Blaze Bayley (born Bayley Alexander Cooke, 29 May 1963) is an English singer, lyricist, and songwriter. He was the lead singer of Wolfsbane from 1984 to 1994, and again during a more recent reunion. Blaze is best known for being the lead singer of British metal band Iron Maiden from 1994 to 1999. Since 1999, he has embarked on a solo career.
Born in Birmingham, England, Blaze Bayley started his musical career as the lead vocalist of Tamworth heavy metal/hard rock band Wolfsbane, upon their formation in 1984. The first album, Live Fast, Die Fast, was released in 1989. Prior to this they had recorded three demos entitled Wolfsbane (1985), Dancin' Dirty (1987) and Wasted but Dangerous (1988). This last one, recorded at Square Dance Studios, Derby, U.K., illustrates the band in its youngest, rawest state][. They were the supporting act for Iron Maiden's UK division of their No Prayer on the Road tour in 1990. Wolfsbane's second release, an EP titled All Hell's Breaking Loose Down at Little Kathy Wilson's Place, was released the same year. The band's second full studio album Down Fall the Good Guys, was released in 1991, giving them their only UK Chart entry with their single "Ezy" charting at No. 68.
Def American dropped Wolfsbane as they felt that the band were not selling well enough. This did not stop the band from being voted as the UK's best unsigned act in 1993. The same year, the band released a live album, Massive Noise Injection, through the Bronze Company label.
The band released their third studio album, often considered to be the band's best work, the self-titled Wolfsbane, in 1994, again on the Bronze Company label. A limited edition of this album included the EP Everything Else. When Bruce Dickinson departed fellow English heavy metal band Iron Maiden in 1993, Blaze Bayley was chosen between hundreds of auditions. Then Wolfsbane disbanded.
In 2007, Wolfsbane reformed for a one-off performance, with Bayley again taking up vocal and frontman duties. They supported The Wildhearts on a short UK tour in December 2007. Their next tour came in December 2009 supporting The Quireboys on their 'A Little Bit of What You Fancy 20th Anniversary Tour'. Wolfsbane played a headline show at the Borderline in London on 9 April 2011. This was followed by a tour supporting Saxon in April 2011. A new album (Wolfsbane Save the World) followed an Ep called "Did it for the money" and a successful UK tour in 2011.
For further updates on Wolfsbane please see the related Wolfsbane articles.
Bayley was chosen as Bruce Dickinson's replacement in 1994 after hundreds of auditions. His departure from Wolfsbane led to their disbandment later that year. After a serious motorcycle accident caused by losing control and clipping his knee on a cat's eye in the road, which put him out of action for a year, his first album with Maiden was The X Factor, released in 1995. Bayley went on tour with the band in support of the album. Another Iron Maiden album with Bayley on vocals, Virtual XI was released in 1998.
The two Iron Maiden albums released during Bayley's time in the band did not chart as well as that to which the band were accustomed. The X Factor peaked at No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart and Virtual XI hit only No. 16, both being the lowest-charting Iron Maiden studio albums since Killers was released in 1981, which peaked at No. 12.
In February 1999, Iron Maiden announced that vocalist Bruce Dickinson was returning to the band, and Bayley departed by mutual consent, and he remains on good terms with his former bandmates. Iron Maiden occasionally performed songs from the two Maiden albums featuring Bayley, including "Man on the Edge" and "Futureal", which he co-wrote, though no Bayley-era songs have been on the band's set list since 2004. Likewise, Bayley has performed Iron Maiden songs originally recorded by the Dickinson and Paul Di'Anno led line-ups at some concerts.
Following Blaze Bayley's departure from Iron Maiden in 1999, he formed his own band, BLAZE, in March that year. Bayley recruited guitarist Steve Wray, guitarist John Slater, bassist Rob Naylor, and drummer Jeff Singer, and signed a deal with German label SPV, releasing the band's debut studio album in 2000, Silicon Messiah. The album was followed up by Tenth Dimension in 2002 and the band's first live album in 2003, As Live As It Gets.
After recording the live album, Jeff Singer announced he was leaving the band. Three months later, Rob Naylor was also leaving. Session drummer Phil Greenhouse and bassist Wayne Banks were hired for the rest of the Tenth Dimension tour until permanent replacements could be found.][ Guitarist Jason Banks was drafted in for a few gigs at the end of 2003 to cover for John Slater.
At the end of 2003, Blaze began writing material for their third studio album, Blood & Belief. Phil Greenhouse was replaced on drums by Jason Bowld for recording and Dave Knight for touring. The band began to tour for the album shortly after it was released in 2004, but were set back again by the news that John Slater could not perform a large section of the tour. Despite rejoining the band later in the year, Slater eventually left the band in September with Steve Wray to form the band Rise To Addiction. Bassist Wayne Banks and drummer Dave Knight left the band to join the Robin Gibb band in September 2004.
Blaze performed a number of shows in 2004 and 2005 with the lineup of Bayley, guitarist Oliver Palotai, guitarist Luca Princiotta, bassist Nick Douglas, and drummer Daniel Löble. The two guitarists were eventually kept on as full members. The band's lineup shifted once again when Löble quit to join German power metal band Helloween early in 2005 and when Douglas returned to another German heavy metal band, Doro. The two were replaced by unknown German musicians Daniel Schild and Christian Ammann respectively. With the new line up, Blaze began to work on a fourth studio album for a release in 2007, but in January that year it was announced the entire line-up had to part ways with Bayley due to serious financial matters. Following the lineup change, Bayley opted to rename the band under his name, Blaze Bayley.
In February 2007, Blaze Bayley Band (also known as BBB) added guitarists Nicolas Bermudez and Rich Newport, bassist Dave Bermudez, and drummer Rico Banderra and recorded the live DVD album Alive in Poland, released later on that year. Bayley announced that Rich Newport had left the band to pursue a career as a guitar teacher later on that year, and Jay Walsh would replace him onstage for the remainder of the tour. Jay was made a full member of the band in November 2007. Bayley also announced the addition of drummer Lawrence Paterson, formerly of British metal bands Chokehold and Shadowkeep at the same time.
In July 2008, Blaze Bayley Band (BBB) released their debut studio album, The Man Who Would Not Die. The album also contained the band's first single, "Robot", despite only being available digitally. It is sometimes regarded as a mini-compilation as it includes many bonus tracks. In September Debbie Hatlands, Blaze's wife and manager of the band, died of a stroke after some weeks of recovery. The singer and the band, although distraught by the loss, bravely continue to perform in honour of her love and committed work. The band recorded another DVD live at Z7, The Night That Will Not Die, which was released in March 2009. Blaze Bayley announced that the band had started recording for their new album on 28 September 2009. A contest was run on the band's forum: the first two people who correctly guessed the title of the new album would receive a free signed copy. The title was revealed to be Promise and Terror a few days later.
The second album Promise and Terror was released on 1 February 2010. Professional reviews have generally been very positive about the album. The album was produced by Jason Edwards.
On 6 February 2010 BBB started their 2010 world tour in Dudley UK. They spent the next months playing the UK, France, Italy, Germany before leaving for the South American leg of the tour. They then returned to Europe later in the year.
In May 2010 Larry Paterson, the drummer for the band left due to unspecified personal and professional reasons. Paterson was also the author of the book "At The End of the Day", a biography of the Blaze Bayley Band. Also their manager, Anna, announced her departure from the band. She claimed that the band's idea of where to go next and hers were not in the same direction.
Following the departure of Larry Paterson the Blaze Bayley Band engaged Italian drummer Claudio Tirincanti to continue the Promise and Terror tour.
On 10 July 2010 Blaze Blayley claimed live on stage that his current album was his best-selling as a solo-artist shedding some light on the recent changes in his line-up and management.
On 18 December 2010 they played a Big Bash at JB'S in Dudley Birmingham. Despite the snowy weather the band made it back from mainland Europe to play the show.
The BBB embarked on a short European tour in early 2011 and were supposed to follow that up in May 2011 with more dates in the UK. But surprisngly on 29 March via his official channels, Blaze Bayley stated that he had to part ways with the band due to both health and financial reasons. Later emerged that a great problem has been the fact that the Bermudez brothers were frequently due to be bought flights back home to Colombia to renew their visas. The matter was heavy not only from the financial and burocratical point of view, but also musically: the BBB had frequently to find last minute substitutes, in the likes of Luke and Chris Appleton from the band Fury Uk or Dave Andrews that later will enter in the live band of the singer.
On 31 March 2011, Blaze announced that he would continue as a solo performer working with different musicians. The new official line-up for live gigs features the confirmed Claudio Tirincanti on the drums, old occasional touring member Dave Andrews on the guitar, and two Belgian musicians (Steve Deleu from Fireforce and Nick Meganck, ex Ogress) respectively on the other guitar and bass. Later this will be also the live band of former Judas Priest singer, Tim "The Ripper" Owens.
Alongside the reunion and new recordings of Wolfsbane, Bayley has played a two-week acoustic solo tour in the UK in Sept 2011 with fellow Wolfsbane guitarist Jase Edwards plus a few unplugged gigs in Italy with Andrea Neri on the guitar. Footage of the acoustic shows with Jase Edwards can be seen on the Official Blaze Bayley YouTube Page.
On 19 August 2011 Blaze announced that recording of a live DVD filmed at his show in Antwerp, Belgium on 23 September 2011, in which he presented also the first new song with the renewed line-up, called "Black Country". In February 2012 Bayley toured Russia with Paul Di'Anno, starting a partnership between the two ex Iron Maiden singers.
The singer hit the stages of some summer festivals and after that has been travelling to the USA in October/November 2011 for his first full US Headline tour since his days with Iron Maiden, supported by North-American musicians of the Canadian band Man the Destroyer plus American guitarist Rick Plester, of international fame, who will work with Bayley in the near future.
On 18 December 2011 the last show of the Promise and Terror world tour took place at De Rots In Antwerp Belgium. High Definition footage from the penulitmate UK show on 15 December is available on the Official Blaze Bayley YouTube channel.
On 26 December 2011 in a personal Christmas message on his website Blaze announced that his new album The King of Metal would be released on 8 March 2012. On the same day Blaze officially announced the first two legs of the King of Metal world tour on the official Blaze Bayley Facebook Page. The King of Metal album is recorded between Italy and Holland, mixed by Tony Newton at Steve Harris home studio, Rick Plester in the Usa and Raoul Soentken in The Netherlands).
New line-up consists of 3 Italians (the confirmed drummer Claudio Tirincanti, Neurasthenia's bassist Lehmann, guitarist Andrea Neri) and Dutch Thomas Zwijsen, a young talented classic guitarist who became a cult-musician on YouTube for his acoustic arrangements of Iron Maiden's classics. Zwijsen co-wrote most of the music of the new Bayley's cd. The same line-up who recorded the album will be the next live band for Blaze Bayley in the King of Metal European Tour, which counts more than 60 gigs.
On 26 May 2012, after a concert in Como-Italy, Blaze Bayley attacked Raffaele Guarino, the bassplayer of the supportband Hideweaver. Guarino was rushed to hospital. This resulted in a legal complaint against Bayley
The busy schedule of 2012 sees also an acoustic tour with Zwijsen (July), some appearances with Czech band Seven, a few gigs with Wolfsbane (October), a second co-headlining tour with Paul Di'Anno in Eastern Europe, Australia and New Zealand (November), and the prosecution of the Acoustic gigs that in 2013 will touch also Brazil and Europe with Zwijsen on classical guitar and Dutch violinist Anne Bakker.
In partnership with Thomas Zwijsen Blaze has also released an EP ("Russian Holiday") of classically arranged tunes, working with Yellowdog Creative Project Management for the release. The artwork of the EP was created by Akirant.es.
Blaze Bayley then announced he is working on a "Best Of" album as a tribute to his 30th anniversary as a singer, due to be released November 2013, and a new "full metal" album after the acoustic experience, which could see the light in 2015.
In 2012, former Iron Maiden singers Blaze Bayley and Paul Di'Anno started a partnership doing some co-headlining tours and sharing the same musicians.
- for their Russian, Ukrainian, Czech Republic, Slovakia gigs of 2012-2013 the band has been:
- for their following Australia/New Zealand tour Bayley and Di'Anno shared Australian musicians:
- for the Scandinavian tour of 2013:
- for the Italian gigs of 2013 the two singers has been backed by official Iron Maiden tribute band Children of the Damned:
In June 2013 Bayley hit the stage for a brief US tour with an all star line-up named The Foundry:
-in the Usa and Canada tour of 2011 the singer performed with the following band:
- for acoustic touring Blaze recently involved those musicians:
- in Istanbul 2011, in the first gig played just after the split of BBB, the singer has been supported by Turkish band Apsent.
- for the sequent Italian summer tour of 2011 the singer has occasionally performed with the following lineup:
- in Czech Republic the singer performed with local act Seven of international fame:
- in some gigs of 2012 Neil, member of Neurasthenia as Lehmann, has performed on guitars as stand-in for Andrea Neri
- in March 2013 for a charity gig in Redhill (Uk) the line-up has been:
Promotional videos were released for the Blood and Belief song "Hollow Head" and the Silicon Messiah song "Ghost in the Machine", but these were originally only made available to fan club members. Later on, the video for "Silicon Messiah" was put on to the second disc of a limited edition of Tenth Dimension along with an EPK titled Inside the Tenth Dimension. The video of "Hollow Head" was only made available worldwide in 2007 and can be found on the Alive in Poland DVD under the "Extras" menu. The video of "Robot" was also released in February 2009.
Wasted Years with Heroage Heaven Hell Sabbath Cover Dio era Wrathchild Maiden Live in studio The Evil That Men Do The Eternal Flame The Number of the Beast VXI Tour Bootleg Wasted Years and The Trooper Acoustic Man on the Edge & Fear of the Dark played with the band Trooper
On 14 February 2007, Bayley married Debbie Hartland, his long-time girlfriend, on the island of Gran Canaria. On 6 July 2008, Hartland suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was hospitalised. She died on 27 September 2008, after having suffered a stroke two days before.
Bayley Cooke got engaged on Christmas Day 2010 to his girlfriend Eline. In September 2011, he became father of Alice.
Bayley in 2011 has announced that he has parted ways with his previous musicians due to financial and medical reasons. A year later the old bandmembers & 2 former managers admitted that the split came after various discussions with Bayley's girlfriend who wanted full control over the finances of the band.