LIONHEART was formed in late 1980 by Dennis Stratton (lead guitar/backing vocals, ex-Iron Maiden), Jess Cox (lead vocals, ex-Tygers of Pan Tang), Steve Mann (lead guitar/backing vocals, ex-Liar), Rocky Newton (bass guitar/backing vocals, ex-Wildfire) and Frank Noon (drums, ex-Def Leppard). The band began playing gigs including regular shows at London’s Marquee Club but had problems maintaining a consistent line-up. The core personnel of Dennis, Steve and Rocky remained but various singers passed through the band including Rueben Archer, John Farlham and Bob Hawthorn. 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 (ex Judas Priest), Niko McBrain (ex Trust and subsequently Iron Maiden) and Clive Edwards (ex Wild Horses).
Between 1981 and 1984 LIONHEART played regular live shows and filled the support slot for tours by both Def Leppard and Whitesnake. In between gigs they spent many hours writing and recording demos of new songs while searching for a record deal. It wasn’t until 1984 that 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 with Kevin Beamish in the production chair and session man Bob Jenkins, who had previously worked with Leo Sayer and Kiki Dee, on drums. The album was recorded at the legendary Sound City Studios in Van Nuys and mixed at Kendun Recorders.
Upon their return to the England LIONHEART recorded a high-budget video for the single Die For Love. The late comic genius Rik Mayall played the part of the mad professor, which in later years achieved cult status on YouTube due in part to the wonderfully wooden acting of the band! Unfortunately, planned UK tours as support to Kansas and Foreigner were cancelled at the last moment. Promotion of the album suffered and LIONHEART found themselves in limbo. Chad Brown left the band in 1985 to be replaced by Keith Murrell, with Toby Sadler coming in on keyboards. More demos were recorded with the new line-up but unfortunately the momentum had been lost and the band eventually broke up. Rocky went on to record backing vocals on 2 Def Leppard albums and join Michael Schenker with Steve, while Dennis spent 15 years with Praying Mantis.
In 2016 Dave Herron, promoter of the Rockingham Festival in Nottingham, asked LIONHEART to reunite for one performance and all original members, apart from Chad Brown, did so. The reunion created quite a stir, not least within the band itself, and it was decided to carry on with the subsequent recording of a new album followed by an acclaimed appearance at Sweden Rock.
The new record, Second Nature, was created between November 2016 and May 2017 and was produced, engineered and mastered by Steve Mann in his own studio in Hannover. A mini tour of Japan with Praying Mantis was scheduled for June/July with further UK shows with Airrace in November/December.
The album release on AOR Heaven throughout Europe is set for 25th August.
Live with Praying Mantis:
30/06/2017 Umeda Club Quattro – Osaka – Japan
01/07/2017 Toyosu PIT – Tokyo – Japan
Live with Airrace: 30/11/2017 Fuel – Cardiff – Wales
01/12/2017 Slade Rooms – Wolverhampton – England
02/12/2017 The Underworld – London – England
03/12/2017 Hard Rock Hell – Sheffield – England
05/12/2017 The Cluny – Newcastle – England
06/12/2017 Bannermans – Edinburgh – Scotland
Discography: Hot Tonight (CBS/Epic) 1984; Unearthed – Raiders of the Lost Archives (Pony Canyon) 1999; Hot Tonight (Rock Candy digitally re-mastered re-release) 2012