JOE LYNN TURNER Says RITCHIE BLACKMORE 'Wasn't Playing Well' During RAINBOW's Latest Concerts: 'There Was No Fire'

April 23, 2023

Former RAINBOW singer Joe Lynn Turner has once defended his comments about Ritchie Blackmore's decision to go out and play the band's classic material with a new group of musicians, saying Ritchie "wasn't playing well" and "there was no fire" in RAINBOW's performances.

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 [Ritchie's wife) and Lady Lynn.

Asked in a new interview with Rolling Stone why he wasn't part of RAINBOW's latest reunion, Turner — who fronted RAINBOW from 1980 until 1984 and was a member of PURPLE from 1989 until 1992 — said: "I'll give you the short version of this. Months and months before, a friend of mine, Barry Summers, who did the GUNS N' ROSES 3D movie ['Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live At The Hard Rock Casino'] and all that stuff … He wanted to do the same thing with this RAINBOW reunion. I was getting phone calls from Carole [Stevens], Ritchie's manager. That's Candy's[Night] mother. What happened is that she convinced Ritchie I wanted half of everything, and I wanted all this and millions of dollars. I spoke to Rick Franks at Live Nation. He was the main guy back then. We had a conference call without four or five other agents. I was on the call with the agents first. All of a sudden, I heard, 'Hello, this is Rick Franks.' And then silence. It was like the king walked in. I didn't know who he was. He said, 'Joe, if you can get the nod from Blackmore, I'll put you out 164 dates a year. I'll get you the best slots on the festivals. I'll make you ‘special guest.' You name it. Blah blah blah. Because your idea of an extravaganza reunion is just perfect.'

"I wanted that reunion. I wanted a real reunion," Turner continued. "I wanted to call in [Nineties singer] Doogie White. I wanted to call in Graham Bonnet. Had [Ronnie James] Dio been alive, I would have called him in. I wanted all the ex-members to play a good two- or two-and-a-half-hour show. There's a lot of people, including my wife, who is half my age, have never seen us live. They love the records, but they never saw us live. I wanted to put something together like this. I had the go from Barry. I had the go from Rick. I was trying to convince Carole, but she's a control freak. Anyone will tell you that. And I heard from a very reliable source, an insider, a producer, exactly what she was telling him. She was telling him a bunch of lies. I got offered a wage. I went, 'A wage?' I told that to [bassist] Bob Daisley. I wanted to bring him in. He's a good friend of mine. Daisley went, 'I won't work for a wage.' I go, 'No. How could we work for a wage? We need a little percentage of this thing. Throw us a bone.'

"With that, she just nixed the whole thing," Joe added. "Candy apparently found this singer [Ronnie Romero] on YouTube, sold Ritchie on the ideas, and paid him peanuts. There was your replacement singer. Never wrote a song. And they called it RAINBOW. That's not fuckin' RAINBOW. That was a money grab. He would have made more money doing what I wanted with this production than he's ever made with her… He had BLACKMORE'S NIGHT as his band. I saw videos. There was no fire. There was nothing there. It was flat. It was pointless. He wasn't even playing well. And I came out in the press and accused him of destroying the legacy, which is true. I speak my mind."

Last September, after Turner called the latest RAINBOW lineup "a cheap" and "weak imitation" and referred to RAINBOW's post-2016 live performances as "a trainwreck", Romero took to his Instagram to share a concert photo of the most recent RAINBOW incarnation, and he included the following message: "There is so much power in our words when we are a 'public person', that we must be careful with what we say…

"I don't know and I don't care what's between The Main Man and some old ex members of the band, what happened or whatever. I'm just a normal guy who one day received the call from one of His idols to sing in the band He always dreamed of to sing… that's it. I'm pretty convinced I did my job well, (same for Jens, Bob and David, wonderful musicians) as all the feedback, appreciation and love I'm still getting in every place I go.

"I know as well you cannot be liked by everybody, but I will not tolerate to somebody to call my work 'cheap'… No Sir.

"Maybe for some guy is time to move on, as He did with other issues in His life, and to be careful to not to despise honest people who is here just working hard, as He does. At the end is all about Music, that's the only thing that counts and matter".

In response to Romero's post, Turner released a statement via his social media in which he said: "RAINBOW was an Iconic band. All the incarnations throughout the years were unique and exceptional, with one common thread that was running through it all - the highest standards of excellence, integrity and quality that Mr. Blackmore demanded from everyone and especially Himself. I learnt the most valuable lessons that I've carried forth in my own carrier and I will always be grateful to Ritchie for that. Mr. Blackmore set the bar very high for the level of creativity and performance for the whole Industry to follow, aspire and protect. He is a true Professional and Perfectionist.

"I've put blood, sweat and tears into my tenure with RAINBOW... And my opinion of the last 'incarnation' of RAINBOW is well deserved and has never changed. With or Without my personal participation, I believe that this 'reunion' could have and should have been treated with more concern and respect to the Iconic standards that Mr. Blackmore himself had established.

"A Legacy is historically about the significant achievements and accomplishments that should be preserved and treasured. For example, the re-release/re-recording of one of the biggest RAINBOW classics 'I Surrender' was a heartbreaking disappointment... And I think the reasons are more than apparent and obvious for everyone who's heard it...

"My recent interview statement never referenced any individual in particular, that was never my intention. And anyone who feels singled out is either paranoid and insecure about their own self-worth. As most of you have noticed recently, I have totally moved on and I am in the exact place and time that I want to be.

"So, I offer an important advice to those who are personally concerned with this issue - Try moving on yourself out of the shadows of those who perpetrated the originality and creativity necessary to achieve such status.

"Simply put, I believe the RAINBOW legacy deserved much better treatment and respect than it received and so did many loyal, supportive and dedicated fans who wished to see RAINBOW shine with it's brightest colors.

"This will be the last time I address this situation, as it is old, tired and completely irrelevant, being simply a product of the 'yellow press' looking for any dirt they can dig up or shine a spotlight on themselves for personal gain..."

Three years ago, Turner blasted RAINBOW's latest lineup in an interview with the "80's Glam Metalcast", 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

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