Born: In 1958 in London.
Sounds like: Early Iron Maiden songs performed by less capable players who have not taken very good care of themselves.
For fans of: Iron Maiden, Blaze Bayley, Tim “Ripper” Owens, the Hindenberg, the Exxon Valdez.
Latest release: The Fight Goes On, a three-disc compilation of Di’Anno’s work with his forgotten late-’80s project, Battlezone.
Why you care: Before Iron Maiden became the operatic, swashbuckling progressive-metal titan you know and love, it was one of the best rock bands on the planet. Its self-titled debut album and superior follow-up, Killers, featured the vocal talents of one Paul Di’Anno—a loose cannon who brought punk attitude and style to the burgeoning metal scene. He was brash, shorthaired, wore leather and spikes, and hit just enough high notes to get the job done. Based solely on those two records, he earned immortality. Unfortunately, his cocaine and alcohol abuse were so out of control that Maiden let him go just as the group was growing into an arena-sized behemoth. Since then, Di’Anno has spent three decades leading various groups, from Battlezone to Killers (not those Killers) to his current Paul Di’Anno Band. None of them is very good, and sadly, the rotund, now-balding Di’Anno can’t sing all that well anymore. He was denied a U.S. work visa for many years because of drug charges in the U.K., and found himself imprisoned for months when British officials learned he was collecting government benefits for a bad back while playing festivals in Greece. The good news for any punters still reading this is that Di’Anno is performing the entire first Iron Maiden album and select cuts from Killers in Portland, which is all we can ask for—provided, of course, he makes it into the country.
SEE IT: Paul Di’Anno plays the Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 SE Cesar E. Chavez Blvd., with LoNero and Splintered Throne, on Friday, Dec. 21. 7:30 p.m. $18 advance, $20 day show. 21+.