Legendary rocker, Joe Lynn Turner, took a quick break from his US tour to share some stories and talk about his band and of course music with NRR.
There isnâ€™t much that Joe Lynn Turner hasnâ€™t seen during his 40 year (and counting) career. As lead singer of such iconic groups as Rainbow, Deep Purple, and Yngwie Malmsteen, he has been the voice of some of the biggest songs of all time. National Rock Review recently caught up with Joe in between stops of his ten show, sixteen date US tour to discuss music, his current band, the current tour, and his plans for the rest of the year.
NRR: Letâ€™s start off with this current US tour, how is it going?
Joe Lynn Turner: Tomorrow we leave for Chicago, Detroit and Cincinnati. We just finished the first three shows of the tour; two in New York City and one in New York State last weekend, and they were killer, really fantastic.
The band was super. Iâ€™m thrilled with the band. We are breaking in a new guitar player named Angus Clark, who was recommended by Joel Hoekstra from Whitesnake. This guy is a monster, just killer and he just lifted the band right up. Everybody played great, are sounding great and looking great, so we are on top of the game right now.
NRR: Besides guitarist Angus Clark, who is accompanying you on this tour?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well, for this week we’re fortunate to have Jason Hartless from Ted Nugent’s band on drums. Our regular drummer, Charlie Zee couldnâ€™t make it. He had other appointments so he called Jason up and Jason was â€œYeah man Iâ€™d love to do itâ€. So when we get there, weâ€™re just going to set up at Reggieâ€™s in Chicago, go over a couple of endings. Heâ€™s a pro, heâ€™s killer so it wonâ€™t be any problem. We have Rocky Martino on bass, he has played with a bunch of people along with Dr. Gary Zappa keyboards who is just a hidden talent who is finally coming out â€“ itâ€™s a killer band. Next week we will be using Jules (Radino) from Blue Oyster Cult behind the drums.
NRR: You’ve been touring all over the place lately – Norway, Sweden, Greece and in between, then you sandwich in a pretty quick U.S. tour with stops at some pretty cool venues.
Joe Lynn Turner: Yeah, you know it’s been, I canâ€™t even tell you how long itâ€™s been since Iâ€™ve been in the states. You know a lot of my business is really in Europe. All over Europe, Bulgaria, in fact everywhere.
People just love the music, they come out and just do great business there and are well appreciated and I just haven’t been back to the States. Not to neglect my fellow Americans here, you know we just need to get out there and make sure people are still kickinâ€™ it so I said OK let’s do a few States shows. So far so good. Weâ€™re going to go to the West Coast but we’re also going to go into Canada, but that’s probably, you know, August or something like that and then go back to do Sweden RockFestival in June playing with the orchestra there with some pretty big, notables including Peter TÃ¤gtgren from Pain. We will also have a trip down to Australia, really stuff is so good and I’m so blessed and so thankful for it.
NRR: I was a mere lad living in California during the metal explosion of the 80â€™s and was lucky to see you and Yngwie Malmsteen in concert. In fact, I think I played a hole in my Oddessy album because it was played so much. What was it like playing with Yngwie during these times?
Joe Lynn Turner: Yeah it was a phenomenal setup. I think we’ve made probably, well the best albums of both of our careers. You know we were like pushing each other constantly and I think that’s why this Oddessy album is just stellar. You know, I did just two songs on that album, Rising Force and Dreaming (Tell Me).
NRR: RisingForce is just such an epic song.
Joe Lynn Turner: Oh yeah, that was my idea. I said Yngwie, we need a song to tribute the band and he was like â€œWhat do you mean?” Rising Force, so he gave me this the track and I wrote the lyrics and melodies and we have this epic, iconic song. Itâ€™s just kicking butt, it is just fantastic!
NRR: I’ve been streaming your Sessions album a lot lately. Those songs and the folks that you are playing with are incredible. How did the Sessions album come together and what was the inspiration for the album?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well, originally Cleopatra started that as a charity, a benefit type situation and asked a bunch of us to contribute to it. I donâ€™t know how much went to the charities, maybe 10-15%, but thatâ€™s the way it had started and then it kind of grew out of that situation, but thatâ€™s how all of these people, these notable guitar players, and drummers, everybody just started to say “Yeah let’s jump on board.” There was a kind of thing where one guy would call another guy and say â€“ are you going to do it, then Iâ€™m going to do it and it just grew.
Before I knew it, I had like 10-12 tracks, you know, and then they approached me and just said “Look, itâ€™s all so good we would like to put out a compilation CD” and I said go for it.
I had no idea it was going to receive the reviews that it is receiving. I mean I’m knocked out by these reviews I have not read one bad review, Iâ€™ve read them all, my publicist gives me everything. I’m just tickled pink that people really get it, you know. I grew up with most of these bands, in fact all of them, and I emulated those bands growing up and it was such a pleasure to reproduce my version of them.
In fact, recently I was talking to Robby Krieger from the Doors and they’re having a fiftieth anniversary next year and they heard â€œRiders On The Stormâ€. He was like, well maybe we will get a space, you and I. I was like man, Iâ€™d love to play with you guys.
NRR: That’s phenomenal
Joe Lynn Turner: Phenomenal, right?
Other things are coming out of it, right? Brian Johnson from AC/DC heard “Back in Black” and heâ€™s like, â€œYou sing it better than me.â€
So, I don’t know, you know, we’re all just having fun and putting our talents together and Iâ€™m very pleased with the reviews and Iâ€™m getting crazy accolades, people saying Iâ€™m a chameleon, they didnâ€™t know I could open my voice different ways. This is something that I always knew I could but I guess I never had the opportunity to show people.
Little did I know, at all I never realized that this album would actually sort of show that side of me, but I think people are having a different impression of me or a bit now where they’re actually understanding that Iâ€™m a pretty full range singer and you know I probably do, I hate to say it but, anything, it’s been proven on this album.
NRR: Are there any new bands that you are into or like? what’s on your iPod right now?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well there are a lot of bands that are unheard of. There’s a lot of talent out there. There’s a lot of no talent, there are a lot of cookie-cutter bands as I call it, you know. Metal is the big thing now, all of a sudden there are hundreds of metal bands apeing each other, one or two will stick out, will come to the surface and actually be worth something.
There’s a band in Sweden that Iâ€™ve been following for a couple of years and they’re not new, called Skin Trade â€“ you should check them out. You have to be careful when you google it because Skin Trade was also a movie. Matti Alfonzetti in an amazing singer, these guys deserved stardom, real stardom, but just never got the credit they deserved and that happens a lot. Then there are other bands that are bullshit, really are huge, so I can’t figure that out. There is no accounting for taste or quality. Check them out, Skin Trade. â€œOne by Oneâ€œ and â€œAngelâ€ are really great songs.
NRR: With forty plus years of music and all these lifetime bands you had grown up with, do you have a couple of favorite songs?
Joe Lynn Turner: Letâ€™s put it this way, there are so many songs in my catalog, Iâ€™ve written thousands of songs â€“ there is no way I could ever satisfy any one crowd. You’re always going to get someone screaming for surrender, screaming for originals, just different things so itâ€™s really tough to make a setlist and I get hell for it all the time. You know why didnâ€™t you play “Endlessly” and so on. Now in Europe I played “Endlessly” for six weeks and the place goes crazy, but we didnâ€™t put it on the set list for the states because I figured this is my first time going around the states in a long time and I think we should be jam packed with a bunch of Rainbow and some Purple classics, one or two originals. We are actually doing a cover of Jimi Hendrix, which is my mentor. Iâ€™m a guitar player originally and still do, but when I got the gig with Blackmore there is no need for me to play guitar, you know.
The point is that I do love Jimi. In fact, I wrote a thesis for my university on Axis: Bold as Love. Back to songs and setlists, itâ€™s just difficult to satisfy everyone. Everyone has different favorites and some people walk away or a little disappointed you didn’t perform this or that but you know, you only have close to ninety minutes, if that so I hope itâ€™s working.
We haven’t been here a long time so we’re going to do some bulk of set with the Rainbow stuff and I think the bulk of the people really appreciate that because there’s a lot of people who never got to see Rainbow. Richie is really not doing any of my stuff really except for “Spotlight Kid” and I think they need to hear some of the stuff we did and we do it really well.
It was a shame that Richie didnâ€™t put the authentic lineup together. He did what he did, no sour grapes, definitely no hard feelings but I think a lot of the fans wanted the authentic line-up and a real reunion as opposed to what he is doing. Thatâ€™s why I feel itâ€™s even more important that I should bring these (songs) to the people because it really comes off well.
NRR: You mentioned your excitement about playing in the U.S. again, showcasing all this music; is there anything that you would like to leave or say to the fans?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well, speaking personally I just want thank everybody for the love and support all these years. I mean, I know there’s a lot of fans out there. Get off your couches and come and see us. I know they do it in Europe you know, so I’m used to that in Europe. Iâ€™m just hoping that the American fans can show them a thing or two.
Everybody’s been so kind, been so loyal to me everywhere. I get so many comments on my Facebook and everything else here on the stage, just wonderful and I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for all their love and support, you know, and loyalty all these years. I mean that but I’m serious, I’m one of these artists that actually means it, I don’t just say it.
Iâ€™m doing this for forty years and I can’t believe it, living the dream, and it’s only because of people out there who still want to hear the music and I thank them greatly for that.
NRR: That’s fantastic and that that’s a perfect way to close off our interview. Thank you so much for your time, we are looking forward to Saturday’s Cincinnati show.
Joe Lynn Turner: I appreciate the time, we all need each other, thatâ€™s the way I feel. You know what, life is a full circle and I suppose this is where we ended up, itâ€™s pretty fantastic and pretty magical.