Rainbow Biography

In May 1975, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (Richard Hugh Blackmore, 14 April 1945, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, England) left Deep Purple, forming Rainbow the following year. His earlier involvement with American band Elf led to his recruitment of the latter’s Ronnie James Dio (b. Ronald Padavona, 10 July 1940, New Hampshire, USA; vocals), Mickey Lee Soule, (keyboards), Craig Gruber on bass and Gary Driscoll as drummer. Their debut, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, was released in 1975, and was undeservedly seen by some as a poor imitation of Deep Purple. Dissatisfaction with the debut album led to new personnel being assembled, with the turnover representative of Blackmore’s quest for the ultimate line-up and sound. Soule left, while Jimmy Bain took over from Gruber and Cozy Powell (b. Colin Flooks, 29 December 1947, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England, d. 5 April 1998, Bristol, England) replaced Driscoll. With Tony Carey (b. 16 October 1953, USA, on keyboards, Rainbow Rising was released, an album far more confident than its predecessor.

Shortly after the release of Rainbow Rising, Bain and Carey left, being replaced by Bob Daisley (ex-Widowmaker) and David Stone, respectively. It was when Rainbow moved to America that difficulties between Dio and Blackmore came to a head, resulting in Dio’s departure from the band in 1978. His replacement was Graham Bonnet (b. 12 December 1947, Skegness, Lincolnshire, England), whose only album with Rainbow, Down To Earth, saw the return as bass player of Roger Glover, the man Blackmore had forced out of Deep Purple in 1973. The album was a marked departure from the Dio days, and while it is often considered one of the weaker Rainbow collections, it did provide an enduring single, ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, written and originally recorded by Russ Ballard.

Bonnet and Powell soon became victims of another reorganization of Rainbow’s line-up. Drummer Bobby Rondinelli and particularly new vocalist Joe Lynn Turner brought an American feel to the band, a commercial sound introduced on Difficult To Cure, the album that produced their biggest hit in ‘I Surrender’. Thereafter the band went into decline as their increasingly middle-of-the-road albums were ignored by fans (former Brand X drummer Chuck Burgi replaced Rondinelli for 1983’s Bent Out Of Shape). In 1984, the Rainbow project was ended following the highly popular Deep Purple reunion. The band played its last gig on 14 March 1984 in Japan, accompanied by a symphony orchestra as Blackmore, with a typical absence of modesty, adapted Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony’.

A compilation, Finyl Vinyl, appeared in 1986, and (necessarily) featured several different incarnations of Rainbow as well as unreleased recordings. Since then the name has been resurrected in a number of line-ups, with a new studio recording appearing in 1995.

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