Former IRON MAIDEN guitarist and Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 2021 nominee Dennis Stratton has called on the MAIDEN faithful to get behind the fan ballot, urging them to ignore past disparaging comments from frontman Bruce Dickinson, and stating simply “listen, please vote.” Stratton, who called the band’s nomination a “big, big honor,” made his comments in a chat with Eonmusic.

Dennis, who played with the emerging NWOBHM act from December 1979 until October 1980, appeared on the band’s No. 4-charting self-titled debut album, contributing significantly to such classics as “Phantom Of The Opera”, “Running Free” and the band’s eponymous anthem “Iron Maiden”.

The musician, who now performs with a host of acts including revivalists LIONHEART, is nominated for the prestigious award alongside the current MAIDEN lineup of Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Nicko McBrain and Janick Gers, along with former members Paul Di’Anno and the late Clive Burr.

Speaking about the news of the nomination, which broke on February 11, Dennis said: “I saw it, and I was so pleased that actually, me, Clive and Paul was included.”

Going on to talk about his close relationship with MAIDEN founder Steve Harris, Dennis quipped that there is no bad blood between the pair. “We’ve got West Ham [football club] to moan about, me and him,” he said, laughing.

Recalling the speaking to the bassist on the day that the news broke, he continued: “Whenever I see things regarding MAIDEN, whether it’s on Planet Rock or on the radio, I sometimes text Steve, because we talk quite a lot on the phone. There’s some things he doesn’t get if he’s at home, because he lives in the Bahamas. A lot of the time they don’t pick up the English press, so sometimes I’ll text him and say, ‘Here boy, have you seen this?’, and he’ll go, ‘Oh, no. Can you send me a link?’

“It was in the afternoon when I found out, but I’d already spoke to him in the morning regarding West Ham, and I texted him and said, ‘Steve, not sure if you’ve seen this, but we’ve been nominated, and I’ve been included.’ So he texted me back, and he said, ‘Yeah, I know.’ So I texted him back and I said, ‘Well, if you knew, why didn’t you tell me?’, and he said, ‘I’ve only just found out.'”

Relaying what he told Harris, Dennis said: “I said to him I do hope that we get in, and I do hope that the fans vote.”

Going on to ask the band’s fanbase to dismiss Bruce Dickinson‘s 2016 remarks in which the singer lambasted the Hall Of Fame organization, Stratton said: “A lot of the fans are following Bruce‘s comments and have said, ‘F the Hall Of Fame. We don’t need the Hall Of Fame. The band don’t want it, so let’s not vote.’ But what they’ve got to remember is that it is a big, big honor for someone like me. I’ve even gone on Facebook and said, ‘Listen, please vote,’ because although it might not mean a lot to some people, it means the world to me.”

In closing, Dennis offered: “I’m hoping that the fans don’t take a lot of notice of Bruce‘s comments. I want MAIDEN to get what they deserve.”

Read the story at Eonmusic.

To be eligible for this year’s ballot, each nominee’s first single or album had to have been released in 1995 or earlier.

A voter pool of more than 1,000 artists, historians, journalists, and members of the music industry will select the new class. Fans also have a chance to take part in the process by voting at or at an interactive kiosk at the museum in Cleveland. Their selections will count as a single “fan ballot” that gets tabulated along with the others.

Dickinson made headlines in 2018 when he referred to the Rock Hall as “an utter and complete load of bollocks” during a spoken-word gig in Australia, insisting that the Cleveland-based institution is “run by a bunch of sanctimonious bloody Americans who wouldn’t know rock and roll if it hit them in the face.”

Bruce later told The Jerusalem Post that he was “so annoyed with that coverage because they took my statement out of context to make it seem like I was upset that we weren’t in the Hall Of Fame.

“I’m really happy we’re not there and I would never want to be there,” he continued. “If we’re ever inducted, I will refuse — they won’t bloody be having my corpse in there.

“Rock and roll music does not belong in a mausoleum in Cleveland,” Bruce added. “It’s a living, breathing thing, and if you put it in a museum, then it’s dead. It’s worse than horrible, it’s vulgar.”

Two years ago, Harris said that he didn’t care that IRON MAIDEN has yet to be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame despite the fact that it has been eligible since 2004.

“I don’t mind that we’re not in things like that,” he told Rolling Stone. “I don’t think about things like that. It’s very nice if people give you awards or accolades, but we didn’t get into the business for that sort of thing. I’m certainly not going to lose sleep if we don’t get any sort of award, not just that one, any award. I don’t think we deserve to have this or that necessarily. With what we do, whatever comes of it is great. Whatever doesn’t come of it is great, too.”

Even though artists are eligible for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame 25 years after the release of their first album or single, iconic hard rock and metal groups like MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST and MOTÖRHEAD have yet to be recognized by the institution, which inducted GUNS N’ ROSES in that band’s first year of eligibility.

Harris previously said that he wasn’t concerned about whether IRON MAIDEN will eventually be inducted into the Rock Hall. “I don’t really think about it, to be honest. I think awards are things that are nice to have when you get them, but it’s not something you’re really striving for — it’s not what it’s about it,” he said. “It’s never been about that. It’s aways been about just trying to make good music and go out and play good live shows, and that’s it, really. Hopefully people will appreciate it. It’s probably nice when people give you awards — don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great — but it’s not something that you would lose sleep over if you didn’t get any.

“It’s the way that I am,” Harris added. “I don’t know. Maybe the rest of the guys [in the band] might think differently to me, but that’s the way I think. It’s not that I don’t care about [awards]. It’s just… And it’s not that they’re not meaningful when you do get ’em — it’s nice. But I certainly don’t worry about it or anything like that. I think other people are the ones that make a bigger deal out of it than us, about whether we got one or not.”

Having been eligible for induction for more than a decade and a half, IRON MAIDEN is one of the biggest bands on the planet. Since the release of their self-titled debut album, the British heavy metal legends have released a further 15 full-length studio records, and sold over 100 million copies.

Rock Hall rules state that artists become eligible a quarter century after their first records were released, but the Hall also claims that other “criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock ‘n’ roll,” which is, of course, open to interpretation.

Eligible for induction since 1999, KISS didn’t get its first nomination until 2009, and was finally inducted in 2014.

DEEP PURPLE was eligible for the Rock Hall since 1993 but didn’t get inducted until 2016.