When Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden in 1993, the metal legends were tasked with finding his ideal successor. The job ultimately went to Wolfsbane singer Blaze Bayley after the group auditioned other potential candidates. Although manager Rod Smallwood had Dream Theater‘s James LaBrie in his sights, the frontman flat out declined the offer to try out for the metal legends.
Despite metal’s backslide in popularity as the ’90s progressed and the grunge movement exploded, Dream Theater found massive success with 1992’s Image and Words album, their second overall and first with LaBrie as the singer. Around that time, they were seeking management and wound up meeting with Smallwood, Iron Maiden’s longtime manager, who, in turn, inquired about LaBrie’s interest in possibly succeeding Dickinson.
“We were playing darts and Rod Smallwood took me aside and I remember him saying to me, ‘I just want to throw something at you,’ and he had his assistant with him too — Merck [Mercuriadis] — at the time,” LaBrie recalled in a recent interview with The Metal Voice.
He continued, “And they are both standing there going, ‘What do you think about being the singer with Iron Maiden?’ And I said, ‘What? What are we talking about here? I am confused. Are you not here for the reason that you might start managing Dream Theater or are you here to get me to become the singer?’ So I just said, ‘No, no way. I am going to tell you the reasons why I’m not going to do this,’ and they said, ‘What is that?’ And I said, “One: Dream Theater. That’s it — period.'”
The singer relayed that he had replaced a singer in a band called Coney Hatch, prior to joining Dream Theater and that he felt like a “glorified jukebox.”
“Bruce and I have mutual respect for one another. We’ve met several times. We’ve done several shows. I remember doing the BBC show with him. And there was that mutual respect between the two of us,” LaBrie said of their current relationship before further recollecting, “I remember thinking, ‘I am not going to go out there and sing Iron Maiden every night, even though I think they are a great band and Bruce is a great singer. No thank you.’ I needed to create something that I created from the beginning, even though I was not on the first Dream Theater album.”
Watch the full interview below.
Dream Theater’s new album, A View From the Top of the World, is out now and can be purchased here. Catch the band on their North American tour next year and read Loudwire’s own interview with LaBrie here.
James LaBrie Speaks With ‘The Metal Voice’
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