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In Words: Joe Lynn Turner

- Joe Lynn Turner - April 2007 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- Joe Lynn Turner - Oct. 2008 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Joe Lynn Turner promotion photo
© Renee Yarbrough

Joe Lynn Turner - October 2008 (by email)

Joe Lynn Turner is part of the music scene for many years and has released several solo albums beside the ones he did with bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple, Brazen Abbott or cooperations with Cem Köksal and Akira Kajiama. Now he presents his first solo live album, a good reason to talk - by email - and to get some more information about what's going on in the musical life of JLT!

How was it to play United Forces of Rock? To play in Germany again?

It was great to be a headliner in a festival. The German audience is always a great rock and roll crowd although the one thing I regret is that we had to go onstage so late. The audience was there all day and there was a lot of partying going on. I'd rather play a show like that earlier because the crowd is not worn out as much from the long day. But, it was a fun show.

It was a surprise that there is a live album of this show now. Have you thought about a live album before? Were the recordings just too good to be unreleased?

I have thought of doing a live album before but the players needed to be the right ones. This time I was fortunate that these quality musicians, who also happen to be my friends, were available. So, the timing was on our side.

It wasn't planned, so would you have picked other songs? And which ones?

The only thing I have heard is that some people wished there were a couple more songs from my solo days. I always thought the audience would want to hear more classics and less solo material so that is what we have been doing. However, lately I have had a lot of fans saying they want more solo songs in the setlist and we are incorporating them from now on.

With all the new technology will you record more of your shows in future? And probably make them available somehow?

You are right and that's very possible. But, the next time it would be nice to know we are being recorded… LOL! I think we should give this time to settle before even thinking about another live disc. Obviously the new setlist we are doing now would be great to have live down the road.

And have you thought about a DVD incl. stuff from all stages of your long career?

Yes, but like this live album, the timing has to be right. The right musicians have to be available, the right situation/venue and the right people need to be hired to record it. Then there is also the question of budget. To make the type of DVD I would like to make would cost a lot of money and whenever a business decision like that is made we have to make sure the investment is a wise one.

Now you do a few shows with Jimi Jamison and Orleans. What do you think about this package?

Orleans and Jimi are great friends and amazing musicians and singers. So, it's a blast (a lot of fun). It's also cool to do songs that I think are excellent classics that are not as hard rock or metal as I am sometimes known for.

This time you play only 3 shows in Germany - only in the North - and one in the Netherlands... Can we expect more shows of you in near future?

I hate to keep saying this but I am telling you the truth when I say it is all about timing. If the band members that I want to use are available and if the venues and situation with promoters is ideal, I am sure we can plan to have more shows in the future. I always enjoy coming to Germany.

With Big Noize you played at Sept. 11th in Iraq. Please tell us, was it your idea to go over? Or have you been invited? And what kind of experience was it?

It actually was something started and spearheaded by my manager, Mark Wexler. I had wanted to do a USO tour and they already had artists lined up so we found a way to go over through being booked by the Dept. of Defense here in the USA. It was a life changing experience that I will never forget and I hope to go back. The soldiers were a very appreciative audience and we were glad we could give them a break from their work in what is definitely a 'hellhole' there. I also want to say our Troops are doing great things in Iraq…they are on a re-building mission and helping the Iraqi people. In fact, several Iraqi people jumped over a fence to attend one of our shows. It was really great to communicate in the universal language of music.

You played Battlefields there for the first time, will this song be released somehow? As e-single? Or on a future release?

We hope to release it as a free download to soldiers via a military website. There is some talk about making it available on the Big Noize My Space page for streaming only. As for an official release, there would be some legal things we would need to work out plus we as Big noise would need to record a studio version. All of us are very busy so it's hard to tell when that will get done.

I heard that you played again a few shows with Cem Köksal... Will you work with him again? Perhaps not just live? Btw, it seems to be impossible to get a copy of the CD / DVD...

Last I knew he was involved in production on his girlfriend's album. She is a very talented Flamenco dancer and singer. So, for now there is nothing immediate in the works for Cem and I but I sure hope we can play and work together in the future.

Last summer you played at the Magic Circle Festival with Brazen Abbot. How was it to play with Brazen Abbot again? And will there be other shows?

Sure... I am hoping we will do another album at some point. It seems that I am enlisted as one of the permanent members of his roster... LOL... I have my 'usual suspects' as in musicians that I always use and work with off and on over the years and I would like to think I am one of Nik's 'usual suspects.' It's always great to play with a talent like Nik and Brazen Abbot. He is enormously gifted and an amazing composer / conductor / musician.

As far as I know, you joined Jeff Scott Soto for Since You Been Gone at a concert in South Bend last year. Was is recorded somehow? Or is this one of the moments the rest of the world will never see?

I am not sure but now you have piqued my interest...LOL! I will check into that.

You also did hook up for some shows with Graham Bonnet... Is there another cooperation on the way?

We have done 2 weeks in the summer in Finland the past 2 years and it's always a great time…the shows work out well. It's been a good pairing and hoping that will happen next summer.

You played in many countries through the years. Any place you haven't played and would like to go?

Places in Asia I have not played if the market was interested. I will go wherever there is an audience for my music... LOL! Thailand, Singapore, Bangkok and even Korea would be great!

You also worked with many different musicians, is there someone you haven't had the chance to work with yet?

There are some younger musicians I definitely would like to work with. Chad Kroger and Nickelback for example, Chris Daughtery, guys from Matchbox 20.

Even as you are just releasing the live album, are you already working on new songs? If so, can you tell us a bit about it? Or are you totally focused on the coming Sunstorm album?

I always am working on songs and have done a lot with a brilliant and very accomplished writer from Sweden, Chris Antblad. A lot of the songs I have been demo-ing are not what people might expect from me. Some are more alternative-pop and some even have a country-rock sound to them. I do not like being pigeonholed as a just 'a metal guy' - I can sing and write many genres of music.

Famous last words... Anything you want to add? A question I haven't asked?

I just want to say thank you to you and your staff for your support. Thanks to the fans for their loyalty. I love you all! Peace!

Looks like he will be busy and that there is a chance to catch him with one or the other band / project next year. If you haven't seen him live, you can get an idea about a JLT live show with the new live album. And check out his website about shows! Big Noize will play in May 2009 in England and it seems that Finland will see HTP next summer..

Claudia Ehrhardt


Joe Lynn Turner - April 4th 2007 (by phone)

With Second Hand Life New York singer Joe Lynn Turner presents his latest solo album. "The album is called Second Hand Life coz it presents the album best. But it's more a statement of myself at the time. I'm more mature. Blood Red Sky is the premier song on the album, but Second Hand Life has a deeper meaning and fits better" Turner explains. The cover shows some kind of symbol and not as so often a photo. "It stands for the mysteriously life. The cover should fit to the title and the story." Joe Lynn Turner told the graphic designer the story behind the song and was very satisfied with the way it turned out, coz it's somehow mysterious and symbolic. He continues: "It's just a great story behind from the old days with Jack Ponti and Bon Jovi. At that time Ponti was part of some commune and the name was Second Hand Life - in translation. He told me a lot about his experiences and it was really interesting. He later gave me the handbook he got from them and I read it. I was really impressed. In short: We are born into this life and we grow up with the ideas and plans of others... First it's our parents, later our friends and partners. And you be what others want you to be. It's this line of thinking. And the message came across... Be yourself! Instead of living a life to fulfil others expectations and instead of being unhappy. You do things only for money, to make your boss happy, to make your partner happy, but what about yourself? You aren't doing what you want to do and when you are honest to yourself you feel miserable. The message was do what you want to do... Do everything with heart and soul!" And it's true, we all are doing things to make others happy. We do jobs we don't like, coz we earn more money instead of doing what we love.
Lyrically Mr. Turner always told stories - about life in general. "Melodies are important. And you need inspiration. I like to write about feelings, about relationships. We are all the same and when you write about it, about your own life, it probably helps - yourself and the listener." Early this year another album with Joe Lynn Turner got released, but only in Turkey. It's a live album he recorded with Cem Köksal... "Cem contacted my management and sent his CD. He wanted to do a tour and asked me to sing. He seemed to be extremely nice when we talked - and it was only a handful of shows." And Turner took the chance and went to Turkey and did the shows. "The people in Turkey were great! We played a few shows at universities and there been 40,000 people at the shows. it was amazing! You know, I love Germany, but Turkey is great. The opportunity was there and I just did it." And this is documented - well, the atmosphere at the concerts - on a live CD and DVD called simply Live!!! "I had a great time in Istanbul and Blood Red Sky is inspired by this experience." As he told me he was at one of the days at a mosque and listened to the music there - and to the prayers. "Back at the hotel I thought about what I saw and heard. The Arabic scales are interesting and later the song developed fast out of the experience in Turkey." It's a kind of Romeo-and-Juliet-story, but placed into the Arabic world. "Turkey was very inspiring. Anatalya and Istanbul are great places. In Istanbul I stayed at a hotel at Baghdad Street and I looked over the Marmaris Sea. One day I went down there. It was warm and sunny - and I went swimming. There were dolphins - amazing. Later I went to a small restaurant at the Marmaris Sea they just got some fresh fish from a boat and the cook made something special for me! The Turkish are so friendly." And then the singer told me about what changed his life... "I had a life changing experience. I prayed to so many different types of God. And I thought why not talking to Allah!?! And while I was there one night I prayed to Allah. I had some difficult times and I did my prayers. And 2 days later I had the answer! Something happened." Joe Lynn Turner didn't get into details, but that's okay, coz even a legendary singer like him should have some privacy. "You have to believe into something out of yourself. There was a time in my life where I was an atheist and basically believed that we are the co-creators of our lives." This also influenced the lyrics on Blood Red Sky - and the chorus was written within 5 minutes. The Arabic scales sound kinda strange to a Western listener, but it's not that new... "Blackmore played Arabian scales and influenced many people. Reminiscences can be found in many ways. The Arabian scales are really amazing and here they give you a familiar feeling." Biggest surprise was probably that there is a song written by Richie Blackmore... Stroke Of Midnight gives you some Deep Purple-ish feeling... "It was sort of a break through. I was emailing Candice for In Your Eyes, asked her to sing this song. You know, it's a haunting, beautiful ballad and she wanted to do it, but had no time. So we agreed on doing something together next time. She told Richie about it and about working together next time and he emailed me! We started talking and he encouraged me to do Stroke Of Midnight. He said 'It's okay with me. But you know the Deep Purple guys, it's all about money, so be careful.'" The song was actually written for the follow-up of Slaves And Masters which never been recorded. At that time JLT was writing with Jim Peterik and Roger Glover some songs for Deep Purple, but Richie Blackmore added some riffs. He wanted to credit Roger Glover, but not Ian Paice and Jon Lord as they weren't involved in the song writing. "Ian and Jon were all about money which led into the break-up. I left the band, but I was carrying the band at that time and they needed someone to blame. And the sacrifice-goat was me. These guys are lazy and greedy which is a bad combination." But quite common in the rock biz. As everybody knows, when Blackmore left Deep Purple they first worked with Joe Satriani and later Steve Morse joined them. But that's history and these days JLT is working with different people and choose carefully the projects he's doing. But his fans are curious if he's still in touch with the Fandango guys... "Occasionally I talk to them and we talked about a re-union, but one is missing... Rick had died in October. But perhaps it happens... It's not about me... We have different lives, different concerns. I don't hold jealousy, but one has a grudge..." Looks like Fandango is history... But perhaps someone changes his mind... Something else the fans want to know is.... will he tour? "I can't tell you much. There is a festival near Stuttgart which I'll play in late September. I hope to do a tour, but I want to make a break-even. I have a band to pay. Business is going down, fans sit in front of the TV and don't go to concerts. I want to tour and I'll try to tour in 2008. I talked to Frontiers and to some bookers and they think in 2007 it won't make sense - too many tours. The package is important, too." And so this year there are only 3 shows of JLT in Europe - the United Forces Of Rock festival in Ludwigsburg and a few days before the festival he'll play shows in Spain (Barcelona and Madrid). So if you want to catch Mr. Turner and his band, that's your chance!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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