Why Dream Theater’s James LaBrie Rejected an Iron Maiden Audition
The British band needed to replace Bruce Dickinson, who ultimately left the following year. Blaze Bayley ended up filling the position, but not before LaBrie was approached by Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood, who was already in discussions about representing Dream Theater.
At the time, the prog-metal group were preparing to release their sophomore album Images and Words, the first to feature LaBrie.
“I was in a very bizarre situation,” he told the Metal Voice in a new interview, available below. “We were looking for management; we were getting ready to try and set up a tour and get out there. And I remember [Smallwood] saying to me – he takes me aside, and the rest of the guys in Dream Theater were there too, playing darts, because we were looking at him for management.
“And he says, ‘I just wanna throw something at you.’ And he had his assistant with him too. … They were going, ‘What do you think about being the singer with Iron Maiden?’” LaBrie said. “And I said, ‘What? What are we talking about here? I’m confused. Are you not here for the reason that you might start managing Dream Theater?”
LaBrie continued: “I just said, ‘No. No way. I’m gonna tell you the reasons why I'm not going to do this. One: Dream Theater. That’s it. Period.”
But he had another reason: the experience of spending a year with fellow Canadians Coney Hatch after replacing their singer Carl Dixon. “Basically, what I felt like was a glorified jukebox,” LaBrie said. “I came into the band, I was able to sing all that stuff no problem … but there was never that [sense of] ‘This is me, and this is what I created.’ It was about, 'Are you looking at me for who and what I am? I don't think so. And I don't think you ever will.’”
As a result, LaBrie said, the offer “came and went; as fast as it was asked, it was dismissed.” Smallwood’s response was one of “all respect,” he recalled, “and we moved on.” LeBrie added that said he and Dickinson – who returned to Maiden in 1999 – share a “mutual respect” and have met on a number of occasions.
Watch James LaBrie on ‘The Metal Voice’