The column online “PIAZZA NAVONA” is pleased to welcome in its virtual square the musician Ted Turner. In this interview he will tell us about his life, his love for Music, his meeting with The Beatles and about his last album titled Better Together realized with his wife Majella.
Ted Turner is the famous English vocalist and guitarist voted one of Rolling Stone’s ‘Top Twenty Rock Guitarists of All Time, and named by Traffic magazine as “one of the most important guitarists in rock history”. He was a member of popular 70’s rock band Wishbone Ash.
In 1971 Turner played his guitar on John Lennon‘s Imagine, on Crippled Inside and How Do You Sleep. In 80’s he worked with Stewart Copeland, Gene October and Brian James and formed a new band called Choice. Besides he played with Rod Stewart and Brian Auger.
In 1987 – after fifteen years – he rejoined Wishbone Ash recording the album Nouveau Calls and beginning a new tour all over England and Europe. In 1994 Turner decided to depart the band above all after the loss of his son killed by a drunk driver in Arizona.
Today the famous guitarist returns to the stage with his new album titled Better Together realized with his wife Majella. This album has 12 original tracks inspired by their thirteen-year journey as first friends, then lovers, and, more recently, husband and wife collaborators. This album wants to be the creation of a new musical genre called New Age Soul.
But let Mr Turner tells us more information about this project and his memories, his musical meetings…
So… welcome Mr Turner!
- How did you come to love Music?
Looking back on my childhood, radio was my constant source of entertainment. We didn’t have a TV, so my family would gather around the radio in the evenings and listen to the broadcasts. I especially remember listening to plays. Since you had to picture in your head what was being narrated, my imagination was fueled. The radio also filled the Turner home with pop music of the day and Motown. My mother was always singing; the kitchen was her stage as she prepared the evening meals.
At the onset of the 60’s I began to discover my love of music. I feel very lucky to have connected with music at that time. New boundaries were being explored. There was a mystery about it all. I began listening to British guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. My first introduction to hearing a band perform live was at a concert headlined by the supergroup Cream. But the turning point was when I saw John Mayall’s Blues Breakers on stage, featuring Peter Green, that my love turned to passion. This guitarist played with such emotion… he could hit a note that almost made you cry. This performance was the inspiration that made me want to play the guitar.
- In 1971 he met John Lennon. What about this artistic meeting?
It was 1971 and Wishbone had just finished a session at Apple Studios in London, working on Pilgrimage. We were packing up the guitars when I received a call that went something like this: “Hey Ted, we need you for a session.”
‘Sure. When is it?” I asked. “Right now.”
We’d been recording all day and it was now 11pm. I was tired. “Who’s it for?’ I inquired.
“John Lennon,” was the reply. “I’ll be right there.”
I took a couple of guitars, thinking I would be playing lead. My world was moving fast and out of nowhere I had been handed an opportunity that would bring me face to face with three of my all time heroes. Nicky Hopkins and I were chauffeured in a white Rolls Royce to Tittenhurst Park, the mansion that John had bought from Ringo. Mel Evans (the Beatles’ roadie) greeted us at the door and my electric guitars were left in the hallway. I was led into a room with a large table of food. There were lots of activity with people milling around, and I was beginning to comprehend the enormity of what was being asked of me. I’d only been playing the guitar for four years and now I was now about to play with the giants!
After several introductions, Rod Lynton (a member of Rupert’s People and PR man for Wishbone) led me to the studio. Entering down a few steps, I was taken aback. Over to the right, George Harrison was crouched over a guitar. There was a brief acknowledgement between us. On the far side, Ringo was tapping away on a double bass. The pedestal in the centre of the room I presumed was for John, although he was not present at this stage. Everyone was busy learning their parts. Looking around, I noticed three acoustic guitars and it then became clear that Rod was going to be teaching us a rhythm part. It all felt a bit like a dream.
Then John walked in, sat down on the stool in the centre, looked around and asked, in that inimitable Liverpudlian accent, ‘Is everybody ready, like?’
1,2,3…and that was it. One take! If there had been a mirror in the room, I would have been seen smiling like a cheshire cat. It felt like no time at all but in that moment, me playing with three of the Beatles…it was magic!
Unbeknown to me, this was the last session to complete the album and therefore we were all led into the control room. How cool! With Phil Spector sat at the desk, we all listened to Imagine played in its entirety for the first time with everyone sipping on tea. That was when I started to feel very small. Then John leaned over and offered me a biscuit, and this was the coolest moment of all, because it felt like a gesture of reassurance. I realized that this shy, suburban kid was not only in the right place, but also deserved to be there.
Whilst listening to the tracks , I remember Phil turning up the reverb (which was the famous Motown sound) and then John immediately turning it down. I interpreted this as an example of the power of the man, in that he was going to have this done in his way.
I don’t remember how I got home. A sign of the times, no doubt! The following day, I was back in the yellow transit van traveling to a gig as if nothing had ever happened. A day in the life!
- In your career you played to three generations of fans all round the world. What about your past and your Music with Wishbone Ash?
In those early days, the band members were inseparable. We were the four musketeers, eating, breathing and sleeping music. We worked hard and were happy to live out of our yellow Ford transit van driving from town-to-town to perform. Gaining recognition was a gradual process but success followed. There was still a mystery about it all. The relationship between the musicians was based on their connection with their instruments and the interplay that arose. The songwriting was also really strong in this era, as the music and lyrical content depicted a real depth. Today, technology has changed everything.
- Mr Turner, what is the most important meeting in your career?
After extensive touring, I left Wishbone in 1974 to pursue a personal pilgrimage. Whilst traveling, I was drawn to the comprehensive works of Buckminster Fuller, becoming involved in the ‘World Man Band’ (alongside Michael Mitchell) – an initiative designed to raise global consciousness through rock music. My journey since then has taught me that we are not separate; everything has a relationship. We are nature. Systems only exist through collaboration, otherwise there is no life. The power that we have is to love and be kind – to one another, to nature, to our animal friends, and to the planet. Success for all is not complicated when we’re serving everyone. Meeting Bucky changed my life and informs the way in which I create to this day.
- What about your union with Majella?
My union with Majella began as a friendship which, some ten years later, developed into a marriage. Although aware of each other’s drive for creating music, neither of us could have imagined the synergy to be found through collaboration. To understand what is core to our music, look no further than the track If You Believe – we live, and we learn, through love. Our music comes from the heart and the depths of our soul. For us, Better Together is not just a beautiful testament to our love; it’s a reminder that the heart connection is where we overcome our greatest obstacles, and live the fullest expression of who we really are.
- What does working together mean for you?
We are both acutely aware that the planet is hurting and, together, We’re using our musical platform to raise awareness of this crisis, and, as vegans, to support a world based on “compassion instead of cruelty”. Each song is also a celebration of our unique chemistry, our spiritual beliefs, our love for humanity and for nature, and most of all our life calling together. From the eponymous first song, Better Together, which describes our first encounter, when we both instinctively felt a synchronicity about our meeting to Karmony, which was inspired by the legacy of John Lennon who was living his life purpose when, through imagining and promoting collective consciousness, directly changed the world, to our personal favourite, If You Believe, which is about being authentic and walking your talk, every song on the album is to acknowledge and remind people of the unquestionable truth of who we are, why we are here, and that there is something bigger than all of us.
- How could you define your Music style?
We feel that artistry is about being unique and trying something new. Popular music today often does not meet this criteria. Both Majella and I are fully aware that this is one of the challenges we are currently presented with. We’re introducing a new authentic sound. New Age Soul. This new genre asks the listener to reflect and feel touched by both the sensitivity of the music and the poignancy of the messages. We are in the business of magic. The person who inspired me to play the guitar bared his soul. This is what I see in Majella. Through playing our music together, we are in touch with our souls. There is nothing in the way.
- Your last work is “Better together”. What is its message?
Our union represents a personal desire to evolve, raising our own consciousness and through our life work, we wish to impact the lives of others in a positive light. Making this album just made sense.
Our album also communicates our journey as a newly married couple; from getting to know one another to discovering our true selves, through music, which has been the glue throughout. Our commitment is to enable one another in any way we know how. To be in love with your musical partner makes the experience all the more sweeter. Now the album is ready to be shared, the learning continues, as we embark on yet another journey into the unknown.
I live in Italy, Rome: do you think to come here playing your Music? And what about your tour? Where will you go?
We both have a strong desire to play live and take our music to the world. Stay tuned. Italy would be top of the list!
This interview has come to an end giving us so many emotions and feelings. Certainly Ted Turner is a piece of History of Rock and, therefore, of the Music. Mr Turner, it has been an honour to have you here in my virtual square. Obviously we will stay tuned. Rome is waiting for you. And always… Good Music!
- What are your next plans and projects?
We are a songwriting team and the work continues. We’ve just started album two, building our repertoire and continuing to develop our musical style. We ourselves are being influenced by our own music and therefore, how we evolve will dictate the opportunities ahead. We’re interested in supporting any causes that speak out for truth and compassion, and to encourage that we all question our own thoughts and actions. The power of music has proven it can have such an impact. High on the list is to protect our planet, especially through our commitment to a vegan lifestyle.
- I live in Italy, Rome: do you think to come here playing your Music? And what about your tour? Where will you go?
We both have a strong desire to play live and take our music to the world. Stay tuned. Italy would be top of the list!
This interview has come to an end giving us so many emotions and feelings. Certainly Ted Turner is a piece of History of Rock and, therefore, of the Music. Mr Turner, it has been an honour to have you here in my virtual square. Obviously we will stay tuned. Rome is waiting for you.
And always… Good Music!