Actually, it is the solo project of former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. It initially started as a quick off-shoot project of Blackmore (backed by Elf, a band fronted by Ronnie James Dio) because he wanted to record a cover of the Quatermass song "Black Sheep of the Family". After Blackmore left Deep Purple, the band became a full-time project.
In the mid-to-late '70s, Rainbow played Hard Rock, influenced by Blackmore's past in Purple and Dio's Heavy Mithril interests. The Dio-era albums are considered an important influence for neoclassical metal and Power Metal. The Blackmore-Dio partnership frayed over creative differences, with the former wanting adopt a more commercial sound, leading to the latter's departure to Black Sabbath.
A replacement vocalist was discovered in Graham Bonnet, who fronted the band's foray into a more AOR-ish style and netted their first hit single "Since You Been Gone" (a Russ Ballard cover). Bonnett left Rainbow to found Alcatrazz, and was replaced by Joe Lynn Turner of Fandango fame for the rest of the band's 80s run. It had a reunion in the 90s, and another one in 2015.
Not to be confused with the K-Pop group of the same name.
- Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (1975)
- Rising (1976)
- Long Live Rock 'n' Roll (1978)
- Down to Earth (1979)
- Difficult to Cure (1981)
- Jealous Lover (1981, EP)
- Straight Between the Eyes (1982)
- Bent Out of Shape (1983)
- Stranger in Us All (1995)
Tropes Of Babylon :
- Album Title Drop:
44 calibre rock and rollFever deep inside herHits me straight between the eyesWhen she opens fire
- For Straight Between the Eyes (from "Rock Fever"):
- "I see a rainbow rising" from "Stargazer" on Rising (also called Rainbow Rising because of that line and the way the title was written on the album cover).
- Stranger in Us All gets name-dropped on the track "Black Masquerade".
- Arena Rock: Mostly from Difficult to Cure onwards, though Down to Earth touched on it too.
- Audience Participation Song: "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll" has an audience sing-along portion in live performances.
- Control Freak: Ritchie Blackmore, changing the line up whenever he felt like it. He especially seemed to dislike bassists and keyboardists. It also led to his legendarily adversarial relationship with Ronnie James Dio and ironically led to Dio becoming something of this himself due to his intense desire to never be controlled by anyone again.
- Cultural Rebel: Graham Bonnet, the lead singer in a 70's hard rock band refused to have long hair, or dress in black, instead performing in his James Dean inspired short hair, sunglasses and white t-shirts. Reportedly, him sneaking away for a haircut ultimately led to his firing.
- Cover Version: "Black Sheep of the Family" (Quatermass), "Still I'm Sad" (The Yardbirds), and "Since You Been Gone" (Russ Ballard).
- And if you were wondering, "I Surrender" by Russ Ballard was written by him for Rainbow, so it doesn't really count as a cover since they were the first to perform it.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Ritchie Blackmore was once scolded by Don Airey for playing behind his amps after breaking a string. His response was to knock the other over and proceed to pummel him, leading to a larger brawl involving Ritchie, Don, and Cozy Powell. Added onto later when Don was apparently left outside in the rain.
- Another instance involved bassist Mark Clarke, who was fired early on in the recording sessions for the Long Live Rock & Roll record for playing bass with his fingers instead of using a pick. Blackmore would play a lot of the bass parts himself, with Bob Daisley (best known for his work with Ozzy Osbourne) handling the rest.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Of a sort. Current keyboardist for Deep Purple Don Airey was a member of this band prior to joining Purple. There was a bit of personnel overlap (namely with Roger Glover) and even song overlap (Rainbow sometimes would play "Lazy" or "Smoke On The Water" onstage, which Purple does currently).
- Epic Instrumental Opener: In concert, "Lost in Hollywood" would get an instrumental opening tacked on.
- Epic Rocking: "Stargazer", "A Light in the Black", and "Rainbow Eyes" are all over seven minutes long. "Eyes of the World" is nearly that long as well.
- Their live shows during the Dio era count as well, they'd stretch most of the songs out to over 10 minutes.
- In the Bonnet era, "Lost in Hollywood" ended up stretched to over 20 minutes long most nights, with an instrumental opening tacked on and instrumental breaks for Ritchie, Don and Cozy.
- Five-Man Band:
- For their Down to Earth Lineup:
- Their most recent lineup:
- Everything's Better with Rainbows: Not only the band name, but a lot of the Dio-era lyrics have rainbows in them too.
- Genre Shift: "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" on Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. For this song the album suddenly goes from Hard Rock / Proto-Metal to old school Rock and Roll with Little Richard esque piano riffs.
- Also post-Dio era.
- Heavy Meta: "If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll" and "Long Live Rock 'n' Roll".
- Heavy Mithril: Dio-era Rainbow, though not the earliest instance of the trope, was important to the development of fantasy metal away from hippie-themed fare like Led Zeppelin's Tolkien-inspired folk-rock songs or Uriah Heep's psychedelia. Dio's fantasy lyrics set to Blackmore's guitarwork paved way for a more aggressive, fist-pumping sound that's remained the dominant aesthetic in fantasy metal since then.
- Homage: The "Can't Let You Go" video is an homage to the silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with Ritchie Blackmore as Caligari and singer Joe Lynn Turner as Cesare.
- I Am the Band: Ritchie Blackmore's tendency towards this caused strife both in this band and in every other band he ever played with. Ironically enough, many people remember Rainbow for Ronnie James Dio's vocals and charismatic stage presence as much as Blackmore's guitar (Ronnie was even the only other member to stay in between the debut album and Rising).
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The title of the first album, as it was meant to be a solo side product. Since the reunion in the 2010s, the band has been officially billed as "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow", and Spotify has this version of the band listed separately from the original band.
- Instrumentals: "Still I'm Sad" (sometimes performed with vocals during live-concerts), "Vielleicht das naechste mal (Maybe Next Time)", "Difficult to Cure", "Weiss Heim", "Anybody There?" and "Snowman".
- Jerkass: Ritchie Blackmore was up to his usual, firing band members at the drop of a hat and generally treating them badly.
- Keyboardists especially got the short end of the stick this time around. Tony Carey was psychologically tormented by Ritchie (occasionally helped out by other bandmates).
- Lead Bassist: Roger Glover. Ritchie Blackmore brought in his old Deep Purple bandmate to help write songs after Dio's departure and Ritchie's desire to conquer America (the three Dio-era albums sold poorly there despite tremendous critical acclaim). Glover would be the longest-tenured bandmember next to Blackmore himself, as well as writing and producing.
- Bob Daisley could count as well, considering he went on to play on, and write most of Ozzy Osbourne's most famous material.
- Dio could technically count. While he never played bass with Rainbow, he was for a long time the bassist/singer of Elf, which the original Rainbow lineup was comprised of.
- Lighter and Softer: Ritchie Blackmore was hell-bent on cracking the US charts, so the band adopted a pop rock / AOR oriented sound after the three Dio-fronted albums.
- Loony Fan: Starstruck is about one.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Their first album had a lot of 5's and 6's plus a few in the 3-4 range. Rising and Long Live Rock 'N' Roll are mostly in the 6-7 range with some stuff that goes down a few notches. Down to Earth is, again, mostly 5-6. The stuff from Difficult to Cure onwards is mostly in the 4-5 range with the odd jump up or down a notch.
- New Sound Album: Difficult to Cure introduced the more commercial AOR sound for the '80s.
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: Every bassist NOT named Roger Glover.
- Older Than They Look: Don Airey was actually 31 when he joined the band. He looked like this.
- Older Than They Think: While neither Ritchie Blackmore nor Ronnie James Dio were considered spring chickens during their time in Rainbow, fewer people know just how long the two had been in the music business. Dio had a years-long stint as a 1950's doo-wop singer, and Blackmore was a session musician who played for several of 50's rock n' roll greats.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: David Rosenthal's intro to "Can't Let You Go".
- Power Metal: Along with Queen, Uriah Heep and Thor they're one of the UrExamples.
- Revolving Door Band: Only Ritchie Blackmore himself and Roger Glover lasted more than three albums.
- Rock Me, Amadeus!: Difficult to Cure's title-track is an arrangement of Beethoven's Ninth.
- Rockers Smash Guitars: In a rare inversion, the guitar smashed the rocker on one gig. Ritchie Blackmore threw his guitar up in the air, it hit the ceiling and fell down, breaking his finger.
- Sampling: "Difficult to Cure" ends with a sample of Oliver Hardy's (of Laurel and Hardy fame) laughter.
- Signature Song: "Man On The Silver Mountain"
- Which might be an example of First Installment Wins given it was the first song on the first album.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: "Catch the Rainbow" is about a beautiful but impossible romance, hence the title. Dio identified the protagonists as a stablehand and a noble lady having a tryst in the stables ("a bed of straw") at night.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Catch the Rainbow" and "Rainbow Eyes". The latter even has Dio singing in a soft croon as opposed to his usual aggressive vocal style.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Tarot Woman" goes from G minor to A minor for the final verse.
- Ur-Example: Much like Dio's later solo work, Rising and Long Live Rock 'n' Roll are sometimes considered to be this for Power Metal, specifically the song "Stargazer" on the former record.