During their hot spell as hitmakers on the UK singles chart, Rainbow never quite rang the bell in the same way in America. For all their success on the album charts and at rock radio, the band didn’t automatically cross over to pop airplay. Their scorecard ended with just one top 40 appearance, and even then, only just, with 1982’s No. 40 single ‘Stone Cold.’ On 17 November 1979, Ritchie Blackmore and the band appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with ‘Since You’ve Been Gone.’ It had peaked at No. 6 in the UK on 13 October.
The song (sometimes listed as ‘Since You Been Gone’) was written by former Argent member and hit composer Russ Ballard, who had recorded the first version of it, on his 1976 album Winning. Rainbow’s cover became the definitive version, but it wasn’t the first interpretation: Clout, the South African band who had an international hit with ‘Substitute’ — not the Who song — did it on the 1978 album that also contained that song, and the Illinois hard rock band Head East recorded it in 1978 too.
Rainbow’s version, produced by Roger Glover, featured vocals by the band’s frontman of the time, Graham Bonnet. The English rock singer had previously recorded in his own right and had visited the British charts fully 11 years before, as the singer with the Marbles on their top five hit written by the Bee Gees, ‘Only One Woman.’
Other new entries to the US chart that week included Kenny Rogers’ country crossover ‘Coward Of The County,’ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ ‘Don’t Do Me Like That’ and Herb Alpert’s ‘Rotation.’ Sadly, in the week before Christmas, the Rainbow track ran out of steam at No. 57. The fourth studio set that it came from, Down To Earth, had a 15-week run on the Billboard 200, reaching No. 66.
Purchase ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ on Rainbow’s Down To Earth album here.