Over The Rainbow With Graham Bonnet

Legendary vocalist Graham Bonnet recently spoke with Australia's Heavy magazine.

Graham Bonnet's love affair with Australia started a long time ago… or should that be Australia's love for Bonnet. Described as a cross between James Dean and Don Johnson Bonnet has established a strong fan base in Australia as he performed with bands such as The Marbles, Alcatrazz and The Michael Schenker Group. Now Bonnet sits down and has a chat with HEAVY Mag as he prepares to tour Australia alongside Alcatrazz as they perform Rainbow's Down To Earth album in full.

"Well we thought it was about time that I came back to Australia because it has probably been about twelve years since I've been there," Bonnet explains. "I lived in Australia, in Adelaide, for about three years, and I know that there is an audience there because I had a few hit records there in the past with some of my solo stuff, which we will include in this show, but we are actually going to play the whole Down To Earth album that I did with Rainbow, which has never been done before so I think that will make an interesting show... that along with some oldies but goodies."

"Nineteen million years," laughs Bonnet when I ask how long it has been since some of the tracks from Down To Earth have seen the light of day.

The full conversation can be streamed on Spotify and iTunes Podcast or on this link.

A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by

On his upcoming Australian tour:

Graham: "We're actually going to play the whole 'Down To Earth' album that I did with Rainbow that's never been done before, so it makes an interesting show, I think, along with some oldies but goodies. I think it's going to be good."

On revisiting the lesser-known material from that album:

Graham: "When I was in Rainbow, we did a lot of their old stuff that Ronnie Dio sang, so when we played songs from 'Down To Earth' live, we probably only did about four or five songs — something like that. We never did the whole album as such. This is everything. I've got to relearn songs that were, like, B-sides to singles... There's about two or three that have never been done live before, so this is quite an experience for me, apart from the audience."

On whether it will be difficult to remember lyrics for songs he's never performed:

Graham: "I never remember lyrics even from things I've done yesterday. I've been writing the words out again, because I've never sung these songs live before, ever, since I made that album. It takes me a while to learn words... It's really good that we are doing everything from the album, because some of the songs that we never played live before are pretty good."

On his preferred approach to memorizing lyrics:

Graham: "I don't. I usually write them out and stick them on the stage somewhere. I'm terrible with words — absolutely awful. But after they've been in front of me a few times and I see them on the stage, then it sinks in. Some of them don't really tell a story. I like songs that tell a story — you know what's coming next. A lot of songs are very all over the place, so I write them out, put them on a piece of paper and stick them on the monitors on stage."

On his longevity:

Graham: "I think it's perseverance. I've had a lot of failures with trying to put bands together and hoping that it's the right thing to do, and failed miserably. I think you just have to keep working hard at this, because there are so many people out there that are great players and singers. There's a lot of competition these days... The young people who are singing today are amazing. I step back and take a bow to them, because I really appreciate their technique, but I don't necessarily like the songs they sing, unfortunately. You just have to keep on going. Yes, you'll have failures. It doesn't matter how well-known you are — you can still fail miserably. It happens to everybody. Rob Halford had his band Fight. He wanted to try to do something different, and it didn't work for him, so he went back to who he used to be. Of course, he came back with all guns blazing, and good for him. He's been around for a long time, and he's one of those guys I admire for his perseverance."

On bouncing back from failures:

Graham: "I was lucky enough to have people ask me to be in their bands. Also, I did a lot of sessions — people asked me to sing on their albums — which is how I survived until I put another band together. That was it. I had to keep on singing somewhere and obviously making money; otherwise, I'd be down the shitter. I kept on going doing things I didn't really like — I did a couple of commercials — and that's the way I survived until I put a band together again."

"Down To Earth" — Rainbow's fourth studio album, and their sole release featuring Bonnet — was released in 1979. The album featured "Since You Been Gone", a cover of a 1976 song written and originally released by former Argent guitarist Russ Ballard. The track became a Top 10 hit for Rainbow in the United Kingdom, as did follow-up single "All Night Long".

In addition to Bonnet, "Down To Earth" featured guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, drummer Cozy Powell, keyboardist Don Airey and bassist Roger Glover.

© Heavy Magazine, Australia - May 22, 2019