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The bass behind Rainbow

Roger Glover talks purple, production and power | Roger Glover

Article from Music UK, November 1983

Glover on the Cover — Rainbow man talks Bass

Quote from a quietly spoken Roger Glover.

Watching Rainbow live on stage, this is undeniably true. However, alongside the charismatic man in black who oozes such a plethora of sound and texture from his guitar with awesome ease, is a smaller, less obvious figure, whose depth and versatility has escalated him to become one of the most sought after, and respected, musicians in the business. Having written, played, and performed in one of the most influential bands of the seventies, needless to say Deep Purple, and having produced top acts from the echelons of the rock world, (Status Quo, Nazareth, Rory Gallagher to name but a few) I thought it was high time the man was interviewed.

We had just under an hour to discuss a range of topics, from his days with Purple, right up to the present Rainbow album, before he he had to race to Heathrow to meet an aeroplane that would take him to Scandinavia, and yours truly had to race to Maida Vale to meet a typewriter that would take me to the land of nod! All in the aid of rock n'roll I suppose. (Hardlife, isn't it? Ed.)

Roger initially joined Rainbow in the capacity of producer, but after a period of readjustment found it possible to play under Ritchie, with whom he had once played as an equal in Deep Purple. Looking back on this period of his life with a great sense of nostalgia, Roger enthuses about some of the material he had co-written with the band. For example, Deep Purple's number one hit Black Night which was written and recorded in three hours, whilst the whole band were in a drunken stupor:

"We'd finished most of Deep Purple In Rock and the management said 'well, you've got to have a single.' In those days of course Cliff Richard ruled the charts — well that kind of music. It was very singles orientated. Album bands were really few and far between. Zeppelin had just come out that week. Cream and Hendrix were the only heavy things around really. Anyway, we were up in the studio, and we thought we'd humour the management. So about two o'clock in the afternoon we started to play around with this riff, that riff, this chord sequence, but we didn't know what the hell commercial meant. We didn't want to be commercial. We were saying all we wanted to say on the In Rock album.

"Come eight o'clock we'd had enough and gave up. We went down to the pub and got absolutely blitzed. Ritchie and I were the first ones back in the studios (Kingsway Recorders) and he picked up his guitar and started to play this riff. I said 'hey Ritchie that sounds great'. He's going 'no, no, we can't do that, I've nicked it. Rickie Nelson's Summertime.' 'Well I've never heard of that, let's do it'.

"By this time Ian Paice had wandered back, and all of us absolutely drunk, we started jamming. A chord sequence very quickly evolved, whatever came into our heads went down. Jon came back (Jon Lord) and he started jamming along with it, and bang — the backing track was done.

"Ian Gillan and myself stole the title from an old Arthur Alexander rhythm and blues called Black Night, and we sat down and tried to write the most banal lyrics we could think up. We actually tried to write stupid lyrics, ones that were ambiguous enough that couldn't quite be seen. We went to bed in a drunken stupor and woke up hungover with the phone ringing. The management were saying 'got your single', so we said 'hang on a minute, hold on, we were just having a laugh; maybe we'll use it as a B-side or something.' But they were convinced and it went to number one!"


What with Rainbow being primarily Ritchie's band, and Deep Purple being a band of five equal individuals, I was curious to know how Roger looked back on his fellow musicians, especially Ian Paice, who in my book alongside John Bonham and Keith Moon had influenced a whole generation of potential young drummers.

"Paice was absolutely stupendous. I thought at the time he was good, but didn't know how good. Now, looking back with hindsight I realise just how brilliant he was. His worth didn't come out till much later. At the time we were always complaining to him that he was playing too much. We always had a battle to get him to play less. I can judge him better these days, and it's only now that I can look back at Purple albums and judge them too".

The amalgamation of Roger Glover and Ian Paice was a pretty hot rhythm section to say the least. However, instruments aside, they both found a mutual interest — hanging around the control room, resulting in them both mixing and producing Deep Purple albums. Was it here that Roger's apprenticeship began?

"Well the band produced themselves. The first album all of us were there at the console pushing up various faders. Though gradually, through the career of the band, everyone seemed to lose interest except me and Ian Paice. That's where I learnt most about studios and production".

Am I right in saying then that production for you was purely accidental? Or had you always had a burning ambition to become a George Martin?

"No no, it was purely accidental. Producing ourselves didn't mean anything, it just meant we didn't have to pay someone else to tell us what to do. My role changed to an enormous degree when I came into Rainbow. I initially joined as a producer and a writer. Ronnie (Dio) had been Ritchie's co-writer for all the music up until that point, and when Ronnie left there was no-one else to do it.


"Ritchie knew I'd written a lot of lyrics and stuff, so on the first two albums, I did almost 100% of the co-writing. Then Joe (Lynn Turner) started to emerge as a writer, which is something I encouraged. As a producer I could see that was obviously the way to go because he was the singer. It would be much better if he'd got plenty of ideas to actually write them down. That would relieve some of the pressure on me to come up with lyrics and production and bass playing. So it's pretty much clearly defined right now; there's Ritchie doing music, Joe doing lyrics, and me doing the production".

Moving on to the equipment and gear that you use, how do you feel you've developed as a bass player?

"I was never happy with my bass sound in Purple. I swopped around from guitar to guitar, going from a Fender Precision to a Mustang to a Rickenbacker. I used to use Marshall amps in those days, both in the studio and live. But I was never really happy. Looking back on it now, it was probably better than I thought it was at the time. But it was always a problem for me.

"The year after I left Purple I bought a Gibson Thunderbird bass which maybe was a fluke or something, it was great. I wish I'd discovered it four years earlier!

"After Purple I didn't do any bass playing for six years. I was just producing. I played the odd bit in the studio here and there; but really nothing to talk of. I certainly didn't do any live stuff until I joined Rainbow. In fact I joined Rainbow after a jam in my house in England. It was me, Cozy (there's only one Cozy!!) Don Airey, and Ritchie. It was such a great jam that I just naturally fell back into playing bass again. Cozy and I got along very well, as bass and drums should and so I started again, and it really took me only two weeks to hit form. I've never been someone who practises a lot, whatever I do, I do naturally. I can't force practice. Ritchie always condemns me for that; says if I practised I'd be so much better, and he's probably right, I probably should do it, but it's not my character. My aim is not to be the best bass player since creation. Other things are more important to me.

"Anyway, when I joined Rainbow I inherited the Rainbow bass gear, a Crown 300 watt amp and Gauss speakers in custom cabinets. I used that for the first couple of years, but I wasn't really happy with them. By this time I'd gone through the Gibson Thunderbird, and was trying an Ovation Magnum which had active electronics. Then Fender Japan gave me a Fender Precision Special and I fell in love with it. About the same time I bought a Hondo Longhorn, which was a very, very cheap bass. It looks like an old Danelectro and it plays like a storm. It's fantastic. It's one of the best basses I've ever played. However, it's not suited to live work, there's not enough power live, but it works really well in the studio. So, I've been using that and the Fender in the studio. I changed my speakers a couple of years ago to ones from a company called "Bagend" who make speaker enclosures, they're based in Illinois. They're fairly expensive and smaller than the ones I previously had with Rainbow but I couldn't believe the difference in sound, they were so much tighter. Instead of the bass end flapping around, it just completely firmed up. So at the moment I'm fairly happy with the set up I've got. I'm still using the Crown 300 watt, and an Alembic pre-amp. I also go through a graphic but I don't use it much. Although I have that whole set-up in the studio, I tend to use a Polytone Mini Brute Three. It's just one twelve inch speaker in a little box about a foot high. It's fantastic for bass. I use the Fender and the Hondo through it."

So there's a real contrast in the gear that you use in the studio to that which you use live?

"Yes. I'm using the Polytone in the studio, and that's tiny. The actual amount of volume is not very great, but the dynamic range is pure. The bass end is firm, and the top end is bright, so you can play up and down the strings, and you don't have to use a lot of compression to get equality between the strings.

"I use the big stuff live, as Ritchie plays a certain way, and he's played that way ever since I've known him. He always has his Marshalls, and in fact his Marshall is now the most powerful amp in the world. It's unbelievable! Just with one set of speakers, and that amp set up in the studio, you can't even walk in the same room with it. It's ear-splitting — well in excess of 500 watts! It's a stupendous sound, he's really worked hard on it and that sound does remain constant, but having got used to the fact that he plays that way on stage, there's no way you can use less equipment. So the band has to be loud to complement that."

More from related artists

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Guitar Weekend A Knockout!

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Casio MT-800

Publisher: Music UK - Folly Publications

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Music UK - Nov 1983


Roger Glover



Related Artists:

Ritchie Blackmore

Interview by David Marx

Previous article in this issue:

> Guitar Weekend A Knockout!

Next article in this issue:

> Casio MT-800

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