DENNIS Stratton, former guitarist of heavy rock phenomenon Iron Maiden and current frontman of Lionheart, hails from Canning Town, East London, but is no stranger to touring globally.
Born in 1952, Stratton was raised listening to the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, who he notes as two of his major influences. Stratton says: ‘The Beatles are undoubtedly one of my favourite bands of all time, along with more American-based bands, such as Toto, Foreigner and Journey.’
When Stratton was 16, one of his friends sold him his first guitar, and he would then practise pieces of music he heard at gigs until he memorised a song completely. He says: ‘It wasn’t like today, where you could go on the Internet and learn songs, you had to do it completely by memory, which was a talent in itself, really’.
Stratton was invited to join Iron Maiden as a second lead guitarist and backing vocalist by Steve Harris after he had seen Stratton playing with Remus Down Boulevard. However, he states that fame didn’t seem to change him at all: ‘I always come back from touring to the East End and go to the pub with the boys. For anyone that thinks fame has changed me, they should come and actually talk to me, I’m just a normal bloke.’
It can be easily assumed that touring in the 70s/80s was as ‘rock n roll’ as can be, which Stratton confirms; ‘It can get messy. I had my mad days back in the 80s, everyone does. I think it depends on the type of person you are. If you’re Ozzy Osbourne then yes, it is going to be very rock’n’roll. I knew people who would have a heavy session the evening before and then perform the next day. They were slowly killing themselves and I was never one of those people.’
After his departure from Iron Maiden, Stratton played with bands such as Lionheart, and joined the band Praying Mantis in 1990, staying to record nine studio albums and two live ones. Stratton left Praying Mantis in 2006, and started a project with former Iron Maiden singer Paul Di’anno called ‘The Original Iron Men’ in which they released three albums.
One of Iron Maiden’s most notable performances is when the band headlined Reading Festival in 1980. Stratton says: ‘The energy was incredible and its something I will never forget for as long as I live. The adrenaline of performing in front of 100,000 is second to none and is so under appreciated by many bands. I’ve never understood how artists can nap before performing, I’ve always been too pumped’.
Stratton can still be seen playing in pubs around East London, and Essex.