Friday, April 19, 2024

From the Magazine: Drumming Up Support

When Nicko McBrain moved to Boca more than 30 years ago, all he knew was its reputation as a sleepy retirement town—not exactly the kind of place one would imagine the drummer for Iron Maiden to settle down. “Well, when I’m bashing [the] tubs for one of the heaviest bands in the world,” says McBrain, “you do need a little bit of solitude.”

McBrain’s slice of solitude came at the perfect time. When he moved to Boca in 1989, he had been with the band for seven years, through five album releases and four world tours. Life on the road was strenuous, but it was during the 1983 “World Piece Tour” that McBrain met his eventual wife, Rebecca, who was the catalyst for the Hackney, London native to relocate to Boca shortly after the couple’s marriage.

“Rebecca said she wasn’t enjoying her time in London and wanted to go back to the States,” says McBrain. “I said, well, if we go back to America, we’re gonna have to move back to Florida.

“I preferred the warm weather and the warm climate. Plus, after I joined Maiden I really got into golf,” adds McBrain. And in Boca, “it was so lovely and quiet, and we really embraced that.”

McBrain also credits his wife as a driving force in his conversion to Christianity. One Sunday she urged him to visit Spanish River Church, where McBrain had his first brush with a higher power. In true rockstar fashion, he thought he might have just been hungover. “We all stood up, bowed our heads in prayer, and I remember it was as though God had got hold of my shoulder and pushed me,” says McBrain, “and the thought that went through my mind was, ‘that’s funny, I didn’t have a drink last night. … That was the minute, that was the second that I knew … that I had God in my life now.”

Afterwards, McBrain discovered a sense of peace and clarity he hadn’t realized he was lacking. “I was more devil-may-care [in] attitude, and since I became a Christian and found God, I’ve changed,” says McBrain. “I’ve cleared out the closet.”

Beyond the peace, quiet and golf that are all hallmarks of the Boca lifestyle, McBrain has also been swayed toward another quintessential Boca passion: philanthropy. In 2005, McBrain was introduced by friend and fellow musician Tico Torres (drummer for Bon Jovi) to HomeSafe at the organization’s annual golf tournament. McBrain was moved by the nonprofit’s mission of protecting victims of child abuse and domestic violence and was inspired to get more involved, eventually becoming host of HomeSafe’s Classic Rock & Roll Party, an annual fundraising event at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood which has drawn in musical performances from such rock ‘n’ roll royalty as Pat Travers and Eagles guitarist Don Felder.

McBrain still drops by HomeSafe campuses on occasion to visit and help set up equipment in the music rooms, and is as inspired as ever by the children helped by HomeSafe. “It’s the way the children are looked after and the stories you hear from them … some of them tragic—tales of abuse, neglectful parents. … The endearing thing to me is when you see them come out the other side, away from all this,” says McBrain.

Despite his placid Boca life, McBrain is still the same enduring, bombastic percussionist as ever onstage, recently completing a European tour despite having suffered a stroke in January 2023 which left him paralyzed from the right shoulder down and hardly able to walk. “It was very, very tough for me to not get myself depressed and get into this quagmire of, ‘I can’t do this; it’s too much,’” says McBrain. But through a rigorous physical therapy schedule and no shortage of prayer, McBrain has been regaining his strength and has no intention of hanging up his drumsticks—even if that means taking it a little easier.

“When you’re fortunate enough to be out playing music, I think it’s in your blood, it’s like your drug,” says McBrain. “I don’t think I could knock it on the head unless God wanted me to.”

This article is from the February 2024 issue of Boca magazine. For more like this, click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Tyler Childress
Tyler Childress
Tyler is the Web Editor and a contributing writer for Boca Raton magazine. He writes about food, entertainment and issues affecting South Florida. Send story tips to tyler@bocamag.com.

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