Commercial success (1978-1984)
Richie Blackmore asked Ian Gillan, also formerly of Deep Purple, to replace Ronnie James Dio, but Ian Gillan turned him down. After a series of auditions, Graham Bonnet, former singer/guitarist of The Marbles, was recruited. Cozy Powell stayed, but Bob Daisley was fired, and David Stone quit the band to be replaced by keyboardist Don Airey. At first the band auditioned bass players, but at Cozy Powell's suggestion,
Richie Blackmore hired another former Deep Purple member, Roger Glover, as a producer, bassist and lyricist. The first album from the new line-up, Down to Earth, featured the band's first major singles chart successes, "All Night Long" and the Russ Ballard-penned "Since You Been Gone". In 1980, the band headlined the inaugural Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington in England. However, this was Cozy Powell's last Rainbow gig: he had already given his notice to quit, disliking Richie Blackmore's increasingly Pop rock direction.
Then, after numerous fallouts with Richie Blackmore, Graham Bonnet resigned to pursue a solo project. For the next album, Graham Bonnet and Cozy Powell were replaced by Americans Joe Lynn Turner and Bobby Rondinelli, respectively. The title track from Difficult to Cure was a version of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The album spawned their most successful UK single, "I Surrender" (another Russ Ballard song), which reached No.3. After the supporting tour, Don Airey quit over musical differences and was replaced by David Rosenthal.
The band attained significant airplay on Album-oriented rock radio stations in the US with the track "Jealous Lover", reaching No. 13 on Billboard Magazine's Rock Tracks chart. Originally issued as the B-side to "Can't Happen Here", "Jealous Lover" subsequently became the title track to an EP issued in the US that featured similar cover art to Difficult to Cure. Rainbow's next full-length studio album was Straight Between the Eyes. The album was more cohesive than Difficult to Cure, and had more success in the United States.
The band, however, was alienating some of its earlier fans with its more AOR sound. The single "Stone Cold" was a ballad that had some chart success, (No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's Rock Tracks chart) and its video received heavy airplay on MTV. The successful supporting tour skipped the UK completely and focused on the American market. A date in San Antonio, Texas, on this tour was filmed, and the resulting "Live Between the Eyes" also received repeated showings on MTV.
Richie Blackmore claims on his website that the song's video was banned by MTV for its supposedly controversial hypnotic video clip, but Dr. Thomas Radecki of the National Coalition on Television Violence criticised MTV for airing the video, contradicting Richie Blackmore's claim.
The resulting tour saw Rainbow return to the UK, and also to Japan in March 1984 where the band performed "Difficult to Cure" with a full orchestra. The concert was also filmed.
Dissolution and temporary revival (1984-1997)
Rainbow's management Thames Talent co-ordinated attempts to successfully reform the Deep Purple Mark II lineup. By April 1984, Rainbow was disbanded. A then-final Rainbow album, Finyl Vinyl, was pieced together from live tracks and B-sides of singles, including the instrumental "Weiss Heim" (All Night Long B-side), "Bad Girl" (Since You Been Gone B-side), and "Jealous Lover" (Can't Happen Here B-side).
In 1993, Richie Blackmore left Deep Purple permanently due to "creative differences" with other members, and reformed Rainbow with all-new members featuring Scottish singer Doogie White. The band released Stranger in Us All in 1995, and embarked on a lengthy world tour.
The tour proved successful, and the show in Düsseldorf, Germany, was professionally filmed for the Rockpalast TV show. This show, initially heavily bootlegged (and considered by many collectors to be the best Rainbow bootleg of the era), was officially released by Eagle Records on CD and DVD as Black Masquerade in 2013. The live shows featured frequent changes in set lists, and musical improvisations that proved popular with bootleggers and many shows are still traded over a decade later.
However, Richie Blackmore turned his attention to his long-time musical passion, Renaissance and Medieval music. Rainbow was put on hold once again after playing its final concert in Esbjerg, Denmark in 1997. Richie Blackmore, together with his partner Candice Night as vocalist then formed the Renaissance-influenced Blackmore's Night. Around the same time as production of Stranger in Us All (1995), they were already gearing up their debut album Shadow of the Moon (1997).
Many Rainbow songs have been performed live by former members of the band since the group's split in 1984 and then in 1997, particularly former frontmen Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet, Joe Lynn Turner and Doogie White in recent years. Also,
Don Airey often plays 1979-1981 era songs during his solo shows. Blackmore's Night occasionally performs one or two Rainbow songs live, namely "Ariel", "Rainbow Eyes", "Street of Dreams" and "Temple of the King". The latter three were also re-recorded by Blackmore's Night in the studio.
In 2002-2004, the Hughes Turner Project played a number of Rainbow songs at their concerts. On 9 August 2007, Joe Lynn Turner and Graham Bonnet played "a tribute to Rainbow show" in Helsinki, Finland. The concert consisted of songs from the 1979-1983 era.
In 2009, Joe Lynn Turner, Bobby Rondinelli, Greg Smith and Tony Carey created the touring tribute band Over The Rainbow with Jürgen Blackmore (Ritchie's son) as the guitarist. Over The Rainbow performed songs from every era of the band's history. After the first tour, Tony Carey had to leave the band due to health concerns; he was replaced by another former Rainbow member, Paul Morris.
In 2015, Richie Blackmore announced that he would play "all rock" concerts in the summer of 2016 under the banner "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow", his first rock shows since 1997. The new Rainbow lineup was announced on November 6, 2015. It featured Lords of Black singer Ronnie Romero, Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson, Blackmore's Night drummer David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau (Bob Curiano).
The band headlined the German edition of the "Monsters of Rock" festival. They debuted on June 17, 2016 at Loreley Freilichtbühne, an open-air show in front of an audience of an estimated 15,000.
On June 18, they played another open-air gig for 30,000 fans in Bietigheim-Bissingen (Festplatz am Viadukt). The third and final show took place at the Birmingham Genting Arena in England.
When asked in May 2016 if Rainbow were planning to record a new album, bassist Bob Curiano said, "I'd love to go into the studio with this Rainbow. All we need is Ritchie to say, 'Let's go!' I think all of us feel under pressure, because of the fans'
expectations. For me, the pressure makes me work harder and get better results." However, Richie Blackmore said that they had no plans for a new album or world tour,
and that the reunion was "just a few dates for fun." Richie Blackmore also said that Rainbow had received many offers to do a "few more shows again" in the future.
Despite an earlier decision not to release new music, Richie Blackmore revealed in a May 2017 interview with Burrn! magazine that Rainbow were in the studio recording two new tracks. Richie Blackmore stated, "I wrote one new song, and also recorded one of the old ones. Ronnie, who is in Madrid now, added his vocals and sent it back. Rather than make an album, we may release as singles."
Rainbow embarked on a four-date UK tour in June 2017. It kicked off with the band's first show in London since 1995 at the second annual Stone Free Festival at The O2 Arena, followed by shows in Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham; the Manchester show was cancelled following the Manchester Arena bombing.
Rainbow released the live album "Memories in Rock II" (Live) in 2018, which chronicles a live show in Germany. However, the final track, "Waiting for a Sign", is a studio track recorded with the current band lineup, and marked Rainbow's first song in 23 years.
The band played five dates in April 2018, at Moscow, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Berlin, and Prague. The shows were well-attended, with Helsinki a sell-out. The set-list again varied from night-to-night, with an almost 50/50 selection of Rainbow and Deep Purple songs.
Ritchie Blackmore – guitar (1975–1984, 1993–1997, 2015–present)
Candice Night – backing vocals (1994–1997, 2015–present)
Ronnie Romero – lead vocals (2015–present)
Jens Johansson – keyboards (2015–present)
Bob Nouveau – bass, backing vocals (2015–present)
David Keith – drums (2015–present)