ROCK FEVER – An interview with Joe Lynn Turner
- by J. Nepper
- Posted on 23-07-2015
To be perfectly honest with you, I have been trying to come up with a cool introduction to this interview, for a while now, but every time I try I end up failing. Why is that? Well, for one thing it seems kind of futile to introduce vocalist Joe Lynn Turner to the awesome readers of Eternal Terror Live as the man is a legend. I dare say that a great deal of you good folks out there are already familiar with his work, be it with Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen, the Hughes/Turner Project, or perhaps one of his solo albums. Simply put, the man’s discography is awe-inspiring, and he is still out there touring and recording constantly. Interviewing him was most certainly an honor for me and something that I will always treasure. Now, let us proceed to the actual interview, shall we?
Joe, I want to start this off by saying thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Much appreciated. You have been rocking and performing for nearly 40 years now and are as active and productive as ever. From Fandango to Rainbow and further on to Yngwie Malmsteen and Deep Purple. And let us not forget Sunstorm, Rated X, The Jan Holberg Project, and the Hughes Turner Project. The Joe Lynn Turner discography is very impressive, to say the least. What keeps you going after all these years? What keeps you motivated?
The fans and all the support I get from around the world! Music is my passion and the fact that I can earn a living by doing something I love this much is something I will always be grateful for.
One of the most memorable and fun shows I have ever attended was the Over the Rainbow gig in Malmø (Sweden) back in October 2009. The house was packed and everybody was so into it, and you guys just ROCKED! Do you recall that gig? Do you ever miss performing with Over the Rainbow? I thought you guys were awesome, and given that I was born in 1984 and missed out on all those early Rainbow tours that gig in Sweden in 2009 was like a dream come true for me. That was the closest to Rainbow I could possibly get, so for me it has a special place in my heart.
Yes, I do remember that show. The times spent in Over the Rainbow were fun and exciting. Thank you for your kind words. Glad you liked the show so much! We did hear from a lot of younger fans that this was the closest they have come to seeing Rainbow because they did not get a chance to see the band in the 70s and 80s. Glad we could fulfill that dream for so many fans.
One of the better live albums I have listened to is your "Live in Germany" release. The selection of songs is great and the band as a whole sounds tight and spot-on. Your vocals rule on that disc. How do you feel about that album?
"Live in Germany" was never a planned album. We were playing the Frontiers festival and they asked us if we wanted to record the set. The gear was sufficient being a mobile pro tools unit so we agreed. Later Frontiers wanted to release it as an album because it was a very tight performance. It stands up to this day.
Why did you decide to include Deep Purple’s "Burn" on the aforementioned album? Not that I don’t like it or anything – I love that song – but I was just curious as to how and why you decided to include that?
I sung "Burn" when on tour with Deep Purple. It’s a song that always gets the crowd pumped up so I have often included it in a set. So, it is really not an unusual choice for me.
When you were fronting Rainbow, how did you feel about performing the Dio-era material?
You can’t ignore that part of Rainbow history. The fans deserve to hear that music live and when I perform it now I consider it to be a tribute to Ronnie who was not only a great singer but a gentleman. I loved Ronnie!
Personally, I like all eras of Rainbow and I love the fact that they were slightly different to each other, but they all had that special "Rainbow" atmosphere to them and very strong melodies and so on. I like the variety of the Rainbow discography, if that makes sense. Were you into Rainbow and listening to it a lot before you joined the band?
I was familiar with Rainbow…but Deep Purple was the band I listened to when I was young. I had just left Fandango at the time and I was into some different music …Jazz…Soul…R&B…and exploring my guitar abilities. I got the call from Ritchie and went to audition …got the gig and the rest is history!
How do you look back on that time in your life, i.e. 1980-1984 while with Rainbow? It seems to me that you have always been very proud of the stuff that you accomplished with Rainbow, and you have kept a lot of those songs alive and visible over the years by means of performing them live. I mentioned Over the Rainbow earlier on as well as the "Live in Germany" album, which features mainly Rainbow material. I guess that what I am trying to say is that I am really thankful and grateful that you are performing those brilliant songs live. They are timeless classics in my opinion.
Thank you again for your love for this music. I do feel like the fans deserve to hear it performed. My time with Rainbow was a time when I truly knew I made it "big" as a singer/songwriter. When we played the Madison Square Garden it was really special because I am from a city in New Jersey that is very close to New York City. It was like a homecoming! Plus, I had seen some bands at the Garden and were inspired by them. To play that same venue fronting a great band like Rainbow is an experience I will never forget. The Budokan shows in Japan…also a huge highlight and as you probably know, those shows were recorded live and released on video.
Does Copenhagen hold any special memories for you given that you recorded a couple of Rainbow albums at Sweet Silence Studios? I was born and raised in Denmark and lived in Copenhagen for a few years, so I thought it would be interesting to hear what your thoughts on those recording sessions were like and whether you liked staying in Copenhagen with the band etc.
Yes…many special memories! We spent quite a bit of time there. I loved the city and the people. Nightlife was great. There was a club called On the Rox. Everybody went there when they were in town touring. Phil Lynott became a good friend. So many good times and great songs and recordings came out of Copenhagen. We all had a comfortable feeling there. Still love it to this day!
One of the most underrated albums of all time is "Slaves and Masters" by Deep Purple. That album is phenomenal and the songwriting is brilliant. It is extremely underrated in my opinion. My wife and I listen to it all the time and it kind of bugs us that the album is so overlooked. "King of Dreams" is one of the best songs ever written and tracks such as "The Cut Runs Deep" and "Fire in the Basement" are right up there with the best of them. It is simply a great album all the way through. It is the 25th anniversary of it this year. Would you ever consider performing that album in its entirety or something of that sort? I saw that it was re-released by Hear No Evil Recordings a couple of years ago, so I hope that more people will pick up on it now. Are you proud of that album?
Yes, very proud of the album. I have heard that it is one of Blackmore’s favorites. As for performing it in its entirety, sure…why not….it’s a great album! Some people didn’t get it at the time. They were more concerned with members than the actual music that came out. But as time went on it became more popular. Many fans come up to me and say it’s one of the best DP albums. Ritchie has said it in a magazine interview as well….very solid writing and performances!
You recently did an acoustic tour in the UK where the fans were treated to intimate shows. I read a couple of reviews that were quite glowing. Were you satisfied with how the whole thing turned out on a personal level? Any chance that you would ever do something like that again and cover the rest of Europe and having VIP packages and stuff like that? Was the idea of doing an acoustic tour something that you had been toying with for a long time?
Well…I caught a bad flu in Edinburgh and it got worse as I continued to tour and sing on it. The shows went well but not entirely to my liking. I had to cancel 2 shows and I never do that! I like playing acoustic. Had a great two shows in the Faroe Islands when I finally got well….intimate and up close with the people is always an exciting evening for me. We talk and exchange our thoughts.
I really dug the Rated X album that came out in 2014. That is a great slab of catchy and memorable hard rock music. Very solid all the way through, and the musicianship is excellent. The line-up is very impressive, to say the least. How did you guys come together and decide to form a band? Have you known each other for years? What about a full-blown tour at some point?
Frontiers Records wanted to put together a super-group to record an album of classic hard rock. They asked me about it first. We brought in bassist Tony Franklin and drummer Carmine Appice. On guitar, we enlisted my longtime friend, band mate and collaborator, Karl Cochran. Yes, I have known these guys and it was great writing and working with them. Thanks for the positive comments about the music. We have seen a lot of good reviews…most reviews have been positive and the fan reception has been excellent! As for a full-blown tour, major tours cost a lot of money and have to be done right. Plus, we have all been really busy with our solo projects as well. We are still hoping to play some major concerts and festivals if everyone’s schedule can be in sync. Karl is also still recovering from his stroke.
There is another band that you were involved in named Big Noize. That was just a touring band, right? There were never any talks of recording something together?
We did record a song called, "Battlefields" and we absolutely discussed recording more originals. But schedule conflicts made it difficult to pursue more of that. We toured Iraq and Kuwait to play for the Troops. That was truly a life changing experience.
When it comes to writing lyrics what inspires you? Everyday life? What about books and movies and so on?
All of those things! It’s always a variety and I am always writing. Ritchie used to ask me to "get out my black book" of lyric ideas when we were formulating a song. Writing is a constant process.
When you are at home and you just want to relax and kick back, what kind of music do you listen to? By the way, what are some of your all-time favorite albums?
I listen to all genres of music, it depends on my mood. Some of my favorite albums of the rock genre come from Jimi Hendrix, Free and of course, Deep Purple. There are too many all-time favorites to name.
Given that Eternal Terror Live is a Norwegian webzine, I just have to ask a couple of questions in relation to The Jan Holberg Project and Come Taste the Band (the excellent Norwegian Deep Purple tribute band). First of all, how did you become involved in The Jan Holberg Project and the "Street of Dreams" documentary? Unfortunately, I have not watched that yet, but I plan on doing that soon. You did the vocals on the album "Sense of Time", but are you a permanent member of the band?
Jan contacted me. I liked his material. He was great to work with both in the collaboration/recording process and on tour. I am not a permanent member of the band but we did several shows together. The documentary was something that came out of our relationship. The description of the documentary states that I was a childhood hero of Jan’s. I am very humbled by that.
Secondly, that single entitled "Tied Down" that Come Taste the Band and you released back in 2013 is truly excellent. Any chance that you would record more songs like that with those guys?
We actually have a song in the can …so to speak. But I haven’t heard anything from them in a long time. I have e-mailed and texted Jo Henning…but nothing. Hope all is well.
How do you like workïng with Norwegians and what are your thoughts on Norway? Do you like touring and visiting Norway?
I have many friends in Norway from many years ago and more recently, and I like the country as well. I always have a good time in Norway! The fans are very passionate and love the music! I hope to play a few more shows there in the near future….fingers crossed!
Once again, I want to thank you for doing this interview. It is truly an honor for me. Any final comments or words to the faithful readers of Eternal Terror Live?
I want to sincerely thank all of my fans for their support over the years! It keeps me young Keeps me going! I look forward to seeing them soon!