IN MEMORY OF JIMMY BAIN
With so many great musical forces passing away in lost few months the pages of Facebook and other sites have been inundated with tributes and obituaries so I thought I'd let a couple of weeks pass to absorb and comment on the demise of my dear friend Jimmy Bain.
Although his latter years were scarred by his battles with addiction Bain is not a man I ever felt pity or less respect for.He was a fighter to the very and the fact that he died in the process of doing what he loved doing while battling pneumonia and lung cancer says it all. I've known Jimmy since he joined Rainbow and got to know him better after he left until departed for LA and beckoning good times.
Jimmy was always great company whether at home watching movies and listening to music or going on the razz-laughter was always on top of the menu.He was friendly to everyone whatever their position and didn't buy into all the bullshit that comes with fame.
A great musician and songwriter.A rare who I will miss dearly.
Here is the last interview I did with him (previously unpublished in full) whilst doing some research on Rainbow Rising and also a photo taken on Japanese leg of the Rainbow featuring (L to R) Tony Carey,Myself and Jimmy enjoying the ride....
PM: So,Jimmy,here we have another Rainbow Rising,another mix.What do you think?
JB: There's another mix that Martin Birch did which is the best of the lot.
PM: What are your thoughts on the current mixes?
JB: The LA mix was by the whole band and then they gave it to Polydor who thought it was bass heavy. So Ronnie and Ritchie flew out to New York and they remixed it and dropped about 4db's off the bass and that's how it came out on the record. I took it back to my house which I shared with Cozy in LA put it on the hi fi and you couldn't hear the fucking bass! When the CD came out, the balance was good and it sounded like they added the bass back on. I never got a copy of the record because I didn't want to listen to it.
PM: Going back in time let's about the story behind you joining Rainbow?
JB: One night the phone rang in the middle of the night I get up cursing and swearing, pick up the phone and recognise the voice on the other end. Fergie a good friend who worked with Badfinger. And he says; “I'm working with Ritchie Blackmore Official Site and he's looking for a bass player so I put your name forward” and then handed the phone over to Ritchie. So I'm half asleep thinking this is a bad joke or something and all of a sudden I'm talking to Blackmore and he was one of my idols. The gist of it was he wanted to know when I was playing with my band and I said 'Sunday at the Marquee, I'm doing a residency there.' So he said 'I'll come over and check you out'. And before I could say anything he had hung up. Sure enough on Sunday I go to the Marquee do the soundcheck for the gig and then pop into The Ship for a pint and Blackmore's there standing at the bar, I nearly shit myself. He's come all the way from LA to come and see me play. He's also got Bruce Payne and Ronnie James Dio with him. It was like a dream come true. I thought all I've got to do is play a great show; unfortunately the band didn't have the same idea. The drummer Wally Wombat played in Mandrake Root with Ritchie thought he was up for the gig. By the time of the show he'd drunk too much Guinness, so I'm out front, singing, playing bass and flying around all over the stage and I look around and there's puke all over the floor tom, it's gone all over the e place, it's all over me. The two guitar players just froze, they couldn't play and I thought 'oh no, this is not going good'. And everybody at the gig knew Blackmore was in the place at that time Deep Purple were huge.
I was so pissed off after the show, when I went backstage I threw my bass against the wall and then I had to go out and face Blackmore and co, who had come all the way from LA.So I had a couple of Jacks and Coke and went to the Ship and made my excuses, 'sorry it was a bad night, the band were shite etc' and Ritchie just turned round and said 'They made you sound great!' So basically that was it.
I had to go to Bab's the next day and do an audition, which was eventful. Ritchie had got a call from some chick in LA, Babs was furious and was throwing Ritchie's gold discs out of the window. So we all had to check into to the Swiss Cottage Holiday Inn and I went to Ritchie's room and had a jam. He said 'OK cool I'll see you in LA in a couple of weeks, then.'
PM: What happened next?
JB: My lawyer negotiated a really good deal and when I spoke to Ritchie I think he thought I might be trying to rip him off but I said I'm not going out to LA on a whim and then you wake up one morning with a sore head and decide that you want to change the line up of the band.
When I went out to LA members of the band were going on a daily basis after my third day Ritchie's going on about Gary Driscoll's time keeping. The guy was like fucking John Bonham; there was nothing wrong with his time keeping. Ritchie just didn't want the guy in the band. He wanted a completely different line up. The guy he hate the most was Craig Gruber, so he was the first one to go, so I got the gig. Then it was the keyboard player and then the drummer. He had planned this all along, he wanted Ronnie. It made sense.
PM: How did you end up with Cozy Powelll?
JB: After Gary and Mickey were fired the band was Ronnie, Ritchie and me. We started auditioning people at Pirate Sound. First we tried out local drummers. It was funny as fuck. We'd set the kit up on the soundstage and both Ritchie and me would have 150 ft guitar lead. So the guy would come in set up and warm up and we could go to the other side of the building and play pool, and when he was comfortable we would go over and start playing with him. Ritchie would start this really fast guitar riff –DADADADADADADDA, I'd join in on bass and the drummer would start playing along and that would be great for about five minutes. But after twenty minutes the drummer is falling apart. So after a while Ritchie and me would stop playing and go back to the pool table without even saying a word to the drummer. We did this about fourteen times and nobody came close to passing the audition and then Cozy arrived.
He flew in from England and came straight to rehearsals from the airport. He fucked with three Ludwig drum kits transforming them into one kit. He changes into the boxing boots and outfit, his drumsticks are like baseball bats, and he says 'Awright then, let's have it!” So Ritchie goes into his 'DADADADADADADADADA' and Cozy plays along. We did this for about 45 minutes and the tempo doesn't fluctuate, it was a really good jam. So we finish that and right away before we could say anything-Cozy starts another beat on the double bass drum. We were trying to fuck him up and he turned it round on us. So he was in, no doubt about it.
PM: What are your memories of Rainbow Rising?
JB: The band rehearsed in a club come Go-Kart track before we could get in the studio because Ian Gillan was still in there working. We finished off the songs there and were well prepared to record.The album was done in a matter of three weeks tops.The tracks were done on the second take, third take and sometimes the first take.Stargazer was done in two sections. There was none of this twenty five guitar solos on a digital recorder, it was all analogue. We were hard pressed to get together six songs for Rising. I would have been happy to have a couple of more songs on the album.
It was my first album; I'd never done anything like that before. I'd never really been in a studio before that and to go into Musicland with all these personel.they had a chef on call 24 hours a day…..I was in fucking heaven. I was in Germany with these guys and it was coming along and you could hear how good it was. You could tell how much fun we were having by listening to the record; it's got that attitude.
Ronnie Dio said that he'd heard loads of great bass players but he'd never heard any as steady as me. I was really rock steady, you could never falter me on my time keeping. So I was kind of pissed that I didn't get to stay in the band longer. As it was I took it and put it down to experience and every time I've seen Ritchie since, he's been cool.
PM: Where did you find Tony Carey?
JB: So now we just needed a keyboard layer ad what happened Led Zeppelin were in town and were rehearsing for Presence at SIR. My flatmate in London was Jimmy Page's guitar tech so I ended up hanging around with the band. One day I could hear this loud mini moog playing. So I say to Bonzo's roadie Mick Hinton 'I wonder who that guy is?' and before I could say anything else he goes into the other rehearsal room and grabs Tony Carey by the scruff of the neck, he didn't know what the fuck was going on. Needless to say I got him away from Hinton and told him about Rainbow and asked him if he would like to check it out. Of course he was into it and he came down and got the gig. He played some Bach and he could also trade off with Ritchie note for note. Tony was the boy and Ritchie hated him because he could do that and in a way he loved him too.
He could do anything on keyboards, he was unbelelievable. Eddie Jobson came from audition. Band fucked off to the Rainbow. He was too light for Rainbow, Tony was heavy. Soon as we had Tony in we started writing material pretty much right away. I can't recall what got written in LA and what got written in Germany.
PM: When did you find out that your services were no longer required with Rainbow?
JB: I got fired before Long Live Rock'n'Roll started I went over to see Ritchie and see why he fired me because I thought I was doing pretty good. I took my dog over and shit all over his brand new carpet. We went into the bedroom to have a chat and the more I'm talking I'm looking him in the eye and his eyes are everywhere. And I said 'what's the fucking deal, man? Was I doing something wrong, tell me.' By this time I'm fired, so I've got nothing to lose. And he couldn't come up with any real reason why he fired me. He said 'You can moved forward etc'. And I said. But I was digging the band, I liked you, I liked the music.'
I found out that he fired me over a wind up. When we were playing in Germany one night he kept coming over and saying that my bass was out of tune and in the end I just said-in my best Scottish accent- 'if you say that one more time I'm going to shove my bass down your throat'. Apparently he felt threatened by that and fired me six months later. Someone told me that they were talking about getting rid of me during the Australian tour, but I didn't hear anything about it.
I was never told that there was anything wrong with my playing. Had someone told me then maybe I would have changed. Maybe they thought I was drinking too much, it never affected my playing. If I had been aware of the problem at the time, I would have done something about it. I know Ritchie liked me enough that he could have told me about it. I know it got pretty wild and whacky in Japan but that was because we had been working our asses off for a year. We were winding down. I was really bummed when I wasn't asked to work on Long Live Rock'n'Roll.I was involved in the writing of Kill the King, but never got a credit, neither did Tony.
PM: Have you seen Ritchie since you left?
JB: I still see Ritchie now and again. I went to see in LA playing with his Renaissance band, he had gout or something like that. It blows my mind that the guys is playing fucking flamenco, he's so fucking good, it seems a waste that he's not playing stuff like Highway Star.
PM: Your departure must have been dissapointing as even now Rainbow Mk 1 are regarded as the classic line up.
JB: There's such a buzz about Rainbow, to this day. It was the best thing I could have done. I was only in it for two years but it's done me a lot of favours. That band could have grown together. It was a really good line up, everybody got on fine. We had fun when we played, we didn't take it too seriously but we knew we were impressing people because we had big crowds everywhere we played.
A guy who recently interviewed me said 'the other bands who were playing metal at that time had kind of lost their way and Rainbow were the saving grace'. While the other bands were faltering we brought out Rising and were reinforcing the Heavy message. There's wasn't a lot of bands that were playing heavy shit like Rainbow Rising. There were bands were playing heavy rock but it wasn't metal.
Rainbow was important because there was nothing else at the time that was treading new water. I had no idea how long it would last, I was on Cloud 9 from day one. I can never say anything bad about it. In the two years I did I got to go round the world and get some sort of a name together for myself.
© Pete Makowski, Wordsmith 2016
Photo © Sharie Wilkins