Former RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE singer Joe Lynn Turner recently kicked off a six-date tour of Bulgaria with the the Bulgarian rock band AXAT. Dubbed “Rock & Roll Forever”, each stop on the trek sees Turner perform a set of RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE classics with the musicians from AXAT to close out the night.
Video of the September 12 concert in Varna, Bulgaria can be seen below (courtesy of the Marinela Stoykova YouTube channel).
Joe performed without his trademark wig live for the first time this past June at the Rock Orchestra Fest at Dinamo National Olympic Stadium in Minsk, the capital and the largest city of Belarus.
The singer, who turned 72 last month, said in 2022 that now was the right time to finally drop the hairpiece he has worn since the age of 14 after being diagnosed with alopecia at three years old.
Turner went public with his new look in August 2022 in a series publicity images released to promote his latest solo album, “Belly Of The Beast”. In a press release for the LP, Joe said that he started wearing the wig to deal with “emotional and psychological damage from cruel bullying in school.”
“In a way, it’s a blessing and a curse,” Joe admitted. “I have nothing to prove, and I can wear a wig — or not. I am free to do what I want. I’m a grown man, and I’m getting to be an older man.
“Many men in this business eventually come to the decision to continue to ‘wear hair’ or shave their head which is very fashionable today. Either way, it takes a lot of personal courage. Assholes in high school trying to kick me around made me stronger and gave me the necessary motivation and strength to rise above the rest. Anger and pain are a great tool. If applied correctly, it could develop you to become the best version of yourself. Instead of running away, I was ‘hiding in plain sight.'”
In a recent interview with Barbara Caserta of Italy’s Linea Rock, Joe spoke about what it has been like finally ditching the wig after all these years. He said: “Well, first of all, I don’t think I was ready. And with the love, support, understanding of my family and close friends, especially my wife, who thinks I’m much sexier without it, I just said, ‘You know, I’m 71 years old. I’m not trying to hide it from anyone. What the hell is the difference?’ So with the change, with the transformation of my music, I made a transformation physically. And I said, ‘Okay, here we go.’ It’s not a big deal to me — it never was.
“But also, I think the industry wasn’t ready. I think back then (in the 1980s), everything was about the hair and you had to fit in with the uniform. Everybody wears a uniform; everyone wears a costume in life.
“So I think now is the time. Just like a good wine, you can’t make the wine come before its time; it needs to ferment. And I needed to ferment. I needed to be more strong emotionally, more strong psychologically, more mature, and I think I’ve reached that point.
“And the upshot of that whole thing is, which is really unique, is that if I want to play a show like the old Joe Lynn Turner, I just put the hair back on. And if I play ‘Belly Of The Beast’, I take the hair off. Now, that is a costume. And you know what? Bands like KISS, bands like SLIPKNOT, GHOST, they have the makeup, they have the masks, they have the hair, they have everything. There’s no big deal with this. This is show business. So what’s the big deal?”
Turner previously discussed his decision to drop the wig in an interview in September 2022 with the “Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen And Shane McEachern” podcast. At the time, he said: “It’s absolutely liberating. First of all, I’ll give a little background. It was an open secret. It wasn’t like I was trying to fool people or ever denied it or anything. In fact, I never thought it was that important, but certain, shall we say haters, or whatever, these bigots, these bullies, they would always take a shot at me, which I always thought they were just pretty jealous, really, to be honest with you. And then it said more about them than it does me. That’s not my kind of people. What about the music? That’s what’s important.”
He continued: “I knew this was on my so-called bucket list before I was gonna leave this planet. And while we were making this record, I started to feel, ‘Something has to happen.’ And my partner, wife, co-manager — she’s amazing — she just said, ‘Now’s the time, man.’ And I said, ‘You know, you’re right.’ Even though I was trepidatious about it — of course, she would know naturally I would be a little fearful, because you’re putting your foot in an unknown territory — she said, ‘You know what? Once you’re yourself, people love you more.’ And she was damn well right. Once you’re yourself, people love you more, because you come out and say, ‘This is me. I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve got nothing to prove. Take your shots. Do what you’ve gotta do. And hey, by the way, here’s the record. Now what?'”
Alopecia areata is a disease that happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss. Hair follicles are the structures in skin that form hair. While hair can be lost from any part of the body, alopecia areata usually affects the head and face. Hair typically falls out in small, round patches about the size of a quarter, but in some cases, hair loss is more extensive. Most people with the disease are healthy and have no other symptoms.
Alopecia became a topic of discussion in the mainstream media in March 2022 when actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony. Will‘s wife, the 50-year-old actress Jade Pinkett Smith, experienced hair loss due to alopecia and has always openly shared her struggle. The confrontation took place after Rock made a joke, calling Pinkett Smith “G.I. Jane” in reference to her bald head, which she has previously explained is due to alopecia. The shocking incident saw Will storm on stage to hit Chris following the offending comment before returning to his seat and yelling “keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth” shortly before he collected his best actor gong for his role in “King Richard”.
A few hours after Joe first posted his new photos on social media, fellow ex-RAINBOW singer Graham Bonnet took to his Facebook page to share one of the images and he wrote in an accompanying message: “Hi all. Graham here. I’m posting this photo of my friend Joe Lynn Turner because I was moved to tears today when I saw it.
“Joe exemplifies the meaning of rockstar. His bravery is staggering. This industry is ruthless (especially in our genre),particularly when it comes to hair. I still hear the tale about Ritchie Blackmore posting a guard at my hotel door to keep me from getting a haircut. BTW, that never happened, although he was so pissed when I did visit the barber.
“But I digress…… I don’t know if Joe will see this but I want him to know how proud I am of him and how moved I was at his honesty.
“You have blazed a trail today, Joe. If you are reading this, I want you to know that I never realized what a beautiful man you were until I saw this photo.”
Joe was the singer of RAINBOW between 1980 and 1984 and he sang on the 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.
1990 saw Turner reunited with RAINBOW leader Ritchie Blackmore in a reformed DEEP PURPLE for the “Slaves And Masters” album.