UK Tour 1980

Wembley Arena 29 February 1980

Phoney Parasities

The biggest rip off of the century! I'm talkin' about paying £4.50 for one hour and ten minutes of Rainbow crap at Wembley. The whole 'fiasco' only served to demonstrate that the 'group' have absolutely no regard for their fans. The most cynical aspect of the 'show' was when Bonnet asked who had bought 'Down To Earth' and 'Since You've Been Gone'. When everybody raised their arms in answer, the 'group' must have decided that they couldn't screw any more money out of us and thus they would play a deliberate rubbish set.

Half the 'show' was taken up by endless and boring solos. First we had Blackmore. His guitar solo was so embarrassing that he would have got a better sound by strangling a cat. Airey and Powell indulged in such crappy long solos that we began to wonder if we were watching a couple of individual acts instead of a 'group'.

Bonnet had the nerve to come on and announce the end of the 'gig'. The whole audience was stunned. 20 minutes of clapping and shouting couldn't induce the band to play one little encore. The resulting smashing of seats, in disgust, by the fans, was a direct consequence of Rainbow's utter contempt for them.

All I know is that tonight, thousands of loyal fans, fans who have stood by the group even when they haven't played here for years, had their belief in Rainbow completely shattered. Blackmore and his crew were seen in their true colours - parasites, feeding off the loyalty of their fans so they can fill their own pockets and keep bloody Polydor happy. If Blackmore had any credibility he would apologise in public or retire from the music business - rock does not need this bunch of posers anyway.

Sounds, as the voice of all true rock fans, should expose this band for the phonies they really are.

An ex-Rainbow fan
Sounds Letters, March 1980

Blood On The Floor

February 29, 1980. 17.000 Rainbow fans leave Wembley Stadium shouting 'Blackmore is a wanker'. Inside, chairs are thrown on to stage and from balconies. In the foyer, blood on the floor. Outside, dustbins emptied/thrown into the streets and for miles beyond the sound of sirens of police cars racing towards the scene.

It has long become an accepted fact that, for rock concerts, encores are 'built in' to a band's set. The band prepares so many numbers for the act and plans the show, including encores, accordingly. This ensures everything is to the highest standard. I only once saw a group (in a very minor league) honestly overwhelmed by applause that they apologised that they hadn't rehearsed anything else and they had to discuss among themselves on stage what song to do as an encore (Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers, circa 1973!).

But Rainbow's situation is entirely different. This is despite what Blackmore said on their last tour to the effect that he assesses whether the audience are good enough to deserve an encore as an extra. The facts look more like this: Rainbow have two sets; a proper set and a short set. The proper set I saw on the last tour was two hours. The short set this tour was less than 1 hour 10 minutes. With the long keyboard and drum solos, Blackmore was onstage about 50 minutes (only six songs were played) and this is only five minutes longer than Old Man Chuck Berry plays!

Not only that, but this enormous crowd were probably (judging by the aftermath) the least undeserving of a proper set. The short set was a rip off. Our tickets were over five pounds each (including compulsory booking fees, postal order, extras, etc). The concert must have grossed over £70.000. The crowd did not get their money back so they made up for it by hooliganism.

It is Blackmore's fault. I hope Rainbow pay for all the damage.

Barrie Partridge, a fan of Rainbow's music, but not Rainbow's personalities, Matlock, Derbyshire
Sounds Letters, March 1980

Too Many Solos

If you don't print this letter could you pass it on to Rainbow's management because I WANT MY MONEY BACK!!

Why, I hear you ask, why does this Rainbow fan who has supported and defended the band from the beginning want his money back? Well.

    Six songs in 70 minutes. ('In The Eyes Of The World'/'Love's No Friend'/'Since You Been Gone'/'Man On The Silver Mountain'/'Catch The Rainbow'/'Lost In Hollywood'). No encore (not that they deserved it). The sound system was awful. 20 minutes plus was taken up by solos (mind you Cozy Powell's and Don Airey's solos were the only memorable parts of the concerts!) Bonnet's vocals were lost in the mix on numerous occassions. Bonnet had no presence at all (I don't call waving to the crowd stage presence). Blackmore (best guitarist for four years running) played wrong notes, especially on 'Catch The Rainbow'. Timing on at least one occasion was out. Only two of the classic songs were played. The band let themselves down and worse let the fans down, many of whom cannot afford to throw away £4 and 50p handling.
If Rainbow go on like this, they might as well stop now while they still have some respect left. February 29 was the day as far as I'm concerned that Rainbow died.

Paul Marchment, Ealing, London W13
Sounds Letters, March 1980

The Mighty Samson

I went to see Samson at Wembley Arena on Feb 29 and they were bloody marvellous.

Except for the drummer, the support band were shit. Thank God they didn't come back for an encore.

A Samson and Cozy Powell Fan, North London
Sounds Letters, March 1980

Rainbow ructions (1)

I was there! namely the Rainbow concert that turned out to be a riot. I can't blame the crowd for going spare at the end - so did I. Why the hell didn't they come back for an encore? The crowd gave their heart and soul to the band.

It only happened because we were upset. We stood there and cheered for ten minutes, then we got some gimp come out and tell us that the show was over. That's when the crowd went mad.

I hope that Blackmore got everything he deserved. That was the last Rainbow concert I'll ever go to.

M. Dunbar, Bedford, Bedfordshire
Melody Maker Letters - March 15, 1980

Rainbow ructions (2)

Dear Ritchie Blackmore: What can we say? We are still speechless the morning after. You were wonderful. But no encore? Surely the ultimate insult to a great audience. What didn't we do? Fancy being disillusioned for life at 18. Well, you deserve the bill Wembley are (I hope) gonna send you.

Yours, still trying hard to love you
Margaret & Helen, Chertsey, Surrey
Melody Maker Letters - March 15, 1980

Wembley Arena 29 February 1980

I was at this gig and I think thats me in the picture!! I had great tickets for the gig, right at the front centre stage. From memory Rainbow played for about 45 minutes or so including bass & drum solos and then just went off.

At first we didn`t think anything was wrong as the crowd were yelling for more, we just thought they would come back on and do a series of encores, Blackmore always loved the adulation :-).

First I knew of any trouble was when I looked up and a couple of seats flew over my head and crashed into the front of the stage. Turned around and looked back and just saw mayhem, seats and debris flying everywhere, a roadie ran on stage to protect the drum kit but he just became a magnet and even more stuff was thrown. Not sure how many were hurt in the riot that followed but a lot of people were pissed off by Blackmores strop!!!


Ha I was there too, front row left of the stage, my first London gig... It was total mayhem all the way down to Wembley tube station where the trains were stopped and we got stranded in London for the night. Happy days....!!


Wembley Arena 1 March 1980

In all my years of concert-going The Troggs were the only band I ever saw get booed off stage.

Not their fault but it was the wrong crowd. They were supporting Richie Blackmore's Rainbow at the old Wembley Arena circa 1980/81; problem was, the original support band Saxon pulled out late in the day (never found out why - maybe Blackmore fired 'em) so I suspect there were a lot of their fans in the audience who weren't best pleased.

I thought they weren't bad but they didn't stand a chance.


Monsters of Rock, Donington August 16, 1980

When Priest finished their set, we could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, we were there for the festival, but the big draw was Rainbow and this was Cozy Powell's last gig with the band. For some inexplicable reason Cozy must have thought he had a proper job and was polite enough to give notice of his intention to leave. I had always been under the impression that band members died, were fired, had a mental breakdown or just disappeared mid tour. But to give notice, naagghhh. Take Jeremy Spencer, the ex-guitarist with Fleetwood Mac, he allegedly disappeared in the middle of their US tour and joined a religious cult. You almost feel a kind of respect for him in a ‘well-done for reinforcing the rock myth' kind of way because, of course, ‘normal behaviour simply isn't acceptable'.

"Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow", we chanted, more in the hope that they would bloody hurry up than in adulation. We had all been up a long time and we were tired, bruised, battered, covered in mud and despite the seemingly endless supply of full bottles, dehydrated. The last thing we needed was for the band to come on late and sure enough Rainbow supplied us with the very last thing we needed. Eventually, the stage lights went down and for a second the whole of Donnington seemed to be in darkness and then bang, the rainbow lit up, the band ran on stage and 35,000 people forgot how miserable they were.

Rainbow were brilliant. They had kept us waiting for well over an hour but, to be fair, the gig needed to be seen out of daylight. It was also boosted by (finally) a great sound system and by the fact we all stood up. There were a few too many long solos, especially Richie's and Cozy's, but as it was Richie we, of course were not worthy and as it was Cozy's last gig, we forgave him. Rainbow finished at 11.15 and we were all really buzzing from the energy of their set. Well, almost all of us. Blacky was more wheezing than buzzing. As we made our way back to our cars, there were mixed emotions about the day as a whole

"I know this is the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival, but I can't see it being mentioned in the same breath as Woodstock or the Isle of Wight," Blacky stated and he had a point.

"Yea, but it's one we will remember all our lives," said Stevie-boy. He was right, but the memories would not solely be about the music.

I added my thoughts "I thought it was good, well, a good experience. We've had a laugh - haven't we?" I'd done most of the organising so I felt a certain obligation to highlight the positives.

"Yea, but Blacky's got a point. It wasn't a classic," said Bill.

"But Rainbow were great and we did have a good freak out at the end," Viv was also right and at the end of the day, if you leave on a high, then the pain of the hours preceding it can be quickly forgotten.

"Shall we concentrate on finding our cars?" Balls-eye had spoken and we duly obeyed finally getting home at 2.00am. It had felt more like a test of endurance than a rock gig, but one I was to repeat the following year; I don't know why, I hate bloody festivals.

As Blacky had predicted the inaugural festival was not to go down as an important benchmark in rock festival history. It was panned by the critics. But of course, there is more to festival memories than just the music.

Foot note:

It seems the legendary Blackmore strict code of musical perfection was transgressed on the 16th August 1980, as lead singer Graham Bonnet apparently had a right old skinful and although I certainly couldn't tell, and I doubt many other people in the crowd could, he allegedly fucked up and delivered a drunken performance. Such allegiance to the hard drinking, hard living flag cost Bonnet the coveted lead singer position in Rainbow and it was to be his last gig; he followed Cozy out of the band. Only in his case he was fired on the spot and booted out! Now that's more like it.

Peter Turvey (aka Rockin Amoeba), The Classic Rock Code