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Here endeth the medieval blues

Louder Sound (nee Classic Rock magazine) has a feature on Rainbow’s Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll album, and it’s a good read.

There is, however, one chink of light in the bleak, drowsy fug of that UK chart in May 1978. Straight in this week at No.7, pop pickers, it’s Rainbow and Long Live Rock ’N’ Roll. The third album by the band formed by former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and previously unknown American singer Ronnie James Dio, Long Live Rock ’N’ Roll is proof that, far from dead, rock with a capital ‘R’ is alive and well, and in exile no more.

“I don’t think any of us paid any attention whatsoever to punk,” Ronnie Dio would tell me years later. “I still saw what we did as being more unique, what Ritchie and I called ‘medieval blues’.”

But where the unpredictable Blackmore had originally seen his collaboration with Dio as an upgrade on the rock-meets-classical format of heyday Purple, three years on he was now more interested in the colossal success of Foreigner – the US-based rock band built around the abundant talents of another English guitarist, Mick Jones.

Blackmore was by a mile the better player. Jones was by a mile the better hit maker. The result: two Rainbow albums weighted with accolades and plentiful sales in every country in the world – except America. In the same period were two multi-platinum Foreigner albums that no one outside America rated at all, but with combined sales of more than 10 million in the US, along with four giant hit singles.

“I think Ritchie was getting a lot of people at the record label whispering in his ear too,” said Dio. “Pushing for the band to go commercial. Hence the actual song Long Live Rock ’N’ Roll. I didn’t consciously write the lyrics that way, but it was definitely seen as having ‘hit potential’, as they called it.”

Ritchie certainly hoped so. He liked having Ronnie around.

Continue reading on Louder Sound.

Thanks to Amit for the info.

15 Comments to “Here endeth the medieval blues”:

  1. 1
    George Martin says:

    Interesting article about that period in time. I was at the New York Palladium show when they walked off after 2 songs not 3 as it said. They opened with Kill The King then did Mistreated then left. The sound was pretty bad but to be honest no one cared. Every one was so psyched to be there that it almost didn’t matter. After a while Ronnie did come out and say they can’t fix the problem so they will have to reschedule. People started to boo. Ronnie said ” Do you want us to sound like shit!” Every one screamed Yeah! We don’t care. By the way AC DC opened up the show that night supporting there latest album Highway To Hell. But the second part to the story which was not included in the article is what happened a couple of days later. They were scheduled to play Asbury Park Convention Hall in N.J. It was a general admission show so people lined up early in the day to get a good spot in front. Anyway all the people could talk about was what happened in New York and the problem better be fixed or were all going to be really pissed off. Well we waited and waited and it was getting late and they were not letting anyone in. I thought this is bad, really bad. All of a sudden Blackmore comes driving up the boardwalk in a white Mercedes Benz convertible with the roof down. They drive by the fans to the a door that we could all see. Blackmore gets his guitar out of the back seat and tells the driver to wait. He enters the building and 15 minutes later the door flies open, Blackmore is pissed, throws his guitar in the back seat and tells the driver let’s go. They take off down the board walk to a side street and there gone. 10 minutes later some poor bastard has the job of coming out and telling the crowd threw a microphone that the show has been cancelled due to technical difficulties. Needless to say there was almost a riot. They had a couple of days to fix the problem and didn’t. I can remember these events as if they happened yesterday. Man I’m getting old.

  2. 2
    Steve Feedback says:

    Incredible: this singer sounds like Ronnie Romero!!!

  3. 3
    Benno Kaiser says:

    Der Song “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” (der Diamant des Hard Rock) ist Ausdruck, Lebenseinstellung und Hommage für den Rock’n’Roll und ist auch heute noch wichtig.

  4. 4
    Ian p says:

    I was at the show at the Palladium. The sound was absolutely awful. Ac/dc killed it. Bon Scott sang

  5. 5
    Udo Kraatz says:

    @ Steve Feedback …

    No this is not right.

    Ronnie Romero sounds like Ronnie James Dio (RIP) !!!!


  6. 6
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Sigh, Ritchie and his temper tantrums – say no more. He can be a real prick if he sets his mind to it.

    Ironically, the best mood I ever saw him in (except once very drunk, but hilariously so during a BN gig) was that legendary Munich 1977 gig following his pleasant experience with Austrian hospitality after the Vienna “plateau-boot-in-face”-incident. He was genuinely relieved not to be behind bars anymore and adrenalin-charged (from racing across the Autobahn to get from Vienna to Munich, it was too foggy for flights) let rip from midnight onwards.

    The fact that he had also just received new – more plentiful – hair back then (that – even slightly unwashed and not freshly blow-dried – fringe he sported on stage was a real surprise for all those having gotten used to his pretty forehead) might have also contributed to his elated spirits – don’t we all just want to look good sometimes?!

  7. 7
    JC Krafter says:

    Muito bom!

  8. 8
    Dennis says:

    @2 George Martin. I also was at the Palladium show – and if I remember correctly – someone in the first few rows threw a carton of orange juice at Angus during their set – hitting him squarely – but he kept right on playing. And – I had backstage passes to Asbury Park. Needless to say – very disappointed / pissed. We are indeed getting old ……

  9. 9
    Mark Davis says:

    Fantastic Album, Eight Great Songs.

  10. 10
    Uwe Hornung says:

    GoB is among the best pieces of music ever written und performed by Blackmore – and also the closest he ever came to playing PROG – a path he should have gone more often. In his quest for commercial acceptance he sacrificed that Stone/Daisley line-up too early. This could have really gone somewhere with another album.

    Much as I like Graham Bonnet’s laddishness and the Down to Earth album in its own right, following something like GoB with Since You’ve Been Gone as the next release sure was a cold shower at the time! Kind of like when Quo went from Blue For You to the Pip Williams production of Rocking All Over The World, that was a culture shock too.

  11. 11
    MacGregor says:

    Didn’t David Stone say he had a fair bit to do with the GOB musical structure? I think you said recently Uwe & correct me if I am wrong, that Blackmore didn’t use that sort of musical arrangement at all in his previous career. And Stone was paid for his contribution allegedly. I am not sure about Blackers going too progressive, too much discipline for him & he has stated often that he couldn’t be bothered with that approach. Too lazy & or too impatient perhaps. He chose the safer path & obviously a more commercial one. By the late 70’s the progressive music scene was not the ‘in thing’, for want of a better analogy.
    That Rainbow lineup was hot though, at their peak no doubt It does make me wonder where they could have taken it to. A shame really! Cheers.

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Yes, Stone co-wrote it, that solo part with all those strange and ambitiously laid chords is more UK/King Crimson than Purple/Rainbow, Blackmore had never soloed over something similar before and – sadly – never did so again.

    Your point is exactly right, as he has repeatedly said himself, Blackmore isn’t good at memorizing parts (or really willing to kuckle down to it) – which is a key ingredient in sophisticated PROG. Blackmore is no Steve Hackett. In his late 70ies interview with Guitar Player he admitted how he loves Jethro Tull, but could never be bothered to learn all those parts, arrangements and odd meters Martin Barre regularly faced.

    The good thing about PROG is that it allows a musician to age and mature gracefully. And something tells me that Ritchie could have found a lasting musical home in this netherworld of 12-minute suites, gatefold double albums, Roger Dean covers and fantastical lyrics with his elegiac and wistful solo style. He could have achieved a David Gilmour type status and we’d be enjoying 4 minute+ guitar solos on Blackmore studio releases even today! Darn. : – (

    Purple – with two Proggies now at the helm of their lead instruments and a large part of their songwriting – have realized this somehow. What keeps the Purple releases of the last 25 years (or so) relevant is their increased PROG content. In Rock was a young men’s tour de force – no way they could replicate that today (or even 30 years ago) and they are well-advised to not try.

  13. 13
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ouch – “knuckle”, not “kuckle”! That crap and inane spellcheck (what limited-vocabulary nitwits program these things?) on my BlackBerry drives me mad. It is also the explanation why you so often read (the German) “und” rather than “and” in my posts, I keep overlooking that, try as I might, sorry!

  14. 14
    Georgivs says:


    That could have happened in an ideal world. The real time Ritchie is not that complex a musician. He can play a 10 minute solo, but it would be more of a jazz/blues improvisation with Renaissance bits thrown in for a good measure rather that a methodically written suite. And, I have a suspicion bordering on confidence that ultimately, stripped down to his core, he just likes playing a good melody and that’s it. Previously, he would cover Ballard songs and contemplate making “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” a single. These days, he would just take an obscure Renaissance or Baroque tune, slightly rearrange it and then play two or three versions of it on different BN albums under different titles. For instance, just listen to this song and compare it to “Play, Minstrel, Play”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxlwCTOuTSs

  15. 15
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Yeah, BN’s oeuvre is filled with “inspirations” like that and I tend to be forgiving about the fact. On the early BN albums, Ritchie kind of did a curator’s resurrection job on all those old melodies. He was always comparatively frank about it, and live, especially, Candice would point to musical inspirations in her announcements.

    But with the passage of time, banality set in. Ritchie started peddling to the “ZDF Fernsehgarten” crowd (an open air Summer TV show on German TV for senior viewers where the acts mime their oldies songs and Candice can do her “cute nose wrinkle”-thing so prevalent with YouTube influencers).


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