DENNIS STRATTON Talks Early Days Of IRON MAIDEN, Tragic Death Of Clive Burr In New Interview
September 16, 2013, 10 months ago
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Mark Strigl from TalkingMetal.com spoke with former IRON MAIDEN guitarist Dennis Stratton recently. A few highlights can be read below:
On what he was up to before Maiden: “REMUS DOWN BOULEVARD was probably our first really serious band. We signed to Jonathan King, which I won’t speak about him after all the news but we were signed to Kory management, which was STATUS QUO manager, Rory Gallagher. As soon as possible we went straight out on the road with Status Quo in the mid-'70s. We went all over Europe and Scandinavia playing to some massive crowds. It was quite strange for us playing at the Marquee on Wardour Street playing to 300, 400, 500 people supporting different bands and then straight away we are in the middle of a massive arena with Quo playing to 60 to 80,000 people. It was absolutely brilliant. It brings back very good memories for playing with Que. Unfortunately, the band recorded an album and it never got released. We were still playing , Steve and Dave Murray used to come up and watch us on Sunday night at the Bridgehouse. That is how they asked me to join the band because they saw me playing and they saw me singing and that is how I got involved with Maiden."
On Clive Burr and harmony guitars: “I knew Clive many years before Maiden. We used to do a gig in Oxford where his band used to play and Remus Down Boulevard used to play and when I got asked by Maiden, I was asked to go to a rehearsal studio and when I got there there wasn’t a drummer. It was just DiAnno, Dave Murray and Steve and the road crew. We went through some of the guitar parts. I took a cassette home and worked on 'Phantom Of The Opera'. The funny thing was with Maiden is they had not used harmony guitars and with RDB we was all harmony guitars cause we grew up with WISHBONE ASH and things like that so we loved the harmony guitars techniques. Putting in the harmony guitars on the songs for Maiden brought out a lot more in the songs as you can hear on the first album, there is loads of harmonies on there. I put on too many I think on Phantom. Rod asked me to take some of them off because it sounded a bit like QUEEN with Brian May. It was a sorta change in musical direction a little bit to adjust for the harmony guitars. They never had a drummer and I took along a guy named Johnny Richards who was playing drums in RDB but he suffered badly with his ears with any loud volume and as soon as he heard the rehearsal he said he couldn’t do it and so he sorta walked out. A couple days later I bumped into Clive at our local pub around by where Clive used to live. I told him that I joined Maiden and I told him they were looking for a drummer. Was he interested in coming down with me? He said ‘yeah.’ I took into the studio the next day, introduced him to the lads and I had already played him a cassette in the car so he roughly, got a bit of an edge, knew what we were going to play. He sat in for the session and played really well and Steve and Dave and myself had a little conversation about it afterwards and the rest is history. He came straight in. That is how it all started. We were actually then a five-piece made up to start recording the album."
On Clive Burr’s death: “It was sometime near the summer of last year (2012) that I saw Cliff. I had seen him a couple of times many years before that. As his condition got worse I got a call from Noel Buckley, he was one of Cliff’s friends, he was one of all our friends, and Noel said that Cliff was in a pretty bad way so I contact Dave Lights, who was still a really good friend of mine, and Pete Brian, who was my guitar roadie in Maiden. I contacted those two and said it would by nice to go and see Cliff. We did not know what to expect. We did get quit a shock. Cliff was in the latter stage of the condition. He could just about move his eyes. It was a sad, sad day. It makes you realize how lucky we all all are. I will never moan anymore if I get a cold or a toothache. We held his hand as we sat next to him in the sunshine. We talked about the old days and every now and again a little smile would come on his face. He is in a better place now because that is no life what so ever. So we saw him near the end of the summer last year and then we got the call that he’s past away and went over to see Mimi…”
On Maiden touring with KISS in 1980 and his falling out with Rod Smallwood: “In 1980 after the JUDAS PRIEST tour we were asked to go on the KISS tour which was quite nice. It was Europe and Scandinavia. They didn't want us to support in England because I think we had too many fans. It was strange because I had toured with Quo in the '70s and other bands, I always liked to get on with all the bands on the tour. I don't see it as a headlining band and support, were all one show. There is no egos with me. I love talking to musicians. With Judas Priest I got along really well with Glenn. I don't like friction between bands. At the beginning of the tour Rod made it quite clear that he didn't want any of the band mixing with KISS and unfortunately that was the beginning of the problems with me in Rod. It was the start of the arguments because I am not like that sort of person. I got to know Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley really well. I became really good friends with them at the beginning of the tour. They took me out on my birthday in October in Stockholm. Paul Stanley gave me a signed to fire helmet from the band. They took us out for a meal, me and Dave Lights. Great blokes and that was at a time when they had their makeup. Anyone taking pictures in the restaurant were quickly thrown out because they didn't want their identity shown. Unfortunately, Rod did not like that. Yeah I used to hang around them quite a bit and I also hung out with the Maiden road crew as well because you just need a break from the band and I found the road crew were more interesting and had more of a laugh. That's the sort of person I am."