ABBA are one of Ritchie Blackmore's "favourite" bands, according to the guitar legend's former Rainbow and Deep Purple colleague Joe Lynn Turner.
The revelation comes in an expansive new interviewer with the singer on RollingStone.com, in which he also talks about his work with Yngwie Malmsteen, offers to audition for Foreigner and Bad Company, and his belief that "98 percent" of rock's elder statesmen wear wigs.
As part of the conversation, while discussing Turner's recruitment to Rainbow, writer Andy Greene says, When you read about Rainbow in this period, everyone says that Ritchie wanted to get a more modern, radio-friendly sound like Foreigner. Is that accurate?
In response, Turner replies, “That’s absolutely accurate. He wanted some chart action. He was really tired of … Ritchie is Ritchie. He goes from black to white to yellow, to whatever he wants to do. At this point in time, he wanted a more commercial accessible approach. He loves ABBA. They are one of his favorite groups. He loves melody and all this. He said directly, 'Look, we’re looking for this approach, less Dungeons and Dragons and more street value, talking to the people'.”
“I said, Well, that’s pretty much what I’m about. I can write that fantasy stuff, if you want. But I’m really more about stories and real life and things like that. That was the first opportunity... A lot of people, I read back then, gave us credit for launching melodic hard rock, since that’s what it was.”
Turner also reveals that he initially didn't believe he was being offered a chance to try out for Rainbow in 1980, and thought the approach was a prank.
“One day, I get a call,” he recalls. “It’s a guy named Barry. I later found out it was Barry Ambrosio. He happened to be Ritchie’s personal assistant. He didn’t let on who he was at first. He was just asking a lot of questions. I was like, 'Hey, who is this?' I thought it was a friend of a friend putting me on.”
“He was like, ['Do you like Deep Purple? Do you like Ritchie Blackmore? I was like, Look, I’m going to hang up right now because this is ridiculous. Who the hell are you? He goes, 'I’m Barry. I’m Ritchie’s personal. He’s standing right here and wants to talk to you.' He gets on the phone and is like, [British accent], 'Hey mate. Fancy coming to an audition?' I was like, Who is this really? He goes, 'It’s me.' I didn’t believe him."
Having fronted Rainbow from 1980 to 1984, Joe Lynn Turner also fronted Deep Purple on their 1990 album Slaves and Masters.
Reading the full entertaining interview with the vocalist at RollingStone.com.