When on the night of August 16th 1980 in Castle Donnington in central England a fireworks display after Rainbow's headliner gig ended the first "Monsters Of Rock" festival, a great event concept had passed its baptism of fire. Crowned by the performance of one of the best hardrock live bands in the world. At the same time it was the end of the short Bonnet era. When the ex-Marbels singer ("Only One Woman") joined the band in 1979, he had no experience as a hard rock shouter. With him Blackmore wanted to dare the balancing act of producing not only epic hard rock but also melodic rock with pop appeal in order to get into the charts.
Above all, he was worried that Rainbow were a big hit in Europe and Japan, but could not follow the success of Deep Purple in the USA. The single hit thing worked, but not in the States. Instead "Since You Been Gone" and "All Night Long" became top ten hits in Great Britain. "I wasn't at all enthusiastic about the new direction that was aimed at producing music for the charts," explained drummer Cozy Powell. "And that was the reason I packed my things after the Monsters Festival at Rainbow. I wanted to leave two years before Ritchie started complaining about Ronnie."
Paradoxically, the drummer, who died in 1998, played the same 'Since You Been Gone' with the Brian May Band years later as a reminiscence of his Rainbow days. But "Since" was in principle a factor in the group from the very beginning - at first still invisible. The first Rainbow tour in North America in the winter of 1975 was largely supported by Argent. "Argent with Russ Ballard was always a band I admired," says Blackmore, explaining his reasons for recording the hit. The composition was first published in 1976 on Ballard's solo album "Winning".
Catch the rainbow
That Rainbow didn't go on tour right after the release of their debut "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow" (August 1975) was due to the fact that Blackmore re-formed his troupe before the release of the record. "Basically, I only wanted Ronnie from Elf for the album and the band project. For the studio recordings, it was fine to have the other musicians from Elf with me, but for the live recording, I had other people in mind right away."
For example, Cozy Powell, who has been the focus of Blackmore's interest since his time with the Jeff Beck Group. With bassist Jimmy Bain, who died in January 2016, and keyboarder Tony Carey, the live monster was complete. From the very first gig his live set consisted of songs from the first three Rainbow albums. "Kill The King" (released as a studio version only on "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" from 1978) was the classic opener, followed by "Mistreated", a favourite song of Blackmore from his time with Deep Purple. And especially with this bluesrock track Blackmore and band went wild every time. The short Yardbirds cover "Still I'm Sad", on which Yardbirds performed an instrumental debut, regularly grew into a longtrack on stage, which Blackmore and Dio used as another playground for improvisations, just like Blackmore was used to at deep purple shows with songs like "Space Truckin'" or "You Fool No One".