RONNIE JAMES DIO
INTERVIEWS THE HAGUE 1977 (pt 2)
Before the Rainbow Fanclan was founded at the end of 1979, there was once in the distant past a (Dutch) Deep Purple Fanclub, to be precise in 1971, founded by Bart Hekkelman. This was taken over in 1975 by René Veldhoen, who ended the fan club in early 1979 (in 1976 renamed to Rainbow Fanclub), due to lack of time and the lack of people who could continue the fanclub. At that time news sources were very scarce, especially compared to the possibilities now, so there were not really many interesting articles about Rainbow. However, there are two exceptions: the two concerts that Rainbow gave in the Congresgebouw in The Hague. From the fanzines of that time we can now thanks to our good friend Tonny Steenhagen, who, in addition to the photos posted, also provided us with these copies, the concert report written at the time and interviews on the Rainbow Fanclan Legacy Website.
RONNIE JAMES DIO - Interview The Hague October 4, 1977
After our conversation with David Stone, Ronnie Dio entered the hotel. To our great surprise, he recognized us immediately from the interview we had with him in 1976. Ronnie was immediately willing to do another interview with us.
What happened to Tony Carey and Jimmy Bain?
With Tony it was a personal problem. We didn't get along very well with him. He was truly a fantastic keyboard player and I am sure he will be recognized as such soon. But personally, it just didn't click. As for Jimmy; We asked from him more than he could give us as a bass player. As a person he was an excellent fit for the band. He was certainly a good friend.
David said Jimmy played too funky...
Yes... He also played funky, but that wasn't his problem. Technically, we asked for more than he could give. We asked if he could play with a looser wrist like Ritchie does, but he couldn't. We think Bob is a much better successor.
How does the single "Kill The King" sell?
It has only been released in England at the moment. However, I don't view it as a single, but as a song that comes off the LP. A single is a record that you write, record and release and is only intended as a single. "Kill The King" was only released for the money. I believe a single should be something you believe in and want to release. The one we're talking about right now is just to bring in money and nothing else. I don't think it's a reflection of what we do.
Do you mean that not you, but the record company wanted to release that single?
In this case, yes. The record company wanted to make money with this, although we also make money from it. Not only as writers, but also as a band. But if we were in the business just for the money, that would be a blow to the public. We are first in this business because we love this job. I know this sounds like a cliché. There are many people who say, "We love this and we don't care about the money." Of course we care about the money, but it's primarily about the artistic side of this profession. Money really comes second. However, our musically best things are yet to come. You'll find those best things on our next LP due out in January. It's a great LP. It is different from the previous albums. On previous albums we were looking for a way.
And have you found it now?
Yes. You can compare it with side one of "Rainbow Rising", while side two only had those big concept songs. Rainbow is from now on a band that plays fast, short songs and not those very long ones. The next LP will be like this. Short and good rock'n'roll songs.
David compared that LP to "Deep Purple In Rock". Do you agree with that?
No. Rainbow has now reached a point where you can no longer make comparisons and certainly not with Deep Purple. I think that Ritchie, Cozy and I are so much different from Deep Purple. I think Ritchie has made a lot of progress after Deep Purple. Purple was always "Highway Star," "Smoke On The Water" ... bang, bang, bang. I believe Rainbow is now as Ritchie imagined it. And that is rock music with influences from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Our songs are different, because I now write the lyrics. I am not an Ian Gillan or a David Coverdale. I have a very different approach to music. What I have to say as a writer is completely different from what Coverdale or Gillan will have to say. We are now Rainbow and not an extension of Deep Purple. You can also clearly notice that. Last tour, Ritchie played the theme of "Lazy" at the beginning of "Man On The Silver Mountain" and people went nuts: "Wow, Great!" But this tour he plays this again and the reactions are very different. People are now thinking, "Hey, that was from Deep Purple, wasn't it?"
You mean the audience no longer comes to see the ex-Deep Purple guitarist, but to see Rainbow?
Exactly! People are increasingly realizing that Ritchie has given up Deep Purple. Deep Purple is a thing of the past. Although Ian Paice, Jon Lord and maybe David Coverdale have plans to reform Deep Purple. But if they do, that band won't get anything progressive. They would only play the old hits.
I read something similar about a new Deep Purple. What do you know about that?
Not so much. They've asked David Coverdale to come back. He just released his solo album "White Snake" and the second one is on the way. He has a solo career in mind and wants to continue with it. I admire him very much for that. He could easily work with Jon and Ian, but he said, "No more Purple for me". David is very consistent and is eager to continue his career.
I believe he really likes what he is doing now.
I believe that too. He writes very good songs. I hope he will do well, because David is a very nice person and a very good singer.
What happened to Mark Clarke?
As a bass player, Mark was really the answer we were looking for. We just talked about Jimmy and the band felt he wasn't strong enough to play with the likes of Cozy and Ritchie. We thought Mark would be a solution here, because he is technically very gifted. He had played with Colosseum's Jon Hiseman, so he was very good. Yet despite his technique, he did not fit into our music. It just didn't click. That is not to say that he is not a good bass player, because he is. Mark needs someone like Jon Hiseman. A band where he can play funkier, we are not such a band. It was not a personal conflict with Mark because he was a good friend. And hopefully he will be again when his anger has cooled down. I hope he will find something in which he fits in the future. In any case, it didn't suit us.
You only played one song from the new LP, the title song. Why not more songs?
We talked about playing two songs. But no matter how many we've done, it's just a fact that the concert audience knows us better from "On Stage" than any other LP, because it's the best promoted and the best selling. Tonight we did the same songs as the LP. The only new song we did is "Long Live Rock'n'Roll". We wanted the audience to become familiar with the material from "On Stage". "On Stage" is another reflection of the first LP. Four of the eight songs that we do live are from that LP. The bottom line is that we want people to jump up when they hear familiar songs, instead of thinking, "Uh, that's good, that's new, but I've never heard it before." They respond best to well-known songs.
Okay, but they seemed to like the new song "Long Live Rock'n'Roll".
Sure, but if we had given them three other new songs they might have said, It's beautiful, it's new, but I've never heard it. "Long Live ..." is a boogie. If you play something like that, people will automatically jump up and clap their hands. That's why we thought "Long Live ..." is a perfect song to do live. You must have heard the other songs on the LP a few times. The next time people come to a concert, they will say, I hope they play "L.A. Connection, "or" Lady Of The Lake". You have to play things that people recognize.
Bruce Payne, your manager, was in the Netherlands a while ago. He said that Rainbow's main part will be made up of Cozy, Ritchie and you from now on. Does that mean that you new people are only temporarily with the band?
No. I imagine people will think Cozy, Ritchie, and I keep switching people because we would make more money or because we are very difficult people. From what I just told you about Jimmy, Tony and Mark, it seems we are very hard to please. What we try, however, is to find the right people for the band. And hopefully we have now found it. I cannot give any certainty on this yet. I believe the band was really good tonight and I believe the band will be for a long time Cozy, Ritchie, Bob, David and me. Especially Bob, because he is the person we were looking for. As a personality, Bob is just as good as Jimmy. As for David, I always thought Tony was a very good keyboard player and as such almost irreplaceable. David is a different kind of keyboard player. If we had looked for a Tony Carey and choose David we would have been wrong because David is not Tony. I believe David fits very well into our plans. We don't want someone who is constantly giving solos. We want someone who can complement, someone who can make the music more beautiful. Tony always tried to give solos. He was always fighting for the solo part. And that just belongs to Ritchie, me and sometimes Cozy.
What is Glenn Hughes doing right now?
He recently completed a solo LP and I can only say that he is very good as ever. He's pretty funky, but I think the critics will attack him on his Stevie Wonder complex. Glenn has enough abilities to be himself instead of a Stevie Wonder. I hope he will soon see himself that, he has fallen too far in his Stevie Wonder worship. He's incredible, fantastic.
I believe Glenn would do very well in the Stevie Wonder style.
Maybe, but I believe we should realize there's only room for one Stevie Wonder. Stevie is without a doubt one of the best keyboard players in his style and a very good singer / composer. As a singer he is irresistible. He always knows what he is doing and why. He never makes a mistake. And if Glenn wants to be a complete Stevie Wonder, he's totally wrong. Anyway he's great as a singer and I hope people will soon start to see just how good Glenn Hughes really is. He was out of place with Deep Purple. That was certainly not his band. Trapeze was the band for Glenn Hughes.
Deep Purple was the chance for him to climb...
Yes, that is true. But actually he only made a small climb. What do you see of Glenn right now? If he were really that famous, you wouldn't ask me how his new LP is. Deep Purple was Glenn's mode of transport to the top, but that doesn't mean that he didn't actually fit the band. Trapeze was his band because he could lead it. He was Trapeze. He was not Deep Purple. That was Ritchie.
Who plays keyboards on the new LP?
Nobody at the moment. Cozy, Ritchie and I did that LP.
So no bass has been recorded yet?
Yes. Ritchie played bass. We might let David play keyboards a few songs. We also have to write one song for the LP... Everything is ready except that one song. Hopefully David will play on that. Other songs, on the other hand, are made up of guitar, drums, vocals and bass, so no organ is needed. We recorded one song with whistles in the background. It is almost certain that David and Bob will play one song and that is the one that has yet to be written.
We heard about "L.A. Connection". Will that be the single?
It depends on. We don't quite agree on that yet. We doubt between "L.A. Connection" and "Long Live Rock'n'Roll". Ritchie thinks "Long Live ..." is the song to release as a single, but I think "L.A. Connection" will do better. However, there is a difference of mindset between Europe and America. "Long Live ..." will do better in Europe, because people in America are being thrown to death with boogie. I believe "L.A. Connection" will do better in America and be the best thing Rainbow has released on single so far.
What will you do next?
An English, a Japanese, an Australian and an American tour. We have to go to America, despite the fact that they have been very bad for us there. I don't know if you read the Daily Mirror. That's an English newspaper. I had an interview with them on Saturday and Cozy on Monday. My part of the interview seemed like an attack on the American public, but the interviewer got it a bit twisted. He said to me, "Are you dissatisfied with America?" I said, "Yes, very much." I believe that Americans are idiots as a musical audience. That newspaper does not reflect that. The newspaper said: "Ronnie James Dio thinks Americans are idiots!" However, I only said musically. I think they are way too one-sided. They don't have the intelligence to tell the different rock 'n roll groups apart. We are compared to groups like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. That is the complete opposite of what we do. They don't look for differences and that's why I thought they were crazy. They should appreciate us more for what we do because we work hard for all audiences. The Americans are not giving us what an audience like tonight has given us.
We rely on an audience. English crowd is always incredible, Japanese crowd too, German crowd is sometimes good and sometimes terrible. The best audience has always been the English. Tonight's audience was, I'm not saying this because I happen to be talking to you here in The Hague tonight, fantastic! They were not allowed to storm the stage, they had to stay in their seats (which they didn't, Ed.) and despite that, they gave us as much as an audience in England that was allowed to storm the stage. For that reason, it was easily the best crowd we've had on this tour so far.
The security people kept sending us back ...
Yeah, I know. We regret that too. However, it was a rule set by the venue owner. However, as soon as the security get pawing and start fighting, we say, "Whoa, stop" and get the guards sent away. We do not allow that at a concert of ours.
Last year you spoke about a new project by Roger Glover. How about that?
His new LP will be called "Elements" and it is completely instrumental. It's about the earth, wind and fire. All elements of the earth. It's unbelievably good.
You would sing two songs on that LP.
That's right. Roger would sing five or six songs alone and two songs I would sing with him. But because the LP is so well put together instrumentally, we thought that the vocals would not benefit the music. We decided to leave them out, because it will be Roger's solo album. It is completely instrumental, except for a few singers, those melodies. Roger also remains active in production. He has produced records by Status Quo, Rory Gallagher and Nazareth, among others, and has done an excellent job in doing so. But look forward to his new album "Elements", it's brilliant.
When will it be released?
I really don't know. I hope as soon as possible, because it is unique. Roger put his whole soul into it. When you love Roger, you love this.
To come back to that possible new Deep Purple; now that Lord and Paice were in the process of forming that, what's going to happen to Paice, Ashton, Lord?
I do not know. If they talked about a new Deep Purple, I believe that could also be the end of PAL. I think Tony Ashton is the wrong person for Jon and Ian. Tony may be a personality, but he would fit better in an English music hall. He's a great comedian, but when it comes to serious music, I don't think Tony is a good fit for what Jon and Ian are used to from Deep Purple. Tony is just the wrong person for such a thing. Under other circumstances he is a great musician and a good entertainer, but for Jon and Ian he is the wrong man.
How did Bob join the band?
We knew him from his group Widowmaker and we knew his work in that band very good. Luckily for us, Bob didn't like it anymore with Widowmaker and he accepted our offer to come and play at the auditions. We tried it out and it went great. We immediately asked him to come to us.
David was with Symphonic Slam and that group had just disbanded. We heard his albums and thought he would be a great fit for the band. We called him up and he came to Los Angeles, to rehearsals, and he fit in our intentions.
There were criticisms from the press that your stage show would be too impressive.
I thought we had a perfect stage layout for this hall tonight. It is a beautiful venue to watch. When the audience walks into such a venue, they immediately feel great. And when they see the big rainbow, with that awesome drum kit in the middle and large speakers on both sides of the stage, the atmosphere is already good before the concert starts. In addition, we were a very good band tonight. If I didn't think this I wouldn't tell you either because there have been times in Rainbow's career when we played completely below normal. You should actually see us five nights in a row. At that fifth concert we are great and untouchable, but after the fifth concert we can be terribly bad again. That's how it goes with a tour. We slowly go up at the start of a tour and when we hit the absolute peak, we drop in quality again. The tours are full of ups and downs. We are always very good at the last concert of the tour. Then we are so familiar with the songs that we play without thinking. When you know the music so well, you can improvise and be what you are. Every person in this band is a soloist. And at the end of the tour we can go solo, because then we are completely familiar with the material. Furthermore, at the end of a tour you are excited and excited because the tour has ended.
Are the tours sometimes not too long?
Sometimes because they are indeed too long, but when we do a five day tour, you will probably encounter the same ups and downs.
Have you read the review of "On Stage" in Melody Maker? (a very negative review, Ed.)
What did you think of that?
Melody maker has never been sympathetic to us. Especially not to Ritchie. They don't seem to care that much. That interview they did with him this year was much better than I expected. Sounds has always been good for us. New Musical Express is usually okay.
I read an interview with Cozy Powell in New Musical Express, in which Cozy said he was dissatisfied with the drumming he did on "On Stage". Do you agree with that?
No, I totally disagree with that. You have to be a very good musician if you want to be as good as he is on a live LP. What we have on the live LP has not been touched. We did not overdub the guitar or the voice. We have left the tapes untouched. And under these circumstances I don't believe you'll find an LP that you can compare to this one. We are really great on this LP, because we have not tried to use studio tricks to make the LP look even more perfect. And then those beautiful nuances that Rainbow manages to put at the beginning and in songs like "Catch The Rainbow" and "Still I'm Sad"! Of course Cozy was disappointed and of course he felt he could have done better, but when you feel you can't do any better, you don't deserve to be in this business anymore. When you think that what you have done is the most you can do, you are no longer a professional. My opinion is that "On Stage" is the best a band like ours can do, without correcting everything after hand in the studio.
As for our studio albums... they are all a very special thing. You won't hear anyone playing the same music as us. Love it or not, you will have to admit that it is all very original. We only do those studio albums for one reason. And that is that we can play the songs on those LPs live. On studio LPs you hear a lot of things that we can do better live. We are also not that kind of band that goes into the studio without proving what they can deliver live.
Is that the only reason that "On Stage" was released?
No, not the only one. The other reason is that there was a tremendous demand for such an LP in Japan. The sales figures would be guaranteed to be very high. About 250,000 records of "On Stage" have now been sold, which is a lot for such a small island. But the idea of releasing that LP only in Japan seemed ridiculous to us, because if we did, it would no doubt have been bootlegged and sold in Australia, Europe and America. Why would we do that to ourselves? So we made recordings in Germany and Japan and released the live LP worldwide. By the way, a bootleg of the first concert we did in Tokyo has been released. I haven't heard the record yet, I've only seen the cover. I've heard from other people that it's an absolutely horrible record (Dio means the bootleg "Blackmore The Raider" here). And I am sure those people are right. Still, bootlegs, good or not, are a form of flattery. If you're good enough to be profitable for bootleg traders, you've accomplished something. Of course we hate bootlegs, because they don't reproduce the band properly. Well you get those idiots who say, “What a bad band, not realizing that Rainbow is just showing up there very poorly.
I have that bootleg myself.
Yes? How did you get that?
They are available in record stores in Amsterdam.
Is that an LP or a tape? An LP.
I have to see that I get a copy of that too, if only to be disappointed...
It has a terrible version of "Do You Close Your Eyes" on it.
An interviewer has asked us before why "Do You Close Your Eyes" is not on "On Stage". The reason is that "Do You..." is an encore. When you've done the whole live set and you're ready for the encore, throw out the last one. You scream and run back and forth and the band plays very fast and rough. Of all the times we recorded "Do You...", when we listened to it in the studio, it never sounded right. We didn't want that song on "On Stage". I am therefore disappointed that it is on the bootleg.
Why isn't "Stargazer" on "On Stage"?
We never found "Stargazer" as good live as in the studio version. It was just too long. It was an annoying song in our eyes. I don't know what the public thinks about that. We only liked the studio version and that's why we left it out.
"Do You Close Your Eyes" was shown live on the German TV. Have you seen that broadcast?
Yes, it was amazing.
How did you like seeing yourself?
I never want to see myself. I try to forget what I look like when I'm on stage. I always see myself as a voice with legs. The rest of the body doesn't matter. Of course I have to dress myself a bit well for the audience, but I only think of me as a singer. Whenever I see photos of myself in music magazines, I always feel disgusted. I always think, "Oh God it's awful.
It is, of course, part of the show.
That's true, but if I were an invisible person and people could still hear that it's Ronnie James Dio singing there, I'd be very happy. Of course I'm also kind of an actor and I like to jump around and put on a good show, but first of all I consider myself a singer and secondly an artist. I believe Ritchie feels the same way. I believe we all think we should just put on a show. If this was not the case, we might as well stay in the dressing rooms and play the songs from there into the venue. But first of all comes the quality of the music. The show comes second.
There were press criticisms saying "On Stage" is Ritchie Blackmore's masterpiece. And wondered when Rainbow's masterpiece would come.
Why do you think that?
I don't think that, but a music magazine.
Okay, but now let me ask you a question. You believe that?
Why do you believe that?
Because there is too much guitar work on the LP. There is also too much guitar work in the show. There is always a guitar solo and not always a drum or an organ solo.
Oh, I know what you mean. That's true, you're right about that, but you'll have to admit that Rainbow was founded with Ritchie Blackmore as its base and main body. That's why Ritchie doesn't stand in the background and say, "Okay, now let's do four songs with an organ solo". You have to bring the person who is the strongest personality and has the most talents to the fore. Jon Lord was a good keyboard player, but he was not as good as Ritchie in acting and writing. Whether you prefer guitar or keyboards, that's not the point. When Ritchie left Deep Purple, they held on for a while, but after that Deep Purple no longer existed. Ritchie formed Rainbow, and it still exists. From which you can conclude that Ritchie was the driving force in Deep Purple.
Ritchie will always be a driving force...
That's right. And because he is the force and a genius, I mean this very seriously, he must come to the foreground. He is not only a genius as a guitarist, but also as a producer, songwriter, organizer and creator of ideas. He must be in the foreground. I admit that I sometimes think there is too much guitar playing in the show. I agree with you on that. But if we could find someone who's just as good as Ritchie, but on keyboards, we'd put more keyboards on the show. But at this point, no one can beat Ritchie because he is brilliant. I really like your criticism and I'm not trying to talk you out or outdo you, but right now we can't find anyone who could beat Ritchie on the solo level.
The new LP, will it look like "Rising"?
I think he can be compared to one side of "Rising" and that's the side with "Tarot Woman" and "Run With The Wolf", I forgot what else is on it.
Won't there be songs like "Catch The Rainbow"?
Yes, there is one song that is very similar to "Catch The Rainbow".
Those are the songs I like Ritchie Blackmore the most for and not the songs like "Do You Close Your Eyes".
I agree. And I can assure you that Ritchie feels exactly like that. "Do You Close Your Eyes" is more of a silly song. "Catch The Rainbow" on the other hand is a masterpiece. It carries you away from "Highway Star" and more of those riff songs. But despite that, this band is based on those riff songs. "Catch The Rainbow" is more of our luxury. The song on the next LP is called "Rainbow Ice" (this is about "Rainbow Eyes", the album was not out at the time of this interview and release date, Ed.).
What do you think about this Ronnie (we show him a scarf with the word Rainbow on one side and Ritchie Blackmore, a worthless rag on the other, which costs ten euros)?
If I happened to have such a thing with me, I would probably burn it. If you happen to delete the word "Rainbow" now, you're left with only "Ritchie Blackmore". And that's exactly what we were just talking about. You can't just play a guitar all the time. There is a singer, a drummer and a bass player and so on. But he's the one (he points to the name Ritchie Blackmore) we respect for being such a good musician. Nobody can match him. I've done a lot of singing with really great people, Cozy has played with Jeff Beck, who is considered one of the greatest, but you won't find anyone who can match Ritchie Blackmore. Sometimes I also go to my hotel room and I am fed up with all this. But that rarely happens. I know I wouldn't be talking to you now without him. I just hope that when the band breaks up and they do, this band won't last forever. Maybe we'll stay together for another two or three years. I hope that after that time I will be recognized as what I am; a good singer. And then I can start working in my own direction.
It seems like a kind of heaven that Cozy tries to create with that upward drum kit...
Exactly! It looks like it comes from some kind of cloud. Normally, when the drum set goes up, we use a smoke machine. Only tonight we didn't have that. Incidentally, that idea came from Cozy. The rainbow was Ritchie's idea. He said, "We must have a rainbow." A year later we had one. The entire show was created by Cozy, Ritchie and me. Our joint ideas are incorporated into it.
Isn't that show too impressive?
Too impressive? I do not know. I've never watched the show from the front. But I hope that's not what you're saying. But if you think this, I hope next time we play here you will be really impressed, because then you will see things that you will not believe. Maybe people will compare our show with Kiss's. They blow themselves up and I know it all, but musically we can't be compared to anyone. You just have to assume that the concert audience will also come to see something.
Don't you believe Ritchie plays too much for the audience? He wanted to do some beautiful soft solos, but the crowd started shouting through that and Ritchie started playing rougher.
Ah, I know what you mean. No, that is not true. Ritchie will always try to play creative things, but when the audience reacts badly to that, he thinks "I don't want to know about it anymore" and plays hard again.
Can you tell us something about the live LP, why did you choose those songs?
Because they sounded best on the tape.
For that reason alone? I had the idea that Ritchie chose "Catch The Rainbow" because he wanted to prove himself.
No no. The LP was produced by Martin Birch and me. Unfortunately, I do not benefit from this, because my name is not mentioned on the cover due to taxes. The two of us listened to the tapes in twelve days, sometimes thirteen hours a day and we chose the songs. Ritchie barely had a hand in this. We tried to make the LP a reflection of our show. That's why the LP starts with "Kill The King". We tried to present it as we present the show.
I read in a review that the choice of songs was totally wrong.
That is the opinion of the reviewer. I don't blame him, because you can't do everyone's way. However, I believe that a large part of the audience appreciated it, otherwise we wouldn't be playing to sold-out venues. We try to present the music well. After we have toured for three months, we cannot say: "We must do this differently". If the people don't like it. we can only say "sorry".
Well, I think I'm done with the questions.
Good questions, really. I enjoy answering questions that require me to argue.
You haven't done many interviews yet, I heard from the record company.
We did one interview in England, which was meant for the whole tour, so that, I'm not saying this to you, we wouldn't be bothered by journalists. Sometimes you are tired and you don't want to talk. Then you think: "Fuck off, I don't wanna do an interview". We make exceptions when someone wants to do a serious interview. I wouldn't have interviewed you tonight if I hadn't wanted to talk. If I hadn't wanted this, I would have said in the hall, "I'll be right there" and wouldn't have come back. But I remembered you guys from last year and if I had remembered you guys like a bunch of fools, I wouldn't have done an interview tonight.
© Dutch Rainbow Fanclub - The Book Of Taliesyn no 8, Februari 1978