In a new interview with “The Chuck Shute Podcast”, DOKKEN frontman Don Dokken reflected on the band’s formative years, particularly around 1982 when guitarist George Lynch left DOKKEN in order to play with Ozzy Osbourne. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “George left, and Mick [Brown, then-DOKKEN drummer] stayed with me. And Mick and I had an apartment. And he was staying in DOKKEN, and I just kept fighting and fighting and fighting to get a record deal. Our last showcase we did at the Whisky [A Go Go in West Hollywood, California], Warren DeMartini was playing guitar. Warren did a very short run [with DOKKEN]. We had five record companies [looking at us].”
He continued: “I remember standing at the Whisky on stage, looking at the audience, and I see George. What the hell is he doing here? I thought he was in Ozzy. ‘Cause everybody said he’s going to be in Ozzy. And they flew him to England. He was gonna be the guitar player. So we’re playing. I’m very happy. Warren was, like, 18 or 19. We got along great. And I’m seeing George in the audience, and I’m, like, ‘What the hell is he doing here?’ And he kind of pulled Warren aside, and he goes, ‘You don’t want to be in DOKKEN. Don‘s an asshole, man. Everybody knows it. You can’t trust Don. Don‘s a Nazi. He’s gonna control everything and take everything.’ And I’m, like, ‘Whatever.’ So Warren went to RATT. Because their EP — I can’t remember the name of it, ‘Out Of The Cellar’ or whatever it was called — took off. And then Juan Croucier [former DOKKEN and RATT bassist] said to me, and you can ask him if you ever interview him, ‘I can’t play with George. I just can’t. I can’t. He’s too quirky.’ So Juan left. Warren left. I had to find Jeff [Pilson] as a bass player, get a new guitar player. We had just landed the BLUE ÖYSTER CULT tour with Aldo Nova, us opening up for 30 minutes. And that’s when George came back in the band, because he had nowhere else to go. And that really is the history of DOKKEN.
“Looking back, I have nothing against George. We get along fine, but if I could have kept Warren in the band, we probably just would have went way up a lot faster.”
Asked by host Chuck Shute if he thinks it would have been that much different with Warren instead of George, Don said: “Hell yeah. Hell yeah… ‘Cause everything we did in the studio [with George] was a fight… Warren was easy breezy. We’d spend an hour on a solo with him and it was amazing, and we’re done. [With George] we’d go in to do ‘Tooth And Nail’. We have a 32-track recording console. I go in the studio at midnight, because George didn’t want me in the studio while he was recording. So they’d all take off at 10 o’clock and they’d all go to the Rainbow [Bar & Grill] to find chicks and cocaine. So I had sneak in the studio with [producer] Michael Wagener, and there was, like, 14, 15 tracks of solos. I’m, like, ‘Holy shit.’ And I would literally have to pick pieces of solos that were coherent, and we’d cut them. ‘Cause George is a freeform guitar player, I’ll say — he just picks up the guitar and plays. There’s no structure. There’s no beginning. There’s no end. There’s no middle. That’s just the way George plays. So I’d go in the studio, take all the tapes. ‘That’s a good spot. That’s a good spot. That’s a good spot. That’s a good spot.’ And we’d cut them all together. And then I’d go home at five in the morning. And I told Michael Wagener, ‘Whatever you do, don’t tell George I was here helping you. [Laughs] ‘Cause he’d flip out.”
When Shute noted that George “didn’t want you to have that control,” Don clarified: “I don’t say control; it’s just input. I’m a guitar player; I’m a lead guitar player. I go, ‘This solo has nothing — this one track has nothing to do with this song. That track has nothing to do with this song.’ So I’d have to put it all together that it worked on the song.
“George, I think it’s great that he was always trying to reach out and experiment and do something different. And George is trying to expound his musical abilities, and I respect him for that. But it was a nightmare.”
DOKKEN will release its 13th studio album, “Heaven Comes Down”, on October 27 via Silver Lining Music. The LP was produced by Bill Palmer and Don Dokken and was mixed by Kevin Shirley (AEROSMITH, IRON MAIDEN).