In a recent conversation with Shawn Ratches from Laughingmonkeymusic, Dokken frontman Don Dokken addressed the challenges he faces with his vocal performance and told fans who were disappointed not to attend the shows.
As age takes its toll, the 70-year-old rocker has been grappling with preserving the dynamism and range of his voice, especially when delivering the band’s classic hits live. Don mentioned instances when he couldn’t hit the high notes of ‘Kiss Of Death,’ saying:
“I’ve had a lot of complaints. I see fans when I go, ‘The kiss of…’ [‘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.'”
Don reminisced about his younger days when he sang in a high register. Addressing the criticisms he received from young fans, he continued:
“When you’re in your twenties, 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. I was trying to copy Rob Halford, or all those bands and Klaus Meine, by singing so high, but you go on the road for a year and a half and do four hundred shows and five albums, and then you start — like me, I’m husky today just from talking to everybody.
That’s just the way it is. And you get older. I’m 70, man. And some of these fans go… I’ve had people say, ‘Don needs to give it up. He can’t hit the high notes.’ I’m, like, ‘Let’s see you hit those high notes 24-year-old. Go ahead. Go for it.'”
Don stated that even during the peak of his vocal prowess, there were naysayers. He recounted an incident with a fan who, using the pseudonym Acorn, attended multiple Dokken shows only to express dissatisfaction online. Don’s response to such feedback was straightforward:
“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.”
It isn’t just age that has affected the singer’s vocal chords. Health challenges, including radiation treatments for stomach cancer and vocal cord surgery, have left their mark on his performances.
Former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson also weighed in on the issue during a previous interview with Tulsa Music Stream in April 2022. While acknowledging that not all vocalists maintain their range as they age, he expressed hope for Don’s continued well-being and future performances.
Dokken fans have something to look forward to as the band gears up for the release of their 13th studio album, ‘Heaven Comes Down,‘ scheduled to launch on October 27. It’s co-produced by Bill Palmer and Don Dokken and mixed by Kevin Shirley.
You can watch the full interview below.