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IRON MAIDEN's 1991 PSA, "The Seat Belt Dummies" & How It Almost Got Bruce Dickinson A Visit To The White House

Screen Shot 2020-05-02 at 10.07

In 1991 President George H.W. Bush's Chief of Staff, Sam Skinner, was a little obsessed with seat-belt usage, or, more specifically, the lack thereof in the U.S. Per his boss' instructions, Skinner established a goal of bumping up seat belt usage to 70% by 1992. To help with that, Skinner brought together the Department of Transportation and the Advertising Council to help devise a seat-belt safety public service announcement (PSA) that would reach through to males 15-35. For the commercial, two of the most popular spokespeople since 1985, Vince and Larry, "The Crash Test Dummies" teamed up with Iron Maiden and vocalist Bruce Dickinson because, as it turns out, Bruce was also hugely popular with males age 15-35. When he was asked about the PSA in the summer of 1991, Bruce had this to say about why he and Maiden felt so strongly about seat belt safety:

"It's something I feel very strongly about, the same way I feel strongly about drinking and driving. We're being responsible. I don't want people who buy Iron Maiden records to think we're in the same category as garbage like Guns N' Roses. We're not trying to go around being like people's granddads — all we're trying to say is, it's not cool to kill yourself."

As an aside, Dickinson's disdain for GNR vocalist Axl Rose goes way back. You might even recall Bruce expressed regret at not "punching Axl in the face" for the way he treated a French audience while GNR were opening shows for Maiden in 1988. Missed opportunities aside, Skinner had promised that if the PSA helped improve seat-belt compliance, he would invite Bruce over to the White House to hang out with George H.W. Bush, where they would talk about who-knows-what. While seat-belt usage did go up and would continue to rise well into the 2000s, Skinner reneged on his White House invitation to Dickinson and allegedly invited himself to attend an Iron Maiden concert instead as a sign of his gratitude. This guy. In the 29-second commercial, Vince and Larry are seen rushing into and in-progress Iron Maiden concert with the band performing "No Prayer for the Dying" (1990). As I don't want to ruin this for anyone who hasn't seen it (or if it's been, say, 29 years since you saw it), watch this nuclear blast from the past in its entirety NOW.

Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson in the most metal PSA ever, 'Buckle Your Safety Belt,' 1991. 

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