Perhaps best known for his short time in British Heavy Metal legends ‘Iron Maiden’, singer Paul Di’Anno has had a long and fruitful career in music, although not without it’s controversies. His musical career first began in 1978 when he was introduced to Maiden mastermind Steve Harris while he was rehearsing with members Dave Murray and Doug Sampson searching for a new singer. After meeting at the Red Lion pub in Leytonstone this chance meeting evolved into a successful audition for the vocalist after impressing the band with the quality of his voice. Speaking about the former singer Steve Harris has stated in their biography ‘Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills’, “there’s sort of a quality in Paul’s voice, a raspiness in his voice, or whatever you want to call it, that just gave it this great edge.” The band then went on to tour with Judas Priest in 1980 on their British Steel tour and the following year Iron Maiden released their second album “Killers”, and a live EP entitled “Maiden Japan”.
However by the end of 1981, Paul Di’Anno was demonstrating increasingly self-destructive behaviour, particularly through his drug usage, and at times his reluctance to perform meant the band began cancelling shows. Tired of this and with his performances suffering, Di’Anno was immediately dismissed following the Killer World Tour. Iron Maiden quickly found his replacement, the one and only Bruce Dickinson who would go on to front the band during their most successful spell, and is still their singer to this date despite his short departure.
This setback wasn’t to be the end of his career however, and in 1983 Paul Di’Anno formed a new group named ‘Di’Anno’. The group was originally called ‘Lonewolf’, however after disagreements with a fellow band with the same name they changed their name to ‘Di’Anno’. The last known line up of the band included Di’Anno on vocals, Lee Slater and P.J. Ward on guitar, Kevin Browne on bass, Mark Venables on keyboard and Frank Noon on drums. After seeing the potential and as shown previously with Iron Maiden, the talent of singer Paul Di’Anno, the band soon signed to FM Revolver Records. The band then recorded what would be their one and only album, which was given the same name as the band. The album proved to be a real departure from any of Di’Anno’s former work with Iron Maiden however, ditching the Punk and Metal features for more of a Classic Rock style album. The album itself achieved little success partly due to the singer’s determination to remove himself from any association with Iron Maiden. While touring the UK it has been reported that crowds would often become dismayed when the singer refused to perform any Iron Maiden material and shortly after the tour was completed the group disbanded and never recorded a follow up. Their only other release was single “Heartuser” which also featured on the album.
Di’Anno’s music career continued though and since 1985 he has formed and featured in a number of bands, releasing a number of albums and completing many worldwide tours in the process. However, many of these bands would suffer a similar fate to ‘Di’Anno’. With Paul Di’Anno’s continued drug abuse, poor album reviews and the unstableness of many of his line-ups, it meant that none of the bands the singer has featured in ever achieved the level of success that he first did in Iron Maiden. During his career that has seen a number of lows, the worst came in February 2011 when Di’Anno was convicted on eight counts of benefit fraud for claiming more than £45,000 under false pretences. On 11 March 2011, he was jailed for nine months at Salisbury Crown Court but was released early from prison, having only served two of the nine months to which he was sentenced.