Not happy with the state of Deep Purple in the mid-'70s, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore made the stunning announcement in early 1975 that he was quitting the group he had founded and led for over seven years in order to start from scratch. Teaming up with American vocalist Ronnie James Dio, Blackmore built Rainbow around the singer's former band Elf, minus their guitarist. Featuring bassist Craig Gruber, keyboard player Mickey Lee Soule, and drummer Gary Driscoll, the group's 1975 debut Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow was quickly embraced by European fans and yielded their first hit single, "Man on the Silver Mountain."
Blackmore and Dio were not too pleased with the
album's sound, and decided to re-vamp Rainbow by drafting bassist Jimmy
Bain, keyboard player Tony
Carey, and former Jeff Beck Group drummer Cozy Powell. It was with this
line-up that they entered Musicland studios in February 1976 to record
the landmark Rising — once voted the greatest heavy metal album
of all time in a 1981 Kerrang! magazine readers' poll.
By the time they returned with the equally acclaimed Long Live Rock'n'Roll album in 1978 (featuring bassist Bob Daisley and keyboard player David Stone), Rainbow had established themselves as one of Europe's best-selling groups and top concert draws. But the volatile relationship between Blackmore and Dio had already begun to deteriorate. Blackmore had been so impressed with "Long Live Rock'n'Roll"'s success as a single, that he began to consider altering the band's sound in order to pursue a more mainstream hard rock approach. Dio officially quit Rainbow in early 1979.
Finding a suitable replacement for the charismatic singer
proved a serious dilemma, and when Blackmore eventually recruited former
Marbles vocalist Graham Bonnet, his decision came with an all-around re-tooling
of Rainbow's sound, not to mention, once again, the band's membership,
which now included former Deep Purple cohort Roger Glover and keyboard
player Don Airey. With the release of 1979's Down To Earth, gone were
the mystical themes and epic rock compositions, replaced by a more streamlined
commercial hard rock style.
Once again strapped for a vocalist, Blackmore found his man in American singer Joe Lynn Turner, who along with new drummer Bobby Rondinelli signalled a true career rebirth for Rainbow. Wishing to get a more commercial American-rock sound, the new Rainbow line-up was made to order for another bid at widespread acceptance in America. The first product of this new direction, 1981's well received Difficult To Cure helped the group regain some of their new sound. So did 1982’s, Straight Between The Eyes with new keyboard player David Rosenthal and 1983's Bent Out Of Shape with new drummer Chuck Burgi. Rainbow continued to do more and more successful tours around the world through the 80’s. However, it all came to halt in early 1984.
Blackmore finally relented to take part in the long-rumoured re-formation of Deep Purple's classic Mark II line-up. Typically, the guitarist refused to go out quietly, and Rainbow was backed by a full symphony orchestra for their final March 1984 performance in Japan.
Blackmore would resurrect the Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow moniker after quitting Purple for the second time in late 1993 and record 1995’s Stranger In Us All with new vocalist Doogie White. However, this incarnation would be somewhat short-lived and Blackmore would once again start from scratch with Blackmore’s Night in mid 1997.