KissFAQ: Bruce, let's set the stage a little bit. What was your inspiration to learn to play an instrument, and ultimately perform professionally?
Bruce Turgon: I started playing woodwinds in grade school and then like so many, I saw the Beatles and the Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show and from that point on, playing in a rock band was all I wanted to do.
You were a member of the Black Sheep, a Rochester, NY band that included future Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm. You released a single and two albums. Could you tell us a bit about how that band came together?
Lou and I were in the two big club bands of that time and I would see him periodically at different shows. We both wanted to be in a band with a heavier approach and write our own material and we got together to pursue that.
Black Sheep opened for KISS on several occasions during their "Alive!" tour. What do you recall about how the band got the opening gigs at these shows?
Black Sheep was the main hard rock/alternative band in the area, and was opening shows for many national acts that were coming through. I don't remember the exact timing, but I believe we had just released our second album and our management got us on the bill.
From an opening band perspective, what was it like opening for a band that was just starting to break; and one with the live performance they put on?
I was struck by how relentless their approach was and the power in the delivery of the material. It was different than what I had seen up to that point.
What did you think of the band, and did you interact with any of the members at any of the shows?
The first show that we did with them was in Rochester, and I don't remember meeting any of them personally. However, I did meet Paul at sound check when we played the Orpheum in Boston -- I didn't recognize him at first as I'd only seen him with makeup.
A feature in Goldmine suggests you only performed a single show opening for KISS. Ads for several other shows suggest that other slots were at least scheduled (Rochester, NY, 10/5; Columbus, OH 10/11; Boston, MA, 12/14; Waterbury, CT 12/18; Louisville 12/27/75). Do you remember how many shows you actually opened for KISS for?
Rochester and Boston for sure. We played Columbus a few times and I don't recall if we opened for them there.
Lou has recalled that Black Sheep ultimately broke up following the crew truck hitting a patch of ice and much of your equipment being destroyed. What do you recall about that event and the ultimate demise of the band?
Yes, we were returning from the Boston show and that's exactly what happened. As much of the gear was damaged or destroyed, we were unable to continue with the other dates we had booked and the band never recovered from it.
Lou landed on his feet with Foreigner. Where did your career path take you?
I was offered a gig in LA with a metal band on United Artists. Although that never transpired, I started working in the LA scene, both with my own bands, as a songwriter and as a hired gun for Billy Thorpe, Nick Gilder and others. I joined Warrior, a metal band on Virgin, and eventually began work with Lou on his solo career, Shadow King and Foreigner as well as my own projects on Frontiers Records.
How did you ultimately end up writing "My Way" with Paul Stanley and Desmond Child?
Phil Ashley was playing keyboards on Lou's solo album, and was working with KISS as well, and he mentioned me to Paul. I was in NYC and Paul and I got together and worked for an afternoon on the music bed for what would eventually become "My Way."
Was it a situation where you actually sat with either, or bounced ideas off each other remotely?
Paul had a small demo studio and we worked together there.
How would you ultimately define your contribution to the song?
It was in its very formative stages at the beginning of my involvement. Paul had played some chorus keyboard chords and I embellished on that idea as well as a verse riff/groove and basic melody.
Paul has commented, "It really became more of a challenge to me to see how high I could sing. There's times where if I sang any higher dogs would run into the street." With 30 years hindsight, how do you rate the song?
I like it and that album certainly shows the range Paul was capable of. At a time when I was working heavily on Lou's albums, it was a departure for me musically and I enjoyed working with Paul on it.
Were there any other of your suggestions/contributions to the songs that didn't survive to the song's final studio form?
Not really. I would have liked to have spent more time exploring other musical ideas with Paul, but as I said, I was in NY to work with Lou and there really wasn't time.
Obviously, you've worked with numerous people during your career. In terms of your life experience, what is the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of this song?
I've been fortunate to be involved with a lot of great players and projects and this is certainly one of them!
Ultimately, you recorded with Lou on his "Ready or Not" solo release, the criminally underrated "Shadow King" (one of my guilty pleasures), and with Foreigner for the "Mr. Moonlight" album. What are you up to these days?
I'm glad you enjoy the Shadow King album -- there seems to be a real love/hate dynamic with that record and I appreciate when someone says they get it. Besides all the work with Lou on "Ready Or Not," "Long Hard Look," "Shadow King," and with Foreigner, I've also done a solo album on Frontiers, "Outside Looking In" as well as "Places Of Power". I currently own a recording studio in northern CA, and will likely do another solo album at some point as I continue write.
Bruce, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!
My pleasure, Julian.
The KissFAQ thanks Bruce for participating in the Danger Zone, celebrating the 30th anniversary of KISS' "Crazy Nights" album. Bruce Turgon can be found online at http://www.bruceturgon.com.
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