The Story Of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow

by Roy Davies, Helter Skelter Publishing, ISBN 1-900924-31-5

We have waited a long time for someone to deliver a definitive book on the history of Rainbow, and in many ways this book is exactly what we have all been waiting for. In other ways however it falls short of its promises. The many line up changes, the anecdotes from the recording sessions and live concerts, are all here, but what is missing are the in depth reasons behind the facts. The lack of first hand quotes from the main people involved with the band, rather than using quotes gleaned from old interviews, gives the impression that the book has been a peace meal construction, rather than a true study on the reasons behind the band.

Was Mr.Blackmore interviewed for the book? The book reads as if it has been written by two separate authors, the writing style of the journalist and the fan are at times poles apart. The journalist employs a style of flamboyance with the language, and the fan writes from the heart. I know the book is a compilation of two separate ideas, that have been put together. At times the two flow well together, at other times the joins are very apparent.

The facts are presented within the story of the band, in a chronological manner, and the reader is certainly drawn through the history of the band in a tourist like manner. At times the book allows itself to view more important topics, but often just passes by quickly, with a casual reference to what happened. The earlier albums are looked at in depth, while the later albums are passed by with only a reference to the key tracks.

Aside from the above points, the book is a welcome addition to any real fan reference library. It clears up many points that have been in question for many years. An obvious one being whether or not "Temple of the King" was ever played live before the 95 re-formation.

Thankfully we can now rest easy in our beds over that issue. The book does explore Blackmore’s reason behind the departure of Dio and the move towards a more commercial sound, and this is one of the most interesting parts of the story. Where the book really excels, is in the appendices. The lists of concerts, records, singles, bootlegs, personnel and equipment, are an excellently presented bit of work.

Though curiously no mention of the specs for the Rainbow, and of its later fate when it was discarded. The story is one familiar to most older fans of Mr.Blackmore and his career, and most of the quotes and stories are also familiar to anyone who followed the band during it’s duration. The book has a nice easy reading feels to it, except the few times I had to reach for the dictionary, notably when the journalist started using words like "tyro".

It is an enjoyable read, and for those not familiar with the history of the band, it’s a fine starting point. For those of us more than familiar, I await a Blackmore biography, should anyone be brave enough to write one. Bit like a Rainbow album really, some great material, some highlights, some filler, and some fade out towards the ends of tracks, but overall an interesting body of work.

Kevin Dixon

Update 2010:

This book has now been out of print for quite some time. A re-print is not to be expected soon.
Amazon has some second hand copies (that are very expensive) and sometimes the book is offered on Ebay.

Update October 2011:

Helter Skelter Publishing has this book now back in print. You can order it here.