Unpublished Interview 1986
Rainbow was dead. There was no doubt about that... Rainbow was dead as a doornail.
Yet here I was, two years after the register of the band's burial had been signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker and the chief mourner. And here I faced the chief mourner himself, Roger Glover, to talk about a new Rainbow album, an odds and sods collection of mostly live tracks, appropriately dubbed Final Vinyl. Before us sits a bottle of Stolichnaya and a carton of Tropicana and by the end of the afternoon I was to learn that Roger Glover treated screwdrivers the way most diners dispense coffee - the never empty cup. In a way it was almost as much a metaphor for the album as the opening bit of Dickens was for the band.
The new album is called Final Vinyl. That means that Rainbow is no more?
Not as far as I know.
Why did they disband?
Basically, Rainbow is Ritchie's vehicle. It was his band right from the start. He started it and he was the leader of it. I joined in 1979, and although it was still Ritchie's band, I was, I suppose, a fairly big part of Rainbow. When the Deep Purple reunion came about, there was no way we could pursue two different bands, two separate careers, so Rainbow had to cease in order to make way for Deep Purple. Whether or not, at some future time, Ritchie may decide to form another incarnation of Rainbow, that's entirely up to him.
It would have been too hard to keep both going?
Ridiculous would be the word. Impossible would be another word.
You produced the new LP. Tell me about putting it together. Is it all stuff you're on?
Ronnie's stuff, 1978, that's Bob Daisley playing bass. I searched, I wanted to come out with an album that spanned more of the time that Rainbow was in existence. Rainbow started in '75 I think, at least '76. The earliest recording I could come up with was '78 on our shelves. There may be some other recordings somewhere, but I couldn't search them out, and neither could our office, which is a shame because I wanted to find some early vintage Rainbow.
Do you enjoy producing records? Have you produced anyone other than Rainbow?
All of the Rainbow I worked in the band I also produced. I used to do that [production]. I would like to produce other people.
Could you see yourself making a career change?
I don't think I would like to be a full time producer in this business. I'm much more at home being a writer and artist and have fun performing. I like to produce, but I don't think I'd like to be strictly a producer without being a performer,no. I did that for six years after I left Purple, I became a producer. I produced tons of different groups. I produced Rory Gallagher, Nazareth, Judas Priest, David Coverdale, Michael Schenker, Elf, I did three albums with Elf, Ronnie Dio. I produced Barbie Benton at one point. I was a producer, a full time producer. I would produce anything that came my way.
How long did it take to put the LP together?
About a month. Actually, listening itself, I spent three or four days listening to tapes before I made any decisions. Then I compiled my notes. I tried to figure out if we had enough material for an album. There were some performances I didn't like very much. In fact, initially, I was very doubtful whether it was even worth bothering with this. First of all, Rainbow's been finished two years. I'm fully involved in Deep Purple now. It's very exciting, I love it.
And doing a project for my old band was really tedious. But the more I got into it, the more I listened to it, the more memories it brought back, the more I thought that, for Rainbow fans - and I'm not sure this album is going to set the world alight, but for rainbow fans - it's a really interesting piece, because it does span six years of the band's history, and there are some older recordings, some classic recordings from Ronnie and Graham. I thought it was a valid album to put out. It's a live album, with a few odd studio pieces that never really saw the light of day. Rather then just watching them gather dust on the shelf, I saw no reason why they shouldn't be out for the people to listen to and maybe get some enjoyment out of.
Now you and Ritchie were both with the band when Jon Lord took Deep Purple through their mercifully brief classical/orchestral period with Concerto for Group and Orchestra with the London Philharmonic. You revisited using an orchestra for the Budokan recording on this album. Was that a throwback or was there some other reason for doing it?
I remember that (the Jon Lord piece with the Royal Philharmonic, 1969) with absolutely pure clarity for some reason. There's always been a classical bent to our work. I love classical music myself. I love it a lot. Jon Lord, I think, was much more of a classical person than Ritchie was, although Ritchie had classical training, he very quickly left that and was into the blues and rock and, I think, returned to classical music somewhat later in his career.
The early days of Rainbow, I think the classical started coming out, much more than it had in the original Deep Purple. I think the classical influence in Deep Purple was much more Jon LOrd than Ritchie. But Ritchie now, and in the last six, seven years, has let the classical side of him show through. Ritchie had been wanting to do a gig with an orchestra for a long time, in a much more rock way. He didn't want to repeat the Deep Purple thing.
The Deep Purple thing was really a concerto for group and orchestra. It was really a piece of classical music with a group in it. I think Ritchie's idea was the other way around. He wanted the group, but the orchestral type addition to enhance the rock part, not the other way around. We had no idea that this was going to be the last gig that Rainbow ever did. The decision to do Deep Purple hadn't fully been made at the point we went to Japan. But Ritchie, previous to any Deep Purple reunion ideas, had said let's get an orchestra to do it, and the manager had looked into it and found a way to get an orchestra for two days. Only two, because it's so expensive to do.
Even just a string orchestra, it's a hefty thing. We arranged to do it in Japan, because the Japanese side of it said they'd pay for it as long as they could film it. This is how deals are done.
So we went there, and it was a wonderful way for Rainbow to end. As I said, we didn't know it was going to be our last gig, but it was fortunate that it was recorded and the orchestra was there. It was a great way to bow out. It was touch and go. We weren't sure we could do it correctly, but it came off reasonable well. It could have been better, if we had more rehearsal time, etc, etc, but in the event, the way that it was done was great because there was no announcements made that it was going to be anything special, anything other than a Rainbow hard rock show. And we were in the Budokan and the crowd was there. It was a normal rock show for about one hour. Then Ritchie started to play the opening strains to Difficult to Cure, Beethoven's Ninth, and the curtains backstage opened, and there was this orchestra, bathed in rainbow light. It was a great moment. You could hear the audience gasp. What a great feeling that was! It was a great feeling. And it's not something I think we should repeat. Certainly it's not something you can go on the road with, but every now and again, for a special occasion like that, it's great. And the fact that it was recorded, and it's part of the video, it was a nice touch.
Rock'n'roll should have the capacity to surprise the audience.
That's very important.
I understand that Blackmore is a tough guy to work with...
That's true to a certain extent. His reputation is not built on nothing. It's a little misguided at times. He is difficult at times, but at times he's not that difficult, he's very easy to work with. I've had a hard time working with him sometimes. He has his vision of what he wants to do, and sometimes he has a hard way of communicating to other people. Now, I know him really well, so I find it much easier to work with him than other people. Bit I don't think he's difficult for the sake of being difficult. I think he's as much a perfectionist when it comes to getting studios and stuff like that, I really try for the very best. And he does, too. I think it's only when he comes up against people who don't play the way he wants them to play, or are maybe taking a bit of a passenger seat in whatever vehicle Ritchie happens to be on, or people who don't care about the music as much as Ritchie cares about it. When that happens, you see a side of Ritchie that most people give him the reputation for. They get fired, he gets angry, he gets pissed off, and when Ritchie gets pissed off with you, you know it! There's no way you're not going to know it. He gets into a real black mood. But that's because you're not toeing the line, you're not pulling your weight.
Ritchie, if nothing else, is a hard worker. He works hard. He practises every day. If he can't get a part right, he'll work it and work it, and he can't stand to see sloppy musicianship. And there's loads of sloppy musicianship around. So a lot of his reputation stems from that. I think he is a moody guy, I think he's also a brilliant guitarist. So I put up with his moods, because what he gives the world is much better than the negative side that his moods create. I'm moody as well, it's just that he's got the reputation of it.
So now that Rainbow is no more, what's going on with Deep Purple?
We've had a writing session. Before Christmas we all got together and rehearsed and stuff. We've got some great ideas. And we're looking for a place to record. We're hoping to start in early April.
How has Deep Purple changed in the ten years since Blackmore split?
That's an enormous question. I think we've had a new found awareness of each other that we didn't have before. I think before we were a band that really didn't know what we were doing. We worked and worked and worked, and that was probably the ultimate reason for the demise of the band, was that we worked too hard. We burned ourselves out very quickly. And also we archieved an awful lot of success and it's very difficult for that not to change you. \i think some of us were changed by that, and that led to a few more personal differences.
Eleven years down the line, we've been apart for eleven years at least we were in 1984 when we got back together again, I think obviously with the passing of years, you get maturity, and you get a different view of the world. You're basically the same person, you play the same kind of instrument, you think more or less the same kind of thoughts. I don't think people change that much, but I think right now we have a lot more respect for each other than we did in the early days. So I think that's what enabled us to reform, and not just reform, but regenerate, recreate. I think we're much more excited about being together and playing together, and really feel like we belong together, then we did in the early days. In the early years it felt like such a big accident, we were thrown together, and suddenly, boom! We've got a platinum album. Everything happened so quickly. Now we've got it much more in perspective.
Before Deep Purple started dabbling in progressive rock, before you became a hard rock band, you were covering Joe South Tunes. It was kind of like the Moody Blues, you were really an R&B roots group.
Purple, originally, in 1968, was started by the drummer of the Searchers, funnily enough, who then went mad and knocked it out. Chris Curtis was his name. But it left Ritchie and Jon and the management, and they got this group together, and I think the early Deep Purple was much more known for it's extravagant arrangements of other people's songs than it was for original material, though they did write some original material, a couple of good songs. But by far, the best point of the band was the grandiose arrangements of other people's songs: River Deep, Mountain High, Hush, Kentucky Woman, etc.
That only happened for about 18 months, they did a couple of tours and obviously that was going nowhere. They needed original material that was good. When they did a reshuffle, Ian Gillan and I had been a songwriting partnership before that for years in our own band. When we joined Purple, the songwriting really took over. We didn't do anyone else's material after that, we did purely our own material. What we're doing now is getting ready for an album. We haven't got anything to talk about in terms of an album. And this is a Rainbow thing, even though Rainbow is dead and gone two years ago. That's why I'm here.
How intense was it, going on the road with Deep Purple after all those years apart?
It wasn't intense, actually. It was very enjoyable. We just had a lark. We just had good fun, and after all, there is nothing wrong with that. If you're satisfied and happy and relaxed you're making good music. I think it all comes out in the music. It all comes out in the ideas. If you're unhappy about something, your ideas aren't that strong. It speaks for itself. It was a great experience. Getting back on the road again after six years as a producer was great. My, first date with Rainbow in 1979, that was so much an uplift, it was fabulous to be back onstage. The Purple thing was not that traumatic an occasion, because we had all been working solidly for the last 11 years. Every single one of us had been touring. Ian Gillan had his own band, did no less than 200 dates a year for four, five years. It's not as if we all came out of retirement.
Hank Bordowitz, Unpublished, March 1986