Elf Biography

This US heavy rock unit was formed in 1967 by vocalist Ronnie James Dio (Ronald Padavona, 10 July 1940, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA) with cousin Dave Feinstein on guitar, plus Gary Driscoll (drums), Doug Thaler (keyboards) and Nick Pantas (guitar). They worked under the name Electric Elves until 1970 when the entire band was involved in a car crash, in which Pantas died and Thaler was hospitalized. Mickey Lee Soule (keyboards) was added to a reshuffled line-up, seen by Roger Glover and Ian Paice of Deep Purple in 1972. A production and recording contract was arranged, with Elf supporting Deep Purple on two American tours. However, the band’s bar-room blues and boogie was always more effective live than in the studio. In 1973 Elf recruited bass player Craig Gruber, allowing Dio to concentrate on vocals. Their guitarist, Feinstein, gave up touring and was replaced first by Doug Thaler, previously keyboard player for the Elves, and then Steve Edwards. From 1974 Mark Nauseef (later Ian Gillan and Thin Lizzy) played percussion for the band. In 1975 Glover offered Dio the opportunity to appear on his project The Butterfly Ball, and this gave Dio the widespread recognition he desired. Ritchie Blackmore stepped in to co-opt Elf into his Rainbow project, though after five months only Dio remained as former Elf musicians Gruber, Lee Soule and Driscoll were summarily discarded.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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