Don Dokken Responds to Vocal Criticism With Complete Honesty
In advance of the Oct. 27 release of the band's new album, Heaven Comes Down, the 70-year-old Dokken spoke with Laughingmoneymusic about a wide range of topics, including misconceptions about songwriting credits on classic albums, drug abuse, Metallica and changes in his voice, in addition to new music.
Below, the singer opens up about the state of his voice today.
Don Dokken Responds to Criticism About His Voice
Age has a different impact on all singers and, more often than not, they have difficulties replicating what they did in their youth, now working with a different and typically limited range.
To maintain top performance ability four or more decades into a career is an exception, not the rule. Many bands will mask deficiencies with backing tracks and other technological enhancements. Dokken, however, do not rely on backing tracks, and, to aid him onstage, bassist Chris McCarvill contributes backing vocals, which is especially useful for the higher notes.
"I've had a lot of complaints. I see fans, when I go, 'The kiss of…' [in the song 'Kiss Of Death'] and I hit this B flat above A, this super soprano note, and I wouldn't hit it, and you see people go, 'Well, hey, you didn't hit the note.' I'm, like, 'Dude, I've done, like, three thousand concerts. It's like a motor car. It's getting worn out,'" he tells Laughingmonkeymusic (transcribed by Blabbermouth).
"When you're in your 20s... I don't know if we're gonna have another record or another hit or anything — I don't know. So here I am just singing up [in the high register]," Dokken continues, noting he wasn't thinking about the likelihood that he'd still be performing these songs live 40 or so years later.
"I was trying to copy [Judas Priest's Rob] Halford or all those bands and [Scorpions singer[ Klaus [Meine, who were singing] so high, but you go on the road for a year and a half and do 400 shows and five albums and then you start...," he trails off, likening it to the vocal demands of doing press, adding, "[My voice is] husky today just from talking to everybody. And that's just the way it is. You get older. I'm 70, man."
When it comes to those who say he "needs to give up" because he can't hit those high notes, Dokken slyly pivots, "'Let's see you hit those high notes 24-year-old. Go ahead. Go for it.'"
"If I can't sing the way they remember me, then just don't come to the show. I've got no problem with that," he later concluded on the matter.
Watch the full interview below.
Don Dokken Interview With Laughingmonkeymusic
Don Dokken Health Update
Dokken underwent spinal surgery in 2019 and, during the summer of the next year, he said that his hands were "dead" and he was no longer able to play guitar after the procedure.
The singer recently said in an interview with Cassius Morris that after going to the gym and doing physical therapy, his left hand is "normal" but his right hand is "fucked."
"The whole arm is paralyzed," he revealed, "I can hold a cup — that's about it."
About Dokken's New Album
Heaven Comes Down, Dokken's first studio album since 2012's Broken Bones, will be released on Oct. 27 through Silver Lining Music. Watch the video for lead single "Fugitive" and view the album art and track listing below. Pre-order the album here.
Dokken, "Fugitive" Music Video
Dokken, Heaven Comes Down Album Art + Track Listing
03. "Is It Me Or You?"
04. "Just Like A Rose"
05. "I’ll Never Give Up"
06. "Saving Grace"
07. "Over The Mountain"
08. "I Remember"
09. "Lost In You"
10. "Santa Fe"