In a press photo for his upcoming solo album Belly of the Beast, Turner appeared without a wig for the first time since he was 14 years old, 11 years after he was diagnosed with alopecia.
In a statement, the 71-year-old Turner recalled the “emotional and psychological damage from cruel bullying in school,” which led to him using hairpieces, but he asserted, “Assholes in high school trying to kick me around made me stronger and gave me the necessary motivation and strength to rise above the rest. Anger and pain are a great tool. If applied correctly, it could develop you to become the best version of yourself. Instead of running away, I was ‘hiding in plain sight.’”
Noting that the situation was “a blessing and a curse,” Turner added, “I have nothing to prove, and I can wear a wig – or not. I am free to do what I want. I’m a grown man, and I’m getting to be an older man. Many men in this business eventually come to the decision to continue to ‘wear hair’ or shave their head, which is very fashionable today. Either way, it takes a lot of personal courage.”
Among those to voice support was fellow Rainbow alumnus Graham Bonnet, who shared Turner’s new picture on social media and wrote, “I was moved to tears today when I saw it. Joe exemplifies the meaning of ‘rock star.’ His bravery is staggering.
“This industry is ruthless (especially in our genre), particularly when it comes to hair. I still hear the tale about Ritchie Blackmore posting a guard at my hotel door to keep me from getting a haircut. BTW, that never happened, although he was so pissed when I did visit the barber.”
Addressing Turner directly, Bonnet added, “You have blazed a trail today, Joe. If you are reading this, I want you to know that I never realized what a beautiful man you were until I saw this photo.”
Belly of the Beast will be released on Oct. 28 and is available for preorder now.
You can hear the title song below.
Turner said it included heavier music than he’s known for, but that the transition was eased with help from producer Peter Tagtgren. “’Belly of the beast’ is a phrase we’ve heard over and over again in history,” the singer noted. “We are in a true spiritual war right now. It’s good versus evil. We’ve all got an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. We’re in the belly of the beast, trapped in the system, and there’s no way out of it. The album addresses this.”
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