A constant argument in the Classic Rock fan community is, “what constitutes a classic rock band reunion?”
When getting together for a series of summer concerts, how many members of the classic rock band line-up joining together makes it a compelling show worthy of purchasing tickets?
Does it have to be the whole band, like Blink-182 is rumored to be doing by getting Tom DeLonge to rejoin Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker? Will a partial return do, like Slash and Duff McKagan rejoining Axl Rose and Dizzy Reed in Guns ‘N Roses, while leaving out Izzy Stradlin, Steven Adler and Matt Sorum?
Or will having the band’s founder and main songwriter with a whole new crew, such as Ritchie Blackmore’s latest iteration of his band Rainbow, suffice?
American singer Joe Lynn Turner, who was Rainbow’s singer from 1980 to 1984, took aim at Blackmore’s most recent line-up for Rainbow, which includes Ronnie Romero, who recently sang for Bulgaria’s Intelligent Music Project at Eurovision 2022. And Romero himself fought back.
Although Intelligent Music Project’s entry “Intention” was the first entry released during the Eurovision 2022 season, the internally selected pick for Bulgaria could only reach 16th place out of 17 (Slovenia’s LPS came last) on Semi-Final 1 on May 10, 2022.
Joe Lynn Turner, who was Rainbow’s third vocalist after the legendary Ronnie James Dio and Graham Bonnet, performed on the albums “Difficult to Cure,” “Straight Between the Eyes,” and “Bent Out of Shape.” Guitarist, main songwriter and group founder Ritchie Blackmore shuttered the group in 1984, before a brief get-together with a whole new set of musicians in 1994, and then again with an entirely new set in 2015.
Turner played on “Difficult to Cure” with Don Airey, the keyboardist who also the conductor for Katrina and the Waves’s Eurovision 1997 winning “Love Shine a Light.”
The biggest hit of Turner’s tenure in Rainbow was “Stone Cold” from the “Straight Between the Eyes” album, which reached Number 40 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 on June 19, 1982.
Turner did reunite with Blackmore in 1990 on one of the many versions of Deep Purple, whose most famous hit is arguably 1973’s “Smoke on the Water,” a staple for every beginner guitar player.
Ever since Blackmore put together a new line-up under the Rainbow banner in 2015, Turner has been active in criticizing Blackmore and the venture.
In a recent interview with the “Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen And Shane McEachern” podcast to promote his new album “Belly of the Beast,” Turner was asked his thoughts on a potential reunion with Rainbow. Turner called the current incarnation – with Romero as its vocalist – a “cheap imitation” and that he had presented ideas to Blackmore for a reunion that more fans would care for.
Turner told the podcast, “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.”
Turner 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.”
Romero, however, did not take charges of being in “a cheap imitation” that is a “trainwreck” causing damage to the legacy of Rainbow lightly, and responded firmly.
In an Intagram post, Romero responded that he is “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.”
Defending his performance as both the live touring vocalist and main vocalist on Rainbow’s singles since 2015, including “Black Sheep of the Family” and “The Storm,” Romero dismisses Turner’s accusation that his and other new contributors to Rainbow have “damaged the legacy.”
Romero continued, “I’m pretty convinced I did my job well (same for Jens, Bob and David, wonderful musicians) as all the feedback, appreciated 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.”
Romero then admonished Turner to move on, 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 matters.”
Joe Lynn Turner then responded via a statement on Facebook to Romero, trying to explain his position. He started by stressing the high standards of excellence, integrity and quality that Ritchie Blackmore was famous for, and that he feels the post-2015 project betrays those standards.
Turner insisted that he was not referencing any particular individual of the new Rainbow with the “cheap imitation” dig, but then laid into Romero by stating, “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.”
Turner did, however, quote a Rainbow fan responding to Romero who agreed with Turner’s “cheap” assertion but that it was not Romero’s fault.
Turner quoted Petr Cjeka, who said “I do understand why you feel offended by JLT statement, however JLT statement was mainly directed towards Ritchie and his company (in terms of management and business decisions).
Please, don’t take this personally as actually wider discovery of you was probably the only worthy thing of whole “Rainbow” thing.”
Cjeka’s quote continued, “It’s not your fault – you did (exactly as you described it) your job – and Ritchie was your boss and he accepted it, it’s fine….. Ritchie did NOT do his job! Where was Ritchie´s quality standard and perfectionism? I attended Prague gig in 2018 – and it was actually Ritchie who was weak link of the band – his horrifying messed up solo in very slowed-down Burn was just nightmare…. So – as much as I dislike JLT due to his personality, in this case – he is correct if he states it was missed opportunity for doing great Rainbow farewell tour, because this was not great and you can even doubt if it was even Rainbow!”
Turner stresses that his statement is the last he’ll say on the matter. That’s probably for the best for now, though we will no doubt hear variations on this argument with other bands and musicians in the future, and other younger musicians having to defend themselves being roped into newer incarnations of classic bands (such as Junior Eurovision 2003 winner Dino Jelusick, who is also going a bang up job stepping into classic rock band line-ups such as Whitesnake).
As for how Romero performs Rainbow classics, here are a few examples, starting with “Since You Been Gone” from the Graham Bonnet era. The guitarist in the hat who looks like he’s dressed to enlist in Cromwell’s New Model Army is the legendary Blackmore.
What do #YOU think constitutes a band “reunion”? Do #YOU think all members should be original, most members should be original, or will the founder and main songwriter with an entirely new line-up do? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.