The hard rock band Rainbow hasn’t been seen since 1997, when guitarist Ritchie Blackmore — who founded the group after leaving Deep Purple for the first time in 1975 — decided to focus on acoustic Renaissance era music.
But Joe Lynn Turner, the group’s frontman from 1980-84 — and singer of the hits “Stone Cold” and “Street of Dreams” — is bringing fans a pot of gold with Over the Rainbow, a new incarnation of the group that features three other Rainbow alumni and Blackmore’s 45-yearold son Jurgen stepping into his father’s shoes on guitar.
“Ever since the demise of Rainbow, promoters everywhere I go are like, ‘When is Rainbow gonna get together?’ ” says Turner, 57, who put the new band together in 2008, with its first concert in February. “I would tell them, ‘It’s just not gonna happen. There will never be a Rainbow tour without a Blackmore on guitar ... ’
“Then it hit me — Jurgen’s been playing for 30 years. That makes this work. I want to keep this very authentic, not a tribute band by any means. Those are all guys who were in the band toured with the band, and Jurgen — I look over at him and see that face, and it’s just an older version of what his dad looked like when I was in the band.”
Turner hopes to eventually record some new music with Over The Rainbow, which also includes drummer Bobby Rondinelli (1980-83), bassist Greg Smith (1994-97) and keyboardist Paul Morris (also 1994-97). And he’s pleased that the project has Ritchie Blackmore’s blessing, though Turner acknowledges the guitarist was “of two minds” when he initially approached him with the idea.
“(Blackmore) more or less blessed it,” Turner says. “He told Jurgen that, ‘You’re in very good hands with Joe and Bob.’ He felt his son would be well taken care of and that nobody was ripping him off of money.
“Ritchie had a little bit of a problem with anything (named) Rainbow, at first, but I said, ‘Ritch, you’ve got to have Rainbow in there somewhere, or the (booking) agency can’t sell it.’ It’s really perfect; this band is not the same band, but it does celebrate (Rainbow’s) incredible legacy.”
Over The Rainbow performs with Blue Oyster Cult at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (July 8) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $35.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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