GEORGE LYNCH On DON DOKKEN’s Claim That DOKKEN Frontman Wrote ‘A Lot Of’ Band’s Biggest Songs: ‘That’s Bulls**t’

In a recent interview with the 80’s Glam Metalcast, former DOKKEN guitarist George Lynch dismissed Don Dokken‘s assertion that the band’s namesake frontman wrote “a lot” of the group’s biggest songs. George said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “[Bassist Jeff Pilson, drummer Mick Brown and I] wrote almost everything. There was a point where the manager… This is always a thing with Don. He goes off about how he wrote everything. That’s bullshit. Jeff and I, and Don and Jeff wrote some things, and Don wrote a thing, something on his own here and there, and important songs, but the bulk of the material was written by Jeff and I, and that’s just the truth. And even the lyrics and the melodies and the titles were… Jeff and I joke all the time. There was a thing called the TV Guide, and I would get all my titles and the lyrics, obviously, flowed from the titles, from TV Guide. So you look and see a lot of those early records, they were either reworked XCITER [George‘s pre-DOKKEN band] songs or new stuff that Jeff and I wrote — sometimes with Mick‘s help — and then we’d end up with Don too; we’d collaborate with Don at the end of the process. But for 90 percent of material, that was the case. And these titles were out of the TV Guide — they were movies.”

He continued: “On ‘Tooth And Nail’ and the record after that, a lot of these were — I think especially ‘Tooth And Nail’; I think it was allTV Guide titles, pretty much. ‘Without Warning’, ‘Tooth And Nail’, ‘When Heaven Comes Down’, ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ — those were all movies. I remember looking at the TV Guide and seeing the names of those movies — they were old movies, usually. [And I’d go] ‘Oh, that’s a cool name. We’ll name a song that.’ So ‘Tooth And Nail’ was me and Mick and Jeff sitting around just going ‘‘Tooth And Nail’, okay. Run around the streets and start a fight.’ Silly fucking lyrics, but whatever. It worked. ‘Don’t close your eyes or I’ll be there.’ I remember having that whole hook and that melody and everything in my head. And we based it on that. ‘When Heaven Comes Down’, I wrote that. I spent a whole night; I stayed up all night. And Jeff had gone home. We were working in Anaheim in my home studio. And I was really frustrated with the song and I wanted to finish it. And I had an idea for ‘When Heaven Comes Down’. ‘When Heaven Comes Down’ was a movie. I stole the title from it. And then I came up with the lyrics. And then I sang it all into a harmonizer, an octave low, so it sounded like the devil, with all this echo on it… I was really proud of it. Of course, that got redone and everything, but… I can’t sing.”

In a recent interview with the “On The Road To Rock With Clint Switzer” podcast, Don explained why he and his DOKKEN bandmates decided in the beginning to split their songwriting royalties equally between the four members of the group. He said: “DOKKEN was a very unusual band. When I formed the band, even though I’d been DOKKEN for years and years before I met George and Jeff and Mick — I’d already toured Germany twice — but when we finally came together, I said, ‘Let’s make it simple. You write a hit, you write a hit, you write a hit, we’ll just split it four ways. It doesn’t matter who writes what. May the best songs win.’ And that’s how it was. Now, looking back, I could say it was a stupid thing to do, because I wrote a lot of the hits and I gave up 75 percent to the three of them. So instead of me getting four bucks, I got a dollar and Mick got a dollar and George got a dollar and Jeff got a dollar and the management took theirs and the accountants took theirs, and I thought, ‘Jesus.’ I go, ‘I lost millions’ writing ‘In My Dreams’ and ‘Just Got Lucky’ or ‘Alone Again’. I mean, I can name a bazillion songs that I wrote by myself on the guitar and wrote all the music. But that’s the deal we made. We were nobody. We weren’t famous. Hey, if George wrote a hit, I get money. Jeff writes a hit, I get money. Mick‘s the one that scored. He didn’t write. We rehearsed the songs for a week, go into a rehearsal studio, flesh it all out, pick the 12 best songs, Mick comes in the studio for four or five days, knocks out his drums and he goes to the drug dealer and then he heads off for the Rainbow [Bar & Grill in West Hollywood]. I said, ‘Mick, you scored. You made millions of dollars and all you had to do was spend a couple of weeks playing drums.'”

Almost a decade ago, Lynch spoke about the breakup of the classic DOKKEN lineup in 1989, telling Guitar Interactive magazine: “Here’s the things that happens in a band… especially in our era, in the ’80s, and I don’t know, even now probably… But if you have a record deal, or a master deal, for a certain amount of time, and you have increasing record sales, and then you get to the point where the deal ends, your managers come in and renegotiate and you get paid. Then you’re set for life — possibly. That’s when everything changes. That’s what you worked for for those however many years. This is where all your… Everything you’ve invested in time and energy, you get paid back for. And the singer [Don Dokken], at that point, decided that he wanted it all, he didn’t wanna share it with [the rest of] us, and he let us know that. So after this [Monsters Of Rock] tour [in 1988 with VAN HALEN, METALLICA and SCORPIONS], where we were gonna go out and play in front of hundreds of thousands of people and get paid lots of money, [he basically said] ‘I’m gonna try to take the whole thing and run with it, and you guys are gonna get left in the dust, and if you’re lucky, I might hire you [to play in my band].’ And you have to go on stage like that.”

He continued: “The reason that we were on fire before that — we were so dedicated, we kept persevering — was because we were all working for something. It wasn’t even for the money, it was just to get to that point. And success on all levels — musically and financially, so we could be secure, and all these things, for all the right reasons. And we took care of each other, and we were an equal-split band, and I fought for that. And by Monsters Of Rock, when Don announced that he was gonna, basically, try to grab the negotiation brass ring and keep it to himself, that backfired on all of us. Financially, it backfired on all of us, ’cause we didn’t get that massive… At that point, I think, that year MÖTLEY CRÜE got a 25-million-dollar deal, ANTHRAX got a 12.5-million-dollar deal, we would have been fine. Basically, we had a lot of leverage. We were gonna be a free agent, so it was really a shame. It just didn’t go right for anybody. So I went on to form LYNCH MOB, which did pretty well.”

DOKKEN‘s current lineup consists of Don alongside bassist Chris McCarvill, guitarist Jon Levin and drummer BJ Zampa (HOUSE OF LORDS).

DOKKEN‘s 13th studio album, “Heaven Comes Down”, came out in October via Silver Lining Music. The follow-up to “Broken Bones” was produced by Bill Palmer and Don Dokken and was mixed by Kevin Shirley (AEROSMITH, IRON MAIDEN).


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