There are some great interviews with Bob Daisley on the Bob Daisley website. This is an edited version, mainly on his Rainbow days and the Mothers Army Project (a band that also featured Joe Lynn Turner). You can read the full version which covers also Bob's early days and his stints with Ozzy Osbourne and Gary Moore on www.bobdaisley.com
How much of a change did Rainbow end up being from your experience with Widowmaker?
A lot of the gigs we did with Widowmaker on the first tour of America in '76, we opened up for ELO. And ELO was huge at the time, so we were used to doing big gigs. We did big gigs everywhere. We were flying around in their private plane, having limos at the airport…we were kind of spoiled, I guess. (laughs) For an unknown band that was just trying to break, we did it at the top of the ladder, really. Going into Rainbow, I'd had a taste of that stuff. It was nothing new, although being a headline act was something nice. Plus the pressure was on, I suppose. Ritchie was very strict about the music and how everything sounded. The arrangements had to be note perfect. That's good. That's how I think anyway. We rehearsed and we rehearsed and we rehearsed until everything was perfect, because a lot of the Rainbow songs used to go on for quite some time. It wasn't jamming, it was all worked out.
Even if a song ran twenty-five minutes long, it was all worked out beforehand?
Yep. All that was worked out.
Wow. Well, you certainly don't see that nowadays.
I know! I remember looking at my watch and thinking "Fuckin' hell, we've only done four songs and there's an hour gone." Some nights it would go on a little bit longer than others in certain sections, and Ritchie would give a nod or the eye to Cozy (Powell) to end this part now and go into the next bit. Sometimes the next bit would be a bit shorter or a bit longer. But the arrangement itself was all worked out and there was no guesswork. There was a little bit of conducting, and a little bit of nods and winks.
Other than running a tight ship, was Ritchie easy to get along with?
Yeah, I got on fine with Ritchie. I could understand where he was coming from. He was meticulous about his music, the arrangements and how things were run. Even though Ronnie (Dio) and Cozy were names and part of the strength of the band, it was still Ritchie's band. I just got on with the job and did it how he wanted it. And I got on fine with him. I didn't have a problem.
Ritchie had started, then aborted, a new Rainbow album with former Uriah Heep bassist Mark Clarke prior to you joining the band. How much of the "Long Live Rock N Roll" album did you end up playing on?
Only about three songs – "Kill The King," "Sensitive To Light" and "Gates Of Babylon."
I don't think Mark Clarke had any parts left on there. Did Ritchie end up playing the rest of the bass?
Yeah, Ritchie played the rest. And although Ritchie is a great guitar player, he's not a great bass player. And not many guitar players are. They can play widdly-widdly notes on bass, but they have a different approach. It doesn't feel like a bass player. That's what happened with that album. It didn't sound right. Some of the tracks were a bit plodding – no balls and no fire. Ritchie was an amazing guitar player and he had that fire in his guitar playing, but as a bass player it just didn't happen.
Ritchie sacked the band at the end of the tour, deciding he wanted to clean house again.
Yeah, he changed the whole band. He kept Cozy for a little while, and then got rid of Cozy as well. Originally, Ronnie James Dio and I were gonna get a band together. That was gonna happen towards the end of '78 and into '79. It ended up not happening, because Ronnie joined Black Sabbath. And I only found out about it through the press. I thought "Oh, I guess we're not forming a band then, if he's joined Sabbath." The ironic thing was that instead of forming a band with Ronnie, I ended up forming a band with Ozzy in '79.
What important things have you learned and taken away with you from working with Ritchie Blackmore?
I think more than anything, professionalism. I'd learned how important it is to be professional and to be reliable, which I'd always wanted to be. Working with Rainbow was a really tight ship. You just had to get on with it, and be very astute.
Earlier, you mentioned Yngwie Malmsteen's "Odyssey" album. How did you end up working with Yngwie?
It was Jeff Glixman again. Jeff Glixman was producing the album, and I had already worked with Jeff – with Gary Moore, and on the Black Sabbath album the year before. I spoke to Jeff during the American tour with Gary Moore. He said "When you finish the Gary Moore tour, I'm doing the Yngwie album. Do you want to do some tracks on it?" I said "Yeah, sure." So I stopped in L.A. when everybody else went home, rehearsed with Yngwie and then we went down to Austin, TX. We did the tracks down there.
Does Yngwie strike you as having a Ritchie Blackmore fixation?
Totally. (laughs) I think that's why he wanted to be associated with, or work with, people like Joe Lynn Turner and myself. Anything to do with Ritchie, Rainbow or Purple – Yngwie was pretty hung up on. Even the Yngwie Malmsteen Fender Strat is really just a variation of the Ritchie Blackmore model, with the scalloped-out fretboard. A lot of his stances on stage even look like Ritchie. He's pretty occupied with the Ritchie Blackmore thing. Playing-wise, he's got his own thing. He's a great player. And it's not a bad thing, I guess, to have a Ritchie Blackmore influence.
There are several strong writers in Mother's Army. Was it a refreshing change of pace from having to write either all of the material (as in Ozzy) or none of the material (as in Rainbow/Gary Moore)?
It happened in a similar way, really. Jeff Watson and I used to get together and do the musical side of things first. Joe would come up with vocal melodies. I would write a lot of the lyrics by myself. Joe and I would write lyrics together. Jeff would sometimes have ideas for lyrics. It wasn't that much different from what I'd done in the past.
Is Joe Lynn Turner particular about writing a lot of the material he sings?
No. When we did the second album, "Planet Earth", Jeff and I wrote most of that album alone. Joe loved the stuff. When he heard the demos he said "Oh man, I took this demo home and I've just been listening to it at home to get familiar with it for when I do my vocals. But I've become a fan of my own band!" (laughs)
It sounded so different. The "Planet Earth" album seems very melancholy.
Yeah, well it's more laid back. We were in sort of a Pink Floyd frame of mind. We didn't want it too aggressive, hard-hitting, heavy, in-your-face. It was just the mood we were in at the time. When we did "Fire On The Moon" after that, it was much more rocky and a bit more in-your-face.
When you listen to "Planet Earth" it doesn't even sound like Joe Lynn Turner.
And I'll tell you why it doesn't sound like Joe Lynn Turner. Jeff had put down all the vocals first, how we thought it should go. It was only Jeff and I doing most of the work on that album. With a little bit of his own thing, Joe just replaced what Jeff had already done.
What important things have you learned and taken away with you from working with Mother's Army?
It was a very frustrating situation, in as much as we had good music, good musicians and good songs but nothing much happened with it. We couldn't get arrested with that project, for some reason. Either because we're not young, pretty eighteen-year-old boys anymore or whatever. I don't know, but we couldn't get that off the ground. Musically, it was very satisfying. I liked working with Jeff Watson, it was good playing with Carmine and then when Aynsley came in what a great drummer that guy is, you know? He's brilliant. Joe Lynn Turner? Lovely bloke - I love him. It was satisfying musically, but frustrating business-wise.
Todd Seely, May 2002