboard to success was Wolfsbane, although they achieved great critical acclaim, and a hugely loyal fan base, they could not seem to be able to claw their way to the upper echelon of the metal market.
The big break came when Iron Maiden asked him to audition. In many ways this was a double edged sword. It caused Wolfsbane to implode like a super nova, and acrimonious statements rattled around the music world. Why hadn’t Blaze had the courtesy to tell his band mates, plans could have been made? The answer to that was simple, Blaze had been tied up in a Non Disclosure Agreement by Iron Maiden. One whiff of what was going on hits the press, and Blaze Bayley is on the outs!
In 1999 Blaze once again found himself on the outs. But Blaze does not give up easy. The band BLAZE hits the scene, and is blazing its way to success. As Larry Paterson details, Blaze Bayley made some major mistakes. After splitting with Iron Maiden he opted to stay with the same management group. At the time it seemed to make sense from a credibility standpoint, but it was a serious error in judgment. One that would cost him dearly.
A much anticipated album was mysteriously delayed, then released mere days before a new Iron Maiden album hit the streets. As Larry Paterson so correctly points out, the consumers of Metal are not generally rich folks, with limited cash for CD’s, what are they going to buy?
I read this part of the book in shock and horror. At best this was incredibly bad marketing, and at worst, something much more sinister. Would a label try to sabotage an artist?
Blaze Bayley has certainly had his ups and downs, he went through a period of deep depression, he lost his manager and love of his life to a brain aneurysm. Booze became a dominant factor, but he has battled his demons, and now is back on track.
I may have painted a rather grim picture, I certainly do not want you to think that At The End Of The Day is a sad read because it is not. It for the most part is hugely entertaining and amusing. Larry Peterson goes to some lengths to vilify the no frills airline Ryan Air. This airline operates in Europe and is the equivalent of the US based Southwest company. As Larry so aptly puts it, Darwin would be proud, it is a case of survival of the fittest!
I also found much humor in the references to Newcastle, a city in the North East of England. It is the city of my birth, though you would never guess it from my accent. As Larry points out people from Newcastle do not have an accent, they have their own language! That I can attest to! They are known as Geordies, and they do have the strangest dialect. How can we be speaking English when someone says ‘They Are Gannin Yam’? In my unofficial Geordie/English dictionary it loosely translates to ‘they are going home’. Go figure!
There are also some fabulous tales of ‘derring do’ while on the road, although I have never traveled with Blaze or Larry, I suspect that we are kindred spirits. Destined to meet one day in a hotel bar!
At The End Of The Day also paints a rich picture of where Metal is today in Europe, and that I found very illuminating, it adds proof to what I have been thinking for quite some time. Blaze is mostly definitely an English ‘Bloke’. But England is not where the real action is. Both Metal and Prog have found new homes. It was with amusement that I read about the band heading for Katowice, Poland, I even had a theory as to why they may have been playing there, several chapters later my theory was confirmed. Katowice is the European mecca for Metal and Prog, also the home of Metal Minds Productions.
The initial printing of At The End Of The Day is only 500 copies, and I have one of them! So you had better get your orders in quick (because you can not have mine).
Blaze Bayley â€“ At The End Of The Day can be ordered here. Blaze also has a very active web site.