A Very Candid Conversation with David Rosenthal
Jeff Cramer did recently another of his well known candid conversations. In the past he did for example these extended interviews with ex-Rainbow members Joe Lynn Turner, Greg Smith, Chuck Burgi and Craig Gruber. This time he was talking with keyboardplayer David Rosenthal, who was in Rainbow from late 1981 till 1984.
Here are some excerpts of the interview with David who was talking about Rainbow, Red Dawn, Cyndi Lauper, Robert Palmer, Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Joel and many others.
JC: A tape of you playing a Liszt piece when you were in Berklee made its way to Ritchie Blackmore. His reaction was being a little fearful that you probably wouldn't want to join Rainbow because Rainbow was rock and the tape of you playing was classical.
DR: Oh, really?
JC: Yeah. Ritchie said, "He's gonna be too good for us," and at the same time, Ritchie wanted a keyboardist who was oriented in rock and classical music. After auditioning several keyboard players that didn't work out, he finally called you in.
DR: That's funny because the cassette tape that I sent him, which got me the audition, had my classical piano recital from Berklee on one side of the tape. And on the other side was my cover band at that time, which was playing all rock and roll songs.
I assume he listened to both sides of the tape. Maybe he didn't, I don't know. In any event, the tape got me the audition with Ritchie. But that's interesting, I've never heard that side of the story before.
It's funny because I totally have rock and roll running through my veins. I grew up on rock and roll and I love it. It sounds like a cliché but it's true. I studied classical because I wanted to become the best player I could possibly become and I wanted to take my playing to a point of virtuosity. But I never had any intention of making a career as a classical pianist. However, my teachers at Berklee were suggesting that I become a classical pianist. I was like, "No way. That's not at all what I want to do." I just wanted to elevate my playing up to that high level.
JC: I have interviewed several people who played with Ritchie and one thing just about everyone tells me is that they have a story about Ritchie. What's your Ritchie story?
DR: I endured some of the traditional initiation things that he does to all new Rainbow members. But I had a great relationship with Ritchie. He really respected my musicianship and I had tremendous respect for him and we got along great. I know a lot of people didn't have similar stories to that, but I always got along fine with Ritchie. Yeah, he's a prankster — he does his pranks and everything — but when it came time for the music, we really clicked on a lot of levels I think, musically.
JC: I can hear the chemistry between you two when I listen to Rainbow. I particularly like the keyboard opening you do for "Can't Let You Go."
DR: Yeah. That was actually improvised on a pipe organ sound that I played on an Emulator. Ritchie and I both loved that sound. We wanted to do something with it, and he asked me to create an intro like something reminiscent of Bach's Toccata in D minor, a piece which we both love. But it needed to be something that would work well for "Can't Let You Go," and that's what I came up with.
JC: One of the most memorable times in Rainbow was when the band did "Difficult to Cure" [a rock instrumental of Beethoven's Ninth] with the Japanese orchestra. What are your memories on that?
DR: Oh yeah, that whole experience was a lot of fun. I did all the orchestration for the live performance of "Difficult to Cure." We got to Japan and rehearsed with the orchestra. We were doing two shows at the Budokan and both the shows were sold out, so we didn't need to announce the orchestra in order to sell the shows. We did it unannounced; it was really a surprise to everybody.
And all of a sudden at one point in the show, we started the beginning of "Difficult to Cure" and it gets to that big chord... we're all holding out the chord and suddenly there's a curtain that opens behind us and there's an entire orchestra lit in rainbow colors. The whole audience gasped and went, "Whoa." On the live album you can hear the crowd doing that. And then we launched into the song with the orchestra playing along with the band. In the middle of the song the band stopped and the orchestra played an excerpt from Beethoven's 9th. The whole thing was really cool.
© Jeff Cramer's Blogspot - September 12, 2020
The full interview can be found on Jeff Cramer's Blogspot