Dennis Stratton Iron Maiden's former guitarist explains the debut album sounded like Queen until tracks overheard by manager Ron Smallwood
Rock Candy Magazine the newly launched UK based magazine features an exclusive interview in Issue #4 with a candid Dennis Stratton, Iron Maiden former guitarist, revealing how the bands debut album almost sounded like Queen.
The guitarist was part of Maiden's line-up for under a year but in that time, the contribution he made to the legendary debut of the self-titled Iron Maiden album, should not be underplayed. Dennis, back now playing with Lionheart, the band he originally formed after leaving Maiden, had contemporary musical tastes at the tim that included Black Sabbath, David Coverdale, George Benson and The Eagles. Which could make it easier to understand why Lionhearts sound was nothing like Iron Maiden.
Stratton told Rock Candy Magazine that the first Iron Maiden album, released in April 1980, was heading away from sounding like the NWOBHM that we know it to be, until Ron Smallwood, Maiden's manager, intervened.
“I took “Phantom of The Opera”, which was always a great song at its core, and added a load of harmony guitars and falsetto vocals to our basic recording,” he explains. “The engineer helped me layer the sounds, adding track after track, and when we played it back it sounded like Queen. I thought it was fantastic. But when we were listening back to the track Rod Smallwood came up behind me in the control room. I didn’t know he was there and at the end of the song he said, ‘You can get rid of all that. It sounds like fucking Queen.’ So it never made the cut. I’d still love to do a big, massive production of that song one day. I know it would be great.”
He then added,
“Rod didn’t like the music I was listening to,” says Stratton. “I’d be in my hotel room on tour listening to some David Coverdale or a bit of Eagles or some George Benson and Rod would go potty. He said, ‘If anyone heard you listening to that kind of music…’ But how can you listen to Motörhead 24 hours a day? You’d be deaf!”