Saturday, February 28, 2009

From The Street Of Dreams To Over The Rainbow : An Exclusive Interview With Joe Lynn Turner

Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, Joe Lynn Turner grew up with a deep appreciation of classic r&b music before being turned on to the harder edged sounds of blues based rock, exemplified by Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and Free in the late 1960's. After going through the usual route of high school garage bands, in 1976 the vocalist/guitarist first gained a taste of national success with Fandango, with whom he released four albums before the band disbanded after the release of 'Cadillac' in 1980. While the band's style of commercial AOR had not brought the band much chart success, it did attract the attention of legendary former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and after being called down for an audition, Blackmore was so impressed that he immediately enlisted Turner in Rainbow, replacing Graham Bonnet.

The band, originally fronted by Ronnie James Dio on its first trio of albums, had already begun a metamorphosis with Bonnet at the vocal helm from the neo classical-isms of the earlier offererings towards a slicker commercialized AOR style. A shift which found fruition on the first album with Turner on vocals, 'Difficult To Cure', which yielded the band's highest charting UK single, the Russ Ballard penned "I Surrender," which reached #3 on the singles charts in 1981.

But, as impressive a showing that may have been, even bigger success was lurking right around the corner, not only in the U.K, but throughout the world. A four track EP 'Jealous Lover', also from '81, reached #151 on Billboard's Album Charts, with the title track receiving substantial FM airplay in the United States, reaching #13 on Billboard's Rock Tracks. With the advent and rise of MTV the following year, the band's sixth album, 'Straight Between The Eyes' fueled by the single and video "Stone Cold" reached #30 on Billboard's Album Charts while the song reached #40 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart, and #1 on the Mainstream Rock Charts, remaining a classic rock radio staple to this day. The pinnacle commercially, but also arguably artistically speaking as well, the album is considered by many as being the strongest of the Turner years of the band. The follow up, 1983's 'Bent Out Of Shape' featuring the single "Street Of Dreams," came close to duplicating the former's success, hitting # 34 on Billboard's Album Charts. Soon however, the lure of millions offered to reunite the classic Mark II version of Deep Purple made it the last studio album released by Rainbow before Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover took part in the 1984 reformation.

After the break-up of Rainbow, in 1985 Turner released a solo album 'Rescue You', produced by Roy Thomas Baker, who is known for his work with Queen and The Cars. The first single,"Endlessly," received extensive airplay on radio and MTV. A tour with Pat Benatar and acting role in the movie, "Blue Deville" followed. After lending his vocal talents to an array of artists ranging from Billy Joel, Cher to Michael Bolton, in 1987 he joined Swedish guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen's band, Rising Force, co-writing and recording the band's most successful commercial offering 'Odyssey,' which in 1988 hit #40 on Billboard's Album Charts.

Once again, Ritchie Blackmore would enter Turner's life. By winter 1989, tensions between the guitarist and vocalist Ian Gillan had escalated to the point where Deep Purple found itself looking for another lead singer. After yet another audition, he found himself fronting the band which had been his major influence as a teen, soon recording the full length 'Slaves and Masters' which saw release in October 1990. The album's more mainstream approach, more aligned with Turner and Blackmore's work with 80's Rainbow than the classic 70's style of 'Machine Head,' did not attract big enough media attention and was practically lost in the US. Despite a single "King Of Dreams" reaching # 6 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Singles Chart, and a successful European tour, Turner found himself the odd man out once again when record company pressures led to Gillan being brought back for the band's 25th anniversary album 'The Battle Rages On' in 1993.

A subsequent disillusionment with the music business saw Turner taking an extended break largely to spend time with his family. The only high profile recording project was Mother's Army, which also included legendary drummer Carmine Appice, Night Ranger guitarist Jeff Watson and Ozzy Osbourne bassist Bob Daisley. In 1995, the vocalist released his second solo album, 'Nothing's Changed,' and in the next almost decade and a half has not slowed down a bit, releasing nine solo records, interspersed with appearances on releases by Leslie West, Stuart Smith's Heaven & Earth, Brazen Abbot, Michael Schenker, two critically acclaimed efforts with another Deep Purple expatriate, Glenn Hughes as the Hughes -Turner Project, Sunstorm, plus many more contributions to various tribute albums. Showing that at an age when many are beginning to take it easy and rest on their laurels, he subscribes to a work ethic that would be exhausting to an artist just starting out, let alone one whose first recorded output was released over three decades ago.

Early in 2009 it was announced that Turner would be joining with former members of the band with which he rose to fame, ex Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli, keyboardist Tony Carey, bassist Greg Smith and on guitar, the son of Ritchie Blackmore, Jürgen "J.R." Blackmore for a tour as Over The Rainbow. First scheduled as a series of dates in Russia, the project has been extended, with confirmed dates in Japan during late April/early May, with possible dates in the rest of Europe and the U.S.A. to come. Already a success, during the first three tour dates as Over The Rainbow, the newly formed band has already played to fanatic capacity crowds in Minsk, Belarus (4,000+), St. Petersburg, Russia (3,500+) Moscow (4,000+), showing the demand is high for such a venture.

Recently I had the opportunity to catch up with Turner at home prior to the Over The Rainbow dates in Russia, where the topics of discussion included the present and possible future of that project, recollections of his time in Rainbow, his latest recorded offering 'Live In Germany' ( the first live album released during his three decade plus career), plus much more. Read on as we have an exclusive, in depth conversation with one of rock's legendary voices, Joe Lynn Turner.
Click here for the exclusive interview

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...