The following interview was made over the phone on October 31 1992 back when I had a Deep Purple club going in Sweden. It was published in DEEP PURPLE FOREVER issue 6 and later in SLICE (GLOBAL EDITION 2008 – the only magazine that I ever created in English). Fresh out of Deep Purple, Joe Lynn Turner was not a happy man at the time of this chat, but it is good fun to go back to it now 20 years later if you like history. MIKE
This split came as a huge surprise Joe. The last thing that I heard was that you were in Orlando, Florida, jamming on new material and trying out producers for the upcoming Deep Purple album. I didn´t expect this at all.
– You are not alone. At this point I don´t understand this myself. I don´t know why they fired me. We were recording in a studio in Woodstock when this happened.
So you were actually recording the followup to “Slaves And Masters”?
– Yes, we had been at it for a while and some of the songs were completed. I really wanted us to do the best album in a long time and I thought that we were getting there since some of the songs were so good. But to reach that goal you need to give everything that you´ve got and I´m sad to say that some of the guys in the band was very lazy. Jon Lord has not come up with an original idea in 10 years and that is just pathetic. It was a drag to get them to work, to get them to focus on the project. If I thought that an idea wasn´t up to scratch I would say so. I thought that I had the right to do that since I was after all a member of the band. Hell, I had done an album and a world tour with them. But it started to feel like an audition and that was just ridiculous. I think that the main problem in the studio was that they didn´t exactly know what they wanted to do. Ask the producer, Thom Panunzio, it was hell for him to keep it together. The last obstacle was that Ritchie said that he wanted to re-record everything. He said “The vocals sounds great but we need to get the band to sound better”. I opposed this and said “Look, it would be stupid to begin from scratch again, I think it sounds great and if we need to re-record something we can do that later”. I just wanted them to get on with it.
So Ritchie said that he was pleased with the vocals but not with the rest?
– That is what he said to me and this is one of the reasons why I have a hard time to understand this. The last time I saw Ritchie we spent an evening together just chatting about the band and the future. We sat there for 4 hours and he repeatedly said to me how glad he was that I was in the band. The next day I went home to meet my daughter and that is when the phone rang. It was our manager Bruce Payne and he told me that I was out. I couldn´t understand it but he didn´t give me any reasons. So I went back to Woodstock to pick up my things and by accident I runned into Roger Glover. I said “I hope that you know what you are doing because the only thing that can save you now is getting Ian Gillan back into the band again”.
Do you know when all this took place?
– This was around August 17 or 18. But that is what happened so I´m sure that you can understand that this is hard for me to get to terms with. And since Ritchie is the leader of the band, all the talk that Deep Purple is a democracy is pure bullshit, I have to assume that he was in on the decision. I think that he acted like a coward, letting the manager do it for him. If they felt that they had a problem with me in the studio, why not just say it, point out the problem. Maybe that could have helped. Now I can only assume what they were thinking. Maybe I was just too eager in the studio? I know that they didn´t like that very much. I presented a couple of songs to them that was written by a guy from Survivor. These songs sounded 100% Deep Purple. The others barely wanted to listen to it. I also believe that Roger Glover got annoyed at me, whether he wants to admit this or not now, for suggesting that the band should work with an outside producer. The band had not done this since the seventies. Bringing in Thom was partially my idea. I think that Roger may have felt that he was now reduced to just playing bass. But you know, to reach the kind of success that Aerosmith have now you need to be able to focus pretty hard on what you are doing. You need to see reality for what it is. Deep Purple didn´t want to do that. They seem to believe that they can record anything at all and the world will still fall to its knees and worship them. Those days are over. The world has changed and nobody wants to see that. Roger used to say “When we quit we are going to do it with a bang” but I don´t believe that they can anymore, I really don´t. We had an opportunity to build on the reputation with a strong second record but that didn´t happen.
What about the situation within the band? What did they talk about? Did they see the 25th anniversary as a possible last album and tour?
– No, that was not the thinking at all. It was just another record. I never heard them discussing to quit the band.
And you never heard Ritchie talk about a reunion of Rainbow?
– No, never. To start with, I really don´t think that Ritchie knows what he wants to do. If he wants to do Rainbow again he can forget about me, I can tell you that much. I´ve had enough of him. FY FAN (Joe swears in swedish!). He is not a very nice person. I have heard through a mutual friend that he actually likes me. So this person, who is upset about how badly this was handled, said “Why don´t you get Joe on the phone and tell him that you like him then?”, but I guess he just can´t bring himself to do that. I think it is disgusting and I don´t want to work with these people any more.
So if Ian Gillan says no and they call you back…
– Deep Purple can go to hell. They don´t know what the hell they are doing and I actually feel sorry for them more than anything. I´ve had enough.
What have you heard about what they are up to since then?
– Originally, I heard that they wanted to get Ian Gillan back again. I find that hard to believe, I don´t think that he would be very interested in getting back with them. If he did he would be a —– and that would surprise me. The last thing that I heard is that they have been rehearsing with an unknown from Connecticut, somebody a lot younger. That sounds so idiotic to me. I don´t know what they intend to do but I do know that the business people are very upset about the situation. I think the band is under a lot of pressure right now. But for their sake I hope that they get a good album out there and that the audience will like it, but I really can´t see much light at the end of the tunnel.
Tell me about the rehearsals for the “Slaves And Masters” tour. Were they open for suggestions to pick out classic stuff from the back catalouge that had not been played for a while, or was it like I suspect, that they just didn´t want to know?
– Sadly you are right on the money. I know that this must be painful for a guy like yourself, that have backed up the band so much, but the band is disconnected to the songs that they recorded in the seventies. They don´t remember it anymore and it´s too much like hard work to listen to it again, let alone to rehearse it. They don´t remember a lot of it anymore and they don´t want to rehearse any of it again. I wanted them to do “Pictures Of Home” but they couldn´t bother themselves to play it. I said “Come on, I was a big fan myself back then and I think I know what people would like to hear again”, but they just ignored my suggestions.
So they basically don´t like to work anymore?
– No, they lack the motivation. Nobody plays on their spare time for instance. Take Ian Paice, he is probably the guy in the band that is the easiest to get along with, and I like him, but he doesn´t enjoy to rehearse, to work. And with that attitude you really can´t compete with todays music scene. There are many great musicians out there. They think that they can rest on the legend, that everything will take care of itself. I don´t think that that is a healthy attitude to have. It´s removed from reality.
Did you record any of the shows for a possible live record?
– I think that we recorded a show in Singapore. But I really don´t know if this is ever going to be released.
What about any existing material that we may be unaware of? We know about “Fire Ice And Dynamite” and “Slow Down Sister”, and Jon Lord has mentioned a song called “A Very Fast One” that supposedly exists?
– “A Very Fast One”? I don´t know what that could be. It might be a fast one that we recorded that is called “Heart Like A Hurricane”.
Can you mention any titles from the final sessions?
– Yes, but I don´t know what is going to be used now. I actually don´t even care if they use any of my ideas or not. We had a blues song called “Bad Business”. I wrote the lyrics to that one with Roger. We had a song called “Put Your Money Were Your Mouth Is” that reminds me of “Burn”. It is possible that Deep Purple may use some of this stuff in the future, but I feel that I have the right to use it as well. We have to wait and see what will happen with this stuff.
I heard from photographer Michael Johansson that you spent some time with Yngwie Malmsteen earlier this week. Is it true that you are joining up with him again?
– I´ve tested the waters, helped him out with a few ideas. But I´ve not joined his band again and I don´t think that I will. He can be a little difficult. He is nicer than Ritchie, but…
Personally, I would rather see you finally make it on your own, with your own band. Something that you can control and take to were you want it to be. That´s what I would like to see.
– Thanks, that´s exactly what I would like to do next. I´ve done some work with a few famous musicians now and that´s were my heart is. I may be able to tell you more about this project next time you call me.
I want to tell you something now Joe. The Deep Purple club I have took a poll recently about your version of Deep Purple. This was done when you were working with them on the second album. I just want you to know that 89% of the members said that this version of the band should carry on for as long as you wanted it to.
– Wow! 89%! It would be nice if the band heard about that! That was really nice to hear. I mean, I know full well that we worked against the odds. I knew that we had to win a lot of people over into consider themselves fans again.
Exactly, and a bands reputation isn´t easy to cement. I have to admit to you Joe that I belonged to the sceptics when I originally heard that you had joined the band, but I had to accept the fact that “Slaves And Masters” is a very nice Deep Purple record. One of these records that invites itself to be played over and over. So I started to believe in the band again so I was really looking forward to the second album. I thought that you had established a new foundation for the band to grow from and my hope was that the second album could move the bands reputation another notch upwards on that scale. Therefore I am disappointed in their behaviour. But nobody can take what you did with Deep Purple away from you, you are part of the history now, and at least I hope that this will help you out in the future in a small way when you go out on your own.
– Thank you for those kind words, it is nice to hear a guy like yourself say so. I´m so disappointed in all this myself, that Ritchie could say “The vocals sounds good but we need to change the rest” one day only to fire the singer the next day. It is hard to see the logic in that. I was kind of hoping that I could shock them into wanting to work hard again but I couldn´t. You know, Mötley Crue and Tom Petty visited us in the studio. They are fans and they came up to me and said “You sound great Joe, but the band…”. That was my feeling as well so I really tried to inject some fire into it. Instead, the producer could hardly get anybody to join him in the studio when something was supposed to be done. My goal when we started was to make a better album than “Slaves And Masters”, I don´t really know what they wanted. I don´t think they knew.
Michael Eriksson (Copyrights)
(No part of this interview may be quoted without permission)
Photographer Michael Johansson took the cover shot of SLICE (GLOBAL EDITION 2008) – Ritchie Blackmore in Purple back in 1987.