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Black Sheep of the Family

rainbow black sheep cover 2019

Ritchie Blackmore has re-recorded Black Sheep of the Family as a single with his current Rainbow lineup. The song was written by Steve Hammond, guitar player for Fat Mattress — band founded by Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding in 1968. The track first appeared on the eponymous 1970 Quatermass album with no less than two members of the Purple family — John Gustafson on bass and vocals and Mick Underwood on drums. Blackmore’s 1975 recording session for the track was, of course, what kick-started Rainbow as a band in the first place.

The new single will be released digitally on April 26 via iTunes and Google Play.

Thanks to Blabbermouth and Gary Poronovich for the info.

49 Comments to “Black Sheep of the Family”:

  1. 1
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    Interesting… one tune, but no doubt made with Ronnie Romero on the Rainbow edition & then Candice on the Blackmore’s Night edition. Two birds with one stone!.

  2. 2
    TheoM says:

    What’s so special about this song?

  3. 3
    Kalle says:

    I’m very curious an think it will be a fine version.
    I hope that this time the new song is better produced as the last ones. With real instruments.

    I wished Ritchie would bring out the first unrleased version that he taped before Rainbow. In the line up of:

    Ronnie James Dio of “Elf”, Matthew Fisher of “Procol Harum” and Hugh McDowell of “ELO”, which was planned as a single with “16th Century Greensleeves” from the same line-up as B-Side. It was never released.

    He re-recorded it with Elf (minus Edwars and Nauseef) for the first Rainbow album – the well known version.

  4. 4
    Kevin says:


    Black Sheep of the Family was actually the first song that Ritchie & Ronnie wrote together, and actually led to the full album, because of how well that one song turned out…

    The rest is history, but without Black Sheep of the Family, there wouldn’t be the world’s best writing duo of Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio…Unsurpassed to this day!

    RIP Ronnie…your legend lives on

  5. 5
    janbl says:

    I have tried to listen to, and watching, the new “Rainbow” but I can’t sit through it all. It’s too painfull to listen to, the guy cannot play rock’n’roll any more. Try to listen to the japanese girlband Band-Maid in stead, they rock.

  6. 6
    nupsi59 says:

    There are so many great songs from the Rainbow era, and Mr. Blackmore choose this track…

    Let’s wait for the b-side/bonus track(s).

    Have a nice Day!

  7. 7
    Wiktor says:

    The song tells the story about………….Ritchie Blackmore… He is the “black sheep of the family”…We all know that!

  8. 8
    Tracy(Zero the Hero)Heyder says:

    Hey Ritchie…. how about something NEW!!!!!!!

  9. 9
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    @2TheoM, RB likes it… that’s all. It’s the song that got his rainbow up & running.

  10. 10
    Peter Murphy says:

    Ritchie and Ronnie didn’t write it, and there are previous versions around. My own favourite is by Chris Farlowe.
    It was written by a guy called Chris Hammond and was first recorded by his band Quartermas.

    Apparently Ritchie wanted Deep Purple to record it but the others wouldn’t be in it. That was the last straw for Ritchie so he got Ronnie interested and the rest is history.

    I was disappointed when I first heard the first Rainbow version because it is not as good as the Farlowe version.

  11. 11
    Hiza says:


    I think this is just great news.

    It´s of course a cover, but as You all already know very well, Ritchie likes this song. That´s the reason.

    But what I really wait for is the news of the re-released First album….I guess there´s no clue about those mastertapes…?

    But !

    Congratulations Ritchie for Your birthday today !

  12. 12
    Anthony says:

    Noooooo!!!! lol. So may great Rainbow songs and he picks this one

  13. 13
    Jeff Summers says:

    @4 Kevin. You aren’t listening are you?!
    The Quatermass version is much better than the version on Ritchie Blackmore Rainbow…

  14. 14
    TheoM says:

    To all, I know that Black Sheep in fact started Rainbow.
    To my humble opinion I think it is one of the weakest songs Rainbow recorded.

  15. 15
    Boswell's Johnson says:


    If I remember correctly, Black Sheep was a Quartermass song that Blackmore wanted MKIII to cover. They refused so he took it to Rainbow.


  16. 16
    Darryl says:

    @Kevin 4 Errrrrrr, did you not read the article. They never wrote it.

  17. 17
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    @6 Nupsi59, the b side/bonus track will be called “More Of The Same!”…..

  18. 18
    Buttockss says:

    This is a great song live when they did it with Ronnie James Dio. Ritchie would break into slow blues in the middle of the song, then finish with the rest of Black Sheep Of The Family.

  19. 19
    Rascal says:

    Out of all the Rainbow tracks he picks this?

    Is this how it will be for the next few years?

    I wonder what method he uses to pick an old Rainbow track to re-hash – blind folded using a pin?

  20. 20
    uwe hornung says:

    The Quatermass original:


    Very Atomic Rooster’ish, but you can envisage that it would have worked very well with Coverdale’s and Hughes’ dual lead vocals approach. Gustafson’s and Hughes’ singing especially, are not a million miles apart.

    I still think that the others only turned it down as a payback for Blackmore having shelved the double album concept they initially wanted for what became Stormbringer. That would have given everyone except Little Ian an album side = four tracks, Blackmore using part of that for Black Sheep would have been no issue then. Instead, the others felt stifled when Blackers wouldn’t have it and gave as good as they got. Who knows, Stormbringer might have become Purple’s Physical Graffiti, decadent yet artful.

  21. 21
    greg kidd says:

    Jut a wee correction on comment #4:
    Black Sheep was not written Ronnie & Ritchie
    The 1st version of this tune I heard was by Chris Farlowe and The Hill release From Here to Mama Rosa’s, check it out.

  22. 22
    Tracy(Zero the Hero)Heyder says:


    Sorry but… Ritchie and Ronnie didn’t write that song…. Next?

  23. 23
    AndreA says:

    Nothing exciting.

  24. 24
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    Hey everyone, I may be wrong, but I believe RB is doing this for himself… not for all of us. Nostalgia is a powerful thing for the elderly. Lighten up!.

  25. 25
    Anthony says:

    Actually the original Waiting for a Sign is a good song which harks back to musical mood of the first Rainbow record. A full album of this kind and I will be happy but no more black sheep…… 😉

  26. 26
    stoffer says:

    @20-uwe….thanks for the link! Very nice version!

  27. 27
    Coleman Francis says:

    Now I’ll have to check out the Chris Farlowe version.
    Really love the Chris Farlowe era of Atomic Rooster – His takes on Black Snake and Breakthrough are fantastic. Saw the videos on you tube last year and became a big fan. The version of Black Snake where he is eating PB & J sandwiches while in between singing the song is awesome! Then the Breakthrough take comes next. That became one of my most watched videos of the 2018.

    By the way, Happy belated Birthday to Ritchie Blackmore! My favorite guitar player ever. Celebrated the past week by soaking in the excellent live 1970 Aachen performance with great versions of Wring that Neck & Mandrake Root. Delicious CD to have on in the car, I love rocking out to it.

  28. 28
    Kevin says:

    Sorry for my mis-type in comment #4 guys…I meant to type that BSotF was the first song that Ritchie and Ronnie recorded together, not wrote together (obviously)…I stand by the rest of my comment though…


  29. 29
    Rick says:

    @24, agreed. Ritchie made his decision back in ’97 when he chose to head down acoustic highway with Candace and simplify his life, I’m guessing he’d had enough of big tours and ego’s and was at peace with himself by doing so.

    Whatever reasons were that he’s back with Romero in a much scaled down and slower paced Rainbow are his and of/for his family. Now in his mid 70’s, we’re getting less creativity and more going through the motions for shits and giggles and a few extra bucks…..but he had an incredible career that garnerd him much attention, fame and wealth and fans that will never forget just how good this guy actually was and is. Bring on the new Black Sheep, I’ll listen.

  30. 30
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    Thought occurs… RB started Rainbow with his own inimitable version of Black Sheep of the Family, so perhaps this coming update of the song is meant to bookend the Rainbow discography.
    In other words, this could be the final studio offering from Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.
    If that should turn out to be the case, then I say Valé Ritchie… thanks for everything & be happy!.

  31. 31
    Danny N says:

    No all he needs is to hire a veteran rock drummer and bassist and it may actually sound good.

  32. 32
    Chip says:

    I remember when any new music from Ritchie was cause for real excitement. More power to Blackers for choosing his own path and making himself happy but after 20 years of garbage music in BN and the very MEH Rainbow reunion shows and the VERY disappointing snippets of studio output from last year…I am barely interested enough to bother with this….

  33. 33
    AndreA says:

    Useless. Awful.

  34. 34
    Stathis says:

    @18 Buttocks Don’t let the fact that Rainbow with Ronnie Dio never played BSOTF live spoil your fun 😉

  35. 35
    Blackwood Richmore says:

    Well, I’ve listened to the updated BSotF a number of times now… & I can tell you that I really love what the guys have done with it. It feels fresh & exciting!.
    I reckon that RB & the band have just stolen Whitesnake’s thunder. Me so happy!.

  36. 36
    Matt says:

    Just had a listen…It’s ok, but as I often skip the ‘original’, won’t be playing this much either!
    Nice to hear new Blackmore even if relatively tame.
    Whilst the new Ronnie is good, when comparing to the master, in this instance he seems a poor imitation. That’s probably a good summary for both the song and band in general.

  37. 37
    stoffer says:

    meh……its ok at best! I’ll take the original Rainbow version any day, RB still trying for a hit single?? fail👎

  38. 38
    RB says:

    Heard it today, it’s just beige.

  39. 39
    Cool Hat says:

    Wow! I didn’t expect to like this on the basis of “why redo a classic?” Actually though, I really like it; It offers something different to the original. Sounds like a worthwhile project to me.

  40. 40
    Rick says:

    @39 ” It offers something different to the original” Good words Cool Hat. And that to me sums up what this song actually became. Its not meant to compete, delete or repeat whats already been said and done.

    At Ritchies’ age, I’ll take whatever he has to offer Strat-wise, after all this isn’t the halcyon days of DP/Rainbow anymore anyway, (and, @37, he’s not looking for successful singles,I’m certain of that, haha) so enjoy, or don’t, what he brings to the table nowadays.

  41. 41
    Rob says:

    I like the original Quatermass, and the original Rainbow with RB’s doodling to fill the gaps between chorus and verse. I find the lyrics witty, and I like the ‘space’ on both these versions. The new version doesn’t add anything to the song for me, just a walk down memory lane and the usual modern production habit of not giving the song any dynamics – a real strength of the first Rainbow album. It’s just not exciting!

  42. 42
    Chip says:

    Gave it a couple of listens. I was pleasantly surprised. It sounds like he actually put a bit of effort into this remake as opposed to the I Surrender remake. It isn’t bad, but it really isn’t even in the same league as anything on the last 2 Ezrin produced DP records. Even the weak Roadhouse Blues cover is better than this.

    It isn’t horrible…but it isn’t anything to get excited about.

  43. 43
    Buttockss says:

    @ 34 Stathis. Sorry to correct you. But in 1977 live at the Spectrum in Philadelphia they played the song live, i was there and still have the concert booklet with the set-list, also the concert ticket which was $10 dollors at the time, and also the t-shirt with Rainbow arches on it.

  44. 44
    uwe hornung says:

    I like it better than Rainbow’s first cover of it in 1975, but neither match the intensity of the Quatermass original.

  45. 45
    Robin says:

    @ 43 a mythical gig, Rainbow didn’t play the US in 1977 and certainly never played BsotF and never played the Spectrum until 1979. The 78 gig was cancelled

  46. 46
    CP says:

    @ 43 There doesn’t appear to be a 1977 show in Philly

    09.07.1977 Hammersmith Odeon London UK
    09.09.1977 The Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles, CA USA
    23.09.1977 Finlandia-talo Helsinki Finland Cancelled
    25.09.1977 Konserthuset Stockholm Sweden
    26.09.1977 Scandinavium Gothenburg Sweden
    27.09.1977 Chateau Neuf Oslo Norway
    28.09.1977 Nidaroehallen Trondheim Norway
    30.09.1977 Idraettens Hus Velje Norway
    01.10.1977 Falkoner Theater Copenhagen Denmark
    02.10.1977 Vejby Risskov hallen Aarhus Denmark
    04.10.1977 Congresgebouw The Hague Netherlands
    05.10.1977 Münsterlandhalle Münster Germany
    06.10.1977 Grugahalle Essen Germany
    07.10.1977 Eissporthalle Berlin Germany
    08.10.1977 Sporthalle Cologne Germany
    09.10.1977 Westfalenhallen Dortmund Germany
    10.10.1977 Stadthalle Bremen Germany
    11.10.1977 Ebertshalle Ludwigshafen Germany
    13.10.1977 Sporthalle Stuttgart Germany
    14.10.1977 Sporthalle Hannover Germany
    15.10.1977 Deutschlandhalle Berlin Germany
    16.10.1977 Congresszentrum Hamburg Germany
    18.10.1977 Stadthalle Theatre Vienna Austria Ritchie Blackmore arrested
    19.10.1977 Olympiahalle Munich Germany Cancelled Blackmore was in jail
    20.10.1977 Olympiahalle Munich Germany Filmed for Rockpalast German TV
    21.10.1977 Messehalle Nuremberg Germany
    22.10.1977 Rhein Main Hallen Wiesbaden Germany
    24.10.1977 Salle D’Exposition Colmar France
    25.10.1977 Palais Du Sport Lyon France
    27.10.1977 Pavillion Paris France
    31.10.1977 City Hall Newcastle UK
    01.11.1977 City Hall Newcastle UK
    03.11.1977 Guildhall Preston UK
    04.11.1977 Empire Theatre Liverpool UK
    05.11.1977 Empire Theatre Liverpool UK
    07.11.1977 Capitol Theatre Aberdeen UK
    09.11.1977 Apollo Theatre Glasgow UK
    11.11.1977 Rainbow Theatre London UK
    12.11.1977 Rainbow Theatre London UK
    13.11.1977 Rainbow Theatre London UK
    14.11.1977 Rainbow Theatre London UK
    16.11.1977 New Theatre Oxford UK
    17.11.1977 Granby Halls Leicester UK
    18.11.1977 Bingley Hall Stafford UK
    20.11.1977 Apollo Manchester UK
    21.11.1977 Apollo Manchester UK
    22.11.1977 St. Davids Hall Cardiff UK

  47. 47
    TheoM says:

    I guess you’re joking

  48. 48
    Pierre Caeiro says:

    For the record : BSotF WAS played live by Rainbow: at their first gig in Canada 1975. It was used for Dio’s crowd sing along bit but clearly dropped by the time they hit New York and beyond

  49. 49
    Pierre Caeiro says:

    Following my posting about BSOtF being played live I went back to my old recording. I got it wrong, it was “If You Don’t Like Rock & Roll” the unusual song played not BSOtF.

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