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Collective Soul bassist talks about his Beatles influence

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by Marshall Terrill

Collective Soul bassist Will Turpin is an unabashed Beatles fan and has never been shy about discussing their musical influence on him.

Turpin's new EP, The Lighthouse, summons the melodic spirit of the Beatles with a dash of Paul McCartney and Wings. The 40-year-old Georgia musician says he's listened to the Fab Four for more than three decades and is still amazed by their talent and the breadth of their music.

In this exclusive interview with Turpin, he discusses how his father turned him onto the quartet, his favorite Beatles material, and how Collective Soul was able to pay musical tribute to John Lennon.

Will Turpin
Q: When did you discover The Beatles and what was the first album or recording that made you aware of them?

WT: The first song I learned was "I've Just Seen A Face" from Rubber Soul. My dad was a musician in a country rock band in the days of Alabama and Pure Prairie League, and they did a version of "I've Just Seen a Face." I think I must have been around 10 or 11 years old, so that must have been around 1980 or 1981. My dad, who was my earliest musical influence, told me about the Beatles and actually saw them live at Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium in August 1965. It was their one and only appearance ever in Atlanta. I basically grew up listening to them, Elton John, U2, R.E.M. and INXS.

Q: I've often said that I can hear the Beatles sense of melody and songwriting all over Collective much of an influence are they are on the entire group?

WT: It's just mainly me and Ed Roland who are the big Beatles fans in Collective Soul, but we all respect them immensely as artists and musicians. Everything sort of starts and stops with them. You can't top the Beatles.

Q: I've noticed you mentioned Paul McCartney and Wings being equally influential on you as a musician. So am I to assume that he is your favorite of the Beatles?

WT: Paul is definitely my favorite Beatles but all of them were so deeply talented that you end up drawing from all of them. And Wings, I've always felt, was a highly underrated band with some great tunes in their catalogue, namely "Band on the Run" and "Jet."

Q: Name a few of your favorite Beatles songs or albums?

WT: That's tough because they're all so good but that period from Rubber Soul to Magical Mystery Tour is my favorite. To watch them take that first step from being experimental or ambitious with Rubber Soul and watch them progress on each rung of the ladder to Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour, and all within a three-year period. You go from Rubber Soul to Revolver to Sgt. Pepper to Magical Mystery Tour that's just an amazing progression. I like The White Album as a whole but there are some tracks I felt there were a little too experimental for me. It's still a classic. Abbey Road is a masterpiece and probably my favorite album, but that three-year period where they recorded those four records (Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour) is truly amazing.

Q: What are your favorite songs?

WT: There's so many - "Let It Be", "Yesterday," "The Long and Winding Road," "Hey Jude" - you can't underestimate the greatness of those songs or take them for granted. Those are epic. I'm finding I like a lot of George's material, too. "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" are cool.

Q: Collective Soul recorded "Jealous Guy" from Imagine for 1995's Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon. Your version is outstanding. What do recall about that session?

WT: That was one of those assignments that just fell in our laps. You've got your folks out there keeping their ear to the ground and made something happen and that song was a very special moment in our career. I think we gave a great performance on that one. We nailed it...we nailed it. I really feel good about that song. I can look back 15 years later and say, "Did we or did we not get that one? I think we nailed it." Our performance of "Jealous Guy" is very special and I'm real happy with how it turned out. It's just on.

Q: Any chance Collective Soul might record a Beatles tribute album one day?

WT: It's not a bad idea. Personally, I'd love to do it because I cover them all the time in my shows. I've just got to get the other four guys in the group and our manager to get on board (laughs).

Will Turpin's The Lighthouse is available on iTunes and in physical form through For more information, visit

Published October 26, 2011

This article is Copyright © 2011, The Author, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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