Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore hung with Rainbow about as long as he did Deep Purple. And while his time with Rainbow had its moments it doesn't compare with his Purple work. Like fellow Brit guitarist Jeff Beck, Blackmore was way beyond mere mortal musicians and loathed anyone no in his league. Like Beck again, this caused Blackmore to make changes simply for the sake of change often leaving the group even weaker
Disillusioned with where Deep Purple was heading Blackmore decided to bail and start all over again. But not exactly from scratch. Blackmore came across Elf, with vocalist Ronnie James Dio, and he more or less took over the group. Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow was the initial name. Following a modest debut, Dio was the only ex-Elf who remained. Blackmore shortened the name to Rainbow and recruited bassist Jimmy Bain, Tony Carey on keyboards and vet drummer, Cozy Powell. This was Rainbow's most successful line-up with the Neo-Classical/Metal "Rising" as their first offering.
A live set "On Stage" came a year later in '77 and did exceptionally well. "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" was released in '78 with bassist Bob Daisley and keyboardist David Stone. For a group already suffering a major turnover problem the worst was yet to come. Blackmore, wanting a more mainstream Rock sound, lost Dio in the process. Staying the Metal course, Dio joined the Sabs before landing with Black Sabbath and eventually fronting Dio.
Vocalist Graham Bonnett was brought on board along with former Purple bassist John Glover and yet another keyboard player, Don Airey. The group moved away from streamlined Rock and into mystical territory with mixed results and limited popularity. Soon Bonnett was gone and Joe Lynn Turner joined for the "Difficult To Cure" album which once again re-positioned the group toward the mainstream.
A couple of albums with yet another line-up came and went before Blackmore was finally lured into a Deep Purple reunion. In the mid-80s Blackmore tried to re-launch Rainbow but it garnered little notice.
1975 Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow
1977 On Stage
1978 Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
1979 Down To Earth
1981 Difficult To Cure
1982 Straight Between The Eyes
1983 Bent Out Of Shape
1986 Finyl Vinyl
1995 Stranger In Us All
Recorded in '76, Rainbow's "Rising" was regularly listed as "The Best Heavy Metal Record of All Time" in Kerrang! Magazine's surveys. That's a pretty solid recommendation.
Of all the blistering Hard Rock guitarists flaying away in the late '60s and '70s Blackmore rarely ascended to the exalted level of a Jimmy Page or Jeff Beck. "On Stage" is his demand for recognition. Just as "Made In Japan" breathed new life into Deep Purple studio recordings "On Stage" takes the material up a notch.
"Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" with the spectacular title track is next. After that it gets rough. "Down To Earth" is singer Graham Bonnett's one shot and "Difficult To Cure" is the best of Joe Lynn Turner's tenure as lead singer. "Cure," released in '81, is as far as anyone need go.