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Fireworks Magazine

JOE LYNN TURNER
Interview by James Gaden

It was a cool thing to happen. It’s not every day your editor emails you and asks if you want to chat to a guy who’s voice you’ve adored since you came to appreciate music, and would be in your “top five rock stars of all time” list every time. Yes, the mighty Joe Lynn Turner, lead singer for Rainbow and Deep Purple and solo artist. So, phone number in hand, James Gaden dialled up fellow legend JLT and discussed the New Jersey native’s new album, the music business, philosophy, Robert De Niro, Queen, sex and kicking in Hilton doors.

How do you feel your new album, ‘The Usual Suspects’, stands up to your previous efforts?

Er, well, I’d answer it this way James, much better because everybody likes it! (laughs). Let’s put it this way, I’ve being getting absolutely great reviews on this record and I couldn’t be happier, so ... yeah, I mean I’ve had things before like “Yeah, we love it, we hate it, it’s just another record ...” but so far this one right across the board has been stupendous, amazing, all that kind of stuff. So how do I like it? Well, I always like them, I like the albums I make because I have a certain intention when I make them. I guess not everybody knows the intention, so when it gets out there they judge apparently it to whatever mood they’re in at the time. So how do I like this one? I think this one’s a bit more ... vocally I love this one because I had a lot more time to record the vocals. That made a big difference.

Ah, right. Well, I’m inclined to agree with you to be honest. I was very happy when I heard it. I’m a big fan of yours anyway, but the last two albums, ‘JLT’ and ‘Slam’ I thought were good, but they seemed like you were obliged to make hard rock records. This one, you have managed to - it’s still very rocky but it has your melodic choruses and the stuff you’re really good at, you’ve captured it really well.Fireworks #20

Thank you, that’s a nice compliment and just the sort of critique I need to hear. That was also the intention James, it was also to be a throwback to Rainbow’s melodic hard rock days and even Fandango. I hear it. You know about it so I guess you hear it. It’s just an authentic and genuine album I think you could call it. I did my vocals here at home and it was much more comfortable, I took my time with them a bit.

So how long did you spend on this one? I know with ‘Holy Man’ you blasted that one out in something like twenty odd days didn’t you?

There’s another thing, I think ‘Holy Man’ is still a good album ...

Oh, it’s very good, yeah.

... but I don’t think MTM pushed it enough. I had another journalist talk to me the other day and he said “Wow, ‘Holy Man’, that was another brilliant album - he agreed ‘Slam’ and ‘JLT’ were kinda like going through the motions. He loved ‘Holy Man’ and I did too. This one’s closer to ‘Holy Man’, it has some girls on it, a bit more colour, the songwriting etc. Anyway, I’m not going to weep about past events. This was done in about something like six weeks. Some guys spend months, years on it. I had about four to five more days on the vocals than I normally would. What used to happen, and I laugh about it, not because it’s funny but it’s sad. Everybody would record their bits, the guitars and the drums and stuff and then I’d have ten minutes to do ten vocals. They’d be like “Hey, you’re Joe Lynn Turner, you can sing it” and I thought “That’s not the way it goes” and get really pissed off. They’d say “Oh, your worst is somebody else's best” but that’s not what it’s about. Finally, I dug in and said I need more time on the vocals, I need to give the public a bit more of what I felt I need to give them. I think I rose to the occasion on this one, I feel impassioned about the vocals, sincere about them. A good friend of mine told me this was the first album in years that I’d sung really well on.

I think you sing well on most of your albums to be honest, but I know what you mean. There’s some extra stuff that you don’t normally do, there’s a lot of screams on here that you tended not to do for a while, not since Rainbow. A lot of high screams, so you’ve still got it ...

You know what? I don’t mean to interrupt you but.... I don’t usually do this but I was on melodicrock.com and I read a review of an older album and it said something like “Joe Lynn Turner sings best when he stays in his vocal range”. I kinda scratched my head and thought “What does he mean by that?” I realised I wasn’t doing what I can normally do, and people think I’ve lost it! So I thought I’ve gotta do something to show people I haven’t lost it and, and my wife said “don’t be a screamer, you’re a singer, like Paul Rodgers.” She loves that rich, sexy voice, but I have to rock, and I think my screams are appropriate. There are screams for screamings sake, but I think mine are appropriate. If you go through the tracks, I think when they appear they’re kinda cool. It just sort of rocks along. It’s rock and roll, it felt good, and that’s why I did it there. I checked the album before we mixed it and listened to it with my wife and I said I think they’re ok. She said “Now I’ve heard it, yes, they are appropriate.” See, my wife's a rocker. She knows me better than I know me, so what I’m saying is I’m not just listening to some tart you know? It’s like I value her opinion on how I’m viewed. She said it sounded very spontaneous, which it was.

Like having your own sounding board at home, before you release it to the public?

Absolutely, yeah. I think it’s a good thing to do. Bon Jovi had their ‘Pizza Parlour Jury...’

That’s right!

Yeah, it’s a wonderful exercise to see if people actually like you music. There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing illegal. I don’t make music for myself, I make music for people. People would say “Ah, yeah, why did you have to put fucking ballads on there?” and I’d say I like ballads! I’m a ballad singer, you know what I mean James?

Yeah, a lot of people actually associate you more with ballads than they do rock, which is a bit of an insult really. You’ve knocked out some awesome rock vocals in the past... I remember your ‘Back In Black’ from the AC/DC tribute. That was superb.

You see, that.... I can’t... I love you man! You know why? Because you’re actually getting it! What I’m trying to say is I can do that shit, if I want to... they have such a strange perception, the public, sometimes. They’re like “Yeah, he sings ballads but he can’t rock.” What do you mean I can’t rock? I think I have a great rock voice! I think I can do it all to be honest with you.

Well you proved that on your two ‘Undercover’ albums. You cover every base there. I think you’ve got a real nasty tone to your voice when you want to use it that not many rock singers have.

There you go! “Can you sing R&B?” Yeah, I can sing it. “Can you do funk?” Yeah. “Can you do blues?” Yeah. “Can you do the straight rock?” Yeah. “Can you do the screams?” Yeah. “Can you sing a ballad?” Yeah. “Can you sing Gillan songs but he can’t sing yours?” Yeah! I’m sorry, but that’s the way it went. Well let’s put it this way, Ian Gillan was a great influence, I’m not trying to pull him apart here, what I’m trying to say is I get so many interviews saying “Why won’t they do your songs but you’ll do theirs?” and sometimes I say I dunno, maybe they can’t do them.

That’s one of the things I noticed when I started listening to you in Rainbow. I’m only in my twenties so I came into this quite late. I heard Graham Bonnet sing for Rainbow first, then I came across Dio and then it was “Oh, they’ve got some American guy, let’s see what he’s like”. And I heard it and thought “Oh, that’s different” because you didn’t sound like Ronnie or Graham, you had your own style and it was really well suited to what Ritchie wanted. Then I jumped from ‘Difficult To Cure’ to 'Slaves and Masters’ and you had a lot more smokey-ness to you voice and I thought “Is this the same guy?”

Really?

Yeah, the way you switched it. On ‘Difficult To Cure’ you’re very clean cut in your vocal approach and in Deep Purple you had this raspyness ...

Gritty, yeah, more rough.

Right. Can you just switch that on and off or was it something you had to learn?

I can do it anytime I want. Yeah, I call it my ‘shit button’. I press it and I get shit out of my voice, like “Grrrrrr”. I love that, thanks for noticing! I can keep it clean and pointed, Ritchie loved that clean pointed Rainbow sound, and when we got in Purple he said “Get more gravely, do your bluesy voice, use the thickness of your voice”. He thought it suited Purple better and I thought great. Being a chameleon can be a disadvantage - I think it’s an advantage, but to the public it can be a disadvantage because they don’t get it. I mean, you get it don’t you?

I do, well, at least I like to think I do. Actually, I think your singing at the moment is the best it’s been. From 1990 onwards I think it’s been great. I mean, I like gravelly singers anyway and the way you sing at the moment, I really like it. It’s really to my taste.

Thanks. I’m trying to - if it’s a sweet song I try and sing it sweet, but if it’s a hard ass punchy thing, you take ‘Blood Money’... some of the screams, it’s like crazy shit up there you know! And it all came out spontaneous. Trying to put the hawk dives - that’s what I call my screams, hawk dives - it’s like a hawk coming out of the sky. It’s a none tone, I don’t know what you would call that! (laughs) It’s like “How the fuck does he do that?”, and I don’t really know!

There’s two songs together: ‘Jackknife’ which is like a souped up ‘Spotlight Kid’ and that’s followed by ‘Really Loved’ which is kind of a really bluesy ballad. I was really pleased actually. I know there’s always going to be a ballad on a Joe Lynn Turner album, because more often than not I would imagine the record company demands it ...

Yeah, they do ... let’s put it this way, I’ll give you a quick story. Before I got into Rainbow, there were no women coming to the concerts. You can check that out. Ritchie wanted a more commercial sound and a more integrated audience. He wanted somebody who could sing right, look right, do the whole thing. All of a sudden we had the girls coming, we had MTV pumping the hell out of it, so that all helped the image, but at the same time we’re reaching a wider audience. I can’t tell you the power of ballads. A lot of geezers are afraid to touch the sensitive side, for whatever reason. It’s a screwed up world James. I believe you’ve got to have as much sensitivity as you do strength. I believe sensitivity IS strength. If you’ve never seen a grown man cry, he’s got no compassion. I’ll cry at little puppies and babies and things. I am not afraid of my sensitive side. I see a lot of punters who are really trying to dismiss that and to me that’s a latent homosexualism boys! Something’s wrong there! You’ve gotta be strong AND sensitive, that’s a complete man. Without that, you’re only half a man. What I was saying about the girls, the birds were coming, they were loving it, they were bringing their boyfriends and they were all getting turned onto Rainbow because we had strength AND sensitivity. We had the songs, we had the performances, we had the guitar riffs, we had the playing - you name it. That’s a full bodied band. That’s where I wanna be. I don’t wanna be known as some screamer, some hate monger, some angry bastard. I wanna have strength and sensitivity. When ‘Tearing Out My Heart’ came out, Ritchie says to this day it still tugs at his heartstrings.

That one, and ‘Can’t Let You Go’ I would single out as well.

Oh, ‘Can’t Let You Go’! I did a couple of versions of it with the Brazen Abbot thing, in Bulgaria, and it’s on DVD now, but the whole audience was singing this song. Word for word and these are Bulgarians, they can’t hardly speak English! It was just - it brought a tear to my eye. I love ballads, so even if the record company would make sure ... er what was that word you used?

Obliged to have one on the CD?

Obliged, yeah, a nice way of saying “Look, we want a fucking ballad!” (laughs). But you know why? Because they say I do it better than everyone else! You can just as easily move the world with a ballad as you can a forceful rock song, maybe more. You move people’s hearts. That’s the whole deal. In ancient Roman times, there was a quote, and I’ll just paraphrase it, but it said something like “You can have the weapons, and the taxes and control the laws, but give me the music and I’ll control their hearts.” That’s the truth man, music can tame the savage beast. So, I like the ballads, the sensitive side, but I also like to rip it up. I think that helps my appeal to guys and girls. The girls love the sensitive side, but they love it when you give it to them hard and heavy. One chick journalist I talked to said “well that’s like making love isn’t it?” I asked her what she meant and she said “Sometimes it’s gotta be hard and sometimes it’s gotta be soft.”

(laughs)

She’s right! (laughs) Sometimes you gotta slam her head through the wall, sometimes you gotta be tender!

I’m never going to listen to your songs the same way again, you realise that don’t you!

She was dead on it though. It’s like a good fuck! Put that in the article - “Joe likens his music to good sex!” (laughs)

What inspired the title for the album? Was it because of the members of the band or did you have some other reason to call it ‘The Usual Suspects’?

We all called each other the usual suspects before the movie came out, kind of an inside joke. When the movie came out, it was one of my favourites. Kevin Spacey, a great actor, you know and I loved the subject matter of the whole thing. Then we really had licence to kill with it - everytime we came to do a record it’d be “Who do we call?” and the answer would be “The usual suspects”. So the usual suspects are playing on this album. It’s a labour of love doing an album, because for me integrity and quality are of the utmost importance and my friends never let me down. If I call them, if I had a problem, if I was in jail, they’d bail me out. these are my mates. So when you hang out with your mates, drinking beers and making music, the world is your oyster man. This is what it’s all about. Not going through political bullshit with strangers and producers, but having your mates around you in whatever business you’re in. If you’re the sole proprietor, you can have people YOU like and YOU want working not just for you, but WITH you. That’s success.

Definitely.

It’s not the money, it’s the success. Because then you’re happy doing what you’re doing. We did the vocals and stuff downstairs, I have a small studio here, so we did it here - not drums because you need a big room so we went to Beartracks which is where we did ‘Bent Out Of Shape’.

Oh, right!

Yeah, so we walk in, the old ghosts, the album cover is on the wall there. Beautiful studio in the woods. We spent about ten days there finishing the tracks and it was so great being in that vibe. a bit of Rainbow trivia for you there.

Thanks!

So we took the stuff back to my house and we’re listening to it and somebody says “So what are you going to call it?” I didn’t know, I had a few titles and everything and I usually pick a title that interests me, y’know. So my wife walks in and says “The usual suspects are here” so they said why didn’t I call it that? I said “It’s a movie, I can’t call it that” and they said “You’re Joe Lynn Turner, you can call it whatever the fuck you want!” (laughs) So the album is full of the usual suspects, all my friends, we had a great time doing it, so that’s what we called it.

I was going to ask you, because it doesn’t say on my promo copy, who did the writing this time? Did you write any on your own this time like on ‘JLT’ or was it all partnership work?

It was all partnership. I maybe have most of a song, but when somebody comes along and adds their two cents and it merits it, I always cut them in. That’s how I work, I don’t break it down into bits and pieces. If it’s three guys, a third each. Two guys, fifty per cent. I don’t quibble about who wrote what, more or less. That’s just pathetic to me.

It’s only fair anyway, because why would people want to work with you again if you’re that mercenary?

I know people who’s names I won’t mention, and I just recently worked with these people, they will count every word. They’re like “Well you didn’t write this, so I need one more per cent” I say why not say ten per cent and fuck it? I don’t know what school or background you come from but I was never brought up to be that way. For example, a short story about Rainbow. ‘Stone Cold’ - Roger Glover had the title because he came in and said his wife had left him stone cold. He was bawling one night and we were drinking heavy and his wife Judy had just upped and left him and it was a complete shock and a surprise. We were suffering together so to speak and he said ‘fuck, she left me stone cold”. So I went and wrote the song and gave him twelve per cent of it. He looked at me and said “What are you doing” and I told him he was the inspiration for the song. It’s only fair. You know what James? I don’t owe anybody. That’s the way I live my life. I can sleep at night. I’d rather give more than get.

Well, to be honest I think you get a lot of bad press because you are one of the most honest rock stars I’ve come across.

Yeah, I do get a lot of bad press but you know what? I don’t give a fuck. I was brought up right, I respect my dad, god rest his soul, he taught me to be a man, stand up, take no bullshit, don’t kiss anybody’s arse, just be myself and be honest, and I will come back to you. And I believe that James. So, there my philosophy. Regardless, it was all co-writes this time around. Some were written more by others, some were written more by me. It doesn’t really matter. the thing that’s important is we collaborate and the love and the friendship is what it’s all about. And I think this time, we nailed it. Everybody that’s heard the final mix is excited about it and we’re working on a release here in the states.

I’ve had different offers from different labels but there are personal reasons, and professional reasons why I won’t go to some of these labels. They’re just like the rest y’know, you’re just another number. But my friend Stuart Smith, guitarist from the Heaven and Earth project, he’s formed a label called Blackstar. He’s already re-released the first Heaven and Earth album with a couple of bonus tracks featuring me and Bobby Kimball from Toto. Bobby did a song called ‘Life On The Line’ I co-wrote with Bob Held and I.....

And you did ‘Still Got The Blues’ didn’t you?

Right! I love the Gary Moore thing, loved it all my life. So to make a long story short, he’s getting radio play, he’s getting press, they’ve got major financial backing, they’re buying listening stations at Tower and Virgin..... these are all the things you need to do James, if you wanna own a label.

Definitely.

So where am I going to get better treatment if they accept this album? They’re having a meeting and I should get notification this week. If they do take the record they want to put a couple of hundred grand behind it in publicity.

Quite right too!

And that’s a lot more money than what you’d get from these independent labels. So, again, friends come through. It goes to show, if you stay true to your heart and hang in there... Anyway, we’re very excited about the release. the feelers he’s put out have been very positive. Now I’m not saying we’re going to take America by storm because there’s no way, Clear Channel owns everything over here. They have short playlists and it’s all bullshit. The government here with Bush, it’s all bullshit. It’s a sign of the times. So we have to approach the markets and stations we can get played on, buy the listening stations and make sure the distribution is there so it’s in the racks so if people hear about it and know about it they can buy it. People are paying for imports constantly...

I do it myself.

Of course you do, and it’s unfair the way we’ve been treated with all this.

Well I’ve ordered the reissue of Heaven and Earth because I missed it the first time around but my friend did me a sampler of various tribute album tracks you’d done. When I heard the title track ‘Heaven And Earth’ I thought it was one of the best songs I’d heard you sing. It’s just such a good song, and so well delivered ... well, it’s a perfect song. I was very pleased that they re-released it, and with bonus tracks, that’s even better.

Absolutely. So Heaven and Earth is getting some airplay now, and ‘Still Got The Blues’ is getting played so I guess they’ll be ready for me when I get this one out. This album is extremely melodic, from soft rock like ‘Really Loved’ to the hard rocking stuff, I’ve got it all on this record, so it’s a radio programmers dream.

I can’t argue with that. So onto the next question. Glenn Hughes has just talked to our magazine and he says it looks like there won’t be any more Hughes/Turner Project. Is that the case, and if so are you happy about it, do you feel it’s run it’s course?

Well, my feeling is Glenn always puts the cart before the horse (laughs). Let me put it this way, and I smile when I say this because I love Glenn like a brother. We put out two great albums together and we’ve been friends for twenty years. HTP is on permanent vacation. Glenn’s got tons of projects he’s working on, he’s got the Iommi thing and his solo career and he wants to concentrate on that. It’s no surprise to me that this is the way it went down. It was an inevitable split, but at the same time I can tell you this - if the time comes, and usually it does, and there’s an opening when I have time, and he has time, and he needs the money, we’re going to be doing another HTP! (laughs)

(Laughs) I got you! Apart from the fact that you and Glenn are two of my favourite singers, and when you teamed up I thought it doesn’t get much better than this, it also meant I got to see you live for the first time ever because you came to the UK, something you haven’t done for quite some time. So I was really pleased about that and I was going to ask if there was any chance of a solo tour to promote ‘The Usual Suspects’, or is it a bit early to ask?

It’s too early for dates but I can tell you we’re working on it. And yes, we’ve got to do at least four or five dates in the UK. I’d be playing the same venues as HTP because, well, it’s the only venues we can play.

That’s right. Basically everybody who comes here plays the same five don’t they?

Yeah, where else? Unless you’re at a festival you’re relegated to JB’s in Dudley and that kind of thing. So I want to do Europe, I’d like to do a Russian tour in April. And I’m doing promotional work in Japan. I’ve never toured solo before. My first experience outside Purple and Rainbow was HTP. At least I had Glenn to lean on, what I mean by that is I didn’t need someone to lean on, but it was nice to do it in tandem with him. After the second tour though, I think I’ve got enough fans to try it. I mean, Glenn has been developing Europe solo for a long time, playing over and over again. For him it was nothing new, for me it was a big deal. Now, I’m set to get a hot shit band together, come over there and rip it up. And it’s an opportunity to play a lot of my solo stuff, which I didn’t before. We couldn’t - you saw us with HTP. We had to play the token Rainbow and Purple stuff, then our HTP stuff, before you know it, that’s two hours. So, hello? The first things to go were the solo tracks. On the first tour Glenn had two solo pieces and I had two, on the second tour they had to come out due to time. So now I can do all my favourite tracks.

There was a rumour that you might be doing a duet with Candice on the next Blackmore’s Night album. Is that true, a work in progress or what?

Well it’s not like the Rainbow reunion rumours, I’ll tell you that. Yeah, I spoke to Carole Stevens, her mom, had a chat, and we were talking on the phone and emailing each other, and the last I knew, they were still up for me doing a duet. The word came down to me like this, ‘We’ve always liked you Joe, you’ve always been a good guy and blah blah blah, not like the rest of them. I guess Ritchie is still put off by the rest of them. I was never “one of them”, I was always on Ritchies team. So the fin ally said yeah, it might be a good idea for me and Candice to do a duet. So whether or not I’m going to co-write it, I don’t know. But I’d be happy to do whatever, whatever they want me to do I’m there for them. I follow Blackmore’s Night. I have ‘Road To Mandalay’ in my car right now. Not that I love Renaissance stuff, but I was the guy who went with Ritchie to the castles in Germany and so on to follow this quartet - he was like a groupie! He loved the renaissance stuff. When I met Candice doing the Purple record, she was the one that asked me what’s Ritchie really like? I said renaissance and she asked if I meant the band Renaissance and I said “No, I mean straight ahead Renaissance music.” The band Renaissance, years ago, they were quite good but they weren’t true renaissance music. They were and they weren’t - they were a modern version of it. So I said renaissance and her eyes lit up and the next thing you know she and Ritchie go off and there’s Blackmore’s Night. So I think I’m responsible for that - not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

Well if that didn’t completely alienate Rainbow fans who didn’t like you I think that will finish it off!

(laughs)

When I heard you sing ‘Shadow Of The Tyburn Tree’ I could see that being a Blackmore’s Night track, so when I heard about the possible duet, I thought it could work.

Why not? Where there’s a will there’s a way.

She’s grown as a singer and I think you’d compliment her well.

Right. I think we’d be a big compliment and I think it would be newsworthy. It would be great for the media. And for the fans. The fans could get to settle down and go “Oh, ok....” To me it’s been long enough. Ritchie and I never had any problems. We had a great relationship and a great chemistry with the songwriting so it would be nice getting back with him as well.

What else is in the pipeline for you Joe?

Erm, I’ve got a couple of new things happening. First of all, I’ve just come back from Sweden about two weeks ago from the mixing, Nik’s mixing it now, the Brazen Abbot stuff that I did. It’s gonna be a killer album, we’ve also got Tony Harnell now in Brazen Abbot, from TNT, a great singer...

Is this the new album with the orchestra on it?

Yeah, that’s it! Nik’s back from Bulgaria where he conducted a thirty six piece orchestra and he says this album is just ridiculously huge. So I said “Nik, what are you doing, another opera?” and I think he just wanted some orchestration on this record. He felt that it would do well. Nik’s mad, and I mean that in a good way. He’s the mad professor!

His ‘Nostradamus’ project was just unbelievable.

Right, unbelievable. Oh, got news on that! Nik said he was in Sofia, Bulgaria, and he was talking to, ooh, I guess it was the Minister of the Arts, something like that, and he’s trying to work to get some funding so we can put on ‘Nostradamus’ in the theatre there. They’ve got a beautiful old theatre, with an orchestra, the full bit, sometime in July he’s working towards. I’ve yet to hear back from him on that but he thinks they were going to grant him some money. With their current administration, they always have some endowment for the arts. It would be fantastic, so if it works in Sofia I’m going to hook up with my connections in Moscow. It also connects with my next project called ‘Stargazer’, which is a rock opera about Gallileo. I’ve written it here with two fellows from New York, none famous guys, Alan Schwartz, guitars and producer, fabulous guitarist and producer, he’s played bit parts on my albums. Also Craig Hadcroft, who is the husband of Jane Rosenthal, who is the executive producer of Tribeca productions which is where you’re getting the ‘We Will Rock You’ Queen thing that’s going into theatres.

Wow. That’s what Robert De Niro’s involved in?

So now you get the picture. It’s this production company, who’s through De Niro and stuff, who’s doing ‘Stargazer’. We’ve actually got about two dozen great songs, somebody from Hollywood is writing the book right now, so I’ve got my hands in that project as well. So if ‘Nostradamus’ works out I might just throw them ‘Nostradamus’ and see if we can start putting these things together. The queen thing seems to work really well, so they’re looking forward to possibly developing these productions.

Just on a completely side note then, what were your thoughts on Queen and Paul Rodgers getting together?

(laughs) Well, I couldn’t believe it at first. I thought what, have they all gone completely crazy? But when I read about it in Rolling Stone or something, I thought now I get it. I get the understanding that, what it is really, and tell me if I’m wrong because you probably know more than me, is that he’s gonna do songs that suit his voice.

Yeah,

He could do ‘Tie Your Mother Down’, maybe ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, I could see Paul Rodgers actually interpreting these songs. I could see myself interpreting these songs. But when you start to get into Freddie territory.... I mean, is he going to do, like, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’? I doubt it!

Nah. Well, to be honest I’ve often being a bit of a critic of Paul Rodgers because although he’s totally unique, I didn’t rate him that high in terms of ability when you compare him to like Glenn, or Robert Plant. They have vast ranges but Paul Rodgers always stays in a range comfortable to him. I’m a big Queen fan anyway and when I heard about it I thought ‘Ooh, I don’t like the sound of this at all......” But then I heard him sing ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions’ and he did it really well. I was really surprised and I had to eat a lot of my own words. I’m going to see them in May so I’m hoping it will be a really good show.

Well I’ll tell you this - the pairing up alone is worth the price of the ticket. Individually they’d be worth a ticket, so I’m going, I have to see this. These guys, when they were jamming, in Vegas.... I forget where the hell I was. Where was I? Anyway, Glenn said Paul came to the opening of the Queen thing in Vegas. Glenn was there, obviously Roger and Brian, and Jeff Scott Soto was there, a whole bunch of people. So they jammed and I think they realised “Hey, we could still actually do some of these songs.” Those guys have got high voices too, so they can do some nice backgrounds. I’m sure they’ll rip it up with some Bad Company and some Free songs too. They get on, they’re mates, so why not?

I’ll flip it around then. If you were invited to team up with a band, who would it be?

Oh wow, that’s a tough question! First of all James, I always consider ego. I’ve been through enough of it. I have a healthy ego in my opinion but I think I can look at this business for what it is. A lot of it’s a sham, it’s bullshit, it really is. There’s no secret there. So I don’t wanna play with people who are unreasonable. I’ve done enough of that and in the later part of my life I don’t think I have to be sacrificed by that anymore. So who would it be? I don’t know. People who are spiritually in check, you know? Somebody asked me what my dream band was and I said “Dream band? Why do you think solo is so good?” My friend had a tour one time and he called it ‘No band no headache’ tour. (laughs) He went out acoustically because he was so fucking tired of the guitar player, and the drummer, and everybody screaming. So it was just him, a guitar and a road manager and he was happy. There’s a lot to be said for that. Let me say this - I would love to get back with Ritchie.

I really feel Ritchie is not an ego maniac. He can be difficult but that’s different to being an ego maniac. Difficult meaning he’s a perfectionist, he likes great songwriting, great performances. People call him all kinds of names because they couldn’t measure up. In my experience, that’s what Ritchie’s about and he’s difficult if you suck! He’s belligerent if you suck. Hence the bad reputation. I never had that problem with him - when he pushed me he pushed me in a great direction, he pushed me for my own good, he pushed me to grow. So I’d like to get together with Ritchie again because I think we have some unfinished business. I think we have another good album in us.

Well hopefully that will happen. It would be well worth seeing!

I won’t hold my breath James....

Yeah, but you just never know. Stranger things have happened.

So in answer to your question, I’d say Ritchie.

That’s fair enough. Well I really hope you end up touring over here soon because you were responsible for one of my favourite rock anecdotes of all time. When you came over and played Bradford with Glenn, HTP, that was where I met you briefly at the meet and greet...

Oh, ok...

And we were locked outside the Hilton with you and the guy wouldn’t let us in...

Oh, that was you?

It was me, yeah!

How fantastic was that?

It was great, so you just decided to let fly and boot the door. I thought that was fantastic (laughs)

You know what? That was.... oh man, I remember you guys. You and two friends?

Yeah! One was my brother and the other was David from Glenn’s website.

That’s right, David and Shirean! Oh, fantastic James. So listen, I think we actually remarked or laughed about it afterwards, because I said that was probably the only time I was going to get arrogant or egotistical. I just wanted to go to my room. I did not want to fuck around!

(laughs) It was great!

And there was that little guy behind there, a sort of Mr Bean character and I’m going “I have a key look, I live here!” (laughs)

It was really surreal for me because first of all I thought “Hey, I’m going to get to see Joe Lynn Turner live, I didn’t think that would happen.” TheN it was “Hey, I’m going to meet Joe Lynn Turner at the meet and greet” and then it was “Hey, I’m going to get to see Joe Lynn Turner attack the Hilton doorman!”

(laughs) Well he came out quick though didn’t he?

He did! I think he was worried you were going to wreck the joint. I went back there a while back to see another concert and I actually looked to see if your footprint was still on the door!

Oh, that’s funny, that is funny! But look, I have to tell you, I have to ... I - my shoes were rubber soled, I knew that. I wasn’t trying to put my foot THROUGH the door, I just tried to get his attention, and it worked!

Yeah, you succeeded a treat!

Yeah, and he came scuttling over there, and he opened the fucking door and we were let in. Then I went over to the desk, and I apologised. I said ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so rude. I normally aren’t, but you have to admit, I do have a key...I just wanna get in and, what do you think we are, a bunch of hooligans or something?” (laughs) But I was very, very nice to him. Just to clear that up.

It wasn’t a problem, it made my evening! It was the ultimate highlight. I ended up texting my friends saying “You’ll never guess what’s just happened to me! Guess who I was stood outside the hotel with!” It was great.

I know you must still be talking to David and all that, and I know they still have the HTP site up, and I think they’re terrific for keeping that alive. I can’t thank them enough for all the work and support they’ve given us, but that, that was a night to remember. I just wanted to hit the bed. I just wanted to lay the fuck down, and this guy wouldn’t let us in.

Anything you want to add Joe, or is that it?

I think we pretty much covered everything ... I appreciate you putting this out there to everyone. All I’d like to say is to the fans and friends, again, sincerely, thanks for the love and support. Those are the guys that make it all happen. The fans. We’re nothing without them.

Well you’re very welcome. It’s no hardship.

So, next time I’m with you, we’ll kick a few doors in!


© 2005 Fireworks Magazine



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