Backstage Pass: Over the Rainbow with Joe Lynn Turner

That dynamic voice, so expressive and soulful, that graced classic material by Rainbow, Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen could only belong to one man: Joe Lynn Turner.

Mostly known for his work in the hard-rock arena, Turner started out with the eclectic late-’70s outfit Fandango, singing and playing guitar on the group’s four albums. After Fandango broke up, a call from a representative of legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore led to a stint with Rainbow that lasted from 1981-1984. 

His smoldering vocal treatments on such Rainbow smash hits as “Stone Cold,” “Street Of Dreams” and “I Surrender” left an enduring mark on the more melodic realms of heavy metal, and Turner, today, shows no signs of slowing down.

Belting out classic tracks like “Power” and “Jealous Lover,” Turner and his band deliver a hard-charging, electrifying performance that rocks as hard as any Rainbow show ever did on Turner’s first solo concert album, Live In Germany, recently released on Blistering Records via the Frontiers label. Coming off a life-altering trip to Iraq in the fall with Big Noize — a collection of veteran metal and hard-rock performers — to visit with and play for soldiers stationed there (see the World’s Forgotten Boy blog for more reaction from Turner on the trip), Turner turned his attention to a new Sunstorm album, expected to be released in 2009.

Then, not long after this interview was conducted, word came of a Rainbow reunion of sorts — with Blackmore’s son Jurgen filling in for his father on guitar, along with Turner, Greg Smith, Tony Carey and Bobby Rondinelli  — that goes by the name of Over The Rainbow. The group is now touring overseas.

About a year ago, you headlined the United Forces of Rock festival in Ludwigsburg, Germany, performing all of your hits with Deep Purple and Rainbow, plus some outtakes from your solo album, Second Hand Life. And tapes from the show ended up becoming the Live In Germany CD. When did it become apparent to you and your label, Frontiers, that they were good enough to make a live album?

Joe Lynn Turner: Well, I’ll be honest with you. We didn’t know we were being recorded. We had come from a tour in Spain and were pretty washed out to be honest with you. We were like, OK, we got one more gig in Germany, and it’s a great gig and all that stuff, but we’re going on so late, and the crowd is going to be so tired, because they’ve been there ever since like noon.

And we didn’t go on ’til like midnight, so that’s like 12 hours of nonstop bands and rock ’n’ roll and drinking beer and God knows what else. And we just went like, OK, so let’s just go on and give ’em a great show and do what we do, but we had no idea we were recorded until we got backstage, and we were toweling off. And I think it was Ted Poley from Danger Danger … he came down and just said, “Did you guys know they have this on hard drive?” And I went, “What?”

And then I started talking to guys from Frontiers and everybody, and they said, “Yeah, we want to make this a live album.” And we kind of all looked at each other and went, “Were we OK, you know? How did we play?” We felt good about it. 

Tell us about the band that performed with you.

JLT: This band has played together for a while. I think we had one rehearsal before we went overseas, you know, just to brush up on the endings and tighten up things, but we pretty much really got tight right throughout Spain by the t

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