Bruce Forrest of Braingell Radio recently conducted an interview with legendary hard rock singer Graham Bonnet (RAINBOW, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, ALCATRAZZ, IMPELLITTERI). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.Braingell Radio: How did you come to Ritchie Blackmore's attention? Was there an audition process or did you pretty much get the gig from the get-go based upon your vocal style? Bonnet: He was listening to tapes of lots of bands, and he happened to come across one of my songs. Ritchie auditioned 80 singers and he heard me signing THE MARBLES' "Only One Woman" and asked how to get a hold of me. It just happened that Roger Glover was working with a friend of mine, Micky Moody, and he give him my telephone number. I had to audition with a song name "Mistreated", which I had to learn, because I didn't know RAINBOW songs. I actually didn't know who RAINBOW was or even what kind of music they played. Braingell Radio: How much artistic freedom did you have during the recording of RAINBOW's "Down to Earth"? Did you write all the lyrics? Bonnet: What I did on that record was interpret Roger Glover's melodies to my own style and interpreted it my way. Roger wrote the words but the melodies were mine, more so than his. He guided me all the way and he was easy to work with because metal music was very new to me. Braingell Radio: What resulted in your departure from RAINBOW? Bonnet: We were rehearsing in Copenhagen, and [RAINBOW drummer] Cozy Powell had left the band, and we had to start over with a new drummer, named Bobby Rondinelli. There seemed to be a lack of interest in rehearsing. [Keyboardist] Don Airey said he had enough, and was going to leave the band. I said, "If you are going to leave, then so am I…" So I went home to Los Angeles, and they called me up and wanted me to return to the band. They asked me to sing the songs I liked, and have another vocalist sing the songs I didn't. I didn't want to be in a band with two singers and the fun of the band was gone. Eventually Don Airey left and the band fell apart after a couple of years. Braingell Radio: An opportunity to join forces with [Michael] Schenker came next. Did you choose to push your solo career aside because this was more of a financially rewarding opportunity? Or was it more to your personal musical liking? Bonnet: I joined MSG because I thought it would be a challenge and my friend Cozy Powell was in the band He was the person who asked me to join the band, because they wanted to fire the signer [Gary Barden]. Michael was nervous to ask me so Cozy asked him to ask me, at the Country Club in Reseda. What it became for me was an opportunity for us write songs for the first time. Braingell Radio: From MSG you formed ALCATRAZZ. [Yngwie] Malmsteen and [Steve] Vai were the band's guitarists. Counting in Schenker and Blackmore, we are definitely talking a level of ego here. As a vocalist and frontman, how does one battle their beliefs/opinions [you] against those that probably feel they are always right [the guitarist]? Was there a lot of friction within these pairings? Bonnet: No, I never had any battles with how the music should be as long as they had at least a 10-minute guitar solo in every song! Braingell Radio: What plans are in store right now for the future? I know you are hitting up Japan and Italy. Is this solo or as ALCATRAZZ? Bonnet: ALCATRAZZ has toured Japan, but not Italy yet. We are hoping to be in America and Europe soon.. We are also starting work on a new CD. Braingell Radio: Who is with you in ALCATRAZZ? Bonnet: [Guitarist] Howie Simon and [bassist] Tim Luce are in the band. [Drummer] Jeff Bowders is in the band at the moment. He has a commitment to Paul Gilbert's new tour. A possible well-known drummer may be joining ALCATRAZZ soon. Read the entire interview from Braingell Radio.
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