US Tour 1976

The Sweet
with Ritchie Blackmore

Music Notes

Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica CA - March 24, 1976

Apparently no newspaper writers in town (including this one) stayed for the end of the Sweet show, since nobody's review mentioned the finale appearance of Ritchie Blackmore.

Blackmore joined Sweet on "All Right Now" in tribute to Paul Kossoff. Surprisingly this "demand" concert was not sold out, but Capitol put up some impressive klieg lights ringing the Santa Monica Civic, making some nifty light patterns in the sky.

The most interesting reaction to the Sweet show was Benny Saboonchian's foaming-at-the-mouth review in the Herald-Examiner that started out suggesting Sweet be pelted with rotten eggs and mushy tomatoes.

Art Fein
Los Angeles Free Press - April 2, 1976

Backers Short, So Idaho Fest Becomes a Nightmare

NorthWest Rock Festival, State Line Idaho - June 6, 1976

Concert promoter Randy Hall of nearby Garden Grove says the reason for the cancellation on the second night of a three day rock festival at Stateline, Idaho, was due to lack of funds by the backers, two unidentified men from Idaho and Florida. The June 4-6 event at Northwest Speedway erupted into violence during the show when stagehands and technicians began packing equipment after discovering they were not going to be paid. When the fans found out the festival had been halted, they began burning concession buildings and vehicles.

Police reported 21 arrests, although there were no reports of injuries. The Nor'wester '76 Book Festival had about 7,000 persons on hand when the violence erupted. The festival, which had production costs of $200,000, had advertised such acts as Bachman Turner Overdrive, Blue Oyster Cult, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Nektar, and a number of other acts. The Friday night show was headlined by Blue Oyster Cult and Nektar.

The backers arrived that day and informed everyone that there was a lack of funds to continue the shows. When the realization came that there would be no money to stage the last two days, the production crews withdrew. Initially there were no groups, no sound and lights, and no security for the Saturday night concert. It was at this point that the spectators took matters into their own hands, causing between $75,000 to $100.000 in damages, according to the sheriff's department.

Frank Barron, Billboard - June 26, 1976

Angry Rock Fans Destructive

NorthWest Rock Festival, State Line Idaho - June 6, 1976

Northwest Speedway president Bill Eberley says the damage estimate for a destruction spree at an aborted rock festival has reached nearly $250.000. Rock throwing, vandalism to buildings and equipment and arson spread through the speedway Saturday afternoon as 5,000 persons learned that the three-day rock festival they had paid between $18 and $30 to attend was folding.

A few persons were reported injured and treated at local hospitals, including a young woman with a broken leg. Kootenai County sheriff's deputies said the Norwester '76 festival was shut down between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. following a dispute between the festival promoters. Colonial Enterprises of Lewiston, and the company providing the sound system.

Sheriff Thor Fladwed said he was on the festival grounds at about 3 p.m. when it became evident that the event was closing down. "Nobody told us that the festival was folding, but everyone sensed it," he said. Fladwed said promoters of the festival left the grounds shortly after 3 and the sound company immediately began dismantling its equipment.

US Newspaper - June 1976

Riot Ends State Line Rock Fest

NorthWest Rock Festival, State Line Idaho - June 6, 1976

Hundreds of persons went on a violent rampage at the Northwest Speedway Saturday afternoon after a rock festival was closed by its Promoters because of financial difficulties. At least six persons were hospitalized Saturday with injuries they suffered at the rock festival. One man, who suffered head injuries when struck by an auto on festival grounds, was admitted to Kootenai Memorial Hospital in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Concession buildings burned to the ground, semi-trucks were set on fire, a huge crane was toppled and the festival stage was torn apart. Heavy black smoke filled the sky over the site and flames shot more than 50 feet into the air as propane, butane and diesel truck tanks exploded and caught on fire. Local law enforcement officials did not approach the speedway, but directed traffic on adjacent roads as the riot ran its course.

Attemps by some members of the crowd to quell the outbreak were futile. Most of the crowd of more than 5,000 persons did not participate, remaining in the campgrounds outside the security fence. The trouble began about 3:30 p.m. when word spread that the festival was closing down. The promoters and security guards left earlier in the afternoon. Most of the expensive sound equipment on the stage was rescued under a hall of rocks, beer cans and wino bottles.

Before the riot began, the speedway was eerily deserted for about 45 minutes. And then the crowd began to trickle in. The first target was the stage, the semi-trucks parked near it and a dozen or so small trailers parked backstage for the performers to use. Next, the concession buildings atop the cement grandstand were set on fire.

An Early Dawn milk truck was pushed over the grandstand seating, coming to rest on its side in the infield. The truck then was set on fire. No one was in the truck when it was rolled. A tall crane backstage was toppled, crashing into the awning over the stage and tnrough the stage floor. The entire twisted mess was then set ablaze. Only two or three hundred persons actually participated, but hundreds more cheered them on. However, the bulk of the crowd passively stood by outside the gates.

Several cars, motorcycles and trucks were driven on the infield, raced at high speeds and came dangerously dose to hitting hundreds of persons. The speedway literally looked like a battlefield during the height of the riot. None of the promoters was available for comment as to why the festival shut down. Unconfirmed reports were that they "simply had run out of money.""

A spokesman at Kootenai Memorial Hospital said the man who was admitted with head injuries was not seriously injured. At Spokane Valley General Hospital one young woman who had attended the festival was treated for a broken leg. A nurse said the woman was trying to prevent the fall of another person when her leg was pinned and broken. Another person at the festival was treated at Spokane Valley General for a drug overdose.

At least 80 police officers from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office and tbo Idaho State Police directed traffic as they stood outside the gate. An ISP spokesman in Coeur d'Alene said officers were instructed to stay outside concert grounds to avoid a direct confrontation. Also, the Washington State Patrol sent more than 20 officers, some of them called in off duty, to help with traffic and crowd control after the concert folded.

Financial problems plagued the festival, billed as Nor'Wester '76, since it opened Friday night, almost five hours behind schedule. Evidently these problems caused a split between the promoters, Colonial Enterprises, Inc., Lewiston, Idaho, and the show's producer, Jack Morrow and John Brower, both of New York City.

Colonial Enterprises evidently had sunk almost $250,000 into the festival before it opened and was operating "on paper and credit" by Friday night. "Bands want cash in advance before they perform," one rock festival veteran said. Sensing what would happen when the festival was closed, the producers, promoters, stagehands and security personnel left the grounds during the afternoon. The last of them cleared out less than a half an hour before the riot began.

Ticket prices to the three-day festival were $18 in advance. Thousands of young peoplefrom throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada were among the crowd. No official announcements were made to the crowd that the festival was shutting down. And there was no indication Saturday night as to whether money would be refunded. As darkness fell, the crowd seemed to settle down. The trucks, their fires ablaze, continued to send dark smoke over the entire State Line area.

Les Blumenthal, The Spokesman Review - June 1976

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Columbus Ohio - June 11, 1976

We never played a single note on that tour because Phil was suffering from hepatitis weeks before we even got to "Ohio" where the tour was to begin.

The day we got to "Ohio" Phil more or less nearly collapsed with exhaustion and was taken to the hospital where he was told that he had contracted hepatitis and was to immediately fly back to London. Back in London he was put in the intensive care unit for a couple of weeks. It´s a shame, cause it would have been a great tour for Lizzy.

Scott Gorham [Guitarplayer Thin Lizzy]

Allen Theater, Cleveland OH - June 15, 1976

As Ronnie Dio, vocalist for Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, announced that the concert's opening act, Thin Lizzy, had cancelled out because of bassist Phil Lynott's sudden attack of hepatitis, Blackmore himself despondently fidgeted with his guitar chord. Perhaps he was a bit perturbed at how much Lizzy's absence seemed to have sliced into the show's attendance (about two-thirds of the Allen was full, Blackmore, surely gotten used to turnouts five times this size in his Deep Purple days, but as Ian Hunter and Steve Marriott (among many others) rudely discovered, being an ex member of a band ain't the same animal as your original gig to most fans.

On the whole, however, Rainbow offers an improvement over the rock dinosaur that Purple had turned into in recent years. Since Blackmore had been writing most of his former band's material, there are obvious stylistic similarities in the slick, choppy power music churned out by both bands.

In personnel, Dio in particular stands out as one of the best in his classification. His powerful, versatile styli, were combined with a personable stage manner which refreshingly contrasted the haughty stances of numerous others of his ilk. Drummer Cozy Powell proved that Jeff Beck this former employer, doesn't know how to pick even mediocre players for his groups. Powell's manic, synchronized playing was topped off by that rarest of rock commodities, an interesting drum so1o. Rock-solid playing was provided as well by keyboardist Tony Carey (when he stayed away from Jon Lord imitations), and bassist Jimmy Bain.

A professional quality lighting and sound set-up was dominated by a half-circle lighting strip which looped rainbow-like over the length of the stage, providing an amazing variety of sweeping, flashing light patterns, usually nicely synched with the music. It was a visual innovation one would have expected to see from the likes of Genesis or Pink Floyd.

A disappointingly short set (considering that Rainbow was the bill's only act) was nonetheless enjoyable for fans of high quality metal rock. Blackmore is still undisputedly one of rock's top lead players, and his dancing fingers were often in evidence. Although he still didn't utter a word from the stage, the sullen Man In Black has loosened up enough to even slap skin a few times with stage-front devotees.

The material performed excluded all but one Deep Purple composition. "I've Been Mistreated," concentrating instead on songs from Rainbow's two albums. Of those, "Stargazer," "Man On The Silver Mountain" and a reworking of the old Yardbirds' ditty, "Still Sad," especially impressed with their power and structure.

Making a conscious effort to leave his often dark days with Deep Purple behind, Blackmore has done a creditable job of it thus far. Needed revisions and improvements seem to have been made, and word should soon begin to spread as to the quality of Rainbow's live show. Whatever one can say personally against the so called Prince Of Pricks, he's assembled a top-rank musical vehicle which has a shot at duplicating the success of his old gig.

Cliff Michalski, Cleveland Scene - June 23, 1976

Arena Concert Cancelled

Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, Binghamton NY - June 16, 1976

Blackmore's Rainbow and Thin Lizzy have canceled tonight's scheduled performance at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. Bud Becker, of Silver Bullet Productions, promoter of the concert said it was his decision to cancel when illness forced Thin Lizzy to stop all their shows for an unspecified time. Becker said the concert would be re-scheduled later this summer with Blackmore's Rainbow and another group. If possible, Thin Lizzy would also be rescheduled, he said.

"We didn't feel it was right to bring in just one band after the kids paid $5.50 to see two," Becker said. Since Thin Lizzy canceled, Blackmore's Rainbow has been playing a single, but longer, set. We tried to get another act comparable to Thin Lizzy but we couldn't in the time we had. We've been trying since January to deliver what we promised for the kids in Binghamton and if we can't deliver, we don't want to substitute something less," Becker said.

About 1,000 advance tickets have been sold, he said, and the money would be refunded. "We didn't expect that this was going to be a concert that would attract 6,000 anyhow. But it is unfortunate because Thin Lizzy is getting really popular, their last album is taking off. And Ronnie Dio, the leader singer of Blackmore's Rainbow, is from Cortland and has a strong following in the Binghamton area."

Doug Thaler, concert manager for Thames Talent Inc. in New York City, said Thin Lizzy had to cancel because of the illness of lead singer and founder of the group, Phil Lynott. He said Lynott came down with infectious hepatitis about a week ago and spent two days in the Ohio State University hospital before returning to London Saturday. The rest of the group returned to London yesterday, where they will remain until Lynott recovers before continuing their tour.

"I hate to see stories about hepatitis is from using dirty hypodermic needles while taking intravenous drugs like heroin. We think they may have caught it on the West Coast where they met a lot of different people. There were groupies all over the place. Thaler said Blackmore's Rainbow would continue to do concert performances in smaller auditoriums until they can be joined by another rock group to work in the larger arenas.

Binghamton NY Press - June 16, 1976

One Magical Night

New York Beacon Theatre - June 17, 1976

It was a very memorable night, so memorable that I still talk about it frequently and it's been 27 years since I witnessed this night. It has changed my life forever. The setting was beautiful, a two balcony theater in New York City. With a huge statue on each side of the stage, anyone that was there that night will know what I am leading up to. A guy decided to climb the one statue, as the crowd cheered him on. Then after about twenty minutes there came the announcement, "The show will not start until the man climbs down" well I'm sure you guessed that the crowd turned against this young man.

I was nearly 12 years old that time. My older brother took me to the show. I was the only 12 year old listening to this kind of music. I will always thank God for my brother, if it were not for him I would have missed all this great music. This was my second concert, earlier that year I had witnessed Deep Purple with Tommy Bolin, another memorable night.

We were sitting twenty six rows away when we decided to walk up close to the stage. Next thing we knew, we were standing along the right side of the stage by the sound system. All of a sudden, there was a crowd pushed up against both sides of the stage. To my amazement, no security had told us to leave. Could this be possible? My first Rainbow show and I may stand first row? Yes, it was true. The lights have just went off. The last thing I remember before the lights went off, was a kid in a "Come Taste the Band" T-shirt. I told him I never seen Ritchie Blackmore before, He said wait until you see him, he is a guitar wizard. As the night would prove, he was so right.

Standing there in the pitch black theater, except for the little red lights on Blackmore's Marshall heads, I was shaking. Then I hear Judy Garland tell us we're not in Kansas anymore, we must be over the RAINBOW... Then it happened, the chilling power chords (I didn't make out they were playing over the rainbow until the Onstage LP came out). Then I got my first glimpse of Ritchie Blackmore live, there he stood all dressed in black with red plat form shoes and long hair down to the rose on his shirt. I cried, I am man enough to admit it. I know a lot of people that cried the first few times seeing Ritchie. Kind of like the girls crying when they seen the Beatles.

Then he broke into the fast paced "Kill the King" (an unfamiliar song to us all at that time). Just as the tears stopped, I seen a little man come walking out from the side of the stage. Dressed in purplish top and velvet pants with his hands up in the air. Damn, here come those tears again. Until the "On Stage" LP came out, I always remembered Danger, Danger (the opening line) and some magical melody that I would later find to be "Fly Like the Wind". I guess not knowing this amazing song made it more dramatic for me. It was at this point when I realized the singer in this band, the great Ronnie James Dio was just as big as part of this band as the guitarist. He was what a rock star is supposed to be, he was wicked and so cool. Ritchie's lead in that song on that night was the most amazing thing you can witness. It's a shame kids today can't experience anything like that. His fingers looked as if they weren't touching the neck on the guitar. They sort of glided like he was playing air guitar. It was with out a doubt the heaviest thing I have ever seen, yet crystal clear sound, and loud as hell.

Then Ronnie had announced the second song, the Deep Purple song, "Mistreated" which shocked me. I didn't expect any Deep Purple that night. The way they made it sound more like a Rainbow song then a Deep Purple song was amazing to me. Ritchie's guitar intro blaring through the theater still makes me numb just thinking about it and Ronnie's version of this song was stunning. He sang it so powerful. I remember thinking, I can't believe this. It was so intense. They seemed like they been playing together for years, yet they still had the fresh sound like the new band they were.

The rest of the night was so good, it changed my life forever. Since seeing Deep Purple and Rainbow in 1976, it has made it so hard for me to discuss music with the average listener. Those we special days, to be a little kid shoved up by a stage and see Rainbow perform classics like "Stargazer" and "Light in the Black" it makes it hard to get excited going to see anyone else.

There were moment's during the night, when the band got so low that you could hear a pin drop. While Ritchie would play some beautiful leads and put his index finger over his lips to shush anyone that would scream his name. Never have I seen this in rock and roll, a man to have that much power over the audience. What made this group of musicians so special. Is their ability to take things down to a whisper and then at the drop of a hat, be the loudest (Yet melodic) band you could ever see.

"Man on the Silver Mountain" was a gem. Ronnie's singing solo was beautiful. For years after this show I have heard many recordings of Rainbow, and they did a little bit of a jam to "Lazy" before the song. I never remembered them doing this on my night. I have just received a copy of that show titled "The Beacon Fire" and I was right, they did no "Lazy" that night. If anyone gets this tape, the quality is not that good, but for me, I had to have it. After 27 years my search is over. Thank God for the internet, now I find everything.

"Do You Close Your Eyes" was the Encore as usual and it would be the first ever smashing of the guitar in Rainbow. I just read that somewhere recently. I feel a little special about it too, because I was there to see it.

I went on to see Ritchie many more times in my life, but nothing will ever compare to the magical night I witnessed at the Beacon Theater in New York City. I just wished I was old enough to drive so I could have traveled to see more shows that year. Who knows, maybe I'm better off just seeing that one show in 1976 because it has remained a special memory in my heart.

I'll never forget the way I felt when "Somewhere over the Rainbow" was playing over the PA after the show. I was emotionally drained from the show, and so pumped up... Judy Garland's classic was music that tamed the savage beast.

Frank Aziza

New York Beacon Theatre - June 17, 1976

It may be a few months before Blackmore's Rainbow appears in Britain for the first time, but even if they have to wait until distant '77, Blackmore freaks, when they finally do see the band live, will no doubt decide that the wait, no matter how long, was damned well worth it. Rainbow, now in its second version, is simply one of the most dynamic and energetic heavy rock outfits in the free world.

Ritchie Blackmore is a happy man again, happy because now that he's left Deep Purple, he's once again free to make the kind of rock 'n' roll he loves best - visceral and explosive, an atomic dose of chordal calamity - and by no coincidence, it's the same sweaty brand of rock thousands of rockers have become addicted to over the last ten years, hooked, mainly, by fixes served up by the Main Man of heavy metal, Ritchie Blackmore.

"The rowdy mob at Rainbow's Beacon Theatre gig were Blackmore Junkies alright. Not a one wouldn't have sawed off a hand for a piece of the Stratocaster Ritchie smashed during the encore of 'Do You Close Your Eyes', and the lucky boys in the front rows who shook the Man's hand as he leaned out into the audience a few times probably still haven't washed their hands. And their throats are probably still raw from all their ecstatic wailing ... and smoking. Blackmore's, ironically, is one of the dope ingest crowds going."

Opening with 'The Temple Of The King' ('Kill The King' was the opener, Ed.), a blues, and then 'Sixteenth Century Greensleeves', Rainbow simply knocked the crowd on their collective tails. People were running around the hall in delirious glee, but before the audience could slip from Rainbow's grasp, they cleverly eased into the moody 'Catch The Rainbow', which featured some soulful, sensitive singing by Ronnie Dio and some of Ritchie Blackmore's tastiest playing ever.

When the guitarist walked to centre stage for his solo, the rest of Rainbow could have been transformed into porcupines, and no one would have noticed, that's how transfixed everyone was, not only by Blackmore's playing but by his overwhelming stage presence.

All the same, I kept my eyes on Cozy Powell a lot too. What a dynamite addition Cozy is to Rainbow, providing that ass-kicking back beat Blackmore's high energy music so desperately requires. On his kit, Cozy's easily Blackmore's match, but they compliment rather than battle each other. Cozy pummeled hell out his drums all night, especially giving 'Man On A Silver Mountain' a drive it sorely lacked on the first Rainbow album. Blackmore himself was amazing during 'Mountain', shaking hands with his right hand while continuing to play with his left.

I have done a little show, at certain gigs", says Ritchie, "like breaking my guitar up. I felt the audience needed that. I haven't done it for a year, but I felt that it was necessary because the audience weren't that musical." "They wanted to see some violence, actually", Cozy agrees.

Rainbow's show is visually powerful as well. At the front of the stage, arching from stage left to stage right, is a mammoth rainbow, operated by a digital computer that sends waves of colours and shapes through the construct. Backdrops, huge blow-ups of rainbow's two album covers, are also used, the first during the first half of the set, and the 'Rainbow Rising' fist during 'Stargazer' and 'A Light In The Dark'.

Add it all up, and it's nirvana for Blackmore's Rainbow fans. Just watch out for Stratocaster fragments when they come to your town.

Peter Crescenti, Circus, June 1976

New York Beacon Theatre - June 17, 1976

Projecting an ample amount of sound to fill a room twice the size of the Beacon, Blackmore's quintet played a blasting, frenzied set underneath an arcing strobe and rainbow scrim. Performing such trademarks as "Up To The Silver Mountain," "Stargazer" and "Catch The Wind," the emphasis was on screeching guitar wails. The tone was one of wildness June 17.

Blackmore got down on some mellow electronics on "Mistreated" while Ronnie James Dio lamented "losing his mind." The rowdy audience, which was generally higher than the second balcony, responded to the madness with its own brand of lunacy. Before Blackmore hit the stage, one exhibitionist literally "climbed the wall" to sit atop one of the ornate 20-foot statues beside the stage. During the set someone chucked a beer can at Dio.

The lead vocalist retaliated by clarifying where the pitcher could shove the remainder of his six-pack. Blackmore's contribution to the craziness came when he smashed his still amplifying guitar into a stack of speaker equipment, beat it on the stage floor and flung the remains to the audience. Members of the crowd in turn rushed the stage only to be dragged off by security guards.

Opening the evening was Duke & the Drivers, filling in for originally scheduled Thin Lizzy, who cancelled due to Phil Lynott's taking ill. Group did well in a short set which featured "Got Love On My Hands" and "I Ain't Particular." Although a bigger attraction in its native Boston, the group's ripe rock sound signals widespread success on a grand scale.

Mark Bego - Billboard Magazine, 10 July 1976

Fairgrounds Agricultural Hall, Allentown PA, USA - July 1, 1976

I saw him with Rainbow say 76ish, Allentown Fairgrounds, Pa. Blackmore tossed up his guitar and it got really stuck in the light rigging. It was so awkward stage hand had to retrieve during the show. He seemed like a real jackass.

Kevin Neal Fishel [on Facebook]

Hard Rock pleases 4,000 as summer series opens

Fairgrounds Agricultural Hall, Allentown PA, USA - July 1, 1976

Hard rock was the menu last night at the Allentown Fairgrounds grandstand, and nearly 4.000 fans sampled the smorgasbord. From Angel's white satin to Richie Blackmore's Rainbow 30-foot neon arch, five bands catered to every rock powerful lead vocalist. When Angel lit rainbow, which colorfully pulsates to taste.

The six-hour marathon was the first danced on the track in front of the outdoor grandstand concert sponsored by the Council of Youth for the 1976 summer season. Judging from enthusiastic crowd reaction. Angel was the band many came to see. The five-man band from Washington was discovered by Kiss, another top group which has played the Lehigh Valley.

Garbed in flowing and feathered white costumes. Angel. members immediately took command of their audience with their classic rock sound and their stage theatrics. Greg Giuffria was outstanding on the keyboard, and Frank Dimino was a powerful lead vocalist. When Angel lit into hard rock and roll, dozens of fans danced on the track in front of the grandstand stage. Guitarist Punky Meadows was spotlighted during a jam. At the close of the hourlong performance, the crowd applauded Angel back for a lively rock and roll encore climaxed by a wild percussion solo featuring Barry Brandt, Mickey Jones was on electric bass.

Richie Blackmore's Rainbow was the second favorite band, Blackmore split the heavy metal Deep Purple and formed Rainbow with the members of the Southern group Elf. Rainbow is into heavy metal and performs inside the arc of a huge neon degree rainbow, which colorfully pulsates to their music. The arc took six months to design and build, and crews spent the entire day erecting it at the front of the stage. "Mistreated." a powerful driving rock number, was well-received by the enthusiastic crowd.

Leslie West, formerly with Mountain, is hard rock all the way. "Going Down,""Mississippi Queen," "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Wild in the Streets" were some of West's numbers which he and his band played with a heavy electronic accent.

Moxy from Canada has released one hard rock album and plans to come out with another in the fall. Although the band usually tours with headliners, Moxy is beginning to be recognized and elicited favorible crowd response. Chumbi, a local group, opened the concert.

Jonna Bartges - The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania) - Fri, Jul 2, 1976

Broadwalk Casino Arena, Asbury Park NJ - July 3, 1976

This was a general admission show so I drove down to Asbury Park first thing that morning and camped out on the boardwalk all day so I could get a good "seat". It was a long wait out in the hot sun but it turned out to be worth it since I wound up right in front of the stage in between Blackmore and Dio [my arms were resting on the stage floor monitors]. Thin Lizzy had been advertised as the opening act when I had bought the tickets but then I heard they had to cancel out of the tour.

I was also supposed to see them at the Beacon on 17th June but unfortunately my high school graduation was that night and by the time it was over it would have been too late to trek into the city to catch the show [although I later heard they came on late so I probably wouldn't have missed too much if I had gone].

The opening act at Asbury Park was Henry Gross [who had a big hit at the time with "Shannon"]. Then Rainbow came on with "Kill the King" and blew everyone away. Blackmore was in a good mood so that ensured it was going to be a great show and it was! Easily the best show I ever saw them do [I saw them a total of five times between '75 and '78]. Too bad there isn't a recording of this show floating around!

At the end Blackmore decided he was going to use the stage monitors as the target for his guitar smash-up so I had to push back against the crowd so I wouldn't be hit by the guitar. I was actually pulling pieces of the guitar out of my hair after the show. The Casino wasn't the biggest venue in the world - a little smaller than the Convention Hall which was just down the boardwalk [Purple had actually played at Convention Hall before] - so it was real loud in there. My ears rang for five days after that one.

John Bella

Municipal Auditorium, San Antonio TX - July 9, 1976

The opening act was Starz and I remember the big hair, glam suits and the song Cherry Baby which was getting a lot of air play on Kiss FM. Oh, and I remember laughing my ass off when the lead singer was crooning on the edge of the stage and got hit the face by a hot dog. He flips the crowd off and everyone busts out laughing.

Then Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow takes the stage and we're sure it can't get any better than Ritchie and his little red wagon full of white guitars. But we were wrong my friends, because nothing prepared us for the spectacle of BOC and the amazing light and sound to follow.

Duane Starr - Hotrails (Blue Oyster Cult History Project)

No gold at end of Rainbow concert

Bay Front Center, St Petersburg FL, USA - July 16, 1976

"I'd say 1,462."
"Looks like 1,342 to me."
"I'd just put down an even 1,500."
Midway through Friday night's heavy-metal rock concert at the Bayfront Center Arena, three Bayfront staffers were trying to outguess each other as to the exact attendance. The Bayfront Arena holds 8,400 spectators.

THE RAINBOW/Savoy Brawn/Roy Buchanan show was a box office bomb. The music — with the exception of show-opener Buchanan — was loud and coarse. Relatively few fans were on hand — the average age seemed to be in the late teens. Scarcely a wince was visible when Savoy Brown inflicted a decibel count that challenged the pain threshold of a 12-year hard-core rock-concert veteran. The mood backstage in promoter territory was dark and ugly.

Within a five-minute span, Gulf Artists chief Marjorie Sexton shrieked full volume at two unauthorized visitors, one hapless security guard and a reporter who had written something that displeased Mrs. Sexton three weeks ago.

HAPPILY FOX the $6-a-toss ticket-buyers, the atmosphere on the fun side of the stage was dismetrically opposite the backstage unpleasantness. The youthful audience was bewildered temporarily by Roy Buchanan. "Look at that old dude," said one observer. "That shirt even has a penguin on it."

INDEED, BUCHANAN'S blue knit shirt did have the squaresville signal penguin. His strew hat covered thinning hair. The full-bearded cat with the incredibly beat-up old guitar looked his 36 years. But he made that shoddy-looking axe sing, shout, cry and croon. Roy Buchanan long has been hailed as one of the world's finest electric lead players, and his first major Bay area appearance showed why. One is entitled to wonder why such wizards as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Keith Richard (all white British guitar superstars) would express intense public admiration for a shy, serene American picker who spent most of his career playing small bars near Washington, D.C.

Buchanan was simply amazing. He smiled a bit when the appreciative guitar-lovers cheered his superb catalog of sounds. Flamenco, blues, country, old-style acid-rock and unclassifiable original noises came in six mangy-looking strings.

WHOOP, BEG AND holler as they might, the few connoisseurs in the crowd could not get an encore from Buchanan. He finished a knock-out set with his quasi-religious 'Messiah" composition, and then made way for Savoy Brown.

Savoy Brown, the loudest, moat tenacious second-rate band in rock history (a title they won when Brownsville Station folded) actually is the creation of one person — Kim Simmonds. Simmonds is a British long-timer who has made at least 16 American tours with bands named Savoy Brown. The members of the band have all changed many times over, except for Simmonds. Savoy Brown never has risen higher that second-billed, and probably never will. Their forte is obnoxious volume and long, long, silky hair that they shake in unison when the beat gets heavy. That is all the time.

Show closer Ritchie Blackmore obviously is not headline draw in St. Petersburg. Being the former lead guitarist for Deep Purple does not make one a $6 attraction. His heavy-metal version was not or offensive as Savoy Brown's pulsating migraine thump, but another dose of Roy Buchanan would have been far preferable from a musical standpoint.

Bob Ross - Tampa Bay Times / St Petersburg Times - July 17, 1976

Jacksonville, Florida - July 17, 1976

Rainbow's performance was excellent. Ritchie Blackmore stunned the crowd with a multitude of brilliant lead guitar solos throughout their entire set. Through his association with Deep Purple, Blackmore long ago established himself as one of the top "heavy metal" guitarists in the world.

A monstrous electronic rainbow, arching high above the stage, had remained dark, but not unseen by the crowd. As Rainbow took to the stage it became a dazzling array of colors dancing across the sky. "Kill The King", a yet to be released tune, presented the people with a faultless example of what to expect from the band. The sound was heavy and laden with power chords, but never once bogged down.

Loud applause came from the audience as the group broke into "I've Been Mistreated", originally done by Blackmore's former cohorts, Deep Purple. The guitarist appeared comfortable with this one and proceeded to show the rapid spit-fire guitar work that has gained him international respect.

Introduced as a nice medieval-renaissance tune, "Greensleeves" turned out to be a high point of Rainbow's performance. The show continued to follow the same power-packed course. Songs such as "Catch The Rainbow" and "Stargazer" brought the fans to their feet.

Though Blackmore continued to be in the spotlight, drummer Cozy Powell, keyboardist Tony Carey, and bassist Jimmy Bain never let the audience forget their presence. They attacked each song with unyielding determination, so necessary for a young group.

When the group got into "Man On A Silver Mountain", off their first LP, the crowd jumped to its feet and seemed to feel this would be Rainbow at their heaviest. This was without a doubt their hottest, most rockin' number of the night. Blackmore's fingers became a blur on his guitar as the rest of the band came thundering behind.

Rainbow put on a satisfying show, both audibly and visibly. Words could not do the awesome stage rainbow justice. It has to be seen to be appreciated.

Roy Simpson, The Florida Times Union - July 1976 (published in UK 1976 Tour Programme)

Heavy rockers hype local fans

St. Denis Theater, Montreal QC, Canada - July 20, 1976

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow inaugurated a series of concerts at the Cinema St. Denis last night, before an audience clearly in the mood to revive the intimate Fillmore like rock hall. The promise of Blackmore, the British heavy rock guitarist formerly with Deep Purple, and his Rainbow (figuratively, as well as a stage-wide fluorescent rainbow) attracted a young crowd stoked up and rarin' to get blasted.

The atmosphere was just what Max Webster, the opening act, needed and the Toronto band didn't miss a trick in winning over the ripened fans in their first local appearance. Webster, a singer and guitarist backed by three strategic sidemen, has obviously researched the rock market before designing his act. He has adopted numerous popular styles - from the jigsaw structures of Queen to the pop boogie of the Doobie Bros to the Bowie-Jagger syndrome of stage presence, and even a little Frank Zappa kitchen sink measures thrown in for effect.

Unlike many Toronto bands that play Montreal, Max Webster performed with the kind of confidence that strikes straight at the hearts of the local buzzed-out rock cognoscenti. He was careful to include several "Merci's in his patter, and the bass player added a few bon mots himself. Lo and behold, Max Webster won over the Montreal crowd - perhaps the day is not far off when he joins Shawn Phillips and Genesis in the affections of the local audience.

Meanwhile, Blackmore took a long time getting his electronic equipment and his head together, just as he did at the Forum last year. He's a moody fellow - you can tell by the way he rolls his head limply on the axis of his neck. One gets the impression that his "wasted genius" stage looks (the stringly bedraggled hair, the black cycle jacket) are more convoluted than his guitar playing: he makes you wait for his solos, and that's how he wins over his eager audiences.

It's all a big act - Blackmore rarely shows he can cut the mustard with Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, B.B. King et al.

Juan Rodriguez, The Gazette - July 21, 1976

[Thanks to: Tonny Steenhagen for the scan]

Rainbow Rockers Metal Monsters

St. Denis Theater, Montreal QC, Canada - July 20, 1976

Ritchie Blackmore, one of rock's solid-gold guitar heroes, brought his Rainbow group to the St. Denis Theatre last, night and ground out pretty much what was expected of him — relentless heavy metal with all the swing and finesse of a beached whale.

From the moment the group took the stage and their extravagant color-coded rainbow prop began flashing and popping, they piled their sound layer upon layer and decibel upon decibel, and still came up with nothing more than a big, static zero. When you're talking heavy metal it's understood, of course, that you're dealing with stiff and lurching rhythms, a morbid fascination with volume, and a slavish devotion to the endless riff — but nothing like this.

As they ran through things like Mistreater, Greensleeves. Man on a Silver Mountain, and Stargazer, Blackmore's Rainbow seemed totally dedicated to dramatizing the redundancy of their material and neatly sublimating any hint of musical personality. All of which mortified me to no end. Blackmore (ex-Deep Purple) is one of the handful of heavy rock guitarists who can dig into a bucket of ball bearings and come up with a string of pearls. With astounding technique and a knack for blowtorch phrasing, Blackmore on a good night or in the right context can indeed find a poetry of sorts at 110 decibels; or at least fry your brainpan without your minding all that much.

But last night wasn't a good night, for lie was patronizing when he wasn't listless; and Rainbow isn't the right context for him, simply because they can't push. Between the ineffectual howling of Dio, the empty keyboard bombast of Carey, and the sluggish drums and bass of Powell and Bain, there isn't one musician that can trade licks with Blackmore and get him moving.

The opening group was Toronto's Max Webster, and they turned out to be infinitely more entertaining and adventurous than Rainbow. Fronted by a charismatic, loose-limbed loony on guitars and vocal's, Kim Mitchell, they spun out loud, aggressive rock that was rich in tempo and rhythm changes, punctuated with harmonically adventurous breaks, and framed with the kind of easy sense of the absurd that you get when are art-school sensibility takes to the streets. The four man band is the first Canadian group I've seen in a long, long time that actually has some class. And the audience last night picked up on it right away.

David Freeston, The Montreal Star - July 21, 1976

Jethro Tull up to par, but Rainbow dull

Civic Arena, Pittsburgh PA - July 26, 1976

Jethro Tull rolled into Pittsburgh Monday for their sixth appearance at the Civic Arena. I've seen them every time they were in town and was only disappointed once. Monday's show was definitely a crowd-pleaser. Ian Anderson and the band started the show with "Thick as a Brick", and from then on it was a very enjoyable show.

I didn't get as excited as usual -this was my sixth time seeing them after all- but I notice the rest of the crowd was just as enthusiastic as every other Tull show I've seen. Of course, I knew Ian would play the devil out of his flute, but I think this was the best I've ever seen him play. As for the material they played, the show included all of Tull's favorites with a few new numbers which also went over well. It was quite noticeable that the "Aqualung" material is still the favorite of Tull fans.

Naturally, Ian is the focal point of Tull's shows, but during times he left the stage, the band carried on very well. I could have been satisfied with an entire evening of just the band playing. As far as Ian is concerned, he is still the king of the prancers on the stage. He's just as great to watch now as he ever was. The show, for both old and new fans, was a complete success. Even though Tull's albums are going downhill, they maintain a good position on top of the hill in live shows.

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow opened the concert, and that was about their only accomplishment of the evening. Their show was too loud, and Ritchie's usual fine playing was just jammed into a total sound mess.

I kept waiting for this band to get cooking, but it just didn't happen. Everytime they got near the point of good kicking music, they lost their shoes. The high point of their show was Cozy Powell's drum solo. It started out to be just another standard solo, but halfway through he was accompanied by taped symphonic music and he began to murder his drums. He received a rousing standing ovation for one of the best drum solos ever.

Basically though, I was bored by Ritchie and his Rainbow. The good songs from their second album didn't come across well, just as "Mistreated", a Deep Purple number, failed to do much. Witch such a vast amount of good Purple music to play, he picked a real dud for the only Purple number of the evening.

Keep trying, Ritchie, because you need it. Blackmore fans, stick to the albums until the rest of Rainbow catches up to Ritchie. When that time comes, they'll put on a good show.

Tom Doyle, Beaver County Times - July 28, 1976

[Thanks to: Tonny Steenhagen for the scan]

Starlight KO's Rock

Starlight Amphitheater, Burbank CA, USA - August 3, 1976

Proposed concerts by Average White Band and Blackmore's Rainbow at 6,000 capacity Starlight Bowl in the San Fernando Valley community of Burbank have been vetoed by the Burbank City Council. The council has the right to turn down individual concerts under its five year exclusive summer booking deal on the facility with Jack Berwick's Cinevision Productions. Councilmen apparently were miffed at Berwick for scheduling only hard rock concerts instead of the pop ballet drama season they were expecting.

Genesis sold out the Starlight earlier this summer. Berwick's first concert there last October, with country-pop acts Hoyt Axton and Emmylou Harris, drew 2,500. Like the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park, the Starlight Bowl is a municipally owned venue which can be reached only by driving through a high income residential district. Nearby residents have been complaining about Starlight traffic jams, noise and litter due to the concerts.

Billboard - August 7, 1976

No Veto Of Rock Events In Burbank

Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow successfully went on at Starlight Bowl in Burbank here Friday (3), despite a report received and printed in Billboard last week that the Burbank City Council had vetoed the show because promoter Jack Berwick was presenting only hard rock at the 6,000 seat facility instead of balancing the schedule with cultural shows. Berwick explained that the Blackmore date had simply been switched in order to accommodate a free municipal festival.

An Average White Band date, also reported by Billboard as vetoed by the City Council, was never finalized due to commitments by the group to another local facility. All the shows this season at the Starlight have been profit makers, with sellouts by Genesis, Jeff Beck and J. Geils. Other successful headliners were Grover Washington Jr., Todd Rundgren and Kingfish. Coming up this month for the Starlight are a CTI Jazz package Saturday (14) and Marshall Tucker Band with the Outlaws Aug. 20. Pacific Presentations put on the Blackmore show in conjunction with Berwick's Cinevision Productions.

Billboard - August 14, 1976

Man Triumphs Over Blackmore Dinosaur

Starlight Amphitheater, Burbank CA, USA - August 3, 1976

It's virtually im-possible to see Richie Blackmore without realizing that he has an empathy for the guitar which might be unexcelled in rock. On a level of sheer feeling for the instrument, Blackmore lives up to much of his claim of being the world’s best guitarist, but why he chooses to do so little with so much is something of a mystery.

Blackmore's Rainbow isn't even good heavy metal. At the Starlight Amphitheater, Blackmore was boring beyond belief, seeming content to restrict his attack to a series of mindless trashings of distasteful discordancies, interspersed with directionless doodlings, no doubt intended as displays of soloing expertise.

For as involved as he appeared with the proceedings, it's a wonder he bothered to show up at all. As a last minute replacement for Paris, Man provided a solid opening performance which only underscored the deficiencies of Rainbow. In contrast to Blackmore’s self-indulgent excesses, Man was the epitome of a fully integrated and powerful sound. If Man isn't ever going to shake the earth with its lyrical cleverness, or instrumental progressiveness, at least it has a firm hold on the concept of taste — something the Blackmore dinosaur seemed unable to grasp.

Michael Hooker, Los Angeles Free Press - August 13-19, 1976

Civic Auditorium, San Jose CA - August 6, 1976

I did see Rainbow in 1976 on the Rising tour in San Jose California. They headlined or were the only band playing I can't remember which. If you look it up its never listed it was a show before the Berkeley show.

I know cause I took pictures which I still have. Plus someone emailed me saying he went to both shows. My sister and I went together. It was an excellent show in a small hall probably half full (1000 people at most). This was the show that truly made me a fan for life. I was 19 years old at the time. They played Stargazer back to back with Light in the Black. Great concert with everyone sounding superb, before Ritchie decided to go commercial.