SCOTTISH SINGER DOOGIE WHITE IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST IN-DEMAND SINGERS IN THE ROCK WORLD. IN 1994, HE BECAME A SINGER IN RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW WITH WHOM HE RECORDED THE ALBUM ‘STRANGER IN US ALL’ AND TOURED. AFTER THAT, INTEREST IN DOOGIE INCREASED. HE BECAME LEAD SINGER FOR YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, MICHAEL SCHENKER, ALCATRAZZ, LA PAZZ AND PRAYING MANTIS. AFTER THE TOUGH COVID YEARS OF NO TOURING, DOOGIE GOT A TASTE FOR PERFORMING AGAIN AND UNDERTOOK A SMALL EUROPEAN TOUR. MUSICOPHILIA.NL MET DOOGIE DURING THE DUTCH TOURDATES FOR A TALK ABOUT HIS PAST AND FUTURE.
You’ve were involved in a lot of projects and not rarely you joined some projects at the same time. What sort of creative aspects has a project got to have, before you join?
“I only try to do things that I enjoy. Back in the nineties it was very much about where can I work? What can I get? I’ve been doing this job since I was twenty. Some things worked, some things not. It changed my world when Ritchie Blackmore asked me to join Rainbow. And you must know that I was in my thirties then. It changed my world and that’s also why are you interviewing me now. You are not interviewing me because I’m Doogie White, no because I was in Rainbow, Am I right?”
Part of it is true, yes.
“All right! You are a honest chap and I like people who are honest. But to answer your question, in a project I have to bring something to the party, the band…if you know what I mean. Then I will try and do my very best. Because of my involvement with Rainbow, Michael Schenker and Yngwie Malmsteen people ask me to do things. A lot of people heard me singing. So that’s why I was asked to do some stuff for Praying Mantis, for Tank, for this, for that.”
Also because you’re a good vocalist?
“I’ve always been consistetly good. I’m really not the best singer in the word or the best writer in the world.”
But why so many projects at the same time?
“Just take the work when it comes and do the best you can. Give your best for everybody. A lot of people get pissed off, because they think you should be dedicated to only one band. It’s not like that, man!“
Would you reunite with Blackmore or Malmsteen if they asked you back?
You must be joking!
“No, I’m not joking. You never go back, mate. You always go forward. If I would go back it would feel like going back to an old girlfriend. And old girlfriends aren’t lovely and sexy anymore. Would you go back to your old girlfriend, mate?”
No, but that’s because I’m married.
“Good answer! But I know why you ask this question. Let me tell you that you have to go forward. Certainly there are many things that I did who were not so succesfull as the things I did in the past. But that doesn’t matter. I don’t look back, I’m not nostalgic. I’m not even become nostalgic when I look at your Rainbow-shirt. You’re a fan and that’s good, but I’m only one of the five men, maybe six who sung in Rainbow. There were more people on the moon, you know?! It’s much more important what you do after you became involved in a succesfull band. What you do after that, defines where your place in the music industry is. Some have been more succesfull when they did their own thing. Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale…look what they achieved. But I’m still very gratefull of what Ritchie did to me.”
You’ve got more creative freedom now. Isn’t it?
“I’m a better singer, writer and peformer now. Much better then when I was with Ritchie. I learned a lot, I’m experienced. I’m also a lot older now and don’t move as well as I should. Because I’m a better writer I would only join when Ritchie would ask me to do an album and perform new songs. But if he just wanted me to go out and play ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ or ‘All Night Long’ I wouldn’t do that. That stuff is not interesting. Every coverband in the world plays these songs.”
But you’ve worked with Jon Lord and his orchestra performance of Deep Purple-songs.
“That was an interesting project because we’ve worked with an orchestra. It was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed that. That were three of the finest gigs I ever did! It was a glorious time being on stage with a full orchestra and singing those great songs that I had known since I was a young lad.”
How did you get involved?
“My friend Steve Balsamo, who is a great singer and was my neigbour when I lived in London, was Jon Lord’s main singer when he left Deep Purple and did those orchestra things. But Steve couldn’t do three gigs because he was on tour with…Elton John! So Steve alerted Jon to me and Jon said that if I worked with Ritchie Blackmore, I could work with him.”
You also should be the singer on Cozy Powell’s album ‘Especially For You’. What went wrong?
“Before I joined Rainbow I met Cozy and bass player Neil Murray. Cozy asked me if I would like to sing on his upcoming solo-album, what unfortunately would be his last. I was excited and loved to join, but then came Ritchie and asked me for Rainbow. Oh, hell! Cozy was the second person who I phoned when I got the job. A great American guy called John West sang on that album. Because of my commitments with Rainbow I was not allowed to sing in another band.”
What does it take to work well with though characters like Blackmore, Schenker or Malmsteen?
“I was on tour with Rainbow on my thirty-fifth birthday. Ritchie and his wife Candice gave me a shirt and a very nice bag with stars and moons on it. What I always do when I go on tour is open that bag, put my ego in it. zipp the bag up and give it to my wife. It’s easy as that, mate. You know it’s not my name who’s selling all these stuff. It’s their name. I’m respectful, I’m quiet. If they asked me to do things I like, I did that. If they asked me to do things that I liked less, I did that also. They were the names that sold the albums, sold the tickets. They were in charge. Blackmore and I fell out twice over something, and both times he was wrong. But I did it they way he wanted it just because he would discover that I was right. So after a gig he came up and said that he was wrong.”
“I knew nothing about Yngwie Malmsteen before I started to work with him for seven years. When you know less about somebody, it’s different. But it worked, we did well with each other. With Michael Schenker I had hardly any words, maybe two times. But it all depends on your attitude, mate. There are a lot of people who worked with them that tell you rubbish. It’s their ego that talks. I have nothing bad to say about any of these guys. They employed me to do a job: singing. That’s what they were paying me for. I don’t have the ego that says I have to be a superstar.”
You’re enjoying this solotour, aren’t you?
“Yeah! I’ve earned nothing the past three years because of Covid and Brexit. Now I’m doing soloshows and earn a little bit of money. I want to keep active, mate. I enjoy singing and playing. Maybe sixtyfive or a hundered people come in to see my show, but that’s no problem. Those people are coming to see ME! To see their enjoyment is more important to me than a gig with forty-thousand people.”
For an artist it must be hard to overcome the Covid-period, wasn’t it?
“Oh, it was terrible, mate. Really terrible! I was in Brighton with Michael Schenker rehearsing for his fifty anniversary tour. When we finished I went to the Japanese embassy in Edinburgh to pick up my visa for Japan. That’s where the tour would start. We would do summerfestivals together with Kiss and Iron Maiden and tour across Europe and America. The schedule was booked from March untill November. Three days after I picked up my visa, everything was over. The whole thing just shut down.”
“There was really nothing to do. We couldn’t play anywhere. I sat home and wrote stuff for three albums. Beside that, I walked the dog with my wife. I looked after my mum, because she’s suffering from dementia. But it was hard for everybody, mate. The bookers, the agents, the crew guys, the bus drivers, the truckers, everybody was completely slammed. I’m not lying when I say it was difficult for me to come back. I lost the fire in a kind of way. Recently I decided to go back again. I’m sixty-three now. I don’t need the money, I don’t need the fame, and I asked myself why should I return touring? Why should I come back to the stage? I just didn’t want to do it anymore.”
But now you’re back!
“Yes, mate! When I first stepped back on the stage again, I understood why I’m enjoying this. The fire came back by standing on stage and staring at the faces of people who payed their hard-earned money, that maybe they didn’t have becaus of the lockdown as well, to hear and see me singing. That was the most important thing that brought back the fire. Certainly I’m at an age now where I want to be home with my wife. I’m now doing just a small tour for two or three months. I don’t want to be nine months in a year on the road anymore. Maybe, this is my last tour.”
“Yes, maybe. It’s still fun, but only for that ninety minutes on stage. The other twenty hours on that day aren’t any fun at all. The travelling, being on the road, the hotels. It’s heavy, mate.”
Has it also something to do with the change of the music industry?
“Of course. People aren’t buying records anymore. You and a couple of guys in this venue are putting Rainbow-stuff under my nose to sign it. Those are the people who are still buying records. You are my people. The rest just pays ten Pounds a month to listen to music on Spotify. Peter Frampton’s ‘Show Me The Way’ has three billion hits, but Peter gets paid three thousand Euros. For that sum, you even can’t buy a car!”
“A musician has to be on tour these days to make money. I’m happy that I don’t have to do it for the money anymore. I’m an older man, now. When the fire is really over, I will stop. Now I’m enjoying it being on stage and talking to someone like you who has some interesting questions.”
Thank you very much!
“You’re welcome, mate.”
A special thanks goes to Muziekcafé De Meister in Geleen, Netherlands