After thirty years this song never fails to get me, when I am feeling good and working on a project it gives me more fire to continue onwards. I blast it in the car while driving, play it on my computer, iPod, etc. I have it and all of its versions and tributes and even live versions from the height of Rainbow's early years with Dio during their tours between 1975 to 1978.
I just wanted to add this song for some instant inspiration and a reminder.
In 1974, Ritchie Blackmore publicly disliked the funk/soul (or as Blackmore called it, "shoeshine music") elements being introduced to Deep Purple by David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, as well as the disappointing Stormbringer album where his favourite musical style wasn't adequately captured. Blackmore originally intended to release a solo single, the Steve Hammond-penned "Black Sheep of the Family", with "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" on the B-side. He recorded these during a studio session in Tampa Bay, Florida on 12 December 1974 with singer/lyricist Ronnie James Dio and drummer Gary Driscoll, both from the blues-rock band Elf, former Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher, and cellist Hugh McDowell of ELO. Satisfied with the two tracks, Blackmore decided to make a solo album, replacing the keyboardist and bassist with Elf members Micky Lee Soule and Craig Gruber, respectively. The full album was recorded in Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany in about 3 weeks in February 1975. Though it was originally thought to be a solo album, the record was billed as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Blackmore decided to leave Deep Purple and form his own band Rainbow. The name of the band was inspired by the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood that catered to rock stars, groupies and rock enthusiasts.
Rainbow's debut album, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, was released in 1975 and featured the minor hit "Man on the Silver Mountain". This first line-up never performed live. Blackmore and Dio did promotional work for the album.
Rainbow's music was partly inspired by classical music since Blackmore started playing cello to help him construct interesting chord progressions, and Dio wrote lyrics about medieval themes. Dio possessed a versatile vocal range capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads. Although Dio never played a musical instrument on any Rainbow album, he is credited with writing and arranging the music with Blackmore, in addition to writing all the lyrics himself.
Blackmore fired everybody except Dio shortly after the album was recorded, due to Gary Driscoll's R&B style of drumming and the funky bass playing of Craig Gruber. Micky Lee Soule quit due to Blackmore's decisions, and Blackmore recruited Cozy Powell, Jeff Beck's drummer, bassist Jimmy Bain, and American keyboard player Tony Carey. This line-up went on to record the next album Rising. This line-up also commenced the first world tour for the band, with the first US dates in late 1975. Album art was designed by famed fantasy artist Ken Kelly, who had drawn Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian.
By the time of the European dates in the summer of 1976, Rainbow's reputation as a blistering live act was already established. Blackmore subsequently decided that Bain was substandard and fired him in January 1977. The same fate befell Tony Carey shortly after. Blackmore, however, had difficulty finding replacements he liked. On keyboards, after auditioning several high profile artists, including Vanilla Fudge's Mark Stein, Procol Harum's Matthew Fisher and ex-Curved Air and Roxy Music man Eddie Jobson, Blackmore finally selected Canadian David Stone, from the little-known band Symphonic Slam. For a bass player, Blackmore originally chose Mark Clarke, formerly of Jon Hiseman's Colosseum, Uriah Heep and Tempest, but once in the studio for the next album,Long Live Rock 'n' Roll, Blackmore disliked Clarke's fingerstyle method of playing so much that he fired Clarke on the spot and played bass himself on all but four songs: the album's title track, "Gates of Babylon", "Kill the King", and "Sensitive to Light". Former Widowmaker bassist, Australian Bob Daisley was hired to record these tracks, completing the band's next line-up.
After the release and extensive world tour in 1977–78, Blackmore decided that he wanted to take the band in a new commercial direction away from the "sword and sorcery" theme. Dio did not agree with this change and left Rainbow.