After the success of Graham's self titled album in 1977 and "No Bad Habits" 1978 throughout Australia and New Zealand, 1979 saw Graham start recording demo's for a third solo album in studios around London. Obviously unknown to Graham at the time rock band Rainbow were experiencing massive problems replacing vocalist Ronnie James Dio who had left the band at the end of 1978. Then one day guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who had obviously been thinking about the situation very seriously asked bassist and now producer Roger Glover 'what ever happened to the guy who sang in The Marbles ?' So to cut a long story short, Roger checked with a few people and eventually found Graham in London and was invited for an audition. Graham hadn't even heard of Rainbow at the time !! But this didn't pose a problem as they paid for his flight to France where they were recording their latest album at the Chateau Pelly De Cornfeld. For Graham's test piece he had to do a version of Deep Purple's "Mistreated". Rainbow were impressed with Graham's version and offered him the job. With the advice of his manager at the time he accepted the position and joined in April. Just for the reference Rainbow had auditioned about 50 singers. These included Pete Goalby ex-Uriah Heep, Marc Storace from Krokus and Ralph Thompson.
The first job for Graham was to lay down the lead and backing vocals to the backing tracks that had already been recorded. As for "All Night Long", Ritchie gave Graham a basic chord progression and told him to add a melody like the Rolling Stones song "Out Of Time" which Chris Farlowe had covered. This also happened for "Lost In Hollywood" and Ritchie also asked Graham to sing like Little Richard for that song.
Graham did the best he could vocally but was having to record them in the toilet or the garden shed of the chateau !! Graham claims "I just couldn't get it together vocally. I felt really down and just... strange. It was the place, it was like a haunted house and I just said to Roger 'I can't do it mate' because I was trying out the vocals in the bog and it felt all wrong. So what happened was we went over to Long Island and did the vocals and guitar overdubs at a place called Kingdom Sound. I guess I just don't like castles".
All the songs except "Since You Been Gone" had working titles. For example - "Bad Girl" was called "Stone" and "Eyes Of The World" was called "Mars". Some songs even had about four different sets of lyrics written. "No Time To Lose" was called "Sparks Don't Need A Fire" at one time and even a rough demo was done with completely different lyrics to what the finished song had. Basically the best bits were picked out and pieced together. Graham was told exactly what to do as regards the arrangements of where the verses and chorus' came in. It deserves to be pointed out that Graham actually wrote lyrics with Roger. But for reasons only known to both parties Graham was never credited. Cozy Powell says "There has been a lot written about Graham not being able to write lyrics and melodies. That is not strictly true. In fact he wrote most of 'All Night Long'".
So towards the end of July Rainbow's new album "Down To Earth" was released in the UK. The first 10,000 copies were pressed in clear vinyl. This certainly interested the collectors. Along with the album "Since You Been Gone" was chosen to be released as the first single. This was the first Rainbow release that wasn't written by Ritchie or any of the band members. It was written by Russ Ballard. The song had previously been recorded by all girl band Clout. The 'B' side was a track that wasn't on the album - "Bad Girl". A video was recorded to accompany the release of "Since You Been Gone" which also had a picture sleeve. The song peaked at No. 6 in the UK charts as well as reaching No. 57 on the US Billboard chart. The single was also released throughout Europe and in Japan. I would have imagined it would have been given a worldwide release. Rainbow were now experiencing their first proper taste of chart success. But it didn't stop there, "Down To Earth" was equally as successful in the album charts in the UK reaching the same position, No. 6. It also reached No. 66 in the US Billboard charts. Just for the record, with Graham being famous in New Zealand, when the album was released there it had a blue sticker on the front saying "featuring ....New Lead Singer, Graham Bonnet".
A European tour was arranged for the Autumn, but this was cancelled in favour of promoting the album in America, as it was achieving a measure of success over there. So, Rainbow went out on the road supporting Blue Oyster Cult during September. But once the tour was over part way through October the band promptly revisited many of the venues as headliners starting in early November and continued gigging around America until the end of the year.
Steve Gett (Melody Maker magazine UK) says in the Rainbow European Tour Programme for 1980 - Philadelphia October 1979 "During the bands third song 'All Night Long' Ritchie stands back to marvel at the singers incredible vocal range. Graham reaches some tremendous notes and the effect he creates with this song is spine chilling".
January 17th saw the band start a Scandinavian & European Tour. The first date was at the Scandinavium in Gottenburg, Sweden. The tour also took in Denmark, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland. Sometimes going from one country and then back again. The European tour ended at the Olympianhalle, Munich in Germany on February 16th.
Having had 3 days off, Rainbow made their UK debut with Graham on February 19th at Newcastle City Hall as part of a 14 date tour. In Melody Maker dated February 22nd Ritchie says in an article about how they came across Graham "I remember in '68 when Deep Purple had just started, hearing Graham's voice on "Only One Woman" by The Marbles and thinking at the time 'How on earth could we compete against that ?' We had a good singer, but not of that calibre. Then, in about '73 I started asking people what had happened to that guy in The Marbles, but I was told that he'd lost his voice - no doubt by all these so-called singers". The UK tour came to an end on March 8th at London's appropriately named Rainbow Theatre !!
Throughout the tour the fans had been given a taste of Rainbow's new single "All Night Long" which was released during March. The single was issued in a picture sleeve and again had an accompanying video. The single's 'B' side featured an instrumental titled "Weiss Heim" and once again the buying fans didn't disappoint the band with "All Night Long" being even more successful than it's predecessor reaching No. 5 in the charts.
The band took the rest of March off as well as all April. This obviously gave the members time with their families as well as time to refresh themselves before setting off for a tour of Japan which started on May 8th. When the band got to Japan rumours were beginning to fly around and with Cozy seen signing is autograph 'ex-Rainbow' that didn't help matters. Graham too caused confusion in Japan where the girls like their rock singers to look the part !! Bravely he stuck to his guns and even when his stage clothes disappeared, he refused to budge.
The first gig in Japan was at Tokyo's Budokan Hall. Rainbow did 3 gigs at the Budokan Hall and it was during rehearsals there that they recorded the Gerry Goffin/Carole King penned song "Will You Love Me Tomorrow ?" which Graham had recorded on his first solo album during 1977. This was with the intention of it becoming the bands third single. Deep Purple fanzine 'Stargazer' also reported at the time that "Will You Love Me Tomorrow ?" was being quoted as Rainbow's next single. Rainbow played the song in their set throughout their Japanese tour which concluded at Osaka's Festival Hall on May 15th. Apparently Ritchie really liked Graham's version and thought the band could take it a step further and heavy it up.
After 6 successful shows in Japan Rainbow returned home for a break and to prepare themselves for the first ever Monsters Of Rock Festival at Castle Donington on August 16th which they were headlining. Rainbow did 3 warm up gigs for Donington all in Scandinavia. Two in Denmark on August 8th & 10th and sandwiched in-between was a gig in Sweden.
60,000 people attended the show at Donington. Also on the bill were the Scorpions, April Wine, Saxon, Riot & Touch. Rainbow's entire set was recorded and planned for a double live album and this included a version of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow ?". But for some reason the release was cancelled even though promotional copies were pressed up. As far as I know the whole gig was also filmed. But only 30 minutes was shown at a later date on BBC TV in the UK. The festival turned out to be Cozy's final gig with Rainbow. He was replaced with Bobby Rondinelli. Graham wasn't too happy about what was going on and said at the time "It totally destroyed it for me when Cozy left the band, there was no fun anymore. We were losing roadies, and the atmosphere of the whole band went downhill".
Graham started rehearsing for a new Rainbow album at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark. But wasn't very happy and claimed at the time "It had to come about that I leave, I couldn't contribute anything to the band anymore. There were lots of ideas flying around from Ritchie but nothing I could add to. My mind was completely empty about what to do with Rainbow".
Around the time that Graham left the band there were many different reasons written in the press. Some suggesting that it was Rainbow who got rid of him. But Graham has always stated that Rainbow know that I left them. When Graham was thinking about leaving, as well as the fact that he wasn't over impressed with some of the songs, it was claimed at the time that Graham sing the songs he liked and another singer to be brought in to sing the one's Graham doesn't like. But obviously that would have been just absolutely silly !! Graham also said at the time "But ultimately why I left was because was nothing there, nothing that interested me. And that's why Cozy left. From what we rehearsed of the current album ("Difficult To Cure") the only song that I thought was half decent was the single "I Surrender" which wasn't even written by Rainbow". While still with the band Graham some backing vocals for "I Surrender" and he has said on a few occasions that looking back he wished that he had stayed around for at least one more album.
I am not exactly sure when Graham left Rainbow, but I would guess about late September or early October. Rainbow would not have gone public on the situation until a replacement had been sorted out.
Since Polydor Records had passed on releasing the live double album by the band they instead went for a compilation album of the Donington festival. This was released on October 10th. Rainbow had 2 songs on it - "Stargazer" and "All Night Long".
1981 saw another compilation album released titled "Live And Heavy" by Nems Records and this featured "All Night Long" from Donington. Then during November Polydor Records released the "Best Of Rainbow" and this reached No. 14 on the UK album charts. "All Night Long" was featured along with "Lost In Hollywood", "Since You Been Gone" and "Eyes Of The World". Polydor issued another Rainbow compilation album in 1986 titled "Final Vinyl". This included "Bad Girl" as well as "Since You Been Gone" live from Donington. The album reached No. 31 on the UK charts.
There has been many rock compilation albums released over the years that have featured either "Since You Been Gone", "All Night Long", or even both. It is a pity that Graham didn't demand that he wrote part of "All Night Long" because he would have been credited with what was rightly his because and it would have been a nice little earner !!
"Down To Earth" was re-mastered in America during the late 90's as part of doing Rainbow's entire back catalogue plus "Final Vinyl" and "The Very Best Of Rainbow". It is strange that no extra tracks were added to the new re-mastered versions. "Bad Girl" and "Weiss Heim" would have sat very well after "Lost In Hollywood" on "Down To Earth".
Steve Wright (c) 2005
From "Under The Bonnet" Fanzines