DON DOKKEN To Fans Criticizing His Vocal Performance: 'If I Can't Sing The Way They Remember Me, Then Just Don't Come To The Show'
September 26, 2023
In a new interview with Shawn Ratches of Laughingmonkeymusic, DOKKEN frontman Don Dokken spoke about the difficulties he has had preserving his voice as he gets older and the issues he has encountered trying to reproduce DOKKEN's classic material in a live setting. He said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I've had a lot of complaints. I see fans, when I go, 'The kiss of…' [in the song 'Kiss Of Death'] and I hit this B flat above A, this super soprano note, and I wouldn't hit it, and you see people go, 'Well, hey, you didn't hit the note.' I'm, like, 'Dude, I've done, like, three thousand concerts. It's like a motor car. It's getting worn out.'"
He continued: "When you're in your twenties, I don't know if we're gonna have another record or another hit or anything — I don't know. So here I am just singing up [in the high register]. I was trying to copy [Rob] Halford [JUDAS PRIEST], or all those bands and Klaus [Meine, SCORPIONS by singing] so high, but you go on the road for a year and a half and do four hundred shows and five albums and then you start — like me, I'm husky today just from talking to everybody. And that's just the way it is. And you get older. I'm 70, man. And some of these fans go… I've had people say, 'Don needs to give it up. He can't hit the high notes.' I'm, like, 'Let's see you hit those high notes 24-year-old. Go ahead. Go for it.'"
Don went on to say there would still be the naysayers even if he sang "perfect like [he] did in '83". He added: "My daughter used to go on our web site and we used to have an open forum. So anybody could say anything they wanted. And a guy called Acorn, who didn't even use his real name, and he made a comment when he goes, 'I went to five DOKKEN shows this summer and Don sucked.' And I went, 'Then why'd you come to five shows?' And my daughter would fire back. And we finally blocked him. And I said, 'Sweetie, you've gotta remember, this guy works at Subway and he makes tuna sandwiches all day, and he has this new thing called the Internet and he can go on and post whatever he wants,' 'cause I wasn't censoring, 'and that's their way of getting attention.' Then you get the people to say, 'Screw you' and 'I agree with you.'"
Don said that he plans to "keep going until it's not fun anymore", and he had a special message to those DOKKEN fans who are disappointed that he can't reproduce his vocal performance from four decades ago.
"If I can't sing the way they remember me, then just don't come to the show," he said. "I've got no problem with that."
Back in April 2022, ex-DOKKEN bassist Jeff Pilson addressed Don's vocal issues in interview with Tulsa Music Stream. He said: "Well, listen, to be fair, not all vocalists keep their range… You don't have a lot of Glenn Hugheses and Ronnie Dios out there in the world, whose voices seem to just never get affected. I can't sing like I could 35 years ago. So you've gotta keep that in mind.
"With that, I hope Don takes care of himself and I hope he can keep singing for as long as possible and I hope he has a little bit of a breakthrough," Jeff continued. "I know he's had a lot of health issues and he's had — it's just a lot of issues — so there's a reason why he's probably had some difficulties. But I wish him the best; I really do. I think he's just got a wonderful voice, and when it's working, it's a unique, magical voice. So I hope he has less problems in the future."
Don previously talked about his vocal issues in a 2020 interview with Antihero Magazine. At the time, he said: "Yes, it's been a problem. We get older, and our voices are not like they were when I was 27 or 30 or 35 or 40. When you get older, your voice is not as high as it used to be, so you lose your high notes. And I know every singer in this business, there's only a few singers that I know that when I see them live, I say, holy shit, they sound just as good as they did when they were 30, and now they're 70. Klaus Meine still sings amazing. He's got an amazing voice. He still sounds the same. So I guess it's a God thing. Maybe God just gives people a gift."
He continued: "You see Glenn Hughes go out and do DEEP PURPLE songs. And Glenn Hughes, he's . He sings amazing. Ronnie James Dio, to almost the end of his life, when he had cancer, he did a concert at Radio City Music Hall [with HEAVEN & HELL] and he was fighting cancer, and he still sounded amazing, just like he did forever. So I guess some people are blessed and some people are not.
"In my world, I have good days and I have bad days, and I don't want to put the blame on anybody," Don added. "But when you're flying on an airplane for five hours in a pressurized cabin, and then you go to a hotel and the air conditioning's on, and it's 100 degrees outside, and then you go in your room and it's 60 degrees, then you get back on a plane, your voice goes out."
After DOKKEN's last studio album, 2012's "Broken Bones", failed to meet his expectations commercially, Don publicly questioned whether the band should or would make another record. He was also ruthlessly criticized by fans after radiation treatments from a bout with stomach cancer and eventual vocal-cord surgery hurt his performances.
He told the Bradenton Herald that he took a year or so off after "Broken Bones" to regroup and reassess the band's place in the rock marketplace.
"I was getting so bad I had to say, 'Guys, I'm just destroying our brand. I suck,'" Dokken said. "I put on 40 pounds. I couldn't sing. I just didn't look good; I didn't feel good. I just had to get the radiation over with and rehab and come back."
Don underwent neck and spine surgery in November 2019, leaving him unable to play guitar.
DOKKEN will release its 13th studio album, "Heaven Comes Down", on October 27 via Silver Lining Music. The follow-up to "Broken Bones" was produced by Bill Palmer and Don Dokken and was mixed by Kevin Shirley (AEROSMITH, IRON MAIDEN).
BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).