British heavy-metal band Iron Maiden has ended the speculation regarding its vocalist vacancy by naming Blaze Bayley, formerly of the group Wolfsbane, to replace Bruce Dickinson, the voice that guided Iron Maiden to mid-’80s platinum success. Dickinson segued to a solo career last year.

In a prepared statement, bassist/founding member Steve Harris said: “We’ve known Blaze since Wolfsbane toured with us in 1990. We all liked the bloke and had the greatest respect for him as a frontman and as a vocalist. … Blaze was unquestionably the man for the job.”

The group listened to more than 2,000 audition tapes, according to Harris, before deciding on Bayley, the presumed frontrunner for the gig.

The band plans an immediate return to the studio, anticipating a fall or winter release.

Iron Maiden, a product of the same late-’70s new wave of British heavy metal that spawned the popular Def Leppard, is best known for such million-selling albums as 1982’s “The Number of the Beast” (Dickinson’s first), “Piece of Mind” and “Powerslave.” In 1993 Capitol Records issued two concert albums, “A Real Live One” and “A Real Dead One,” taken from Dickinson’s last tour.

Dickinson, who replaced original singer Paul Di’anno, has released one solo album for Columbia. Wolfsbane has released one U.S. album through what was Def American Records.

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