Had “Stranger in Us All” not been released in 1995, the final album from Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow would be widely recognized as an inspired addition to the catalog. Instead, it arrived at the tail end of a summer that also saw Foo Fighters, Garbage, and Red Hot Chili Peppers release records that commandeered headlines, so the efforts of Blackmore, vocalist Doogie White, and the rest of the retooled lineup were never going to get the respect they deserved outside of the longtime fans.
White’s vocals in particular stood out, because he didn’t sound like any of the singers that Blackmore had previously welcomed into the fold. He brought a polished ferocity that paired well with The Man in Black’s tone and his personality during the live shows took the material to another level.
Since leaving the band in 1997, he’s worked with Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, and Praying Mantis while also becoming the new lead singer of Alcatrazz late last year. I caught up with White this week to discuss his history and how he curated the reissue of his 2011 solo project, “As Yet Untitled,” which features an array of tracks that have never been released in any official capacity before.
MNOD: 2020 was a year unlike any that we’ve ever experienced. As a musician, describe how you were directly affected by the shutdown.
White: Everything stopped. I had festivals booked and other shows, but everything was just gone. I was supposed to go to Japan with Michael Schenker to celebrate my birthday and we also had some stuff planned to celebrate his 50th year in the business. None of that happened for obvious reasons, but I was then contacted about putting together this reissue of the ‘As Yet Untitled’ album from 10 years ago when I had just left Yngwie’s band.
MNOD: This package features the original album tracks as well as a bunch of unreleased material. How did you decide what to include on the second disc?
White: Well, a lot of stuff was recorded in the ’90s and early 2000s and some I had even forgotten about. Covers like ‘Not Fade Away’ and ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ are ones that I enjoy a lot. Iron Maiden’s ‘The Clairvoyant’ and Whitesnake’s ‘Crying in the Rain’ were also a lot of fun to do. All of the covers were fun to do, but I don’t plan to include them in my live set at this point.
MNOD: You actually auditioned for Iron Maiden after word came that Bruce Dickinson was leaving. What do you recall about that experience?
White: I was doing some recording in Belgium and a friend told me that Bruce was leaving, so I started putting a tape together. Then, after submitting the tape, I got a call about coming in to audition for the gig, because they liked what they heard. The audition went well and I was called back for a second audition, but then Blaze (Bayley) ended up getting the job. At the time, I thought it went well and it was a positive experience, but Steve (Harris) had a specific idea of what he was looking for. It never came out until later that I had actually auditioned, because I never mentioned it to anyone. Only some people knew at the time.
MNOD: How did the opportunity to work with Richie Blackmore come about?
White: Deep Purple had a show in London, so I passed a tape onto Colin Hart, who was the band’s tour manager. I told him to give me a call if Richie ever needs a singer and I ended up getting the call not too long after.
MNOD: Rainbow’s “Stranger in Us All” from 1995 is one of my favorite projects you’ve been involved with and I think your vocal is tremendous. What were the recording sessions like?
White: It was a great process. We spent six weeks in Upstate New York and got to know each other pretty well. I had a lot of excitement around that time, because we all had dinner together and played soccer. Greg Smith was the bass player and he’s now in Ted Nugent’s band. I remember we went up to North Brookfield, Massachusetts and recorded in a studio that had been built for the Rolling Stones. It was a great time, because that’s the last time I can remember working with a band that way where we were all in the same room. Usually, people just send me ideas and I come up with something to accompany the music. Of course, it did get a little rough at the end of my time with the band, because I really had no choice but to leave. Richie had a stick up his ass about me near the end, but I don’t have anything negative to say about my time working with him. I’m grateful that the fans embraced me and gave me a chance to give them my best.
MNOD: You also worked with Yngwie Malmsteen in Rising Force from 2001-2007. Describe that experience.
White: We were all set to embark on a tour of South America on September 11, 2001 and we all know what happened next. Those two studio albums were a great time and he was always fun to be around. I know he has a reputation for being a certain way, but I had no bad experiences during my time with that band. He’s a tremendous player and his style is unlike anyone else.
MNOD: Your work with Michael Schenker is also a favorite of mine. What is it about him that makes the collaboration so enjoyable?
White: I get so much enjoyment out of working with him. His playing is phenomenal and the Temple of Rock albums are memorable for me. Really, I never had a bad experience with any of those three guys. Richie, Yngwie, and Michael are all phenomenal players. I never brought any attitude or ego to the process, because I just always wanted to give the best performance I could on every song.
MNOD: You’ve recently become the lead singer of Alcatrazz, which is yet another killer band to be a part of. How did Graham Bonnet feel about you taking over?
White: Graham and I have been friends for many years. We’ve performed Rainbow songs together before and we went to have coffee when he told me that he didn’t want to be in Alcatrazz anymore. He’s already achieved legendary status for the work he’s done on so many albums. He’s in his early seventies now, so I told him that he should enjoy himself and go do what he wants to do. He doesn’t have anything left to prove. His legacy is in good hands.
Doogie White’s “As Yet Untitled” 2-CD reissue is available now.
See http://www.doogiewhite.com for details.