Rainbow in colour

We’ve often supplied images for the Swedish magazine Red Hot Rocks as their editor Ritchie Adams is a big DP fan. He’s working on a special tribute to Ronnie Dio at the moment, so we’ve helped him out with a couple of original Elf promotional pictures from their time on Purple Records (he gets the pics gratis, we get a free advert for the mail-order store). But I also found this lovely colour shot of Rainbow, taken at the Hammersmith Odeon back in September 1976, with Ronnie and Ritchie both circled by the spotlights, and Cozy straddling the drum riser (Jimmy Bain is lurking in the shadows – though you can see him reflected in the silver metal).

I seem to recall smuggling in a 135mm telephoto lens – the aperture was not so good for concert pictures, but with a fast film you could often get something reasonable. We had seats in different places for each of the shows. What I’d forgotten was just how well lit and colourful their stage was, even before you became hypnotised by the rainbow above (not seen on this shot). I’ll have a rummage through the slides and see what else is lurking there for Issue 60 of DTB.

It seems as if the current Deep Purple did a short instrumental snatch of Man On The Silver Mountain by way of remembering Ronnie, during the show in Seoul just before Smoke On The Water.


12 Responses to “Rainbow in colour”

  1. Baz Says:

    Interesting to read that DP reopened the Rainbow in 1972 following audience safety problems. Would it also not have been for performer’s safety? Since in December 1971 that moron jumped onto the stage and pushed Frank Zappa off into the orchestra pit (which was something like a 15 foot drop onto solid concrete)? Zappa was very badly injured because of that. So that would be good enough reason to try and cover up the old orchestra pit.
    (It) just seems curious that “Smoke On The Water” was borne thanks to Zappa’s previous gig at Montreux and there now is another possible Zappa/Purple connection with the Rainbow Theatre as well!?
    Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa recalled in the 90’s their disgust with Lou Reed. Reed hated Zappa (a hatred going back to 1966 when MGM prioritised the Mothers’ Freak Out album over the Velvets’ first album; Reed not long after sneered that Frank was “the most untalented man” – listen to who’s talking Lou!) and apparently he insisted in doing a gig at the Rainbow in 1972 or 1973 simply so he could look down at the spot where Zappa was pushed!

    • simon robinson Says:

      The story also involves problems with the owners of the venue finding it hard to get funding to do structural work in the vintage building, and changes to promoters. I’ve detailed it in the upcoming Smoke On The Water book, but didn’t know about the Zappa / Reed stand-off before.

  2. Steve West Says:

    My first taste of Rainbow was also at the Rainbow Theatre in 1980 – March I seem to recall – on the DtE tour. It was a fantastic venue. I only saw RJD once on the H&H tour of 1980 but that was at the Hammersmith Odeon (as it was then known). I saw so many bands at the Rainbow in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I remember that 79 or 80 was a celebratory year for the Theatre. They had a booklet/programme celebrating the venue’s history as a rock venue listing all the band that had played there. DP were mentioned as having played there in 72 and 73 and I was always impressed that it was only 6/7 years earlier – so close to greatness yet so far! I was also impressed at that early age that I was at the same venue as that depicted on the cover of the greatest rock album of all time – Made in Japan.

    Simon, I’m sure you have a photographic book in you somewhere if only you had the time. Have you ever considered it? I have some of your earlier prints from the 70’s and 80’s and am sure you have many more…

    • simon robinson Says:

      DP actually reopened the place in 1972. It had been closed for some months following problems with audience safety, and that’s when the strange sloping front of stage came in – to cover the old orchestra pit. There’s quite a bit on this in our upcoming Smoke On The Water book which is now scheduled for Spring 2011. There have been some developments on the book front along the lines you mention, which I’m itching to announce but can’t just yet.

  3. Gary Critcher Says:

    I was there too! In fact, I only ever saw Rainbow twice; Hammersmith and the Rainbow in 77.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Ah yes, 1977 and shows only this band could ever do – Rainbow Live At The Rainbow (a shame they didn’t record them, the sleeve would have looked amazing). What a venue too, certainly not the best in terms of facilities, sound or seating – but just the faded glory of the place and the amazing atmosphere (despite it being a London audience which Ritchie was always suspicious of). The foyer was so big that after the main hall was shut for concerts, some enterprising punk promoter put on shows just in the foyer. 1977 was probably the tour supported by Kingfish, I have the poster somewhere in the archive. I think you certainly caught the two very best tours Gary, even if it was over thirty years ago now.

      • Paul Appleyard Says:

        I ended up with a spare ticket for Rainbow at the Rainbow in 1977, so I took my dad on the grounds that he could drive us. I’m not entirely sure that he has forgiven me yet although it truly was a magnificent concert, and the yardstick for every concert I have been to since then…

      • simon robinson Says:

        I’m not sure my father would have ever been persuaded to drive us the 160+ miles! Luckily by then we’d started the Stargazer ‘magazine’ and through that were able to crash down at a member’s family’s flat in London and use cheap coach fares. It is curious though about your yardstick comment, and how some gigs do achieve a sort of fabled status in ones head, a show where everything came together – the music, the atmos, your receptiveness. The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway tour by Genesis was one such for me; Yes on their Topographic Ocean tour (where I almost fell off the top circle rushing in to try and switch my tape machine back on after the interval!); Talking Heads in Campden in 79 (supported by U2!) are three which come to mind. Purple?
        Well the first show by Whitesnake with both Paice and Lord was one such, the UK debut of the Morse line-up, and their last concert in town with Jon Lord. Not to mention Rainbow at Leicester in 77 where we were jammed right against the stage and Blackmore started trashing the stage so close to us we were in danger of getting splinters off the wooden stage!

  4. Neil Maughan Says:

    Simon, really good article you did about Ronnie and a super picture above, brings back some great memories. I’m curious..do you know if Ronnie had much contact with Ritchie after he split from Rainbow?
    All the best, Neil

    • simon robinson Says:

      Neil – no, I’m not sure what level of contact they had over the years. Ronnie’s departure from Rainbow wasn’t on the best of terms, but there were tentative plans for the original trio to do something in Japan as Rainbow not long before Cozy’s death though I think non-musical problems scuppered this. In later years Ronnie was quoted as saying he was no longer interested. You always wondered what it would be like.
      There’s a special tribute to Ronnie in Kerrang on sale this week I noticed yesterday in the newsagents.

  5. BOUGER Says:

    Great Group Great performance . My life in music. When I was 16 years I went to london and I listened all the time Rainbow on Stage. I’m 49 years old now and i still listen again and again (and again) to Rainbow on-stage.
    I’m very sad

    Sincerely Eric Bouger

  6. Craig James Storey Says:

    A lovely shot of a band well on top of their game.

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