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Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain feared he would never play again

Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain has admitted that he feared he would never be able to play drums again, after suffering a stroke in January.

McBrain suffered a minor stroke in January which left him partially paralysed on his right side from the shoulder down.

He underwent 10 weeks of “intensive therapy” in an effort to get back to full strength, and by May he was ready to start rehearsals with the rest of the band, ahead of their recent ‘The Future Past’ tour.

Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden at Long Beach Arena. (Credits: Annamaria DiSanto for WireImage via Getty Images)

Now, in a new interview with Metal Hammer magazine, he has opened up about the experience. “It was very, very difficult,” he said.

“When it first happened, I thought, this is it, I’m not going to be able to play. I’ve got a tour coming up in three months’ time. I had a lot of time for reflection in the hospital. My wife was really my bastion of strength and encouragement and she was with me throughout.”

He also spoke about the support he received from the rest of the band. “Throughout all this period of time, I was in touch with [Iron Maiden bassist] Steve [Harris]. Obviously, all the guys, and I’d have a bit of a chat with them on the phone and they were all very, very encouraging, and none more so than Steve.”

“He said, ‘Look, the most important thing is that you get well and work on getting yourself together’.”

He only shared information about the health scare in August, saying that he had wanted to focus on his performance before imparting the news to fans.

“I feel it’s important to let you know about this now instead of earlier as I was mainly concerned with doing my job and concentrating on getting back to 100% fitness,” he said at the time. “I’m not there yet but by the grace of God I’m getting better and stronger as the weeks go by.

In October, he revealed that he was almost fully recovered, saying he was “85 to 90 percent back to strength”, but admitted to still having some difficulty with the speed and dexterity of his fingers.

In late 2022, McBrain revealed he had laryngeal cancer in 2020 and encouraged fans to go to their doctor if they observed an unexplained change in the sound of their voice.

Iron Maiden are set to play a North American leg of ‘The Future Past’ tour in autumn 2024, kicking off in San Diego on October 4. Visit here for tickets.

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