After the rebirth of Ritchie Blackmore'S Rainbow with "Stranger In Us All' delivered a very appealing work it was clear. that an interview with the great old master had to come here. Unfortunately he cancelled the fixed interview the day before without giving reasons. Rainbow is just a sure-fire success. Promotion is an unnecessary luxury. Dougie White sees it differently and jumped into the breach as a telephone replacement, although he can't explain the change in his boss mood either. "I didn't even know that there was an interview scheduled".
Allright! Then let's get to that new Rainbow singer the whole suddenly was catapulted between the great rock stars.
This evening we're playing in the Hammersmith Apollo that used to be called Hammersmith Odeon. The previous time I was here I sold Popcorn and hot dogs. So this is a really big change. I have had a lot of jobs at songwriters and publishers. Before that I was in a band called Midnight Blue, together with the guitarist Alex Dickson, who played in Gun and now in Bruce Dickinson's band.
At first there was an engagement with PC 69 from Karlsruhe before Ritchie Blackmore stepped in and picked up Dougie without further ado. How can that exactly about?
I had come over to Germany for five days, we've played together and made recordings. On the way back is the airport I said to them - and I remember this conversation very well - I would take a week or ten days time to speak with different people, for example with my girlfriend. I wanted to think about everything, before I made a commitment. Jan (Bayati, Manager of PC 69 - ed.) said to me. 'Well Dougie, for every day, when you do not call me to tell you want the job, I will take 100 Dollar of your weekly allowance.' I remember that exactly, and therefore I did not have made any commitment with Pink Cream 69.
When I came home there was a sticky note at my door. It said that Ritchie had called and wanted me to fly to America for auditions. So I was five days later in America. We have jammed a lot together and also played soccer little bit. He offered me the job and I took it. The first from Pink Cream 69, who then called me, was Kosta. I told him I was sorry to have to let them down now but if Ritchie Blackmore asks you if you want to join Rainbow, then you just do that. He got me then a very nice card written that congratulates me and wished me good luck.
When we were in Germany, I tried to call, but Jan now has another phone number. I then have send them passes for one of our concerts, but they did come to the backstage area, I don't know why either. I thought we might have something to drink together and have a little talk. I know, too. that they were there, someone saw them. It's sad, because I really get on with them, they are really nice guys."
How did Ritchie Blackmore discovered you?
When Joe Lynn Turner was in Deep Purple, my band Midnight Blue had just splitted up. I was pretty much at the bottom. I had no money and therefore couldn't afford to go and see their concert. But I have a friend who just started to work for BMG. I called him and he gave me a ticket and after show pass. I then recorded a tape, too it with me and gave it to Ritchie's tourmanager. I said: 'If he ever is looking for a singer, I would be happy if he would consider me.' When he now was in New York and looking for a singer, his girlfriend gave him the tape. She found it somewhere in a box and said: 'Look, this boy is British, let's listen!' They liked it and so everything came about.
So Blackmore was looking for a British singer?
The other guys are all American.
Our bassist Greg Smith has already played with Alice Cooper and Blue Öyster Cult, besides, he was in 'Wayne's World' (What a qualification! - ed). The drummer is the band is now Chuck Bürgi again. The reason is like this: we had two weeks of rehearsals for the tour, and Ritchie wanted to play a bit of soccer. John O'Reilly is an American, and if you play soccer with one of those, they always want to have the ball. Take the ball and run away with it. So we put him in goal. He then unhappy landed on the ball and has broken two ribs. And we only had five days left to rehearse. That was pretty hectic. So we called Chuck. He came straight away and has perfectly gelled.
The Americans and football, that is really a chapter of its own. How does it feel when you suddenly find yourself in the band of a guitar legend?
It's absolutely extraordinary. I often stand at the side of the stage and just watch him, what he's doing. That gives me a real kick and it's fun.
Clear case. Is Rainbow now a real band or Ritchie's solo project? The did the songwriting go?
We wrote all songs together. He's very open and he likes it to work with new people. There was a lot of enthusiasm with the songs, just like the tour now.
It was really amazing that he did not went working with one of his earlier bandmates. Chuck Bürgi also only joined after an accident.
I never spoke with him about that why he did it that way. But it seems he like to work with new people from time to time. You just have to look at how many people who were in his band and now have their own succesfull careers. Every single one of them. He just give the people a jump start and then they go on to do their own thing.
Was it a difficult legacy to follow singers like Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet or Joe Lynn Turner?
I grew up with the music of these guys. I try though to go my own way, but I have the greatest respect for the company which I am in now. I try a little to bring in a nostalgic element, but that's all already here and nobody comes and asks about these guys. Nobody shout at any other during the show. So we're obviously doing something right. Ofcourse you think about it first, if you really can do it, but I am a long time fan of this band and therefore know all the songs. Ritchie wanted to play 'All Night Long', but I couldn't sing it. It is very high and incredibly powerful. I just wasn't up to that. And there was from each singer a few things that sounded not convincing. So we picked the titles that were eligible for the concerts.
Aren't there extreme conditions now for you in comparison with before?
The bottom line is it is necessary to built up endurance. That is, like you train to run a marathon. One can sing very well for an hour and a half or two hours, when you before sang five or six days each week for six or seven hours. We also have breaks built in and after three shows we always have a day off. My voice becomes a little bit tired, but that has something to do with discipline. I do not smoke forty cigarettes a night or drink a bottle of Jack Daniels. I also do not stay up until six in the morning and scream my soul off. I smoke a maximum of three or four cigarettes and drink now and then maybe a small glass of Jack Daniels.
The audience got at the concert in Stuttgart three Purple songs as encore with 'Burn', 'Smoke On The Water' and 'Black Night', instead of some of the really classic Rainbow songs, such as 'Stargazer', 'A Light In The Black', 'Gates Of Babylon' or even 'Catch The Rainbow' - just to name a few. The singer should be able to do them because 'The Temple Of The King' also works well.
We already played 'Catch The Rainbow' once. I can't remember where. Just like 'Rainbow Eyes'. There are just gives a few songs of which Ritchie believes that should be in the set. It is RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW, and when he says something..... You know, I made me strong for 'Kill The King' but he did not wanna hear of it. He thinks that 'Spotlight Kid' is a better song to start with. That's it. But he was very receptive to play 'Burn", 'Perfect Strangers' and 'Temple Of The King' in the set. We wanted the main weight on the new disc anyway. We just wanted to sprinkle the old classics in it.
Unfortunately, it was mostly old Purple classics. And the last Purple tour is not so long ago, like the last Rainbow tour.
You really should ask Ritchie. Personally, I'm glad I'm in the band and play those old Purple songs. And my songs will also be played.
Clear case. Blackmore seemed to be in the final phase at Deep Purple not exactly been very motivated. It would have been obvious in that respect that he would left that alone. Anyway - with a theme from the Peer Gynt Suite von Grieg in 'Hall Of The Mountain King' we hear again classic music influences in the song material of Rainbow.
Ritchie plays that in Scandinavia for years as a solo. I like that very much and I have suggest working it into a new piece. I think we succeeded in doing that.
Yes. In his brief introduction to 'Long Live rock 'n' roll' Dougie gave his opinion about some of today's very popular genres of music...
I just find that today there's too much of rap, techno and house music. This will be after a while really annoying. And the corresponding groups are extremely often in the today press present. Lots of people have to me told not to join Rainbow because the music is so old fashioned. But I think that, no one who sees the band now, thinks they are old fashioned. It's an exciting show. We trying to do our part and show that rock 'n' roll is not completely gone, because record companies, radio stations and MTV tell what the people should listen to. This is so. If you have no choice, if you have never the chance to hear specified music too, if constantly the same things are played, easy only with another sample, then that will in the long run scarf and dull.
In England it seems so even worse than in Germany.
It's absolutely awful over here! I was shocked when I stayed here the last time and bought a magazine. It said Guns'N'Roses would have broken up. And that was only on page 5 on an eighth-page briefly mentioned. Before a half a year or a year G'N'R was the biggest band on this planet, they were all over the cover. Now all of the fashion inferences and that has never worked, that was it with punk in the seventies already. There is enough good rock music out there that I like.
Live and Offspring are great bands. Or British bands like Gun or The Almighty. You won't hear that anywhere, because the Radio DJ's are no longer allowed to choose their music. That's what computers do now. How are people supposed to find out which new albums have been released? It is different ofcourse, when it's about David Bowie or Prince. Or the Foo Fighters. If you don't have a big name, nobody cares about you.
Unfortunately, that is all too true. Many small, extremely talented bands fail by the lack of money and missing support while in the big stars a budget of millions for productions and promotions will be pumped. Or also that the CDs of the big stars like Michael J. or Phil C. in the cupboard which will even be sold at special prices while unknown bands are outrageous expensive. The solution is offered by ecology: less, but more consciously buying. Definitely also big names like Rainbow as long as they offer quality.
Whether it is a next album in the current line-up like we now have, Dougie White had no answer to that. Maybe that also plays no longer so important the part, because his independent career already got a boost since he is in this band.
© Bernd Haasis, Heavy Magazin, Germany - January 1996