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Interview with Joe Lynn Turner

Hughes Turner Project, featuring rock legends Glenn Hughes & Joe Lynn Turner, did a European tour in spring 2004. In Gothenburg, Sweden late March I caught up with them and managed to squeeze in two separately interviews shortly before the evening’s concert. Welcome to this exclusive Joe Lynn Turner interview.

Paul: How has the tour being so far?

Joe: Long. But really good, all the shows been great. Halfway through we caught sick. I’m still just getting over it.

Paul & Joe backstage 2004 © Paul DeblondYeah, you had some problem in Czech Republic?

Had to cancel one of the dates in Czech, I blew my blood in Vienna it was a great show but I sang on top over my cold. Everybody was sick, everybody was down the whole bus. Glenn got it first and then he got a doctors shot which saved him and I got it in Pamplona, Spain.

I saw you in Copenhagen two days ago. You were excellent.

Thank you, thank you. I’m managing but it’s...I’m pissed off because I’m blowing my nose every five minutes. Anyway, it’s a long story; the tour has been great a bit long though.

Tell us about your involvement in the ‘Food That Rocks’ book. You have a recipe there.

(Glenn sings ‘Mama Miaaa’ with an opera voice and everybody starts to laugh).
Cindy [Coverdale] asked me if I cooked and I said yes I do. Since you’re Italian do you have any good Italian recipes? I said, I have a perfect sauce recipe. I wrote it down and it’s delicious and anyone can make it and she put it in the book.

Paul & Joe backstage 2004 © Paul DeblondMy father is Italian too.

Oh, there you go. So you know.

Do you speak Italian?

Mezza, mezza (meaning half good).

Bene, bene (meaning good). Do you go to Italy sometimes? Do you have relatives there?

Yes, In Roma and Napoli. My mother’s from Naples and my father’s from Rome. So, yeah I go. Before my father passed away...I sent them all CDs and it was really great and we had a good time.

How did Ritchie discover you in the first place?

Real quick, I was living in New York City after Fandango and I was trying to get a gig. I was playing guitar, singing background vocals, vocals of course or whatever. And I couldn’t get a gig because every time I went to an audition I was pretty much better than the front guy that they were running the contract for so I kept thinking. Why couldn’t I get this gig because I’m singing and playing in the back and I’m not taking anything away from the guy you know? So I thought, well I have to have my own thing. About three days after I’ve stated that I got a phone call and it was Barry who was Ritchie’s personal at the time and he asked me thousands of questions and I had no idea who this guy is and then he said, I’m sitting next to Ritchie Blackmore and I said you’re full of shit. And he put him on and he said (Joe does a British accent), “hello mate, I’m a fan of yours”. And I said, yeah right. Anyway, we talked and it really was him and he asked me to come out to an audition in Long Island. To make a long story short, I never left the studio I got there and started to sing the I Surrender song. They wiped out all of the backgrounds of Graham Bonnet. Next thing I know they had me at a hotel and I never went to New York, they bought me clothes and they just wanted to keep me there...make sure they found their singer. I had a writing bag and I started to write lyrics and that’s exactly what they wanted. They wanted the look, the sound, everything. So I got pretty lucky.

So did we, the fans.

Thank you, I appreciated that, nice of you to say, very Italian of you.

Which song did you jam during the audition? You mention I Surrender.

No, it wasn’t a jam. It was actually a recording studio. It was never a jam it was Roger Glover at the desk, Ritchie sitting there with his wife, Bruce Payne and Colin Hart. I was right on the studio right on the mic. It was no jam, we were recording tracks. I jammed with Purple.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondHow did you work out the live set? Did you want to sing Dio stuff, Bonnet stuff?

I sing anything, I don’t mind singing anything. Seems like the other singers don’t sing my stuff...but I can sing anything. I sing it all and I think it sounds good so. I try to put my own style to everything. I try to give them credit and then try to do my style

You recorded two albums with Rainbow in Copenhagen. Tell us something about that.

Yes! Fantastic, love Copenhagen... It was kind of our hub, almost a home the place Sweet Silence. Incredible experiences happened there, Street Of Dreams, me and Ritchie...you know we were deep into cultism and things like that. It was a lot of stuff going on...and we loved Copenhagen. We used it as a hub and flew in and out. We spent a lot of time there. I was only there the other day for one day and saw all my friends and it broke my heart to leave... because it was so much good times.

So you have to come back soon.

I would love to...can’t be a stranger for ten years anymore. I want to come back. I’ve been pulled away in many directions in the last 15 years a lot of them good. But I have to get back with what we’re doing now.

In Rainbow Ritchie used to do a lot of practical jokes.

Always, constantly.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondOn you too?

Oh, when I was the new guy, forget about it, I got it all. He did some very incredible stuff that I now do to other people. I learnt a lot.

You do to other people now?

Sure, you’re the new guy, you gonna get fucked. He did all kinds of stuff like...ahh everything. You know, I mean everything...I can’t even begin to tell you.

Did you ever get back at him?

A couple of times and he was very upset. Because he can give it but can’t take it, when I got hip to him doing things I would just change my room and be somewhere else and he thought I was doing something and nothing and I be like - Hey, I’m up here.

I believe you've recently been in contact with Ritchie?

Recently yes, the whole thing...you know. We got an email and we conversed about six or seven times...and the last time we talked about was a possibly...well actually the last was about an agent in United States for Blackmore’s Night but the one before that they wanted me to do a duet with Candice. But the other night I’ve heard that they've retracted that on the internet. I don’t know if you know anything about that.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondNo, I’m sorry I don’t.

OK, so we leave it at that. But I was asked and I think it would be fantastic.

Yeah, definitely. You’ve done a lot of session work with different artists Cher, Michael Bolton.

You name it, everybody.

Do you enjoy that?

I love it! It’s very...flattering you know that they would call me to do all this. So I really feel honoured. And secondly you learn so much from these people...good and bad, you know and rubbing elbows with these people has made me grow as a person, so I enjoy it. I also make a lot of television.

Radio jingles?

Radio, TV, I went to Hannover in Germany and did a McDonald’s.

When you do this session work, do you have your own input or do they tell you what to do?

Strangely enough, for example with Billy Joel he was asking for input. We sit at the piano and work it out, so what do you think of this...no let’s do this...let’s do that...and then we come up with something. Some cases the producers know pretty much what they want. But then again everybody is so talented in the circle that they respect you and give you room. So it’s pretty cool.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondHave you any favourite solo album? You have dome a lot of them.

Uhmm...Holy Man I think...I think JLT came out good. I just try to keep the integrity you know sometimes I miss the mark, sometimes I swim in circles. But I try keep the same style, the same approach. It’s just good songs...but they are all like little children to me...you love them all different but the same. I mean each one you’re working hard at you just don’t throw away. That would really be a question for the fans.

Rescue You was only released on CD in Japan. Will it get a worldwide release?

I don’t know...with Elektra Records is so passed it now you know. We tried to get the rights back and everything and it costs a couple of hundred thousand dollars and it’s just not worth it. They won’t put anything out unless it sells big money, today it’s all about greed and the bottom line is money and even though...you know I’d say quite a few fans would buy it it’s not worth it to them. So we still trying to do something but you know...I have maybe two or three copies on CD to put away. It sounds great it’s a great record. Still to this day it sounds like a great record. It’s like a time capsule you put it in a spaceship and play it a thousand years from now and it sounds good.

Apparently there is a bootleg out called Rescue Me.

Is it a live thing?

No, studio album I think. I haven’t heard it my self. Do you know what I mean?

I’m not really sure. Don’t know if I’ve heard that.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondSomeone emailed me, some songs are called Standing In The Fire Of Love; Time To Let Go; Together, Now Forever.

Oh yes, I know all those songs, there’re demos.

Will it ever come out officially?

You know, I was thinking of doing some of these songs on the next album, because there’re such good songs and they are very commercial, hooky you know Standing In The Fire Of Love (Joe sings the title). Together, Now Forever is a great commercial song sounds like Journey you know. Back in those days I was writing with Bon Jovi and everybody so it has that kind of feeling but I think it’s still good today.

(By now we can hear the crowd chanting so Joe asks Glenn, who’s been in and out of the room singing and preparing for the show, what time it is and it’s almost show time. So Joe asks if I have a final question)

How come there isn’t any Slaves And Masters song on this tour?

You know, I don’t know. There should be one.

Yeah, you used to do King Of Dreams.

(Joe asks Glenn; We use to do King Of Dreams in Japan right? Yeah, replies Glenn) We kind of missed it on this tour...we just didn’t use anything from that era. We kind of...you know keeping it to the 70s Purple and you know Rainbow. I don’t now if that’s working but it seems that some people like it.

I want to thank Sebastian Eder at MTM Music, Carl Swann, Lisa Walker and of course a special thanks to Joe Lynn Turner for his kindness and generosity. Since this interview took place 'Rescue You' has been re-released on CD by Wounded Bird Records. More info on Joe Lynn Turner can be found here and more info about HTP can be found here. You can’t stop rock ‘n’ roll...

© 2004 Paul Deblond

 


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