Joe Lynn Turner says that says that he has found a new sense of "freedom" following his decision to finally drop the hairpiece he has worn since the age of 14 after being diagnosed with alopecia at three years old.
The former RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE singer, who turned 71 in August, went public with his new look that same month in a series publicity images released to promote his latest solo album, "Belly Of The Beast". In a press release for the LP, Joe said that he started wearing the wig to deal with "emotional and psychological damage from cruel bullying in school."
In a new interview with WESU's syndicated "Noize In The Attic" show, Joe spoke about what it has been like finally ditching the wig after all these years. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "This is an autoimmune disease, alopecia. And what that means is that your body is shocked by something — it goes into a shock. And it closed down the follicles. Although my follicles are still alive, and I can grow hair if I wanted to take these drugs, but the side effects aren't worth it. And they think that was… Back then in the '50s — I was born in '51 — they were giving babies, and they're still doing it, which I'm totally against, is inoculating babies too early. Because the blood barrier in the brain is not formed. You have to wait to at least two years before your blood barrier in your brain is formed. Therefore whatever is [injected] doesn't go into your brain and shuts off different systems. So they feel that it was probably that that shocked my body. And I was treated several times by different doctors, with steroids and whatever, and hair came back and then it left, and it came back and then it left, and I just finally gave up and said, 'Whatever.' And I started wearing the hairpiece, the wigs, when I was about 12 to 14, because I wanted to do rock and roll, and at that point it was all about hair… I was being bullied as a kid, things like that, which is a really cruel type of situation — especially kids can be very cruel when you're young. I think it really helped me become stronger, more motivated, more disciplined to achieve higher ground. Because I would always wanna be the best at whatever it was I did, and in a way, the curse was a blessing. I guess it's [German philosopher] Nietzsche [who said] — what does not destroy me makes me stronger.
"So to make a long story short, I decided with the love of my family and the support of my family and friends, they said, 'Come on, man. Just update yourself.' And I said, 'Yeah, okay. You know what? I'm gonna do it.' And now this liberation, this freedom, gives me the freedom that when I'm singing old Joe Lynn Turner songs, I put the hair on… And when I do [songs from] 'Belly Of The Beast', I'm [without the wig].
Turner added: "This is show business… [Fellow legendary singer] Glenn [Hughes] wrote me, and he said, 'Everybody wears a costume.' And I said, 'It's Shakespeare. We're all actors on a stage.' KISS has been doing it for years — with makeup and wigs, no makeup and wigs. You've got bands like SLIPKNOT and GHOST and all of these configurations… So I never thought it was a big deal. But it's funny how a medical condition like this, which you have no control over, people, even as adults, they're still making fun of you. It says a lot more about them than it does me."
Joe previously discussed his decision to stop wearing a wig in public and for some of his live shows in a September 2022 interview with the "Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen And Shane McEachern" podcast. At the time he said: "It was an open secret. It wasn't like I was trying to fool people or ever denied it or anything. In fact, I never thought it was that important, but certain, shall we say haters, or whatever, these bigots, these bullies, they would always take a shot at me, which I always thought they were just pretty jealous, really, to be honest with you. And then it said more about them than it does me. That's not my kind of people. What about the music? That's what's important."
He continued: "I knew this was on my so-called bucket list before I was gonna leave this planet. And while we were making this record, I started to feel, 'Something has to happen.' And my partner, wife, co-manager — she's amazing — she just said, 'Now's the time, man.' And I said, 'You know, you're right.' Even though I was trepidatious about it — of course, she would know naturally I would be a little fearful, because you're putting your foot in an unknown territory — she said, 'You know what? Once you're yourself, people love you more.' And she was damn well right. Once you're yourself, people love you more, because you come out and say, 'This is me. I've got nothing to hide. I've got nothing to prove. Take your shots. Do what you've gotta do. And hey, by the way, here's the record. Now what?'"
Alopecia areata is a disease that happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss. Hair follicles are the structures in skin that form hair. While hair can be lost from any part of the body, alopecia areata usually affects the head and face. Hair typically falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter, but in some cases, hair loss is more extensive. Most people with the disease are healthy and have no other symptoms.
Alopecia became a topic of discussion in the mainstream media in March when actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony. Will's wife, the 50-year-old actress Jade Pinkett Smith, experienced hair loss due to alopecia and has always openly shared her struggle. The confrontation took place after Rock made a joke, calling Pinkett Smith "G.I. Jane" in reference to her bald head, which she has previously explained is due to alopecia. The shocking incident saw Will storm on stage to hit Chris following the offending comment before returning to his seat and yelling "keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth" shortly before he collected his best actor gong for his role in "King Richard".
A few hours after Joe first posted his new photos on social media, fellow ex-RAINBOW singer Graham Bonnet took to his Facebook page to share one of the images and he wrote in an accompanying message: "Hi all. Graham here. I'm posting this photo of my friend Joe Lynn Turner because I was moved to tears today when I saw it.
"Joe exemplifies the meaning of rockstar. His bravery is staggering. This industry is ruthless (especially in our genre),particularly when it comes to hair. I still hear the tale about Ritchie Blackmore posting a guard at my hotel door to keep me from getting a haircut. BTW, that never happened, although he was so pissed when I did visit the barber.
"But I digress...... I don't know if Joe will see this but I want him to know how proud I am of him and how moved I was at his honesty.
"You have blazed a trail today, Joe. If you are reading this, I want you to know that I never realized what a beautiful man you were until I saw this photo."
Joe was the singer of RAINBOW between 1980 and 1984 and he sang on the album "Difficult To Cure", which featured the band's most successful U.K. single, "I Surrender".
During Turner's time with RAINBOW, the band had its first USA chart success and recorded songs that helped define the melodic rock genre.
1990 saw Turner reunited with RAINBOW leader Ritchie Blackmore in a reformed DEEP PURPLE for the "Slaves And Masters" album.
Photo credit: Agata Nigrovskaya