5 June 1952 (age 65)
Hackney, London, England, United Kingdom
Michael Henry McBrain (born June 5, 1952 in Hackney, London, England) is the drummer for heavy metal band Iron Maiden. The nickname "Nicko" is from Michael’s childhood, where his favourite stuffed animal was named ‘Nicholas the bear’ – which he apparently carried everywhere. Due to this, his parents called him ‘Nicky’. “Nicko” was spawned when Michael was meeting a manager from CBS Records, with the keyboard player Billy Day. Billy introduced him as ‘My Italian drummer – His name’s “Neeko”’. Michael liked the moniker, so he decided to use it as a stage name, having first adapted the spelling slightly.
In the 1970s, he appeared on some Pat Travers albums, and also played for Streetwalkers from 1975 to 1976; he also appeared in the band McKitty in the early 1980s. It was during a McKitty gig in Belgium that he first met Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris. He joined Iron Maiden in 1983 for the Piece of Mind album, replacing Clive Burr, after his previous band Trust had supported Iron Maiden on the road during 1982. He has been with Iron Maiden ever since.
He has been cited as a major influence of many modern drummers over a wide range of styles, and often holds drum clinics for fans and would-be drummers alike.
Strangely, unlike most heavy metal drummers, McBrain has refused to use a double bass drum pedal, since he considers it to be "too complicated", and "un-drummerish". Instead, he has developed an incredibly fast technique on the single bass drum pedal, following Steve Harris' gallops with no problem whatsoever. The first (and last) song Nicko McBrain recorded using a double bass drum was "Face in the Sand," on the Dance of Death album, 2003. He subsequently announced that it had been one of the hardest things he had ever had to play and that, for that reason, the number would not be included in the set list of the Dance of Death World Tour. On this album Nicko McBrain also contributed, for the first time in Iron Maiden history, to the songwriting, writing the bass line for the song "New Frontier."
He has filmed several short videos for Iron Maiden fans on the band's official website and keeps a diary of the band's latest tours. These diaries reveal his endearing, wacky sense of humour and also his immense affection for his fans - often referred to as "Boys and Girls" or "Kids", told to "take care" and wished "God bless".
Nicko converted to Christianity in mid-2000 after an experience in the Spanish River Church, near his Boca Raton, Florida home. His wife Rebecca, a Christian, had been praying for him, and on entering the Church Nicko found himself crying as he experienced a "calling". Recounting the tale, he said: "I just sat there thinking, 'I didn't drink last night…why can't I stand?'" "I had this love affair with Jesus going on in my heart."
Outside of Iron Maiden, Nicko is a keen golfer and continues to play live during Maiden downtime both in his drum clinics and his McBrain Damage band.
Nicko McBrain uses Premier drums and Paiste cymbals. The long-time endorser of Sonor drums switched brands in the late 1990s.
McBrain currently manages the New York metal quartet Voices of Extreme (or V.O.X).
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