In the realm of rock music, few figures command as much respect and admiration as Dennis Stratton, a luminary whose journey from the streets of East London to the stages of the world’s biggest arenas has left an indelible mark on the industry. With roots tracing back to his tenure with Iron Maiden, Dennis now finds himself at the helm of Lionheart, a powerhouse collective known for their dynamic compositions and electrifying performances.
In our exclusive interview with Dennis, we dive into the heart of Lionheart‘s latest album, “The Grace of the Dragonfly.” Through candid discussions, Dennis reveals the album’s poignant anti-war message, delicately woven into a tapestry of infectious melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. From celebrating the bravery of servicemen and women to condemning the horrors of war, Dennis offers invaluable insights into the thematic depth and sonic intricacies of Lionheart’s music.
But beyond the album’s creative process lies a treasure trove of personal anecdotes and reflections. Dennis shares childhood memories shaped by the aftermath of World War II, offering a glimpse into the resilience and fortitude that have fueled his journey. From his contributions to Iron Maiden‘s legendary discography to Lionheart‘s evolution as a band, Dennis’s narrative paints a vivid portrait of passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to the craft.
As the interview unfolds, we uncover the intricate dynamics of Lionheart‘s creative collaboration, from the meticulous crafting of solos to the camaraderie that fuels their artistic synergy. Through Dennis’s infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy, we gain a deeper appreciation for the transformative power of music to transcend boundaries, unite communities, and inspire generations. Join us as we embark on a journey through the realms of rock and metal, guided by the wisdom and experiences of a true icon.
Lionheart was formed in late 1980 by Dennis Stratton (lead guitar/backing vocals, Iron Maiden), Steve Mann (lead guitar/backing vocals, Liar, Michael Schenker), Rocky Newton (bass guitar/backing vocals, Wildfire, Michael Schenker), Jess Cox (lead vocals, Tygers of Pan Tang), and Frank Noon (drums, Def Leppard). The band immediately began playing gigs including regular shows at London’s infamous Marquee Club. The core personnel of Dennis, Steve and Rockyremained constant and after trying different singers they eventually settled as a 4-piece with Dennis and Rocky sharing lead vocal duties. The drummer’s stool was variously occupied by Les Binks (Judas Priest), Nicko McBrain (Trust, Iron Maiden) and Clive Edwards (Pat Travers, Uli Jon Roth, Wild Horses, UFO).
Between 1981 and 1984 LIONHEART played regular live shows including an appearance at The Reading Festival in 1981 and support slots for Def Leppard, Whitesnake and Saxon. In between gig commitments they spent many hours writing and recording demos of new songs while searching for a record deal. In 1984 CBS Records in the USA offered them a contract, by which time they had recruited Chad Brown on lead vocals. They flew over to Los Angeles in March 1984 to record their debut album Hot Tonight at the legendary Sound City Studios in Van Nuys with Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon) producing.
Upon their return to England, LIONHEART recorded a high-budget video for the single DIE FOR LOVE. The late English comic genius Rik Mayall (The Young Ones) played the part of the mad professor and the video has since achieved cult status on YouTube (mainly due to the band’s terrible acting!)
The line-up expanded with Phil Lanzon (Uriah Heep) on keyboards before Chad Brown left the band in 1985 to be replaced by Keith Murrell (Airrace, Mama’s Boys). More demos were recorded with the new line-up but the momentum had been lost and the band eventually decided to cease activities. Rocky went on to sing backing vocals on Def Leppard’s Pyromania and Hysteria albums before joining The Michael Schenker Group (MSG). Steve set up his first commercial recording studio before hooking up with Rocky again in MSG, now renamed the McAuley Schenker Group, while Dennis began a 15 year stint with Praying Mantis. Meanwhile Clive went on to play with Bernie Marsden and UFO. In 1999 LIONHEART released a double album of old recordings on the Pony Canyon label in Japan which sold well and regenerated interest in the band which prompted the release of Hot Tonight on Rock Candy Records (for the first time on CD).
In 2016 the promoters of the Rockingham Festival in Nottingham asked LIONHEART to
come together for one performance. Original members, Dennis Stratton, Steve Mann, Rocky Newton and Clive Edwards jumped at the chance and brought in ex-Shy front man Lee Small
on lead vocals. The appearance received fantastic reviews and the band enjoyed it so much
that they decided to record a new album together. In 2017 LIONHEART put in a memorable performance at the Sweden Rock Festival during which they included their version of the song Anytime , which was written by Steve Mann along with Robin McAuley and which was a number 6 hit record in the US for the McAuley Schenker Group in 1989. (Click to watch).
The new album, SECOND NATURE, was recorded between November 2016 and May 2017. Produced, engineered and mastered by Steve Mann in his own Flying Vivaldi studio in Hannover it was released to critical acclaim in August 2017. LIONHEART, now stronger than ever, undertook a co-headline tour of Japan with Praying Mantis in June/July and UK shows in November/December co-headlining with Airrace. The band also completed a short tour of Spain in April 2018. After releasing a Christmas single in December 2018 called Mary Did You Know (click to watch), LIONHEART went into the studio to record their new album. Entitled The Reality of Miracles, the album was recorded between 2018 and 2020 and released, once again to critical acclaim, in July 2020.
LIONHEART knuckled down soon after to record the next album, deciding early on that this time they would produce a concept album. The record centres around WW2, but is very much an anti-war album. The songs are sensational, with Lee Small’s emotional lyrics supported by LIONHEARTs superb songwriting, soaring backing vocals, beautiful twin guitar harmonies, and atmospheric keyboards. Entitled “The Grace Of A Dragonfly”, the record is nothing short of epic and is by far LIONHEART’s finest work to date.
The album is released 23rd February 2024 as CD and 12” Gatefold Vinyl on METALVILLE RECORDS worldwide except for Asia where it will be released on WARD RECORDS.
01 Declaration 5:02
02 Flight 19 4:40
03 V Is For Victory 4:33
04 This Is A Woman’s War 4:41
05 The Longest Night 4:43
06 The Eagle’s Nest 4:41
07 Little Ships 3:35
08 Just A Man 5:01
09 UXB 4:06
10 The Grace Of A Dragonfly 4:56
11 Remembrance, Praying For World Peace 1:06
Lee Small (The Sweet, ex-Shy) – lead vocals
Dennis Stratton (ex-Iron Maiden) – lead guitar/backing vocals
Steve Mann (MSG, ex-Liar) – lead guitar/backing vocals
Rocky Newton (Grand Slam, ex-MSG) – bass guitar/backing vocals
Clive Edwards (ex-Pat Travers, Uli Jon Roth & Wild Horses) – drums, percussion
The band will be appearing at UKs FIREFEST FESTIVAL on 11th October 2024.