The brainchild of former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, Rainbow quickly developed into one of the '70s most successful heavy Rock bands.
Latest Activity: Nov 19, 2013
In 1974, Blackmore became infuriated at the funk/soul (or as Blackmore called it, "shoeshine music") elements being introduced to Deep Purple by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, as well as with the rejection from his bandmates of his suggestion to record a cover for inclusion on Stormbringer. Blackmore had originally intended to record Steve Hammond's "Black Sheep of the Family", a song recorded by the band Quatermass, as a solo single to express that his ideas were being suppressed in Deep Purple. During recent US tours, Deep Purple's support band had been Elf, and Ritchie had been impressed by Elf's singer, Ronnie James Dio. Blackmore and Dio found they had such a creative rapport that a full album's worth of music was soon composed, and they recorded it with Elf as a session band. Emboldened by the experience, Blackmore decided to leave Deep Purple and form his own band around Elf, effectively taking it over minus their guitarist and renaming it Rainbow. The name of the band was inspired by the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood that catered to rock stars, groupies and rock enthusiasts.
Blackmore fired everybody except Dio shortly after the album was recorded due to Gary Driscoll's R&B style of drumming and funky bass playing of Craig Gruber. Micky Lee Soule quit due to Blackmore's decisions and an opportunity to play in the Ian Gillan Band, and Blackmore recruited Cozy Powell, Jeff Beck's drummer, bassist Jimmy Bain, and American keyboard player Tony Carey. This lineup went on to record the next album Rising. This line-up also commenced the first world tour for the band, with the first US dates in late 1975. By the time of the European dates in the summer of 1976, Rainbow's reputation as a blistering live act was already established. Blackmore subsequently decided that Bain was substandard and fired him in January 1977. Bain was later asked to play bass in Dio's solo career. The same fate befell Carey shortly after. Tony Carey later formed a solo career in 1983. However, Blackmore had difficulty finding replacements he liked. On keyboards, he finally selected Canadian David Stone, from the little-known band Symphonic Slam. For a bass player, Blackmore originally chose Mark Clarke from the band Tempest, but once in the studio for the next album, Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, Blackmore disliked his playing so much that he fired Clarke on the spot and played bass himself on all but four songs: "Long Live Rock N' Roll", "Gates of Babylon", "Kill the King", and "Sensitive To Light". For these tracks, he finally settled on Australian Bob Daisley. After the release and extensive world tour in 1977–78, Blackmore decided that he wanted to take the band in a new commercial direction away from the "sword and sorcery" theme and hired former (now current) Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover as a producer and songwriter. Glover had almost completely quit playing the bass, and had devoted the latter part of his career to producing, creating hits for such bands as Judas Priest, Nazareth and Status Quo. This move was somewhat surprising, as Blackmore had instigated the sacking of Glover from Deep Purple in 1973. Dio did not agree with this change and left Rainbow. He would go to replace Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer in Black Sabbath. (Coincidentally, Daisley, Powell and future Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli also played with Black Sabbath at various times.) Dio would later form his own self-titled band with Jimmy Bain.
With Bonnet, Rainbow reached UK chart success with "Since You Been Gone".Blackmore attempted to replace Dio with Ian Gillan, but Gillan turned him down. After a series of auditions, former vocalist/guitarist of The Marbles, Graham Bonnet was recruited instead. Gillan would replace Dio later in his career, in Black Sabbath. Powell stayed, but Daisley and Stone were both fired, the latter being replaced by keyboardist Don Airey (later in Deep Purple). The band was, at first, auditioning for bass players, but, at Cozy Powell's suggestion, it was then agreed that Roger Glover would go back to his old instrument and join the band as a full time musician, and not only, as originally intended, as a producer and songwriter. The first album from the new lineup, Down to Earth, featured the band's first major singles chart successes, "All Night Long" and the Russ Ballard penned "Since You Been Gone". In 1980, the band headlined the inaugural 'Monsters of Rock' festival at Castle Donington in England. However, this was Powell's last Rainbow gig, as he had already given his notice to quit, disliking Blackmore's increasingly pop metal direction. He would go on to play for Michael Schenker, Whitesnake (founded by Blackmore's former Deep Purple bandmate David Coverdale) and Black Sabbath. Bonnet was fired the night Powell quit due to a drunken performance. Soon after, he would also join the Michael Schenker Group, and later pursued a solo career. Ironically, Bonnet was fired from MSG due to similar problems as with Rainbow.
For the next album, Bonnet and Powell were replaced by Americans Joe Lynn Turner and Bobby Rondinelli, respectively. The title track from the album, Difficult to Cure, was a version of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The album also contained the guitar piece, "Maybe Next Time". After the supporting tour, Don Airey then quit over musical direction and was replaced on keyboards by David Rosenthal. The band attained significant airplay on Album-oriented rock radio stations in the US with the track "Jealous Lover", reaching #13 on Billboard Magazine's Rock Tracks chart, which tracked AOR airplay. Originally issued as the B-side to "Can't Happen Here", "Jealous Lover" subsequently became the title track to an EP issued in the US that featured very similar cover art to "Difficult to Cure". Rainbow's next full length studio album was Straight Between the Eyes. The album was more cohesive than Difficult to Cure, and had more success in the United States. The band, however, was alienating some of its earlier fans with its more AOR sound. The single, "Stone Cold", was a ballad that had some chart success (#1 on Billboard Magazine's Rock Tracks chart) and the video of which received heavy airplay on MTV. The successful supporting tour skipped the UK completely and focused on the American market. A date in San Antonio, Texas on this tour was filmed, and the resulting "Live Between the Eyes" also received repeated showings on MTV.
Bent out of Shape saw drummer Rondinelli fired in favour of Chuck Burgi. The album featured the single "Street Of Dreams". According to Blackmore's biography on his official website, the song's video was banned by MTV for its supposedly controversial hypnotic video clip. However, Dr. Thomas Radecki of the National Coalition on Telvision Violence criticized MTV for airing the video, which would contradict Blackmore's claim. The resulting tour saw Rainbow return to the UK, and also to Japan in March 1984 where the band performed 'Difficult to Cure' with a full orchestra. The concert was also filmed. Hiatus and regroup Ritchie Blackmore, the band's founder and lead guitarist, signing autographs in 1997.Blackmore and Glover's management Thames Talent made a resounding offer to reform Deep Purple MKII. By April 1984, they reunited with Gillan, Lord and Paice, who then recorded the Perfect Strangers album, and Rainbow was disbanded. A final Rainbow album, Finyl Vinyl, was pieced together from live tracks and B-sides of singles. The album contained the instrumental "Weiss Heim", widely available for the first time. Deep Purple's follow-up album House of Blue Light was not on the same par as previous albums. It was evident again that Blackmore and Gillan were not able to work together. Gillan left, and Blackmore recruited ex-Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner. This line-up produced a very typical Rainbow-sounding album, Slaves and Masters, which instantly raised negative criticism among Deep Purple fans. Under pressure from both management and other Deep Purple musicians, Ian Gillan was asked to re-join for the third time. One further Deep Purple Mark II album, The Battle Rages On, was released and was well received. Yet Blackmore was enormously dissatisfied, and left Deep Purple in 1993 to form a new Rainbow with all-new members. The band released Stranger in Us All in 1995, and embarked on a lengthy world tour. The tour proved very successful, and a show in Germany was professionally filmed by Rockpalast. It has never officially been released, but has been heavily bootlegged (and considered by many collectors to be the best Rainbow bootleg of the era). The live shows featured frequent changes in set lists, and musical improvisations that proved popular with bootleggers and many shows are still traded over a decade later. However, fed up with stadium rock, Blackmore turned his attention to Renaissance and medieval music, a lifelong interest of his. Rainbow was put on hold once again, after playing its final concert in Esbjerg, Denmark in 1997. Blackmore, together with his partner Candice Night as vocalist, then formed the Renaissance-influenced Blackmore's Night who, as of 2010, are still recording albums and performing small intimate tours – completely in contrast to Rainbow's mammoth stadium shows.