By 1973, Blackmore had steered
Deep Purple through a significant personnel change, with
Ian Gillan and
Roger Glover being replaced by
David Coverdale and
Glenn Hughes. However, the new members were keen to add new musical styles and Blackmore found his request to record the
Steve Hammond-penned "Black Sheep of the Family" with "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" turned down by the band.
 He decided to record the song with Dio instead, using Dio's band
Elf as additional musicians.
 He enjoyed the results, and a full album, billed as
Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow was recorded between February and March 1975 at
Musicland Studios in
 The band name was inspired by the Rainbow Bar and Grill in
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, and, according to Blackmore, "I felt shivers down my spine." 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 and Dio also found a common ground in their sense of humour.
Following the positive experience of recording with Dio, Blackmore decided to leave Deep Purple, playing his last show in Paris in April.
 The album had a positive critical reception and was a top 20 UK and top 30 US hit. Blackmore's departure from Deep Purple was publicly announced on 21 June.
First world tour and initial success (1975–1978)
Blackmore was unhappy about carrying the Elf line-up along for live performances, and so he fired everybody except Dio shortly after the album was recorded, due to Driscoll's style of drumming and the funky bass playing of Gruber.
 Blackmore would continue to dictate personnel for the remainder of the band's lifetime, with drummer and former bandmate Ricky Munro remarking "he was very difficult to get on with because you never knew when he would turn around and say 'You're sacked'." Blackmore recruited bassist
Jimmy Bain, American keyboard player
Tony Carey and drummer
Cozy Powell, who had previously worked with
Jeff Beck and had some solo success.
 Powell also greatly appealed to Blackmore in their mutual fondness for
This line-up also commenced the first world tour for the band, with the first date in
Montreal on 10 November 1975. The centrepiece of the band's live performance was a computer-controlled rainbow including 3,000 lightbulbs, which stretched 40 feet across the stage. A second album,
Rising, was recorded in February at Musicland. By the time of the European dates in the summer of 1976, Rainbow's reputation as a blistering live act had been established. The band added Deep Purple's "
Mistreated" to their setlist, and song lengths were stretched to include improvisation. Carey recalls rehearsing the material was fairly straightforward, saying "We didn't work anything out, except the structure, the ending ... very free-form, really progressive rock." The album art was designed by famed fantasy artist
Ken Kelly, who had drawn
Conan the Barbarian.
In August 1976, following a gig at Newcastle City Hall, Blackmore decided to fire Carey, believing his playing style to be too complicated for the band. Unable to find a suitable replacement quickly, Carey was quickly reinstated, but as the world tour progressed onto Japan, he found himself regularly being the recipient of Blackmore's pranks and humour. Blackmore subsequently decided that Bain was substandard and fired him in January 1977. The same fate befell Carey shortly after. Blackmore, however, had difficulty finding replacements he liked. On keyboards, after auditioning several high-profile artists, including
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
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 him 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
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.
Commercial success (1978–1984)
Ian Gillan, also formerly of Deep Purple, to replace Dio, but Gillan turned him down. After a series of auditions, former singer/guitarist of
Graham Bonnet was recruited. Powell stayed, but Daisley and Stone were both fired, the latter replaced by keyboardist
Don Airey. At first the band auditioned bass players, but at Cozy Powell's suggestion Blackmore hired another former Deep Purple member,
Roger Glover, as a producer, bassist and lyricist.
 The first album from the new line-up,
Down to Earth, featured the band's first major singles chart successes, "All Night Long" and the
Russ Ballard-penned "
Since You Been Gone". In 1980, the band headlined the inaugural
Monsters of Rock festival at
Castle Donington in England. However, this was Powell's last Rainbow gig: he had already given his notice to quit, disliking Blackmore's increasingly
pop rock direction. Then Bonnet resigned to pursue a solo project.
For the next album, Bonnet and Powell were replaced by Americans
Joe Lynn Turner and
Bobby Rondinelli, respectively. The title track from
Difficult to Cure was a version of
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The album spawned their most successful UK single, "I Surrender" (another Ballard song), which reached No.3. After the supporting tour, Don Airey quit over musical differences and was replaced by
The band attained significant airplay on
Album-oriented rock radio stations in the US with the track "
Jealous Lover", reaching No. 13 on
Rock Tracks chart. Originally issued as the B-side to "Can't Happen Here", "Jealous Lover" subsequently became the title track to an EP issued in the US that featured very similar cover art to Difficult to Cure.
Rainbow's next full-length studio album was
Straight Between the Eyes. The album was more cohesive than Difficult to Cure, and had more success in the United States. The band, however, was alienating some of its earlier fans with its more AOR sound.
 The single "Stone Cold" was a ballad that had some chart success (No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's Rock Tracks chart) and its video received heavy airplay on
MTV. The successful supporting tour skipped the UK completely and focused on the American market. A date in
San Antonio, Texas, on this tour was filmed, and the resulting "Live Between the Eyes" also received repeated showings on MTV.
Bent Out of Shape saw drummer Rondinelli fired in favour of former
Chuck Burgi. The album featured the single "
Street of Dreams". Blackmore claims on his website that the song's video was banned by MTV for its supposedly controversial hypnotic video clip,
 but Dr.
Thomas Radecki of the National Coalition on Television Violence criticised MTV for airing the video, contradicting Blackmore's claim.
 The resulting tour saw Rainbow return to the UK, and also to Japan in March 1984 where the band performed "Difficult to Cure" with a full orchestra. The concert was also filmed.
Dissolution and temporary revival (1984–1997)
Rainbow's management Thames Talent co-ordinated attempts to successfully reform Deep Purple MK. II. By April 1984, Rainbow was disbanded. A then-final Rainbow album,
Finyl Vinyl, was pieced together from live tracks and B-sides of singles, including the instrumental "Weiss Heim" (All Night Long B-side), "Bad Girl" (Since You Been Gone B-side), and "Jealous Lover" (Can't Happen Here B-side).
In 1988, after joining the band
Impelliteri, Graham Bonnet covered "Since You Been Gone" on the group's debut album,
Stand In Line.
In 1993 Blackmore left Deep Purple permanently due to "creative differences" with other members, and reformed Rainbow with all-new members featuring Scottish singer
Doogie White. The band released
Stranger in Us All in 1995, and embarked on a lengthy world tour.
The tour proved very successful, and the show in
Düsseldorf, Germany, was professionally filmed for the
Rockpalast TV show. This show, initially heavily bootlegged (and considered by many collectors to be the best Rainbow bootleg of the era), was officially released by
Eagle Records on CD and DVD as Black Masquerade in 2013.
 The live shows featured frequent changes in set lists, and musical improvisations that proved popular with bootleggers and many shows are still traded over a decade later.
However, Blackmore turned his attention to his long-time musical passion, Renaissance and medieval music. Rainbow was put on hold once again after playing its final concert in Esbjerg, Denmark in 1997. Blackmore, together with his partner
Candice Night as vocalist then formed the Renaissance-influenced
Blackmore's Night. Around the same time as production of Stranger in Us All (1995), they were already gearing up their debut album
Shadow of the Moon (1997).
Many Rainbow songs have been performed live by former members of the band since the group's split in 1984 and then in 1997, particularly former frontmen
Ronnie James Dio,
Graham Bonnet and
Joe Lynn Turner in recent years. Also,
Don Airey often plays 1979-1981 era songs during his solo shows.
Blackmore's Night occasionally performs one or two Rainbow songs live, namely "Ariel", "Rainbow Eyes", "Street of Dreams" and "Temple of the King". The latter three were also re-recorded by Blackmore's Night in studio.
In 2002–2004 the
Hughes Turner Project played a number of Rainbow songs at their concerts. On 9 August 2007
Joe Lynn Turner and
Graham Bonnet played a tribute to Rainbow show in Helsinki, Finland. The concert consisted of songs from the 1979-1983 era.
In 2009, Joe Lynn Turner, Bobby Rondinelli, Greg Smith and Tony Carey created the touring tribute band
Over The Rainbow with Jürgen Blackmore (Ritchie's son) as the guitarist. Over The Rainbow performed songs from every era of the band's history. After the first tour Tony Carey had to leave the band due to health concerns; he was replaced by another former Rainbow member, Paul Morris.
In 2015, Blackmore announced that he would play "all rock" concerts in the summer of 2016 under the banner of "Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow", his first rock shows since 1997. The new Rainbow line-up was announced on November 6, 2015. It featured
Lords of Black singer
Jens Johansson, Blackmore's Night drummer
David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau (Bob Curiano).
The band headlined German edition of the legendary "Monsters of Rock" festival. They debuted on 17 June 2016 at the picturesque Loreley Freilichtbuhne, an open-air show in front of an audience of estimated 15,000. On 18 June they played another open-air date in front of 30,000 fans in Bietigheim-Bissingen (Festplatz am Viadukt). The third and final show took place at the Birmingham
Genting Arena in England.
 During the three shows the band played for estimated 60,000 people.
Asked if Rainbow were planning to record a new album, bassist Bob Curiano replied, "I'd love to go into the studio with this Rainbow. All we need is Ritchie to say, 'Let's go!' I think all of us feel under pressure, because of the fans' expectations. For me, the pressure makes me work harder and get better results."
 However, Blackmore said that they had no plans for a new album or world tour, and that the reunion was "just a few dates for fun."
 Blackmore also said that Rainbow have received many offers to do "few more shows again" in the future.
Despite an earlier decision not to release new music, Blackmore revealed in a May 2017 interview with
Burrn! magazine that Rainbow have been in the studio recording two new tracks. Blackmore stated, "I wrote one new song, and also recorded one of the old ones. Ronnie, who is in Madrid now, added his vocals and sent it back. Rather than make an album, we may release as singles."
Rainbow embarked on a four-date UK tour in June 2017. The tour kicked off with the band's first show in London since 1995 at the second annual Stone Free Festival at
The O2, followed by shows in Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham.