Graham Bonnet on Rainbow: Since You Been Gone

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The Graham Bonnet Band performing in Greece in 2017 (Photo: Yiannis Dolas; used with permission)

Our friends at RockPages.gr have published an interview with Graham Bonnet, best known for his time with Rainbow, for whom he sang lead on “Since You Been Gone,” as well as time with the Michael Schenker Group, and Alcatrazz (featuring a teenaged Yngwie Malmsteen).

The site has allowed us to share it with Best Classic Bands’ readers and his story of his tryout with Rainbow, whom he joined in 1979, is pretty wild.

“I was told by my manager about this band called Rainbow who I knew nothing about,” the British singer says. “And I had to go audition for them in Switzerland. I said: ‘I don’t know who they are.’ So, I had to go buy albums with Ronnie [James Dio] singing. I had to learn their songs and they gave me this song to learn, ‘Mistreated.’ That was my audition piece. I said to my manager: ‘you know, looking at the photos of these guys, I don’t fit. I got short hair, I wear suits and tie, whatever… I don’t fit within the genre.

“’Yeah,’ he said, ‘but this band is really big’. ‘OK,’ I said, ‘who are they?’ He said parts of Deep Purple blah-blah-blah, Roger Glover is producing. So, I went over there, did the song, and they said: ‘the job is yours, sing it again!’ And then we sung it again, we did it about four times. And I’m going ‘why are you making me do this?’ ‘Because, we like you, they said.”

Bonnet is asked about a possible Rainbow reunion with Ritchie Blackmore: “I don’t know what Ritchie is doing, because when I first heard about this reunion, or whatever or comeback of Rainbow, or whatever it is, I would imagine that he’d get hold of Don Airey… you know, people that were in Rainbow earlier, have Roger Glover playing bass… But, no it was a completely different bunch of people. I think if he goes back to the rennaisance stuff he does with his wife for a little while I think that maybe when he is 90 years old he’d probably put Rainbow back together and do… ‘Smoke On The Water’ or something like that, or ‘Since You Been Gone.'”

Watch Rainbow with Bonnet perform “Since You Been Gone”

“I’ve been told from people that go to his concerts when he plays this renaissance music somebody in the audience always goes: ‘Smoke On The Water!’ It will be there. He is stuck with that, like I am stuck with ‘Since You Been Gone’ forever. I can’t say ‘oh, we don’t want to do that.’ Because I am identified by that and he is identified with the Deep Purple tunes.”

Related: Blackmore is featured in our story, 11 not-so-typical guitar leads

His recollection of Malsteen’s audition with Alcatrazz is reminiscent of his own with Rainbow a few years earlier. “We found a great guitar player, Yngwie Malmsteen, a young 18-year old. He was incredible. The day he walked into rehearsal I was totally blown away. As we all were.”

Bonnet’s most recent studio album, The Book, with the Graham Bonnet Band, was released earlier this year. A live set, Live… Here Comes the Night, was released in July 2017.

Bonnet was born on December 23, 1947, in Lincolnshire, England, and will thus hit 70 this year. When asked about retirement, he says: “Are you serious? I could never retire. I can’t imagine how that would be like. Because music is always here [pointing at his ears]. Even when I go to bed at night it’s still there. So, for me to retire is to be dead.”

Watch the Graham Bonnet Band perform “Stand in Line”

Watch some performance clips and Bonnet’s entire interview with Rock Pages here.

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  1. Jeffrey
    #1 Jeffrey 8 August, 2017, 01:57

    I saw the first tour of Rainbow with Graham on vocals at Newcastle City Hall. The audience was a mass of denim and leather, then this man with a white jacket, hawaian shirt and foreward facing hairsut walked up to the mike. you could feel the tension. And he opened his throat and 2,200 people apologised by going unutterably wild at one of the truly great vocalists in rock

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