Joe Lynn Turner visited Greece once more for an unplugged mini-tour where he was playing mostly covers, not only of his own material, but songs that influenced him since childhood as he said. In the interview he gave to Rockpages.gr bombed us with news and exclusives. He talked about the brand new Sunstorm video which was shot in Vikos canyon that you might have already watched on YouTube, his top secret at the moment collaboration with a Swedish producer as well as his plan to go on tour with “originals” only next year. Of course, he couldn’t help ourselves and not ask him about Ritchie Blackmore’s return to rock, about which didn’t hold anything back. Enjoy! Interview: Dimitris Kazantzis, Camera: Yiannis Dolas, Editing/Post Production: OnTheFly
Rockpages.gr: You’ve become quite familiar with the Greek audience lately, what do you say about that?
Joe Lynn Turner: Ahh, I was just telling the guy in the car I love Greece! First of all, I am Italian so… una fatsa una rasa as they say you know we have same face and race! We are very similar… Mediterranean and I always love coming to Greece. I love the people, I love the country… it’s so beautiful! The food is amazing and they still love music, and what I find more important than anything is that after all this economic terrorism and everything that the governments have been doing and the banks the Greek people still live life, they really enjoy themselves and they don’t care about that stuff so much… I mean they care of course, but it doesn’t affect their living and I think this is so strong of them. It’s wonderful about this people.
Rockpages.gr: You played in Greece in 1991 for the first time with Deep Purple, what changes do you see in the Greek audience between then and these days?
Joe Lynn Turner: I’ll tell you… they are still crazy! They are still great! One of the best rock audiences in the world you know. I’ve been to many many places through the years and somehow the Greek rock audience seems the same, or grows or something. It doesn’t die! When Gene Simmons said “rock is dead”… well it’s not dead in Greece! It’s all I can say!
Rockpages.gr: How come did you decide to do an unplugged tour?
Joe Lynn Turner: First of all, I love playing acoustic… I started off playing acoustic in small clubs and instead of bringing and touring with the whole band electric this time, I thought maybe it would be a great idea to just scale it down, make it easy and play with a couple of guitars, sometimes we have a piano and a cajón, things like that, but generally it’s three guitars and voices and it’s a very intimate situation and I like it a lot, because I get to play songs that influenced me as a kid. When I was growing up there were many many artists that influenced me. Tonight I will not only do Purple and Rainbow but I will do those songs that influenced me.
Rockpages.gr: Is there any chance to listen to any songs from your solo albums?
Joe Lynn Turner: Tonight? Hmm, I wonder if we do any… I don’t think so but, I’ll tell you this, I just did some live gigs in Scandinavia and we were doing “Endlessly” and things like that and I plan… here’s the big thing: I plan to change the whole program. After I get off touring this year I am changing the whole program. I am going all original. I am going all my stuff! I don’t even know if I’d play Rainbow. I don’t think so. But, people always want to hear “I Surrender”, they always wanna hear “Can’t Let You Go”, “Stone Cold”… you can’t get away from it. And I think it’s terrible when artists have a hit with their solo songs and they refuse to play them. They get tired of it. Of course we get tired of it, but you must play it for the fans! They are the important ones! So, I will definitely change the whole program to all original stuff. When I say “original” I mean anything that I’ve co-written, or wrote. So, it will be the “Rescue You” album, it will be Malmsteen stuff – although I do Malmsteen live-, just more Joe Lynn Turner than anything. I’d be getting a lot of requests and a lot of negative feedback sometimes from people saying: “oh, why don’t you do your own solo songs”. Okay! I’ve got more than 60 albums. It’s very difficult to choose…
Rockpages.gr: Sunstorm are about to release their new album “Edge Of Tomorrow”, can you tell us a few words about that?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well, let me tell you something very interesting… first of all, the new Sunstorm is called “Edge Of Tomorrow”. I never though we’ll do a fourth Sunstorm album. I thought we were going to do a trilogy. But, Serafino from Frontiers approached me to do one more, so I said okay… I am currently writing for another project of mine that is pretty secret and I can’t divulge too much about it now, with a very famous Swedish producer and it’s going to change my sound completely. Which is really interesting to me, because I think it’s time for me to be born again in a way and I have so much material, so I’ve been busy writing with this producer and recording some things. We are at the beginning stages… so, I said to Serafino that I have Alessandro Del Vecchio who is a great friend and producer for Frontiers, so I had Alessandro and the boys writing the songs, I said I will fix them as I always do, change a lyric here, add a melody here bla-bla-bla, and I have full control of the material. So, I chose all the songs personally and we through about a dozen away and we kept –I think- eleven. Now, we just did the first single video right here in Greece at Vikos canyon, which is the most beautiful thing, and it’s a spectacular video… I mean this is beyond these little videos that come out in our days. This is grand, this is huge! So, I am very proud that we did this right here in Greece!
Rockpages.gr: In 2009 you formed Over The Rainbow with other ex-Rainbow members, what happened to that?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well, bands are like bad marriages sometimes… and the eagles fly and people get full of themselves and everything happens and… the guys are great guys and also my friends, but it was getting out of control and I was getting very tired of the attitudes that I was hearing. I mean everybody is a full member and need to say this was my mistake of being a generous person. Because, then I couldn’t get control of them. But, everybody had a vote and the votes were getting crazy, so to make a long story sort I just said “look, I wanna drop out okay? You guys want the project? You can keep the project, you can get another singer, whatever, but no promoter will have it”, and they tried Dougie (White), they tried Graham (Bonnet), but nobody wanted to buy it, that says a lot for me.
Rockpages.gr: What is your opinion of what’s called Rainbow now, the new band that Ritchie Blackmore formed?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well, I’ve already come out to the press about it, saying that I don’t believe that this is Rainbow at all! I think that this is a Ritchie Blackmore band, but certainly not Rainbow… in fact, if anything there is three members of Blackmore’s Night. I think Dougie said it best to me, he said: “you know Joe, it’s not Rainbow unless they do an album and a tour”. And I said “I have to agree with you Dougie”. Because, that’s the truth you know… until you can write the songs, make some sense out of it all, do some great gigs, add to the name “Rainbow”… otherwise our legacy, whether it’s Ronnie, God bless him, or Graham, or myself, or even Dougie, comes down in stature. Because, then anybody can be in Rainbow like this. So, I don’t agree with it and I’ll answer probably another question of yours right now… I wanted to create an authentic Rainbow reunion. I was talking to Carol Stevens, the management, over a year and a few months – no kidding! Everyone called my delusional that I believed Ritchie would ever rock again. Everyone called me this, that… I got a lot of crap in the press. I am pretty sick of that by the way, because you are a bunch of idiots, if you don’t realize that! She didn’t want to go along with a multi-million dollar deal I’ve set up with UMG, Universal Music Group, if you don’t know what that is, Rockfuel media for an HD, 3D DVD, who just went to No.1 with the Axl Rose “Appetite For Democracy” DVD, so it’s great people, okay? We were going to have re-packaging of our box sets etc, and I was talking to Rick Franks over to Live Nation who wanted to put us on the biggest festivals. And to my surprise, to my shock… I found out he didn’t want to do it… Why? I will never know. I have my suspicions and I’ve read a lot of fans comments on their suspicions, and some of them I think are correct. But, I really don’t know why. It’s a shame. Because, I believe that the fans deserve it. I believe Rainbow deserves it. I wanted to do something like an extravaganza you know… sing Dio songs, Bonnet songs, everybody… Bob Daisley on bass… I talk to people… and they were all into it. It’s a shame really!
Rockpages.gr: What’s your favourite song, you ever wrote?
Joe Lynn Turner: Ever ever? Hahaha! It’s probably the same as Ritchie’s… because the song has such a deep meaning personally to me and I believe to him… “Street Of Dreams”. Because, this song was literally written in a dream. I wrote all the lyrics in a dream. I woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning and I wrote it down in Copenhagen, Denmark, went back to sleep, woke up at eleven, or twelve in the afternoon for the recording session and I read it word for word it was the same exact song as it is now. I showed it to Ritchie and he loved it. It’s about reincarnation, about knowing people before… very spiritual. He came up with a great track, I will give you credit for that one Ritchie! I remember even doing the solo, he came in to me and said: “your vocals are so good that I am having a hard time to finding a way to do the solo” and I opened up a couple of beers and I said: “just relax, get in there and play melody as you always do, you are fantastic with melody”. And he played one of the most memorable solos I’ve ever heard. So, I have to say that’s my favorite song. For a lot of reasons, personally and professionally.
Rockpages.gr: Which would you say was your greatest moments in your career?
Joe Lynn Turner: Well, I guess I am so fortunate to have joined Purple and Rainbow and I gave Malmsteen his biggest record and everything and I am very fortunate and I think about that everyday, but I think when Rainbow played Madison Square Garden in New York, ‘cause I am from New York, that was like coming home again, and that was like saying “you have arrived”. All of my friends and family, everyone was there, 25,000 people… we had a really good night that night. It was just that moment when you crossed over from local kid to actual world stage star.
Rockpages.gr: Can you please tell us a bit more about that “Street Of Dreams” on Cleopatra Records?
Joe Lynn Turner: Okay, so here we are touring for “Rescue You”, which was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, a huge producer… Foreigner, Journey, Cars, Queen you know, everyone! I’d still think to this day that it’s fantastic. And I put together a super band, in fact the band was basically the studio band… except from my good friend Barry Dunaway who is playing with .38 Special now, on bass. Barry came in live though and killed it. So, here we are on tour and I am not sure if we were opening for someone that night, because if we were they would sure have a hard time following us, because the crowd was mine! It was absolutely mine! Packed and just wild enthusiasm and the band played great. When you listen to this there is no overdubs at all… not vocally, not guitar… nothing! Cleopatra Records told me they were going to enhance certain things, but when I listened to the original at home you can’t enhance much! Everything is there! It was a live broadcast and whoever was doing it, I have to find out, I have to give him credit, he really mixed it well, and that’s what’s on the CD. And another good point of this is that Cleopatra Records approached me because they wanted to kind of honor the artist. A lot of people bootleg this type of things and they make money and all this. So, they said to me “look, Joe, it’s been out for years, it’s not like you’re going to make so much money, but we can make it legal, this is yours”. Cleopatra is into doing a series with all that. Many other artists are doing the same thing, so I am not the only one, so I think that this is a great idea and great effort that they are doing, because for us artists this is our legacy. So, I actually now legally own that particular recording. Check it out because I think it’s excellent!
Rockpages.gr: If you could turn back time would you like to take something out, or improve in your career?
Joe Lynn Turner: Aaahh, I think everybody has some regrets and would like to change things, but you really can’t change the world you know. And you can’t change what happened and what didn’t. My Electra deal was something disappointing, ‘cause I got a great solo album… in fact I have a release with Cleopatra right now, a 1985 release called “Street Of Dreams – Live at Paradise” and what happened was that I was supposed to have sequential albums, but I had an argument with the president and I told him to… go somewhere (he extends the middle finger, as you can see in the video)! Because, he was really arrogant and wanted me to do certain things that I just wouldn’t do artistically and I think I stuck by my guns and I am very proud that I didn’t fall under his bullshit! I am proud of myself to this day! I regret the time that I had to lose time, creativity time. But, I made it worth my while, so I have to say that maybe that was a difficult time, but you know… I sleep at night. I have my pride and I am doing very well, I have a great life. I am very fortunate.