Published: 22/01/2016 11:17 - Updated: 22/01/2016 15:01

White still shines bright after Rainbow

Written byCalum Macleod

Doogie White and Michael Schenker leading the faithful at their Temple of Rock.
Doogie White and Michael Schenker leading the faithful at their Temple of Rock.

AT the age of 30, Doogie White reckoned his chance of a successful music career might have passed him by and he was on the verge of giving it all up.

A quarter of a century on, and White can be found as singer and co-writer alongside one of rock music’s most admired guitar heroes, Michael Schenker of UFO and Michael Schenker Group (MSG) fame.

As vocalist for Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock, he fronts an all star band that also features the rhythm section of Herman Rarebell and Francis Buchholz, two ex-members of Germany’s biggest rock export, The Scorpions, which Schenker is also a past member of and which is still led by his big brother Rudolf.

White, who recalls appearing at Inverness Ice Rink many years ago, began his music career in Edinburgh. His band, La Paz, was a big fish in a small pond, he says, and White eventually moved to London before his big break with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

"When I joined Rainbow, I was living on a sleeping bag on people’s floors, but I just had to stick with it. There was nothing else I could do," he said.

"I nearly gave up when I was 30. I thought: That’s it, I’m past it now. Then six months later someone said they had a tour of Japan and asked if I fancied coming."

Deep Purple were playing in Japan and when they next came to London, White gave a tape to tour manager Colin Hart. But it would be three years before that move paid off when Blackmore was looking for a new vocalist for Rainbow, one of Britain’s most commercially successful hard rock bands.

"When Ritchie called, that changed my career forever," White said.

"When I handed Chris that tape, that was just me being a cheeky upstart. But all of a sudden I was out there in America auditioning for my favourite guitarist in the world. I was over the moon – I used to wake up laughing."

After fronting Rainbow, White went on to provide vocals for Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen and now, at the age of 55,is still performing with hard rock royalty.

"A lot of it comes down to the choices you make," White said.

"There are other singers out there who are better than me, but they have taken decisions, whether to be married and have children or whatever, that altered the course of their lives. I was 34 when I joined Ritchie’s band and I had made the decision that I was going to be a rock and roll singer and there wasn’t going to be space for any of those things in my life."

White, whose great-grandfather was a coachman in Inverness, previously worked with Schenker as a guest vocalist and co-writer on a single track. That led Schenker to invite the Scotsman to co-write his next album.

The pair have now worked on two albums, including Temple of Rock’s most recent release, Spirit On A Mission, but Friday’s Ironworks show in Inverness will also feature some familiar tunes from UFO and MSG.

"It’s great fun to play these old classics that everyone loves, and these ones that may be classics in 10 years’ time," White said.

"But the band is called Temple of Rock because Michael wanted to make a new start. MSG was very much a revolving door of musicians. It’s not MSG. That would be disrespectful to Herman and Francis particularly, because that would make it appear like they were joining Michael’s band when they are forming a new band."

Alongside his work with Michael Schenker, things have turned full circle for White, who is once again fronting his old Scottish band La Paz, with a new album, Shut Up and Rawk, set for release in March.

"We couldn’t get signed in the ’80s, but got signed no bother in the 2000s," he laughed.

The band reunited thanks to guitarist Chic McSherry, now the owner of a successful software development company, who arranged a charity show in La Paz in Mexico (although the band is actually named after the Bolivian capital),

Even so, White is in the fortunate position that he will only things that interest him, which include his Hootananny’s show in Inverness a couple of years ago with local musician Ross McEwan.

"Ross is one of those go-getter guys. He’s very ambitious and good at what he does. He knew I wasn’t doing anything, so we put a band together and did a few shows," White explained.

"It was great fun – but a bit like playing with my kids because they are all so much younger than me!"

• Doogie White appears with Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock at The Ironworks, Inverness, on Saturday January 23.

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