While Graham Bonnet‘s time with Rainbow was brief, that time would be unthinkable without him as the band’s lead singer. But Bonnet’s conversation with Classic Album Review revealed that he initially didn’t see himself as the right fit for the band and nearly backed out from Ritchie Blackmore‘s offer to be the vocalist.
Deep Purple and Rainbow bassist Roger Glover had been working with Bonnet’s friend Mickey Moody’s band Whitesnake’s album. Fate would have it. Blackmore had heard the ‘Only One Woman’ song several times and wanted to meet, and through Glover and Moody, the offer was set on the table for an audition.
Bonnet was not familiar with Rainbow or their sound, and once he saw and heard what they were about and their backstory with Deep Purple, the singer didn’t see himself as the best fit for the band. However, after his audition, he was offered the job. Although Bonnet had reservations, such as his appearance, and was initially hesitant to accept the offer, his manager convinced him to take it seriously and give it his best shot.
Graham Bonnet’s words about almost backing away from Rainbow:
“Richie Blackmore had heard the ‘Only One Woman’ song a few times, and he said, ‘Where is this guy now?’ and Roger [Glover] said, ‘Well, I can get hold of him through Mickey Moody.’ so Mickey gave Roger Glover my phone number. Roger Glover got in touch with me and said, ‘Will you come over to audition for Rainbow?’ and I said, ‘Okay.’ But I wasn’t sure who they were, so I asked my manager who they were; he said, ‘Well, they have a good reputation as a heavy rock band.’ He said, ‘They used to be Deep Purple, a couple of the guys,’ oh okay, Deep Purple ‘Smoke on the Water,’ blah blah blah, and so I said, ‘But who are they?’ so what I did was buy the albums of the stuff when Ronnie [James Dio] was singing with them obviously and I said to my manager, ‘I don’t think this is the right thing for me. I don’t want to be in the band.’ He said, ‘Well, go over there, do the audition, and see what you think.'”
“I learned one song called ‘Mistreated,’ and that was my audition piece, yeah, so I went over there and sang with the band a couple of times, and they gave me the job there and then. I said, ‘Well, thank you,’ it was one of those ‘can I think about it?’ moments, you know? So I went back to London because they were recording in Switzerland, and I went back to London and said to my manager, ‘I don’t think I’m right for this. They all have the heavy metal look, you know, the spandex pants and all that or whatever they were wearing.’ I said, ‘I don’t look like them,’ for one thing, you know I have my short hair, and I still do, and all the rest of it. They weren’t like me, and I thought I was going to be better off just being a solo artist, and he said, ‘No, I think you should really do this; take it seriously, and it’d be a good move.”
Although Graham had several reasons to back away from the opportunity of a lifetime, his manager convinced him otherwise, and it turned out to be a good move like they hoped it would. As a result, he was the singer of two hit singles, ‘Since You Been Gone’ and ‘All Night Long.’ The short-lived tenure was the right move to prepare him for his next venture in the industry with other bands and as a solo artist.