Former RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE singer Joe Lynn Turner has once again slammed Ritchie Blackmore for the guitarist's decision to go out and perform classic DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW material with a new group of musicians instead of reforming RAINBOW with a more "authentic" lineup.
Blackmore stepped away from his Renaissance-inspired brand of music with BLACKMORE'S NIGHT for the first time in 2016 to perform a handful of shows with a brand-new lineup of the band he had formed after quitting DEEP PURPLE.
The current incarnation of RAINBOW includes singer Ronnie Romero, originally from Chile but now settled in Romania after living in Madrid, Spain for a number of years, as well as STRATOVARIUS keyboardist Jens Johansson, BLACKMORE'S NIGHT drummer David Keith, bassist Bob Nouveau (a.k.a. Robert "Bob" Curiano, ex-BLACKMORE'S NIGHT),and backing singers Candice Night and Lady Lynn.
Speaking to the "Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen And Shane McEachern" podcast, Turner — who fronted RAINBOW from 1980 until 1984 and was a member of PURPLE from 1989 until 1992 — said that he had been in talks with Blackmore for at least a year about a renewed collaboration before he found out from a French newspaper that Ritchie was returning to rock music but excluding Joe from the project.
Asked if he thinks it would be great for RAINBOW to stage a reunion of all the surviving members for a special show or festival appearances, the singer said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, man, I tried to do that already. Before Blackmore did the reunion — you know, that 'reunion'; call it what you want — we were in discussions about having everybody that was in RAINBOW together for an extravaganza. I mean, anybody who was still alive, and even paying tribute to [Ronnie James] Dio and everything, and trying to get 'em all in one place at one time, do a two-and-a-half-hour show at least, an authentic RAINBOW reunion. And it just got squashed down by his management and everything else. I mean, Live Nation showed up. I had a documentary, a 3D documentary, like the GUNS N' ROSES — same guy, Barry Summers, who did that; he's a good friend of mine — and it just fell on deaf ears. And that reunion became — I don't know what it was, really, because it really wasn't a reunion of anything. There was nobody in RAINBOW before who was there. It was BLACKMORE'S NIGHT, really, with a new singer. That was it."
He continued: "There's a lot of people that loved RAINBOW but they were too young to go to the concerts or they never saw them live, and this would have been the chance for those people — and I have a lot of people in my own family like this — that wanted to go see RAINBOW but really see RAINBOW. And that was not it. That was, in my opinion — I've already said it's a cheap imitation, a weak cheap imitation of… I don't know, man. I don't even know what to call it. It was a trainwreck for me. I think he damaged the legacy that way of RAINBOW. 'Cause RAINBOW was a fabulous band from start to finish."
Two and a half years ago, Turner told the "80's Glam Metalcast" that he had been "talking to [Ritchie's] so-called 'management,' 'cause it's his mother-in-law, for a good year. I've got all the e-mails to prove it. We were going back and forth talking about what the reunion of RAINBOW would be. And I wanted an authentic RAINBOW reunion; I wanted to get authentic players. I wanted the realRAINBOW — not just the RAINBOW I was in — but I wanted to bring up Doogie White and Graham Bonnet and I had Bob Daisley. Unfortunately, Jimmy Bain had passed and so on and so forth, but Don Airey… I wanted to make it sort of a RAINBOW extravaganza. There would be a core band, whether it was [Bobby] Rondinelli or [Chuck] Burgi on drums or Dave Rosenthal — I spoke to all of them. I was lining all this up."
He continued: "You may or may not know anything about the Blackmore camp, as we call it, but they're very guarded. And the mother-in-law — the story is I had a spy in that camp, and the story is that she was badmouthing me to Ritchie saying that I wanted to take full control of it all. And that couldn't be further from the truth. I was talking to Live Nation, which we had over a hundred and sixty dates promised, either headlining and/or special guests at all the big festivals. Our label, Universal, was gonna release not only an album but a four-song EP. I had Rock Fuel Media out of L.A., which was gonna do a 3D video of the whole thing. It was just gonna be gigantic and enormous — amazing. And she turned around and just dropped it like a hot potato — didn't even give me any reason why. And I found out in a newspaper called Le Parisien that I wasn't gonna be in the band. So I kind of laughed at it — simply because he said that I didn't know about it. But I said, 'Well, he's making a mistake, but he doesn't know about it.' And I know that's my opinion today."
Turner went on to criticize RAINBOW's current incarnation, saying "the RAINBOW [Ritchie] put together is nostalgic, but it is not RAINBOW. They never did an album, and all they do is these spot dates. And anybody who goes to see them, it's all over YouTube. And that's really all I've gotta say about it. If you ask me, he's cheating the public. And that wasn't my intention. So happily I go along. Ritchie is allowed to do whatever he wants to do, and so I am. And I don't need the hassle. So it's great."
According to Joe, had his idea for a RAINBOW reunion come to fruition, "it would have been unbelievable. And even people who haven't seen RAINBOW before — there's a lot of 'em that love the music and grew up on it — are still coming out and seeing RAINBOW, no matter what configuration he put together," he said. "If you look at 'Live Between The Eyes' or any of our live stuff compared to the stuff he's got on YouTube with this particular aggregation, there's no comparison. None. Our band rocked."
Joe sang on the RAINBOW 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.
Joe Lynn Turner photo credit: Agata Nigrovskaya