British heavy metal vocalist Blaze Bayley, who fronted IRON MAIDEN from 1994 until 1999, told filmmaker Daniel Sarkissian that his dismissal from the band 20 years ago came as a complete surprise.

“It was a shock to leave IRON MAIDEN — it was an absolute shock,” Blaze admitted (see video below).” But CD sales were gone; there was no interest in the band; things were going down; and they wanted a reunion — the record company wanted a reunion. At that time, DEEP PURPLE had a reunion. So Bruce [Dickinson] had to come back. The odd thing is Bruce is such a lovely, lovely bloke, and he’s always been very supportive of my career. We met before MAIDEN — I knew him before I was involved in MAIDEN — and after, he’s been very kind to me. But it was a difference. It was like any big thing that you lose — it’s grief, it’s an adjustment to make — but playing to smaller audiences, that’s not an adjustment, because I’ve always been doing it, because I love to sing. And so if I’m performing, it doesn’t matter to me if it’s a few hundred people or thousands of people. So, that’s a different thing — that’s not a shock. The shock is that you’re not in the job that you were with. But that’s the same for anybody. It doesn’t matter that it’s IRON MAIDEN, and not IRON MAIDEN. It can be in a job for driving a bus, it can be a job working in a factory that you really love, making cars — it can be any job — that if you lose that job and that future and that way of life that you enjoyed, you’re gonna be upset about it.”

The two MAIDEN albums Blaze appeared on, “The X Factor” and “Virtual XI”, sold considerably less than the band’s prior releases and were their lowest-charting titles in the group’s home country since 1981’s “Killers”.

Since leaving IRON MAIDEN in 1999, Bayley has released a number of albums, including three under the moniker BLAZE and six under his own name. He also appeared on 2012’s “Wolfsbane Saves The World”, the first album of new material by WOLFSBANE since the group’s self-titled 1994 effort.

Bayley will play a special MAIDEN setlist at select festivals this spring and summer. Choosing songs from his era with the band, these shows will celebrate 25 years since Blaze joined IRON MAIDEN. Backing Blaze at these shows will be his regular touring and recording outfit taken from the British band ABSOLVA, plus ICED EARTH bassist and ABSOLVA guitarist Luke Appleton.