Interview with Bob Daisley

Bass legend Bob Daisley has played with some of the biggest names in the business: Rainbow, Ozzy, Uriah Heep, Gary Moore, and Yngwie Malmsteen, amongst others. Metal Express Radio caught up with Bob to chat about the release of the long awaited Hoochie Coochie Men album

You are currently in London for a few days laying down tracks for the new Hoochie Coochie Men album. As this is a Blues-based project, is this where your heart is bearing in mind your past involvement with the likes of Chicken Shack?

My influences since being a teenager, even the “white” bands that I used to listen to, were always Blues influenced like Cream and early Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart singing, Led Zeppelin, and Jethro Tull and bands like that. It was always the more Bluesy stuff for me, and to be honest with you I wasn’t really a big fan of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath at the time. I suppose it has always been where my heart was.

We started doing the backing tracks and the basics over here in Australia and we’ve brought everything over to London. We’d recorded Jon Lord’s parts in Olympic Studios in Barnes, London. It really came as a result of the Live DVD that we did and we thought that we should really do a studio album.

Is this going to be an album of original material or your interpretation of classic songs, or a mixture of both?

There’s a couple of classic Blues tracks on there, and our interpretation of them or our arrangement of them, but there’s a lot of original material on there as well. It’s a little bit of a crossover from basic authentic Blues, it’s a bit harder and has a bit of a Rock edge to it, and there’s a bit more of an involved arrangement to it. It’s very interesting stuff. I suppose it still falls into the category of Blues, but with a heavier side to it.

How did Jon Lord become involved in this project?

A couple of years ago Jon Lord was over here and we did a show in Sydney at a place called The Basement, and this was filmed and a live DVD and album were released. I knew Jon from way back and I knew this guy who was a promoter in Melbourne, and he was promoting Jon’s Classical shows at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Drew Thompson, who was the promoter, was also doing some stuff with the Hoochies and he said that Jon was in Sydney and asked if I knew him, which I did. He was at Whale Beach, which is not too far from me on the Northern beaches of Sydney, so Jon and I got together and had dinner and we decided to do some shows in Melbourne, Queensland, and Sydney, and it was at the Sydney show that the live DVD was recorded.

Ian Gillan and Jimmy Barnes are also guesting on the album.

That’s right. Jimmy Barnes guested when we played at The Basement when we did the live thing. He got up and did a few songs there. Obviously, there’s a connection with Jimmy also through the Living Loud project that we were both involved in. Ian is also going to be singing on the album.

Have they done their parts yet?

Jimmy has yet to do his. He’s in the UK at the moment and will be back any day now. Ian is due out on the road in America and we are going to try to get his tracks done either before his tour or he might be out over here in Sydney towards the end of the year. It depends on how much time he’s got as to if we can squeeze him in sooner.

Jeff Duff is also contributing vocals to the album. This is a name some may not be familiar with … can you tell me about him?

He was in a band in the UK in the late 70s/early 80s called Duffo and had a couple of mild hits, but didn’t really break the surface of the scene. He has a really good voice and for a “white” guy, he sounds quite “black.” He has a touch of David Clayton-Thomas from Blood Sweat and Tears about him. His voice really suits the stuff.

Also due for imminent release is the Rainbow DVD, Live in Munich, which is apparently the only known full concert of the Dio-era line-up. Have you had much involvement with the DVD?

Not really, that was out of our hands. I don’t know who had the rights to the recordings, but it would have been nice to go into the studio and work with the original masters and be able to mix it. They did a pretty good job, though, it sounds pretty good, it has a good edge to it.

Eagle Vision have done a great job with the DVD. Are you pleased with it?

They’ve done a great job with it. It’s nice to see it packaged nicely with the booklet and mini-program and the bonus material. You know it’s really nice to see that finally released officially. It’s been knocking around for years as a bootleg with third, fourth, and fifth generation quality with shitty sound and vision, but it’s good to see it out properly. We did that originally as a TV show in Germany. The TV station in Germany filmed it and showed it in Germany and it’s never officially been released. I did a new interview for the DVD, talking of my time in Rainbow. The little program in there is the actual program from the tour, because I supplied the program, which was in mint condition so the program that you get in there is actually my program!

How does it feel watching the footage after so many years?

In some ways, it’s bad! You know, looking at yourself almost 30 years ago can be a bit strange, I wish I looked like that now!

There is also a companion CD to accompany the DVD?

That’s right, there’s a double CD as well with the songs from the DVD. Without watching the film and listening to the CD, it’s a different ball game because you get to hear it better than if you’re just sitting there listening to it and watching it. A lot of attention goes into watching the visuals, but if you listen to the CD you think, bloody hell, that was a good band, if I do say so myself.

Going back to those days, how did you get the call to join Rainbow?

I was in a band called Widowmaker and I was doing the second USA tour in 1977, and the tour was winding up in L.A. around July. I went to see a mate of mine, Dick Middleton, who I’d worked with in Mungo Jerry. He was a reputable guitarist from the old school and he was a mate of Ritchie Blackmore’s and he said “Oh, by the way, Ritchie Blackmore is looking for a bass player, would you be interested?” And I said “Well, as a matter of fact, I would be.” Widowmaker was in some ways pissing me off as they were just acting unprofessionally and were always arguing and fighting, often physically fighting and it was getting a bit much. I thought f**k it. So Dick, Ritchie, and I went out for a beer and a chat and he asked if I fancied coming down to play and I said, “Certainly!” So I went down to an old film studio in L.A. and Ritchie put me through the paces and got me to play various bits and pieces in various styles and in certain ways. He wanted a bass player who played with a pick for that sort of real precision, punchy sound, which was natural for me ‘cos I played with a pick anyway.

It must have been a bit nervy for you to have to go through that?

Well, it was in a way. There was Cozy Powell who was a big name drummer and Ronnie who’s a great singer and Ritchie Blackmore who was a legend, but you know I just took it all in stride and thought sod it and gave it a go, ‘cos I’m just like that.

Were you wary of Blackmore’s reputation when you joined?

I’d been given some warnings before I took the gig. After the audition I was offered the job and I said that I’d think about it. Other people thought I was out of my mind. The reason I wanted to think about it was partly due to some loyalty to Widowmaker and partly due to the warnings about Ritchie. Sort of “Oh, he’ll chew you up and spit you out,” or “you’ll be a sideman” or “you’ll be out in three months.” I remember phoning my wife in England who told me to just do it as it’d be a good career move. I think one of the last shows with Widowmaker was at the Whiskey A Go Go in L.A. and at the end of it there were punch ups and arguments and I thought that was it … the decision was made for me. Ritchie came to that show to watch us and he’d gone up to the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Boulevard and he was waiting for me there. After all the fighting, I thought that was it and I said to them that I was going up to the Rainbow, which was kind of symbolic really. I walked into the Rainbow and Ritchie was sitting there and he actually applauded when I walked in and I thought that that was a good sign!

Were you aware that Jimmy Bain had been fired and rehired and fired again, Mark Clark had come and gone, as had original bass player Craig Gruber …. and around 40 bass players had been auditioned before you joined?

That’s what I was told, that 40 or so bass players had been auditioned before they said I was it. So it was nice to know that they had been through so many players and they had said I was the one.

Your first job on joining Rainbow was to head out on the road into Europe and it was on this tour that the DVD was filmed. What are your memories of the tour?

The tour hadn’t been going that long when that show was done, probably about a month or so. I think the tour originally was meant to start in Helsinki, and for some reason, whether the trucks didn’t turn up with the gear or something, we didn’t make it, but the first show ended up in Stockholm and we toured through Scandinavia and into Europe. I had probably been in the band about three months in total at that point. The show was recorded in Germany, but had only been on the road for about a month.

Was it was a pretty tight performance bearing in mind you hadn’t been together as a unit for too long?

We’d done quite a lot of rehearsals in L.A. for about a month, then went back to England and did a couple of dress rehearsals in London before going out on the road, so we were pretty well rehearsed at that point.

Blackmore was known for long improvised solos and instrumental passages. How much of a challenge was it playing with him? Was it difficult knowing where he was heading musically during the course of the set?

A lot of it was improvised, but within boundaries that were already rehearsed, so it looked more improvised than it actually was! It was well-rehearsed and quite disciplined. At certain parts he’d give me a nod or a wink type of thing so we’d know when to come in.

Playing with Cozy Powell must be a dream for a bass player, how do you feel you interacted with Cozy?

Very well. It took a couple of weeks to get used to his drumming, like it does with any drummer, but we worked very well together. He pushed in certain places and cut corners, but once I got used to that, we got on well together musically and off-stage as mates.

David Stone was the keyboard player on that tour but apparently Tony Carey was involved with the band around that time. Did you play with Tony at any time?

Tony Carey was there originally, but I don’t think he and Ritchie got on very well, I think he had something against keyboard players!! Ritchie liked to play practical jokes on people and had a bit of a twisted sense of humour, and I think Tony took the brunt of that at times. David Stone was another keyboard player who came in after Tony and he had to deal with Ritchie as well. Listening to the double CD, just as an album, David Stone is a better player than I remember. I knew he was good and had no real problem with him, but listening to his parts and solos he’s actually better than I remembered him being. He was very, very good.

Do you know what David Stone is up to now?

I haven’t had a chat with David Stone since back then, probably 1978 or 1979. I had contact with Ritchie and certainly with Cozy and quite often with Ronnie but nothing with David so I don’t know what he’s up to. He was in a band in Toronto called Symphonic Slam but I haven’t had any contact with him and don’t know anyone else who has.

After the tour you went into the studio to record Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. Apparently some of the bass parts on the album were handled by Ritchie and some are the parts originally done by Jimmy Bain. Is this right or did you play on the entire album?

I think because they were in between bass players and because of the bass players they had had, Ritchie did some of the bass parts on some of the tracks before I got there. For me if you listen it, he doesn’t sound like a real bass player, it just sounds like someone playing the parts and going through the motions. Ritchie was good physically at playing the bass but he didn’t think or feel like a bass player. He didn’t have that interesting choice of notes or parts as a bass player but he is a great guitarist. I actually played on “Kill The King”, “Gates of Babylon” and I think “Sensitive to Light.”

“Gates of Babylon” is the absolute highlight of the album and is one of Rainbow’s finest moments.

The whole song was put together after I’d joined the band and I was really happy with that song, the way it all turned out, the recording of the drums and bass together and doing it like a band. Ronnie would go off into his room and write the lyrics and Ritchie’s solo on that was brilliant. That’s one of my highlights of my Rainbow career.

Did you ever play that one live?

No we didn’t do that one.

Over the years you have gained a reputation as a talented songwriter, did you have any input into the Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll sessions as a writer or arranger?

Ritchie and Ronnie were the writers in the band and they didn’t really need anyone else. I suppose for them it was pointless having someone else try to put ideas in or coming in on something that didn’t need it. It was a bit like when I worked with Gary Moore, although there were a couple of songs that we did and a couple of ideas that came up that other people had input into but Gary was pretty self sufficient with his song writing. Same with Ronnie and Ritchie, they kind of monopolised it. It wasn’t really a band thing it was more “Well, we’ve got this idea and this is how it goes” , which is fair enough!!

Where did the recording sessions for the album take place?

They took place in an old chateau actually called Le Chateau and it was far from everything! It was a good environment to record in, but a lot of the time when there were vocal things going on or overdubs or Ritchie’s parts then we were sitting around like spare dicks with nothing to do. You couldn’t watch T.V ‘cos it was all in French so we’d often sit in front of the fire and get pissed!

How was it working with Martin Birch?

I thought he was a very good engineer. I don’t know how much of a producer he actually was. He may have developed into a producer later on but he was a great engineer.

Were there any tracks recorded that weren’t used on the album?

No! As things had been postponed and put back there was a certain amount of urgency to get it done and get it out so there was no time for any left over tracks so what we recorded was on the album.

Rumour has it that the Chateau was haunted. Did you experience any odd goings on?

You’ll notice a note on the album sleeve where it says “ Thanks to…….” And then it says “and no thanks to Baal” It was supposed to be the force or demon or something. There were things that went on. Ritchie had a lot of séances there and the lights would go off and stuff like that.

Did you play much of the new material on the subsequent tour in support of Long Live Rock n Roll?

I don’t think we did. I think we only played the title track and “Kill The King” We were doing “Kill The King” before we even recorded that song. We were playing that one from the off as soon as I joined. When we started the tour in Scandinavia we opened the set with that one.

By the end of the Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll tour a year after its release Blackmore decided to change the line up again. At what point did you realise that it was time for you to move on?

I suppose when we were doing the American tour in ’78 which went on for quite a while, about 5 months or something and it was towards the end of that tour, I remember Ronnie pulled me to one side and said if the band folded would I be interested in getting something together. I was interested as I liked working with him and I thought that if I wasn’t in Rainbow with him I may as well be in another band with him doing something else. He was the one who said it was a possibility but I didn’t really know it was going to happen. Later, I think around the end of 1978 came the crunch and there wasn’t that version of Rainbow anymore and Ritchie kept on Cozy for a little while and then he went. I heard many, many years, later, in fact quite recently, that Ritchie only wanted to get Roger Glover back in the band because he and Ronnie were going to part company and as he was Ritchie ‘s song writing partner and if didn’t have his partner then he wanted someone else in the band so he got his old Deep Purple mate back in the band which was Roger Glover. I think the essence of it was that I didn’t really have much of a reputation for writing although I’d done a bit with Widowmaker and I think Ritchie was playing it safe by getting in his old song writing partner.

How did you feel about Rainbow after you had left?

I think that was a different band to what Rainbow turned into. The later stuff though, you can’t knock it as they had success and hit records but for me it lost a bit of credibility of the hard heavy sound that they did have. It was poppy almost and it wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m glad I was in the line up that I was in, it was ballsy, mans music..ha ha!!

Were you still around as Graham Bonnet and Don Airey joined the line up?

I’d gone by then and had no involvement at all in the pre-production work on the next album.

Bearing in mind it’s almost 30 years since your stint in Rainbow and you recorded one studio album and have done many projects since, does it bother you that many still associate you with Rainbow more than your other projects or are you proud of the impact you had with the band?

I’m very proud to have been in the band and I feel very proud listening to the stuff we did and bearing in mind I had only been in the band for a few weeks when the Live in Munich CD show was recorded. There is an association of me being in Rainbow but there’s been lots of associations since with Ozzy, Uriah Heep and Gary Moore and all the other stuff. Being associated with a band like that I do feel proud especially when I quite often hear people say or read it in print that they consider that line up to be the classic line up.

A few years back there were strong rumours of Rainbow getting back together with yourself, Cozy, Dio and Blackmore. How close was the reunion to becoming a reality?

I’d spoken to Cozy and he was up for it and Ronnie was ready for it. I’d actually spoken to Cozy at length a few times about it and he was like “Yeah, let’s see if we can get this happening” and not long after that Cozy was killed and the idea went out of the window after that.

Would you still be up for it now if the opportunity arose?

Possibly, but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then and we’re turning into old farts now!! I think there’d still be a good turn out though as that was a legendary band and everyone involved has done so much.

Have you played with any of your old band mates since your time in the band?

I did a tour with Ronnie back in 1998 when his bass player couldn’t play and Ronnie had a 3 week tour of Scandinavia booked and I flew over to L.A to do some rehearsals then went back over to play the shows. He was in fine voice and it was all very good. That was the first time I’d played with him since the Rainbow days. Ronnie still has a great voice. I don’t think he’ll ever lose it, you know he could continue until he was 80 and still sing rock.

Was it intended as a short term project or did you think it would become something more permanent?

No, there were sort of hints of it becoming more permanent at the time but nothing really came of it.

Just to round things off, what have you got lined up in the coming months and do you have any plans for any live shows in UK?

When I did the Jon Lord tracks on the Hoochie Coochie Men album, Jon was like “Whoah!, let’s tour with this!” He was really pleased how good the songs were sounding and how well it was all coming together and we could well take The Hoochie Coochie Men featuring Jon Lord on the road.

What about Living Aloud, what’s the position with them?

It’s a little difficult as not only is everyone in different bands but in different countries as well.

If you got a support slot on the forthcoming Deep Purple tour in the UK that could sort out two of the members!

Ha ha!! Yes, there’s a window of opportunity there!! When Steve Morse was over in Australia with Purple, Steve and I went over to Jimmy Barnes place to knock out a couple of songs. So there’s some ideas for the next album and there WILL be a next album, it’s just getting the opportunity to get everyone together at the same time to write and record it.

Is anything happening with your old bands Widowmaker and Kahvas Jute?

I don’t think there’s anything happening with the Widowmaker material that I know of but Kahvas Jute is one of my favourite old bands, I loved that band and it was straight from the heart. It was ballsy progressive rock and we didn’t want to be commercial or have hit singles. The album from 1971 has just been rereleased with bonus tracks and we did a reunion show at The Basement in Sydney and that’ll be out as a live DVD. So I’ve got quite a few things on the go at the moment so things are pretty interesting at the moment.

For more information on Bob Daisley visit his Web site at


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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