Lionheart: is the NWOBHM supergroup ready to roar again?

Line-up photo of the four members of Lionheart sitting down

Bringing together former members of Iron Maiden, the Tygers Of Pan Tang, Def Leppard, Liar and Wildfire, Lionheart were, perhaps understandably, termed the NWOBHM’s first supergroup when they formed in late 1980. Did the ‘supergroup’ tag hurt you?

It did work against us. But our biggest mistake was rushing things. Naïvely, I didn’t check out Jess Cox’s voice, and it soon became apparent that he couldn’t sing. He was always out of tune.

That first line-up lasted less than a week after its live debut. Nothing came easy for Lionheart, did it?

That’s true. We couldn’t get a record deal, and we went from one singer and line-up to another. It became a running joke.

Three decades on, was it a shock when the Rockingham Festival sought a reunion?

Of course. They got in touch with Rocky [Newton, bassist]. And after a WhatsApp group conversation we realised it wouldn’t be too difficult to make it happen.

What is the line-up now?

Myself, Rocky, Steve Mann [guitar] and Clive Edwards [drums] will be joined by Lee Small, who has sung with quite a few bands including Shy and Phenomena.

Could there be more shows?

I’d like to think so, only we’re all very busy. I’m in three bands at the moment, but I’m trying to semi-retire.

Iron Maiden went on to become a global colossus. Do you have any regrets about your exit from the band (in 1980) – could it have been avoided?

I don’t think so. In my previous bands I ran everything. Used to being in control, I joined Maiden who were quite naïve except Steve [Harris], so a clash was inevitable.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.