July 23, 2021
Doogie White, a long time hard rock vocalist, has recently released a double album that includes his first solo album title As Yet Titled, and a second disc that contains several cover songs from the likes of Whitesnake, The Rolling Stones and Iron Maiden.
You may have seen White perform with the variety of bands that he has been in over the years. Currently he sings for Alcatrazz but is also known for performing with other amazing bands including Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, Praying Mantis, Tank, La Paz and Michael Schenker’s Temple Of Rock.
We had the opportunity to do a Zoom call with Doogie to discuss his album and his career.
Greg Drugan: Hey Doogie, congratulations on your new double album. So it is a reissue of your first solo album and then a disc of cover songs- is that correct?
Doogie White: That’s correct. It’s the only solo album I’ve ever done and it’s called As Yet Untitled. I recorded it shortly after I left Yngwie Malmsteen. It took me a couple of years to find a record label to put it out, but they didn’t work it very hard. I got the rights to the album back and I spoke with someone at Store For Music and they were happy to re-release it. Many years ago I did many tribute albums that were popular in the ‘90s and early 2000’s. A whole bunch of British guys got together, some really well known musicians and me, recorded some tribute albums. There was one every week or two weeks. You would get the songs on Monday and then record them on Friday. We would do three songs in three hours. You didn’t even get to choose them. They would say, “We’re doing Nazareth, you’ll sing these three songs if you want.” So that’s how that went down. It’s a nice little package for anybody who doesn’t have the original, even if they do, it’s been remastered and it has two bonus tracks. It has an extra CD with all the cover versions, which is quite fun to listen to because I haven’t them for a very long time.
GD: You have quite the variety of covers from Nazarth’s “Love Hurts” to Whitesnake’s “Crying In The Rain” to even Sam Cooke’s “Twisting The Night Away.” How did you come up with such a wide range of eclectic songs?
DW: I didn’t. That’s what I was saying early on. The guys that were recording them would phone me up and say “Hey man, we're going to be doing a tribute album for the Police, or T. Rex or Slade. Can you learn these three songs?” Then I would learn them, and go in and record them on Friday. I don’t remember doing “Twisting The Night Away.” I don’t remember doing “Let’s Spend the Night Together.” I’ve never heard them! I do remember doing the Nazareth one. It was all done very, very quickly. It was in and out. The record company chose what they liked. Like you said, it is an eclectic mix.
GD: And I must say, you sound fantastic on all of them.
DW: Thank you. I’ve just given up smoking. I had to.
GD: This past year and a half has been like no other. How did you keep busy?
DW: Well, I’ve moved house. So I’ve been doing the garden and making repairs to the house and just getting things in order. I signed a three record deal with a label called Frontiers. When all the touring came to an end last year. We were supposed to go out for seven months. So I signed the deal with Frontiers and they hooked me up with a great guitarist and writer from Sweden. We wrote an album, we started last August and the title of the album is Long Shadows Dawn. It was a name that I had kicking around for years. In my mind I could hear 10,000 people shouting “L-S-D!” and that appealed to us.
When we just finished that album, I got a call from a band called Alcatrazz telling me that Graham Bonnett had left the band and would I be interested in doing the tour dates with them. Of course, the tour dates were cancelled so I suggested that we do a new Alcatrazz album. We just finished and the first single is out now. The next single comes out July 24th. So it’s been busy! I’ve done two albums in seven months.
GD: Looking back on your career, when did you know that you wanted to be a singer?
DW: When I found out that I was a rubbish drummer and everyone else was a better guitar player than me. I always kinda sang. I sang around the house when I heard The Monkees and The Beatles. The harmonies of the Bee Gee’s, it just kinda appealed to me. My brother is a singer, but very different from me. He’s more of the Michael McDonald and James Ingram vein. We used to harmonize to Deep Purple records, he would be David Coverdale and I would be Glenn Hughes. I just liked it. I went to church and the youth fellowship, some of the guys said they were in a band and were looking for a singer. From that moment, I was hooked. I went and bought a PA system and a microphone and I’ve been doing it ever since.
GD: You mentioned Deep Purple, who else were some of your influences growing up?
DW: David Bowie was massive for me. I think everyone here in the UK, I think it was July of 1972 he was on Top Of The Pops. He did “Star Man” and I had never seen anything like this, ever! It changed the world. That was a Thursday night, and by Monday morning, everyone had a Ziggy Stardust haircut! Of course I heard Deep Purple, and I heard AC/DC and I heard Van Halen and that was it for me. I never looked back after that. I love playing it and I love singing it.
GD: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
DW: Yes, I do. A friend of my brothers, his grandmother had bought tickets. I think she was going to see Jesus Christ Superstar. She bought tickets for a band called Nazareth and they had a song called “Broken Down Angel.” Until they appeared in the paper, and it terrified the life out her, so she gave us the tickets. My brother and two friends and myself saw Nazareth on the Razamanaz tour. I think that was ‘72 or ‘73.
GD: After being in a couple of bands, you eventually got to join Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. How did that come about?
DW: I was very poor when Deep Purple had Joe Lynn Turner as the singer. I knew a guy who worked at the record company and I asked if he could get me a ticket. Well, he got me a ticket but he also got me a pass for the after show party. I thought, “this is my chance. I’ll see Richie and I’ll slip this cassette in his pocket.” Of course, he wasn’t there. I recognized someone from the Perfect Strangers album sleeve and gave it to him and said “If Richie ever needs a singer.” Well, three or four years later, Richie called me up. Said, “I have your cassette here and I quite like it. Can you send me some new material and a recent photograph?” I hadn’t had anything because I was just doing sessions. So we wrote a song called “Come Taste The Band” because Come Taste The Band at that time was the only Deep Purple album that Richie had not played on. We did it in the Mark IV style with me singing both Glenn and David’s parts. Richie loved it! He thought it was very funny and very cheeky of me to do it.
GD: Besides Richie, you have gotten the chance to work with some amazing guitarists over the years, from Michael Schanker to Yngwie Malmsteen. Do you have a particular favorite that you have worked with?
DW: Richie was my favorite guitar player from the moment I heard him. I loved his sound and I loved the notes he played and I loved the space he left between the notes. I loved the melody. There were no videos back then, there were only pictures in the paper or music press. So I’d never seen him play until I saw him in ‘76 with Rainbow when Ronnie was fronting the band. It was mind blowing for me, I had never seen anything like it. It was still one of the best rock and roll shows I’d ever seen and I’ve been to hundreds.
I also love what Angus (Young) does with the guitar. Schanker is in there as well, Pat Travers is another one who’s guitar playing is astonishing. I enjoyed my time with Yngwie, but that was a different kind of thing for me. Him and I got along very well but he plays too fast for me! I can’t get used to it.
GD: I agree, Yngwie is a little too fast for me too.
DW: We would sit around watching the Monaco Grand Prix or something like that, and he would have a little Marshall amp and his Stratocaster, and I’ve never heard guitar playing like that. Then someone would come into the room and then he would become Yngwie Malmsteen. He’s just a master of the fretboard. He is Yngwie Malmsteen but he becomes Yngwie Malmsteen when someone comes into the room. It’s amazing to watch.
GD: Not only have you played and recorded with these artists, but you have spent some time on the road with them as well. Do you have a memorable story about one of those guys that you would like to or can share?
DW: Probably not for airing! (laughs) Richie would never stay on the same floor with the rest of the band. He was always somewhere else. We were in Sao Paulo and I saw him walking down the corridor and I became suspicious. I said “What are you doing here?” He said, “I was just checking out your room.” I thought “Oh, no.” I went in and nothing had happened, so that was good. I got back after the gig and got into bed. He had taken shaving foam and all of this beard hair and had smudged it all over the bed. I thought god. I just wanted to go to bed and was going to get a shower in the morning. I go into the bath and he had put all the towels in the tub. Just silly little things like that to have a laugh. He would super-glue people’s doors closed. I’d try to get into my room and he’d super-glued up the lock. Madness! It was all good fun.
With Michael, it was different because we were older then and doing a lot more shows. We’d do thirteen shows in fourteen days. Seven on, one off, then six on. You had to be behaved and go to bed, so there wasn’t any hijinks.
GD: If you could put a supergroup together from all of the artists that you have worked with, who would be your bassist, guitarist and drummer?
DW: I would have to go back to Richie when he played with me. He was really at the top of his game. I loved playing with Berkey and I loved playing with Greg Smith. I would have Jon Lord on keyboards as well. Neil Murray is an amazing bass player and he could fit in as well. I’ve got to be careful what I say here in case I don’t mention someone! (laughs)
GD: So we have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here in Cleveland and Deep Purple got in fairly recently, within the last five years. It’s incredible that they had to wait that long. What is your opinion of the Hall of Fame because in my experience to Europeans it’s not that much of a prestigious thing.
DW: No, I don’t really pay that much attention to it. I don’t really pay that much attention to that kind of stuff and I’ll tell you why. In 1995, in Japan Rainbow won best live concert, best band, best album, best song, best live performance. And I got nothing. Richie picked up all of these awards, but he wasn’t the only guy on stage, he wasn’t the only guy who made the album and wasn’t the only guy who wrote all of the songs. But the people that were in charge said that they considered it a solo project for Richie, so nobody else got any awards, even though we contributed to all of it. So I never paid any attention to any awards after that and I never do. The only award I ever accepted was I was in a bar band. I was in a bar band in London and they had an award for best singer. So I was best singer in a Pub band! It was called the Dogs Bullocks Award. They give me this gold disc with the Dogs Bullocks Award. (laughs) It means nothing to me. It’s record sales, and it’s fans coming to shows. What these corporate dudes think means nothing to me at all.
GD: Very good, that makes sense. Now that things are starting to open up, do you have any plans to tour with Alcatrazz or solo?
DW: Yeah, we have Alcatrazz dates later on in the year. The UK is opening up on Monday. I give it a month, six weeks and it will all be shut down again. This new Delta virus is not going away. Foolishly, over here in the UK, they let 60,000 people into Wembley, they let 25,000 people into Wimbledon over the weekend, they let 120,000 in for the British Grand Prix and that’s just going to spread it even more. Nobody pays any attention to the rules and regulations for safety. I can only deal with what I understand. They are going to open up Monday and I bet you it won’t be more than two months and this thing is taken off again. Mark my words.
I was supposed to be in Boston shooting a video for Alcatrazz this weekend. But I said, I’m not going. I’m not going sit in a plane for eight to ten hours for a video. Then when I come back, I have to isolate for ten days. It’s just not going to happen. I don’t know. No one knows, we all just have opinions and you know what opinions are like!
GD: Yes I do! I’m sure you’ve been to Cleveland many times, do you have a particular memory of Cleveland?
DW: Getting lost! I played at a venue down by the river years ago with Yngwie Malmsteen. I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I think it was closed. I couldn’t find my way back to the venue and I couldn’t remember the name of the venue so I was just a wondering Scotsmen, not knowing which way to go! (laughs) Good god, I know it was down by the river, but where?
GD: Was it Peabody’s Down Under?
DW: It very well could have been. Luckily we had a big tour bus. I saw that and that became my guiding light back to the venue.
GD: Doogie, I wish you nothing but success on your new CD. I really like the wide range of songs on the bonus CD. Hopefully, if things calm down, we’d like to see you come over with Alcatrazz and see you live.
DW: That’s the ambition with every rock and roll musician in the world! I can say that because I know that to be true. We want to go out and play and we want the audiences to come out and see us. But we want everyone to be safe! That’s really important. The virus is real no matter what Uncle Ted says! He denies it, he’s mental! People are crazy!
Listen, I wish you all the best. I wish you safe and happy times and take care of yourself!
GD: You too! Cheers!