Joe Lynn Turner says Kiss are "destroying their legacy" by using backing tracks

Joe Lynn Turner and Paul Stanley headshots
(Image credit: Joe Lynn Turner: SKH Music | Paul Stanley: Juan Pablo Pino/Getty Images)

Former Rainbow, Deep Purple and Yngwie Malmsteen singer Joe Lynn Turner has slammed bands who use backing tracks to enhance their live performances, and singled out Kiss for particular attention. 

Turner was speaking with Metal Castle to promote his new album Belly Of The Beast, and was asked about musicians who use pre-recorded tracks at live shows. 

"I understand some groups need to rely on these computers, but I’m old school, and I think live music should be live," responded Turner. "That’s what people pay for. If you are well-known and you’re going out there and using backing tracks, you’re not being honest; it’s pantomime. It’s not even karaoke. I feel it’s cheating people, and it’s cheating yourself. Because if you can’t cut it live, well, that’s what separates the men from the boys. That’s what separates who’s great and who’s average.

"Anyone can cover it up in the studio, but it all comes out live, and if you can’t hack it, then get off the stage. I understand there’s a technology that certain bands use today, but if you’re Kiss, for example, maybe you ought to quit while you’re ahead, guys. Don’t you think you’ve got enough money to where you don’t need to take all the static for doing what you’re doing? All it’s doing is destroying your legacy, and you’d probably be better off if you just stopped. I’m not trying to point them out individually, but they’ve been known to use it.

"And look, I understand how difficult it is, especially for singers, because you can only go so many nights in a row. So, if you want to be out there still, maybe cut back the nights, and maybe you can’t make as much money. I think we have to look at the driving force here and then try and understand the motivation for why they do it. If you’re only doing it for money, so you can have five nights instead of three, that’s not a good enough reason for me. Go play for three nights and be yourself. Or stop doing it altogether."

Rumours surrounding Kiss's alleged use of backing tracks have circled the internet for years, and in June fan-shot footage from a show in Antwerp, Belgium, appeared to show Paul Stanley's vocal continuing while his attention was away from the microphone. In 2015 bassist Gene Simmons admitted using pre-recorded elements for a performance in Japan with J-Pop act Momoiro Clover-Z, but has otherwise been steadfast in his criticism of the practice.

"I have a problem when you charge $100 to see a live show and the artist uses backing tracks," Simmons told Australia's the same year. "It's like the ingredients in food – if the first ingredient on the label is sugar, that's at least honest.

"It should be on every ticket – you're paying $100, 30 to 50 percent of the show is [on] backing tracks, and they'll sing sometimes, sometimes they'll lip sync. At least be honest. It's not about backing tracks; it's about dishonesty."

Kiss have two remaining dates this year, at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on November 30, and at Mexico's Heaven And Hell Festival on December 5th. They return to Europe next summer for five dates in Germany. 

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Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.