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.
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:
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.