Craig Gruber

The death of bassist Craig Gruber has been announced at the age of just 63. Craig formally entered the Deep Purple Family Tree forty years ago, when Rainbow began recording their debut album in Germany.  He had been a member of Elf in 1974, the band then (having been spotted by Messers Glover and Paice), supported Purple on American, UK and European shows.
Craig appeared on the second and third Elf albums, after Ronnie Dio decided he wanted to relinquish his bass work and concentrate on singing.  Both these albums are well worth a listen.
Ritchie Blackmore then invited the band to help him on some session work and later (less their guitarist) form the first official line-up of Rainbow.  They recorded the first Rainbow album in early 1975 but by the time it was released the following Autumn, Ritchie and Ronnie had dispensed with the rest of the group and assembled a new line-up to tour. Nevertheless Craig’s skilful bass work remains on the album, and his role in the formation of Rainbow is now part of the band’s history.
Following these changes, Craig continued to work as a musician with a number of bands, including a spell with Gary Moore, work with Black Sabbath , and even designing a range of custom made bass guitars. He is the third member of Elf (and the first Rainbow album line-up) to pass away. Drummer Gary Driscoll died in 1987 and Ronnie Dio in 2010.
Ronnie Dio, Craig Gruber, Elf
This early photo shows the four members of Elf at the time they joined Rainbow, with Craig to the right of Ronnie.
You can follow the early Rainbow family tree on our archive site:

Apple single Derek Lawrence Hot Chocolate
And while the death also of Hot Chocolate’s Errol Brown might not seem to be newsworthy on a Deep Purple site, in fact their first single, a version of Give Peace A Chance, was produced by Derek Lawrence in 1969. Derek had worked with Tony Wilson for some time (using Ritchie Blackmore and others on some of these sessions) including on a soul version of I Am A Preacher, which Deep Purple also cut. Derek had connections with Apple and sent them the demo of Give Peace A Chance to make sure Lennon was happy with having a few of the lyrics changed.  Lennon liked the demo so much, he offered to put it out on Apple, and Hot Chocolate were on their way.

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8 Responses to “Craig Gruber”

  1. Roy Davies Says:

    For those not aware heres a fantastic website detailing Ronnie’s ( and Elf’s) early years
    http://www.padavona.com/history.html

  2. Roy Davies Says:

    It would be a nice tribute to Craig ( and Gary Driscoll) if someone could get the Bible Black demos and live stuff out as an official release.

  3. IAN DOUGLAS Says:

    Sad to hear of the deaths of both Craig and Errol. I always loved the first Rainbow album and the bass was an important part of the sound and a delight to listen to – I still remember the day I found the LP in Sydney I think it was at the time of the (then) Deep Purple coming to town! And Hot Chocolate had some great singles!

  4. Scott W. Says:

    Didn’t Cozy work with Hot Chocolate to some degree?

  5. res Says:

    Your refer to Hot Chocolate’s Errol Wilson, but this must be a typo (confused with Tony Wilson maybe???). It is Hot Chocolate’s Errol BROWN who died, according to the wiki page, on 6 May 2015.

    • simon robinson Says:

      I always try and proof read obits very carefully, but you’re right, as soon as I posted it I spotted it. Sorry Errol.

  6. Mike Says:

    Craig laid down some awesomely original bass lines – RIP man… I’ll play a little something on the acoustic 4 string for you tonight.

  7. SF Says:

    I think you should also count Nick Pantas as a deceased member of Elf family, however they were then known as The Elves or The Electric Elves, I can’t remember exactly what was the name when he died.

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