During studio sessions in Tampa Bay, Florida on 12 December 1974, Blackmore originally planned to record the solo single "Black Sheep of the Family"- a cover of a track by the band Quatermass from 1970. The newly composed "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" was to be the B-side. Other musicians involved included singer/lyricist Ronnie James Dio and drummer Gary Driscoll of blues rock band Elf, and cellist Hugh McDowell of ELO. Satisfied with the two tracks, Blackmore decided to extend the sessions to a full album.
For the album the other members of Elf, keyboardist Micky Lee Soule and bassist Craig Gruber were utilised. The album was recorded in Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany during February–March 1975. Though it was originally thought to be a solo album, the record was billed as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, and later progressed to a new band project. Blackmore and Dio did promotional work for the album. Shortly after the album was released, all Elf members,excluding Dio, were sacked, and Blackmore recruited new musicians for subsequent Rainbow albums. This first line-up never performed live, and the live photos used in the album art are of Blackmore while with Deep Purple and of Elf playing live.
The last track of the album "Still I'm Sad" is an instrumental cover of a song by The Yardbirds from their 1965 album Having a Rave Up with The Yardbirds. "Catch the Rainbow" uses a similar chord progression and vocal melody to Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" from the 1967 album Axis: Bold as Love.
The original vinyl release had a gate fold sleeve, although later budget reissues on Polydor reduced to a single sleeve. The album's songs have been performed by subsequent Rainbow line-ups.
The album was widely praised for its fantasy/heroic-like lyrical content and the innovative rock style.
Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow was re-issued on CD in remastered form in the US in April 1999. The European release followed later in the year.
Vocalist Ronnie James Dio considered this release his favourite Rainbow album.
Despite the title implying the record being a Ritchie Blackmore solo release, in later years Blackmore has jokingly stated that Dio's contributions warranted a re-titling of "Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio's Rainbow".
|1.||"Man on the Silver Mountain"||4:42|
|3.||"Black Sheep of the Family" (Quatermass cover)||Steve Hammond||3:22|
|4.||"Catch the Rainbow"||6:27|
|6.||"The Temple of the King"||4:45|
|7.||"If You Don't Like Rock 'n' Roll"||2:38|
|8.||"Sixteenth Century Greensleeves"||3:31|
|9.||"Still I'm Sad" (The Yardbirds cover)||Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty||3:51|
Note: On the cassette version of the album Side One features the last five tracks while Side Two plays the first four. On the case insert and on the cassette itself, "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" is written as "Sixteen Century Greensleeves".
- Ronnie James Dio – lead vocals
- Ritchie Blackmore – guitar
- Micky Lee Soule – piano, mellotron, clavinet, organ
- Craig Gruber – bass
- Gary Driscoll – drums
- Shoshana – backing vocals
- Produced by Ritchie Blackmore, Martin Birch, Ronnie James Dio
- Mixed by Martin Birch
- Recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, 20 February – 14 March 1975
|1975||UK Albums Chart||11|
|Swedish Albums Chart||24|
|Billboard 200 (USA) ||30|
|New Zealand Albums Charts||40|
|RPM100 Albums (Canada)||83|
|UK||BPI||1975||Silver (+ 60,000)|
- Blackmore's Night have released a folk rock cover version of "Self Portrait" on their second studio album Under a Violet Moon in 1999. They also performed a live cover of "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" (titled as "16th Century Greensleeves") on their 2002 live album Past Times with Good Company.
- Bible Black, whose membership included Craig Gruber and Gary Driscoll, would occasionally cover "Man on the Silver Mountain" live. In 2011 Gruber's new band, ED3N (which also contained his Bible Black bandmate Jeff Fenholt) recorded a cover of "Man on the Silver Mountain" as a tribute to Dio and Driscoll.
- German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell covered the song "Still I'm Sad" on the tribute album Holy Dio: Tribute to Ronnie James Dio, which later appeared on his "best-of" The Wizard's Chosen Few. A cover of "The Temple of the King" appeared on his career compilation The Ballads III.
- Opeth played "Catch the Rainbow" live in concert as a tribute to the recently deceased Ronnie James Dio. Jack Starr's Burning Starr also recorded a version on their 2009 album Defiance, which was also featured on the Dio tribute album Magic: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio.
- Spanish folk metal band Mägo de Oz covered "The Temple of the King" (albeit with different lyrics, in Spanish) as "El Templo del Adiós" on their 1998 album La Leyenda de la Mancha. Also, by Mägo de Oz, a cover of "Man on the Silver Mountain" is included in their compilation album Rarezas, though this album is somewhat unrecognised by the band itself due to some unresolved disagreements with the album's producer Locomotive Music.
- Swedish power metal band HammerFall covered "Man on the Silver Mountain". The song was collected in their album Masterpieces.
- German heavy metal band Angel Dust covered "The Temple of the King" on the tribute album Holy Dio: Tribute to Ronnie James Dio.
- Turkish singer Müslüm Gürses covered "The Temple of the King" on his 2006 cover album Aşk Tesadüfleri Sever.