Thursday night in Glasgow and we, myself and Lara (Moshville photographer), meet up with Ross McEwen (guitarist) outside the Classic Grand, the venue for tonight’s gig. He walks us down to Joe’s hotel, where we waited for Joe in a corner of the restaurant area. I have to admit to feeling a bit starstruck when he first appeared. This is a guy I’ve listened to since my teenage years. For the occasion I’d crafted around 26 interview questions but unfortunately didn’t have the time to ask them all as our chat would possibly have been several hours long. Joe is the kind of guy I’d happily have talked to for hours though, he was very friendly, warm, open, funny, and a real pleasure to interview.
I initially wasn’t going to post the audio file as I thought there would be too much background noise but it came out sounding pretty good. It’s worth giving it a listen as Joe’s humour really comes across very well in it. The transcript of the audio is also included below.
Martin: Hi, it’s Martin from Moshville Times and I’m here in Glasgow with Joe Lynn Turner. How are you doing this evening?
Joe: A little jet lagged to be honest. I got in last night, in Perth, and a terrible flight, four hour delay, and then a six and a half hour flight so it was a little bit crazy.
Martin: Tonight’s show is entitled “An Unplugged Evening with Joe Lynn Turner”. Am I correct in saying that when you play in Europe you play with local musicians at each gig? Why do you do this and how do you come to select the musicians you play with?
Joe: There’s a lot of great talent out there and I know that I got a break, and I think that these guys all deserve a break, and when I say local talent it could be in any country in the world. They’ve got to be good. I mean they’ve got to be real good, but at the same time they know the songs, they play the songs, they love the songs, I mean why not play with them? What have I got to carry a bunch of guys from somewhere else to play the same thing that these guys can play and give them a break? I think it’s only fair because one thing I was always taught to do was to pass the torch and when good things happen to me I want good things to happen to others so I give everybody a chance and it works out really well.
Martin: Yeah it’s a great opportunity, great exposure for those musicians.
Joe: Yeah it is, it’s a great opportunity, great exposure for them. You know and we usually do repeat performances, which is good.
Martin: For someone coming along to the show tonight what can they expect? What material are you covering?
Joe: You know it’s an acoustic show, we’re going to do some of my favourite covers first of all, we’re going to do some Deep Purple, Rainbow stuff, you know “King of Dreams”, “Catch the Rainbow”, stuff like that, “Stone Cold”. So it’s going to be familiar to you. We’ll start trying to pick it up a little bit towards the end, you know because it as I said it’s acoustic for the most part. We’ll bring on a bass later and all that and try to just give everyone a good time. We’re not out here to, I wouldn’t say impress, we’re out here to have a good time.
Martin: Were there any songs that you would have liked to have played but they just didn’t lend themselves very well to the unplugged format?
Joe: There are a lot of songs that just, in my opinion, do not lend themselves to an unplugged format. I mean you know, people screaming for “Can’t let you go” and things like that. I’d have to try it. It would certainly be a different version so I would have to try something first but I’ve always wanted to maybe do it more of a ballad or something, I don’t know, but there’s certain things you need power chords and what have you.
Martin: You know kids when they sit in the back seat of a car and there like “Are we there yet, are we there yet”?
Joe: Oh yeah, I know.
Martin: I feel a wee bit like that asking this question cos I’m sure everyone asks you it, but the Rainbow Re-union? Is that still on the cards? Are we there yet?
Joe: Well let’s put it this way. Are we there yet..ha. I read Ritchie’s comment that he did in the Parisienne and he said you know, they asked him if Joe Lynn Turner would be involved and he says “Well no and he just doesn’t know yet”. Which is really a back stab. It’s pretty classless. All I can tell you is this, I laughed at it because it sounded completely confused, and he said it again, and I’ve read it again, friends of mine have given me interviews with him and I think he’s winding me up but even if he isn’t I think, you know, he said that “He doesn’t know it yet”. I think he’s making a mistake and he doesn’t know it yet to be perfectly honest. I have the emails, well I didn’t tape the phone conversations of course that’s ridiculous, but I have the emails between me and management for over a year and a half. I also have emails from a large German booking agency, that says, in German, and you can google the translation if you need to but I can understand German. It says “Joe Lynn Turner, Ritchie Blackmore the perfect pair together again, this and that, June 2016”. So that’s when I contacted management again, I was still over seas, and said “So Carol what’s up with this” you know and she said “Oh yeah they’re just looking into attendance figures” and so on and so forth, and I was like “Oh ok” and then I guess a few months later here Ritchie comes out with this statement so I don’t know what to make of it but I can prove that I’ve been in touch and that I had, a year and a half ago, multimillion dollar deals for this guy if he wanted them. Apparently they don’t want to hear about them which really baffles me because I don’t think its very good business and to come out without the Rainbow guys. I wanted, lets clarify something, I wanted an actual Rainbow re-union most of all. I wanted ex-members maybe Bob Daisley on bass, Bobby Rondinelli on drums, something. Everybody from a different era. Do Dio, do everybody’s era, do a real Rainbow re-union instead of some classless, you know, bunch, by the way he plays with a bunch of unknowns, he’s in a cover band. When I say that I mean Blackmore coming out to do Rainbow/Purple. If he wants to come out and do an acoustic and things he can put out anybody he wants. I mean he did that with Blackmore’s Night didn’t he, they’re all unknown.
Martin: Yeah it’d be great to see. I mean I missed Rainbow the first time around so for me it’d be great to see it.
Joe: I love the shirt (referring to my Rainbow Rising t-shirt – Martin). Yeah. Well look you know the only way to really go with this, for him to come out and be an icon again, what I mean by that is at least go down in flames, you know would be to come out and do something Rainbow oriented. To me I think that statement was a wind up so we’ll just let it ride because I am so busy, thank God, and it’s ok with me. Whatever Ritchie wants to do he can do but I think he’d be making a mistake if he didn’t do a Rainbow type re-union.
Martin: A lot of people want to see that.
Joe: Well I think that’s what it is. I hate to use the word ‘come out and look like a clown’ if you try and do it a really half assed way. You’ve got to do it a great way. He’s Ritchie Blackmore you know. I wanted nothing but the best for him. I want him to come out and shine one last time and then go away forever but apparently he’s got other ideas.
Martin: Ritchie has a reputation as being a bit of a practical joker. Did you experience any of that or did you ever find yourself on the receiving end of any of it?
Joe: Oh many times…ha. Oh yeah we all did. Before I was solidly in the band he does these jokes on you that welcome you to the band. It’s his way of saying..you know…
Martin: An initiation type thing.
Joe: An initiation, thank you, perfect word. We had the biggest initiation in Copenhagen Denmark, where they threw all my room out the window, literally you know the rock star stories. Everything went out the window except, it was at a 45 degree angle so the tv in those days didn’t fit, a flat screen would go out now but the tv was lodged there. I was left with the sun coming up sleeping on a box spring with no mattress. Funniest thing man, after they pulled the mattress, and I went “Hey I’m gonna need that”, they dragged it into the hallway and stupid me I grabbed it and they’re dragging me down the hall and I’m getting rug burn on my elbows and knees and I’m in my skiddies, it was like three or four in the morning so I let go and they put it in the elevator, pushed the button, and let it go down and that’s the last we saw of the mattress. So I don’t know what happened. The next day was the funniest part because the manager comes up to me and says “Mr Turner I need to speak to you for a moment” and I go “Oh here goes”. I’m hung-over and I didn’t really get any sleep as the whole room was torn apart and I wasn’t used to that. He knew that so he really got me good. He comes up to my room with me and I’m just like “Jeez here we go” and he goes “Oh this isn’t too bad, you should have seen Bob Marley’s room” and I went “Really”, he goes “Yeah it’ll take about a month to fix this”. I said “Jeez what ever happened to Bob Marley’s room then” and he says “Oh there was faeces all over the walls”. Don’t ask me why. So he hands me a letter, this guy looks like Faulty Towers John Cleese, and he says “Read that”. I open it up, really mysteriously, and it says “Welcome to the band, it’s all been paid for by Mr Blackmore”. So that’s the things he used to do.
Martin: Moving forward a bit in time. Your last studio album was the self titled album by Rated X. Which was a very cool album.
Joe: Thank you.
Martin: There are shades of Rainbow and Deep Purple in there but it also has a much more modern sound. Were you happy with how it turned out?
Joe: Exactly. We wanted to do a classic rock album but with a modern twist. I think we achieved that. I think it’s a brilliant album but the most disappointing thing really is that it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Joe: No. I mean people have bought it but the promoters still don’t understand who Rated X is. When we go “Well it’s Joe Lynn Turner, and Carmine (Appice), and Tony (Franklin) and all these guys” they just shake their heads and say “Well why don’t we just hire Joe?” and I go “that’s not all Rated X”. I mean it’s my project, my band but at the same time it didn’t catch on so I don’t really understand that. I don’t think we had enough promotion, I think they kinda dropped the ball on it, but it still stands as a brilliant album. I’m going to do some of those songs live when I do the rock stuff.
Martin: Can we expect another Rated X album in the future then?
Joe: Well Carmine was talking to me about it. We’re thinking about it because we have something. Some people thought it was going to revive the classic rock movement because it was so spot on the money and I was impressed with that. I said “I don’t know if we can go that far but I’ll tell you this, it’s a damn good album”.
Martin: You have a massive back catalogue but is there an album from your career that are you most proud of? Do you have a favourite?
Joe: Well yeah. I think Straight between the eyes was a great album. It was the first time I wrote all the songs with Ritchie, and Roger (Glover) chiming in of course. I think we had it soup to nuts on that album, I really do. It’s a great hard rock album. I love that album especially.
Martin: Are there any lyrical lines that you’re particularly proud of? Perhaps something which was deeply personal to yourself that you put out there.
Joe: “Street of Dreams”. The whole song. I had reoccurring dreams and, I was in Copenhagen actually, and I woke up and just wrote it and went back to bed, and when I woke up the next morning there it was and it was exactly what I believe in. There was a girl’s face that I kept seeing and that’s what the song is about. It’s about someone you knew before but very close. As strange as it sounds I ended up marrying this girl.
Lara: That’s incredible!
Ross: No way, no way!
Joe: This is an incredible story.
Ross: A lot of time between all that.
Joe: A lot of time. She’s half my age and from the other side of the world but at the same time it was unbelievable destiny and unbelievable fate. If I was to actually tell you a story it’s a movie script. In fact I have a guy writing the script as its one of the best, shall we say, love/intrigue stories ever. There’s angelic intervention there’s spiritual things going on. It’s incredible the story. You’d never believe it.
Martin: Finally do you have a message for all your fans out there?
Joe: What can I say but I love my fans. My fans are legion and they are so dedicated. I think I’ve got some of the smartest, intelligent, greatest fans because whenever they write, whenever they post, it’s not the trolls that I’m talking about, but you know my fans actually have wonderful things to say, not just about me but in general and I really respect them. I can’t thank them enough for the loyalty, the love, the support, all of these years, it’s just uncanny. I’m doing this now for over 40 years. It’s incredible. I just want to hug them all, put my arms around them, and say thank you all at once. I’m still here, still doing it because of you. So thank you so much.