Blaze Bayley (born Bayley Alexander Cook<ref> Template:Cite web </ref>, 29 May 1963, Birmingham, England) is the lead singer for the heavy metal band, Blaze. He is, however, best known for his role as the lead singer of Iron Maiden from 1994 to 1999.
Bayley was originally lead vocalist of Tamworth rock legends Wolfsbane. When Bruce Dickinson departed Iron Maiden in 1993, Bayley was chosen as his replacement. After a bad motorcycle accident, caused by losing control and clipping his knee on a catseye 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 to tour with the band in support of the album. In 1998 – still with Iron Maiden – he recorded the album Virtual XI.
The two Iron Maiden albums released during Bayley's time in the band charted significantly worse than the band were accustomed to receiving for studio albums. The X Factor achieved 8th in the UK charts, and Virtual XI hit only 16th putting it as the lowest Iron Maiden studio album since Killers (which achieved 12th place in the UK charts). Lately, Bayley's albums with the band have been seen as perhaps 'not quite so bad as people thought' though reviews are still very critical when comparing Blaze Bayley to Paul Di'Anno and particularly Bruce Dickinson (perhaps unfair - Dickinson is one of the most popular frontmen in rock and is known for having a tone-variable voice making many singers unable to perform Iron Maiden songs). Some of this commercial failure (by the band's high standards) can be attributed to the tours being cut short due to Bayley's frequent sickness, and the more progressive, dark tone of the albums produced during his tenure.
In February 1999, when Iron Maiden announced that vocalist Bruce Dickinson was returning to the band, Bayley departed. He remains the longest tenured member of the group who is not a current member. The following year, Bayley released his first album with his new band, Blaze. With this band he has so far revealed three studio albums and one live album, Silicon Messiah, Tenth Dimension, As Live As It Gets and Blood & Belief , respectively.
Despite his absence from the band, Iron Maiden occasionally performed songs from Bayley's two Maiden albums between 1995 and 1999, including the songs Man on the Edge and Futureal, both of which he co-wrote. Likewise, Blaze the band have performed Iron Maiden songs originally recorded by the Dickinson and Di'Anno led lineups at some concerts as well.
One of the reasons for Bayley's lukewarm reception from fans was undoubtedly that he possessed a vocal-scale far lower than either of his predecessors, Dickinson or Di'Anno. Bayley's voice however had melody and power which was ideal for the darker tone of his debut Maiden-album The X-Factor. His voice also possessed an admirable aggression which served in more faster numbers like Man on the Edge and Futureal (two of his best known numbers).
None the less, the limitations of his vocal-scale unfortunately rendered Bayley incapable of performing certain early Maiden numbers that were composed for the much higher vocal-scales of his predecessor, much to the dissappointment of Maiden fans.
- "Sign of the Cross" Template:Audio – Blaze Bayley singing on the opening track from Iron Maiden's The X Factor album.
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