When it comes to replacing an established band member, the vocalist has got to be the hardest one to swap out. One guy that knows what it’s like to replace a beloved frontman is former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley. Hired to replace Bruce Dickinson in the early 90s, he only stuck around for two albums before the band decided to bring Dickinson back.

In a recent interview with *Rolling Stone’s *senior writer Andy Greene, Bayley said he was a fan of the band he’d ultimately front, having seen them play in a small 1,500 seat theater in Birmingham.

“Yeah. I loved it. And this is difficult to believe, because I’m so old, but this was before arenas. This is why I’m so lucky to have experienced it. It’s a thing that so many fans now won’t be able to experience for some bands. Bands played theaters back then.”

And while Bayley said Bruce was the thing that separated Iron Maiden from their contemporaries, he wasn’t so complimentary of Paul Di’Anno, who was around for the band’s early days.

“To hear Bruce singing after the [Paul] Di’Anno years…I wasn’t a big fan of Paul. He’s a wonderful performer, wonderful voice, but not completely my cup of tea. To hear Bruce bring that kind of vocal to that music, it’s another level. There was something spiritual about it, for me, as a young man. On the night shift at the hotel, listening to those big songs… They were completely unapologetic it was like, ‘Here’s the riff. And we’re going to play it.’ That was it for me.”

After five years with the band, Bayley went on to front a number of solo acts. Today, he’s touring Europe in a van. And while it’s a far cry from his time playing sold out stadiums, he says he’s in a good place these days.

““I’m not a wealthy man. I have an ordinary motorcycle and an ordinary car and I live in an ordinary house, but I spend my time on tour and I perform in wonderful places. In so many ways, I’m living the dream. I’m not trying to be huge. I’ve been huge. I’ve been in the biggest band in the word. I don’t need to go back there.”