Joe Lynn Turner, best known as singer in Rainbow, Deep Purple and for his solo albums expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.
Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer in a band?
I was a guitar player before I was a singer. I sang backup but was more interested in guitar. I actually started singing by accident. The singer in my local band got sick one night and couldn't finish the set so I stepped up to the mic and took over. The reaction was incredibly positive, so we fired the singer and the rest is history.
I was very influenced by R&B at an early age. Along with Elvis the soul groups were very big during that time period. Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, The Temptations and more, then I heard a guy named Paul Rodgers and that was it for me, an English white guy singing soul. Amazing!
Before Fandango, what were you doing?
Before Fandango I was in local bands. Ezra was a very popular band in the Tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. We played school dances, clubs and concerts. We opened for Black Sabbath for 2 nights at a local movie theatre. What an experience that was!
You have appeared on a number of albums over the years. Do you have a favourite period or album and why?
There are too many album projects to mention but many memorable moments from all of them. There was a time period when I was the ‘Hot’ session background singer, and I sang on some amazing projects. Artists like Cher, Daryl Hall, Jimmy Barnes, Billy Joel, Mick Jones, Bonnie Tyler, Michael Bolton and much more.
It was an incredible learning experience and of course a lot of good times.
Apart from Rainbow, Deep Purple and perhaps Sunstorm, have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any other notable bands?
I auditioned for Foreigner when Gramm left the band and I actually got the job, but it didn’t last long because I had a major disagreement with the manager, Bud Prager. We just did not see things the same, he was rude and aggressive, and I was not going to comply with his twisted sense of authority. The bass player Rick Wills called me and apologized and told me Lou was coming back in the band but said that Bad Company was looking for a singer and they mentioned me, and I should call them for a meeting audition.
I never got the chance because the next day I received a call from Deep Purple and was asked to come to rehearsals and jam with the band. The meeting went very well, and we started writing songs that day.
Is there any unreleased material from your days in some of the bands you’ve contributed to that could see the light of day?
I am positive there are demos out there that have not been officially released. I have quite a few in my library.
Some seem to surface every now and then and always surprise me. Bootlegs or whatever, but there's not much you can do about that. I have had some success getting copies, but you can forget about residuals. No one in that position will give you compensation and it is just too expensive to go to court over it anyway. Welcome to the music business!
You have contributed a plethora of great songs for many artists. Is this something you enjoy and do you have someone in mind when you’re writing?
I love writing for other artists. Writing is such a release and therapy for me. There is nothing like when you finish a great song and sit back and listen. So rewarding.
Sometimes that is a definite artist or project in mind when writing. Other times when you finish a song it depends on the style and genre of the song to see who it might be right for. I really enjoy the entire process as frustrating as it can be sometimes, but it’s always worth it!
Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip top shape all these years?
Singing comes from the heart and soul but the physical nature of it does take some care and consideration.
I credit my voice teacher for my longevity. He taught me a vocal technique that I still use today. I do have to watch dairy products because of congestion and drink plenty of water to hydrate and stay in relatively decent physical shape so the demands of live performance are met.
Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?
I love to sing live! It’s still a thrill for me. The stage is a medium that demands a certain energy that is like no other. The audience is essential in this interaction. If you have an energetic and excited audience, it fuels the performance to higher levels.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?
I have been extremely fortunate to work with some incredible artists during my career but of course I am always ready to collaborate with new blood.
There are some names, but I don’t like to wear my heart on my sleeve so to speak, so until it happens, I remain silent.
With the live circuit opening up again, is there a possibility that we could see you performing some live shows in the UK?
I am sure we are all hoping that the live circuit is opening up better than last year and I am making plans to do some touring in the spring and summer months.
Where and when has yet to be determined. The program will be from ‘Belly of the Beast’ for the most part and some selected heavier songs from my solo albums.
I already have some offers to do the JLT ‘old’ program and they must also be considered but my main focus is the new material. I hope to see everyone out there in good health and spirits!
Do you have anything else in the pipeline at the moment that you can share?
Right now we are working on a new song lyric video and a director's cut of Tortured Soul with all new footage. I am still in promo mode for the new album and doing lots of interviews and podcasts. Keeping busy!
Interview by Stuart Dryden