Singer Don Dokken was a recent guest on Eddie’s Sirius/XM show, Eddie Trunk Live. Dokken discussed the band’s forthcoming, classic line-up, reunion shows in Japan. Highlights from the interview appear below, as transcribed by

On money being the main motivating factor in the classic Dokken lineup reuniting for a handful of shows in Japan this fall:

“I’m looking forward to playing with George [Lynch, guitar] and Jeff [Pilson, bass]. Of course, Mick’s [Brown, drums] still in Dokken, the current lineup. It’s not glorious. But when someone sticks an ‘X’ amount of dollars with a lot of zeroes attached, what are you gonna say? ‘No, I’m busy’? I mean, c’mon, man. You think David Lee Roth went back with Van Halen because he just felt like it. I mean, it’s about money. And Guns N’ Roses — do you think they’re doing it ’cause they’re all madly in love with each other? I don’t think so.”

Discussing why now is the right time for this reunion:

“I think it was a lot of accidents involved. The first time we were gonna do it, we were gonna come on your show and talk about it. The morning we were gonna be on your show, Jeff called and said, ‘Don’t say it.’ And I said, ‘What?’ He says, ‘Well, I haven’t talked to the guys in Foreigner yet. Apparently [they’re] gonna book a bunch more shows. I’m not sure I can do it.’ And I said, ‘Well, you should have sorted all that out before George and I look stupid on Eddie’s show.’ And this time, it just turned out that October, Jeff has some downtime. And I said, ‘Well, if you guys commit, I won’t book any shows in America for two weeks.’ We’re gonna go to… Chuck Brennan has a place called [Badlands Pawn] Guns Gold And Rock ‘N’ Roll in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and it’s a beautiful venue with a multimillion-dollar camera system. So we’re gonna go up there, rehearse for five days, then we’re gonna play a show, film the whole thing, put it on tape to see if it comes out down the road. And then we’re gonna come home the next day. We’re gonna be home for one day and we hop on the plane and off we go to Japan.”

Speaking about whether there will be any other live dates outside of the shows in Japan, and the one off, in South Dakota?

“No. I’m really content playing with Jon Levin [guitar]. He’s been in the band 13 years. Mick’s in the band. I’ve got Chris McCarvil on board now, from House Of Lords, on bass. And I’m just really happy with that lineup. You know, George has Lynch Mob. Jeff’s got Foreigner. So, this is it. It’s just a window in time. And I thought, well, we were probably maybe more famous in Japan than we were in America. At one point, it was pretty crazy. I mean, the fans and… It was just intense. So, we thought we would put an exclamation point on what we did, and we’ll play all the classic hits, and it’ll just be six shows. And then it’s back to business as usual. George will be doing his Lynch Mob, and I go back on the road. I get home from Japan, I have four days off, and then right back on the road [with the current lineup of Dokken].”

On whether he has been in a room together with George, Jeff and Mick to discuss the reunion:

“Oh, yeah, when we negotiated. Honestly, I haven’t seen the guys for about six weeks, since we negotiated the deal. Jeff’s been out pretty relentlessly with Foreigner, and George has been on tour, I’ve been on tour, so I haven’t seen anybody. [But when we got together] it was fine. It’s the same old thing. We just talked and negotiated, and I was firm with what I wanted. I just said, ‘If you guys wanna do this, this is what I need to get, and this is what I need to make, and it’s not really negotiable. I don’t wanna argue. I don’t wanna fight. This is what I need. And this is what you guys will get. Let’s all make it fair.’

A lot of bands get back together and the main guy, the lead singer or the lead guitar player, they take half. I mean, I don’t know what the Guns N’ Roses’ deal is, but I doubt it’s a six-way split, let’s put it that way; I doubt it. But in this situation, I said: ‘How about this? How about a four-way split? This is about as fair as I can get.’ I could ask for fifty percent. I said, ‘How about…? We’re all gonna be working. How about we split it all four ways?’ That means I’m giving up 75 percent. I own the franchise. I didn’t take the franchise of Dokken. I built it up. George left the group. He didn’t leave it. He got paid for his share of 25 percent. I paid Jeff, I paid Mick. Everybody got paid.

My analogy is, we have a house. It’s called the House Of Dokken. And we all owned that house. I didn’t take the house. I bought the house back. I bought the house from George and Jeff and Mick. They all got paid when they left the band; they got paid for their share. So it made no sense for me just to go back and say, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna give it all back to you for free,’ even though I kept the franchise alive for seventeen years since George left the second, third and fourth time. You know, I’ve kept the franchise going. I’m pretty sure if we would have broke up in ’88 after Monsters Of Rock and I retired and you never heard of Dokken again for 25 years, I don’t think that we’d be getting this offer.”

Speaking about whether there are any plans for the classic lineup of Dokken to write new music:

“Yes, we’re right in the middle of writing a new song right now. Just one. We don’t have time [to write more]. Jeff and George wrote a riff, a music piece, with a bridge and a chorus and that. I said, ‘Send it to me, and I’ll pen it. I’ll write some lyrics to it.’ But, then I actually sent it down the road to Mick, ’cause Mick’s actually a really good songwriter; I think he had a lot to do with writing [Lynch Mob’s] Wicked Sensation. So Mick wrote a song, he sang it, he sent it to me, and now in the next week or so, I’m gonna try to make it a song. So, I thought it would be kind of cool, if you’re in Japan, to have a surprise and play one brand new song that no one’s ever heard before, from the four of us. I’ve just gotta sing it, and we’re gonna put it all together in rehearsal. And we won’t be recording it. We’ll be doing it live in Japan. We’ll probably do the song live at the live video taping at the [South Dakota] concert; that’ll probably be the first time we do the song. And then we’ll do it in Japan. That way, it’ll be a nice little tidbit when the DVD comes out — if and when it comes out — that they can say, ‘Wow! A brand new Dokken song. How cool is that?'”

What about the possibility of the reunion imploding before the band even makes it to Japan?:

“Oh, that would be a bummer. That’s why we’re doing Dakota, actually. It’s a beautiful venue. It has five separate, beautiful dressing rooms, so if things get tense, we have limited access to each other. I’m not trying to be negative, ’cause it doesn’t serve me to be negative, but if things get tense, and old injuries and old [bad] behavior — which, I think, they’re all pretty famous for doing — re-emerges, I can remove myself from it and stay clear of it.

Honestly, do I barbecue with George on the weekends? No. Or Jeff? No. You know, there’s already a little bit of pushback in this last month of getting ready. I won’t go into it, but, you know, just people wanting this and people wanting that and people wanting this. Honestly, I just delete the e-mails and don’t pay attention.”

Discussing whether he would consider playing shows in other parts of the world with the classic lineup, if the offers are strong enough:

“No. It won’t happen. It’s already happened. Are you kidding me? I can’t say who, but people are calling me for very, very big festivals in Sweden, Germany… like Wacken festival, Bang Your Head!!!, Dynamo, Sweden Rock, and offering us really huge amounts of money to do this at some festival one-offs. And I just asked my manager. I said, ‘Look, this is the answer, and just make it loud and clear: ‘No.’… My loyalty lies with Jon Levin, Mick Brown and Chris McCarvil. That’s my loyalty to this band, and I’m not gonna ruin my franchise. And if I started doing these shows for the money, then that is prostitution, and that is just whoring myself, and I can’t do it. And between you and me — we don’t have to talk about it — but you know my financial situation, so, as you know, money is the last thing that is motivational for me. I don’t need the money. Money is not an issue. To be frank, I would like to see Mick have a really nice nest egg when he gets back. And I look forward to playing with the guys; I think it’s gonna be fun. And I’m gonna make it a vacation, basically. After we’re done, I’m gonna stay in Japan for a week.”

On what he would say to Dokken’s U.S. fans who want to see the classic lineup play again:

“Buy a ticket for Japan, or go to South Dakota, because I’m gonna be very adamant: that is it. I will not ruin my franchise I built up for thirteen years with the current lineup. Mick and I worked very hard to keep the Dokken name out there and be a good band and perform well. And my life is different now. I’m not 30 years old anymore driven to do this or driven to do that, or make money. Those drives are not in my DNA anymore. It’s all about the music. And it sounds shallow, it sounds trite, but it’s the truth. My peace of mind, my lifestyle that I live now is so paramount and more important, I just can’t take the chance that… I don’t wanna be around… And it doesn’t [just have] to do with the Dokken guys — anybody in my life… Anybody who brings negative energy in my life, I don’t wanna be around them. I surround myself with positive people. And if they’re not positive, I disassociate myself from those people, and those are the people that talk s–t about me. But, that’s their problem. Be kind. There’s an old saying: if you don’t wanna bring anything to the party, then don’t come to the party.”


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  • Rattlehead on

    This is another example that music is a business, and Don is trying to think strategically with his business decisions. As a CPA, I understand the thought process. But when he states that he can’t whore himself out, that is a hypocritical comment. If he didn’t want to whore himself, then why agree to the gigs in Japan? That is exactly what he did!!! And Don shouldn’t hide behind trying to build a nest egg for Mick. Money talks for Don, but that’s his business decision….

    • shannon mehaffey on

      What a total straw man…you purport to know his state of mind..

  • Michael B on

    I’d bet the major reason Eddie VH put up with Dave this last time was for a paycheck for everybody.

    The artistry is a nice idea, but money can get the wheels turning.

  • Frank T on

    This guy is a douche. And no you don’t look cool with the cancer stick dangling from your mouth dude. I’m not being negative Don, just realistic. You’re band is not a franchise either. Metallica, Zeppelin, Kiss, AC/DC, etc, now those are franchises.

  • shannon mehaffey on

    I don’t think this guy is perfect, I went to see him at the Whiskey in ’13, it wasn’t billed as an acoustic show, and I was so disappointed, I had to walk out right in front of him…he kept complaining about the monitors, he seemed to be throwing his proverbial weight around…(but, maybe the monitors sucked, I wasn’t up there)..

    Don is a rock star from head to toe though, and where is anyone coming up now that has even a fraction of what he had? Talk about a guy who can sell a song….

    In their pursuit of Capitalism, Dokken pushed themselves to be a better band, and in doing so, they pushed the entire music movement forward. Like them or not, that’s the truth…not saying they were revolutionary, but they did go into a new frontier.

  • MetalMania on

    I was a big Dokken fan when I was a teenager. Still listen to Dokken albums fairly often, both the original lineup and the post-George and Jeff era. But saying he’s the “main guy” or whatever – maybe technically that’s true, it’s his name on the band, but I NEVER thought of them as “Don Dokken and his backup band”. Sorry, but George was as much of a draw to Dokken as Don was. Obviously, I don’t know any of them personally and I don’t doubt the bad blood and breakups were not all Don’s fault. But George has said numerous times over the years that they all just wanted an equal share, and Don wouldn’t do it. I have a feeling that it happened this time because the OTHER GUYS insisted on it, rather than a gesture of generosity on Don’s part. Don says here that if they broke up in ’88 he doubts they’d be getting this offer now, basically saying it’s because he kept the band alive since George and Jeff left. I can’t fully agree with that, because outside of dedicated fans (and how many of them are there really for this band anymore?) most people have no idea the band is still out there – in any configuration. Not saying he hasn’t worked hard to keep it alive, and I’m glad he has, I just don’t know that the average rock fan who remembers Dokken from the 80’s realizes it.

    Anyway, whatever. I hope the South Dakota thing goes well and they get a great recording of it – I’d really like to see and hear it. I hope the Japan shows are good, and the guys get along and deliver great performances. I like a lot of what George puts out now, and I really hope he and Jeff can do more together. I’ve liked Dokken with Jon Levin too. Unless the new song they’re working on turns out to be unfreakingbelievable, I actually think musically they’re probably better off apart now anyway.

    I saw Dokken back around ’10 or ’11 and honestly was pretty disappointed, mostly in Don’s performance. But in hindsight I guess he was sick then and I’ve heard he’s sounding a lot better now. I hope so, I always liked his voice. But I also wish they played more songs from the albums after George and Jeff, and more than a 1 hour set. Yeah I like the classics, but if he’s so into the current iteration of the band, you’d think he would want to promote their recent work a little more. It’s worth the exposure.

    • Dana on

      In all deference to Mr. Dokken, who is talented in his own right, most people that I knew, who were fans of the band, were there for Lynch.

      The first Lynch Mob record, Wicked Sensation, is probably in my top ten favorite records of all time, if not, my top five. Also, their second self titled album, with Robert Mason on vocals, is good, as well. Tangled In Web is an amazing song.

      While I confess to know very little about Dokken’s current lineup, to me, the combination of Dokken, Lynch, Pilson and Brown, is the best.

      MetalMania, I am not sure if you own it already, but if you’re a Dokken fan, and a purist, I implore you to by the DVD of, One Live Night. You won’t be disappointed. Plus, you will get to see the lead vocal talents of Pilson, and Brown, as well. The vocal harmonies in this band as a whole, is so impressive. However, I must state this is an acoustic, stripped down, unplugged performance.

      I know I keep bringing this DVD up ad nauseum, but it really is an very underrated gem. Here is the Amazon link to purchase:

      D 🙂

    • MetalMania on

      Hi Dana,

      I don’t have the One Live Night DVD, but somehow I have a copy of the audio – can’t remember where I got it, whether it was available when I had a subscription music service or what. Anyway, I agree – it’s very good. My favorite track on it might be “Tooth and Nail”, because it’s the last song I would expect them to do acoustic, and Mick does such a great job singing. It’s one of my favorite unplugged albums for sure. I love the “Wicked Underground” album Lynch and Pilson did in the early 2000’s, Jeff sings lead on the whole thing and sounds great. Same for the tracks he sang on the “T&N” album a few years back. I just think Lynch and Pilson were born to write together. As far as recent Dokken, with Jon Levin on guitar, the albums “Lightning Strikes Again” and “Broken Bones” are pretty solid.

    • Dana on


      D 🙂

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