Basic Background Info
Nicko McBrain describes himself as "a born entertainer" and "Mr. Excess All-Areas." His fans call him "The Mad McBrain," referring to his wild stage presence. Bandmember Steve Harris admitts that Nicko is "no doubt the entertainer of the band." During drum clinics he tells stories and jokes to his audiences; even when the audience doesn't understand, he is always laughing at himself.
Nicko McBrain, born Michael Henry McBrain, was born in Hackney on June 5, 1952. His parents started calling him Nicky as a child after his favorite teddy bear, Nicholas, his constant companion. Later in life, the nickname evolved to Nicko and it just stuck. As a youngster, Nicky enjoyed jazz like his father. Nicko McBrain recalled, "I used to pretend I was Joe Morella hitting the tubs. I'd go into the kitchen and pick up a pair of knives and start hitting the gas cooker." Nicko McBrain badly wanted a set of drums and his parents finally indulged him when he was twelve. Without any lessons or formal instruction, Nicko McBrain said he seemed to be able to play "almost straight away "I donít know how, I just could." Nicko McBrain left school when he was fifteen and played with various groups in local pubs. Nicko McBrain's style became more modern and incorporated characteristics of The Shadows, The Animals, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. Nicko McBrain spent a lot of time doing session work, recording "anything: pop albums, folk albums, religious albums, or more rock type stuff. I didn't mind. It was all good practice."
Nicko McBrain's first few bands played at clubs, but didn't seem to get very far. The Streetwalkers, with Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney, was his first brush with any sort of notoriety, but they, too, met with limited success. However, Nicko McBrain recalled, "Streetwalkers was a great little band. Why they never made it, I don't know." After Streetwalkers, Nicko regularly recorded in studios as a sideman.
Iron Maiden asked him to replace Clive Burr as their drummer in 1983(two of his early bands actually supported Iron Maiden on tour and the bandmembers remembered Nickoís skill). Critics and fans regarded Nicko McBrain's work with Iron Maiden as a very diverse body, he played a variety of styles and unique time signatures. Interestingly, Nicko did not use two bass drums or a double pedal. He called it "too complicated" and "undrummerish." Rather, he used one bass drum with a very speedy skill. He recorded one song, "Face in the Sand," with a double pedal and decribed it as one of the most difficult performances of his life and said that the band would never play that song on tour. Steve Harris said that Nicko McBrain's drum kit is set in stone so that he doesn't even look at it during performances, "he just puts his head down and plays."
Iron Maiden has never stopped recording or touring. Most recently they recorded A Matter of Life and Death. In a 2006 interview, Nicko McBrain said it was "absolutely not!" their last studio album. "We are not young kids anymore but this record has proved to me that we have still got immense music left in us. So it definitely won't be the last. We will have the usual time off after the tour and then take things from there." Their 2008 tour spans the world from Autstralia to India to South America to Europe and the United States.
In 1999 Nicko McBrain heard a "calling" from God and converted to Christianity, after his wife Rebecca prayed for him. When he walked into a church, he said, "I just sat there thinking, 'I didnít drink last night, why can't I stand?'" Since then, Nicko McBrain hass had "this love affair with Jesus going on in [his] heart."
Instruments of Choice
Pics & Clips