The message from Deep Purple’s guitar hero was loud and clear, as the album cover spelt out the name of his new band. Ritchie Blackmore’s R-A-I-N-B-O-W was the banner on the colourful sleeve of the first record by Rainbow, which was released on August 4, 1975.
Listen to Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow right now.
Recorded at Musicland in Munich in the early part of 1975, the album was an admirable new vehicle for Blackmore’s talents, both as a guitar figurehead and co-writer on most of it with Rainbow’s lead singer Ronnie James Dio. Together they composed seven of the record’s nine songs, including the memorable opener “Man On The Silver Mountain,” with support by keyboardist Micky Lee Soule, drummer Gary Driscoll and bassist Craig Gruber. Here are the band performing that song on their 1977 tour:
As late as the spring of 1975, the UK music press was reporting that rumours of Deep Purple’s split were inaccurate, but that Blackmore was completing what was then intended to be a solo record. When the first Rainbow album emerged, it also included the version of Qatermass’ “Black Sheep of the Family,” which Blackmore had wanted to do on Deep Purple’s Stormbringer album. The new recording, made at a studio in Tampa Bay in December 1974 when Blackmore had been considering the album in his own name, effectively laid the groundwork for the new band.
The track featured both Dio and Driscoll from the band Elf, who supported Purple on their US tour of the time. The LP concluded with an energised instrumental version of the Yardbirds’ “Still I’m Sad,” which had been a UK top three hit late in 1964 as a double a-side with “Evil Hearted You.”
Ritchie Blackmore’s R-A-I-N-B-O-W entered the US chart at No.79 on 6 September, and went as high as No.30 in a 15-week run. Two weeks after that debut, the album peaked at No.11 in the UK, on its way to silver certification from trade body the BPI. By the autumn, the new band were on the road with Blackmore at the helm, as they grew into one of the big new rock names of 1975.
Ritchie Blackmore’s R-A-I-N-B-O-W can be bought here.
Follow the official Rainbow Best Of playlist.