Ronnie James Dio

The Man in Black is Back

The guitar heroes were shocked when their number one idol retired hurt from his prime position. The guitarist was Ritchie Blackmore, the group was Deep Purple. He reported at the time that he was tired with the one-way street Purple were travelling. To many people Blackmore was Purple, so without him the group could never be the same. Ritchie emerged with a new band. Vocalist in Rainbow is Ronnie James Dio.

"Ritchie and I worked on what started out as a solo album, but it turned into Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow,and we started looking for other musicians," said Ronnie. He comes from the band Elf, who supported Deep Purple is tour.

"Ritchie is the heavy metal king. He broke off from Purple to do things his way," explains Ronnie. "The first LP was not what people expected from him. After that the prime consideration was to get the band together and tour."

Their line-up was completed with Jimmy Bain on bass, Tony Carey on keyboards and Cozy Powell on drums.

"We heard there was this hot bass player in a band called Harlot who were playing at the Marquee. We thought he was rubbish but he was all that was going, so...." Ronnie joked.

"We were knocked out when Cozy accepted. He'd been more interested in motor racing till then. Tony came across through the Led Zep rehearsals for 'Presence'."

So Rainbow was formed. They quickly conquered the States, before recording a second album, 'Rainbow Rising', then they felt ready for the UK.

"We didn't want to come over before we were really ready." Ronnie emphasises "Ritchie means a lot to the kids over here and we didn't want to upset them. They are what really matters." Were they not fed up with comparisons with Deep Purple. "If people were going to look for Deep Purple in Rainbow they'd find it in Ritchie," admits Ronnie. "He's the most awe-inspiring person in the band - there's no denying it. He deserves the credit."

But there's more then just the man in black in the stage act. There's the 40 foot high mechanical Rainbow with thousands of lights above the band, 1 £ 40,000 light show, plus backdrops of the guitar shaped castle from the first album cover and the closed fist from 'Rainbow Rising'.

The act takes in most of the first album. 'Stargazer' from the second and a Blackmore composition 'Mistreated' from Purple days.

"We present a kickass show anyway," insists Tony. "On stage we improvise on the album numbers," says Ronnie. "We've been looking forward to appearing over here. Now is the time for us to show what we can do."

© David Brown, Record Mirror - September 11, 1976