It seems to me that your big break came when you were recruited into Rainbow. How did Blackmore find you and what did he do to persuade you to join his band?
Bob: I was in a pop band in England in 73-74 called Mungo Jerry that had some big hits. One of the guys in the band was Dick Middleton. He was a well respected guitar player and a friend of Ritchie Blackmore's in the late 50's, early 60's. I was in Los Angeles at the end of a Widowmaker tour and Dick was living there for three months having a look around with his family. I went to see Dick and he said, "Ritchie Blackmore is looking for a bass player." I went out one night with Dick and Ritchie and we had a few beers. Ritchie had to know you first. It wouldn't matter how good you looked or how great a player you were, if you were an asshole he wouldn't want you. He wanted to see if we got on so we went out a couple of times and got along well. I went down to rehearsal in a film studio in LA. They had auditioned about 40 bass players and they just couldn't find anybody who fit the bill all the way around. Ritchie put me through my paces and at the end of the rehearsal they offered me the gig. That was right at the end of a Widowmaker tour in 1977.
You had the luck to work with a number of people before they became household names. In this case it was Ronnie James Dio. What do you remember about hearing Dio sing for the first time?
Bob: He had this huge voice coming out of this little bloke. He is only 5'4 with a fucking great big Italian voice coming out of him. That is what he was known for. Before I heard him sing live at the audition, I had tapes that I had a listen to and I really liked his voice. He has a great, great voice.
How was Ritchie to work with? Is he as big a pain in the ass as legend holds?
Bob: I guess to some people he is but I got along just fine with him. In Widowmaker we toured the world and I had been in great situations but Rainbow was the first big break into an arena band. I just put me head down and did the job and didn't rock the boat. I got on fine with Ritchie. I didn't pull any strokes or anything. I knew I was being paid to do a job so I did it. It was great. I don't think I ever had any fallouts with Ritchie. Some of the others did but I didn't.
Was Rainbow a band at that point or was it still Blackmore's project? Did you get to contribute to the recording and writing process?
Bob: It was called Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow when it was formed in 1975. It was still very much Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow when I was in it but they had dropped his name. Ronnie (Dio) and Cozy (Powell) didn't like that anymore. It was called that to put the band on the map and by the time I joined they were on the map so they dropped his name and just called it Rainbow. It was Ritchie's band and always was.
Life on the road must have been wild. Any good stories of Rainbow getting wild?
Bob: One comes to mind in Scandinavia. There was a promoter there called Eric Thompson. You might notice that his initials are E.T. He looked a bit like E.T. He looked a bit like a light bulb. He had a weak and narrow chin that went down to his neck like a light bulb. The top of his head was sort of bulbous. Once Ritchie pulled the photograph out of his passport and replaced it with a picture of E.T. When Thompson went to go through customs and gave it to the guard and they just all fell about laughing. There were always practical jokes on Eric Thompson. Once in France they got a harness and the roadies got Eric Thompson behind the stage during the Rainbow concert. We used to have a huge rainbow that went over the stage and changed colors during the set. They stripped Eric Thompson naked and they put the harness on him and strung him up on the rainbow during the gig. They let him down because he was going red in the face. They thought the harness was on too tight and he was dying. After they let him down he told them that he was only going red in the face because he was trying to shit on Cozy!
Blackmore was famous for his black magic as well. Did you participate in any of the séances?
Bob: When we were recording in France, Ritchie had quite a few séances and I sat in on quite a few. He would always get this negative force named Baal. I really can't remember that much about them.
I will mention a couple of songs on the album and you give me your thoughts on them: "Long Live Rock N Roll"
Bob: It was a great song but when I first joined the band and first heard it, I thought it was a bit commercial. I was into much heavier stuff.
Bob: To me that was a bit like Rainbow wanting to be Bad Company.
"Kill The King"
Bob: That one was ballsy and I loved playing on that. That is the epitome of what Rainbow should have been doing. "LA Connection" and "Long Live Rock N Roll" were good and well-played put "Kill The King" was the epitome.
Why did Blackmore fire you out of Rainbow? Do you feel he made the right or wrong move in doing what he did?
Bob: He didn't fire me particularly; I think he just wanted to get a whole new line up. During the last stages of the tour in 1978, Ronnie pulled me aside and told me that there was a good possibility that Ritchie would get a new band together at the end of this tour. He asked me if I wanted to do something with him if he got a band together. I said, "Shit yeah." Ritchie kept Cozy for a little while but then he got rid of him as well. Did he make the right decision? I don't know. I would have liked to see Ritchie in a heavier band than with the version of Rainbow that came after us. I thought our version of Rainbow was the best he ever had. Cozy, Ronnie and myself, I mean shit, what was wrong with him?
Last one on this album: Was the recording process easy on this record or challenging? Do you have any vivid memories of recording this album?
Bob: I remember that Ritchie was very particular about how things were done. I think that was a good thing. He was very serious and tenacious about his music and that was a good thing as well. It was a little difficult for me because a couple of drum tracks were done and I had to overdub a couple of bass tracks over the drums and that was not that easy at the time. I got a handle on that pretty quickly and it didn't cause any problem at all.
Jeb Wright, Classic Rock Revisited, April 2002