Michael Henry "Nicko" McBrain is an English musician, best known as the drummer for Iron Maiden, which he joined in 1982. The nickname 'Nicko' originated from when the keyboard player Billy Day introduced him as "My Italian drummer, his name’s 'Nicko'". McBrain himself states that as a child he had a stuffed animal (bear) named "Nicholas" that he always carried with him so much so that his parents began calling him Nicky also. Only when he may have been in trouble was he called by his given name. McBrain is credited as being an early pioneer of the heavy metal sound and passes his experience on through drum clinics.
McBrain is frequently included in top drummer league tables and rankings as a result of his very influential and skillful performances in studio and on stage. Recently, he has been ranked at No. 18 in Rhythm Magazine's 50 Greatest Drummers Of All Time. Known for his affable joking personality, eagerness for interviews and public appearances, McBrain is considered by his bandmates as Iron Maiden's spokeperson.
McBrain joined the band Streetwalkers in 1975 and recorded with them before moving on to drum for Pat Travers and later Trust. In the early 1980s he became the drummer for McKitty and it was with this band that he first met Iron Maiden bassist and founder Steve Harris. Trust supported Iron Maiden on the Number of the Beast world tour in 1982. On this same tour, not only did McBrain star as the Devil in "The Number Of The Beast" music video, but also stood in for Maiden drummer Clive Burr at a live show in Belgium. He officially joined Iron Maiden in December 1982. McBrain's first album with Iron Maiden was Piece of Mind in 1983.
In response to questions from Maiden fans, McBrain highlighted that it was 'not a coincidence' that Piece Of Mind had many references to brains and minds, after he, with the surname McBrain, had recently joined the band.
McBrain has stated on recordings for the Paiste website while promoting his signature drum sticks, that he first wanted to learn drums at a young age after watching a performance of Joe Morello, which immediately led him to play drums with kitchen utensils and pots, to the dislike of his father. After studying engineering at City & Guilds (which his father had wanted him to complete), he was able to pursue drumming at a professional level.