Rainbow puts good music first
Did success spoil Deep Purple? Former Deep Purple members Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover, now reunited under the banner of Blackmore's Rainbow, say their old group's massive success got in the way of music. Now, Rainbow is afraid to become too successful.
Rainbow was formed in 1974, and although the band has been successful in England, Europe and Japan, they have not yet managed, in the course of four albums, to break through in the U.S.
Blackmore's Rainbow grew out of Ritchie's belief that Deep Purple was becoming too complacement in the wake of their worldwide and financial success. "You have to have hardships to make good rock music," he says now. "When you've struggled for success and finally attained it, you start to feel like you can't do anything wrong."
"With Deep Purple, we'd get together for rehearsals and the band would be talking about buying stocks, boats and houses, rather than music," he recalls. "If they're not talking about music, you know their heads aren't where they should be."
Deep Purple was formed in 1968 by guitarist Blackmore, drummer Ian Paice and organist Jon Lord. Ian Gillian and Roger Glover replaced the group's original singer and bassist in 1970. After a slow start, with a heavily orchestrated album, the group broke through in the top-10 single success with the rocker, Smoke On The Water. Everything they did after that sold millions around the world.
"When Purple started to hit, the record company couldn't even figure out how it happened," says Glover. "It certainly wasn't because of any heavy promotion on their part."
But the longed-for success soon produced dangerous side effects, Blackmore says. "Music wasn't number one with the band. When I did my last album with them, Stormbringer, in 1974, I felt that the boat was about to go down. There was no creative input and we were really scraping for material. Everyone else was too busy with whatever else they were doing to even bother attending rehearsals."
First Rainbow album
Bassist Roger Glover left Purple in 1973 for basically the same reasons Blackmore did. He decided to go the production route, and with the aid of friends, he released a solo album in 1975, The Butterfly Ball, which was based on music he had written for a TV show.
Blackmore made the first Rainbow album in 1974, while he was still with Purple; he left Purple shortly thereafter. The nucleus of the original Rainbow came from the New York heavy metal band, Elf, who had toured with Purple.
"I felt I'd already made my mark in rock and making Deep Purple records was becoming very tedious and unexciting," Ritchie says. "Most band get complacement after three or four albums - it becomes a job to them. I wanted to play some good music."
Has high standards
Blackmore's Rainbow plays an agressive brand of heavy metal rock that quickly established them as a major attraction in Europe and Japan. In the U.S. their first four albums attained gold status. But sustained airplay was hard to come by, and the LP's sales were nowhere near those of Purple hits.
Rainbow's climb to success has been hampered by the group's constant changes in players - 12 members in four years. Blackmore says his high standards of musicianship are to blame for the constant switches.
"I'm a pusher," he says. "The last Rainbow album didn't do as well as I'd hoped, so I decided to make a change in direction. I asked Roger to produce the new album, Down To Earth, because I wanted his input. But the bass player I had wasn't satisfactory, so Roger started playing and ended up joining the band."
The new Rainbow lineup consists of Blackmore, Glover, Powell, singer Graham Bonnet (formerly of the Marbles) and keyboardist Don Airey. "Don's an incredible classically trained musician." Blackmore says. "He's ahead of me. And Graham has a three octave voice range, which is amazing in rock 'n' roll, and has great stage moves, too.
"This album has more of a sheen to it, a little softer feel," he explains. "We're trying to do music that will sell - that's the magic formula. If you're only doing what you like, you end up broke. Rainbow hasn't made that much money, and we want to put the money we make back into the band.
"Naturally, we want success,"Blackmore says. "But Rainbow is now at the point where we're more interested in making music than money. We won't play rubbish to sell records.
© Winnipeg Free Press - November 3, 1979