Perhaps the most elusive of all Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow members is David Stone. Stone had been in the progressive rock trio Symphonic Slam before joining Rainbow. He appeared after previous keyboardist Tony Carey left after Blackmore played too many pranks on him. Stone (along with new bass player Bob Daisley) joined Rainbow to tour Europe in 1977. They would then complete the third album Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll. Stone’s biggest contribution to Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow would also be a high point: “Gates of Babylon.” This is a song with soaring vocals by Ronnie James Dio, unusual chord structures for Blackmore and backed with an orchestra. Yet despite the musical complexity of the song, it is loud and heavy for the metal fans to enjoy. Blackmore fan Yngwie Malmsteen has stated that “Gates of Babylon” is a high point.
Yet this lineup, like all Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow lineups, would not last until the next record. After Rainbow, David Stone played with Max Webster on the Universal Juveniles album and tour. He has not been heard on the music scene since then.
I always liked David’s work on “Gates of Babylon” and wonder what happened to him. Because of the low profile David has kept, it would take me a few years to find him. (I am still looking for Rod Evans: if anyone knows of him, please contact me.) Once I did, I found the amount of the time was worth the wait. First off, I have interviewed several musicians who played with Ritchie Blackmore. Out of all musicians who had good stories on Ritchie, David had the best by a long shot. In fact, there were so many stories that could have made for a whole bio on Rainbow from 1977-1978. However, because this interview is about David, not Blackmore or Rainbow, we had to limit the amount of stories we could tell. However, the stories on Ritchie are by far some of the most interesting stories for this blog. In addition, there has some been mystery on who played keyboards on the Long Live Rock’n’Roll album because Tony Carey was still in the band when they started recording. However, David not only clears that up but it turns out Long Live Rock’n’Roll was not the only Rainbow album David played on. To find out which album that was, read the interview.
In this interview, we talk about David’s time and contributions to Rainbow, what he did before and after Rainbow and what he is currently up to. I want to thank David’s son Jordan Lazaruk and David’s close friend, Clayton Priske who helped me find David and set up this interview. But most of all, I want to thank David.
Jeff Cramer: Alright, so how did you get into music initially?
DS: Oh, I was really lucky that way. My dad is a great, great piano player, and went through the Conservatory. So they started me in the Conservatory when I was five years old. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
JC: So you learned a lot there?
DS: Well, I got all your technical ability. I mean, the old “practice an hour a day,” next thing you know, your hands can do anything you can think of if you want to play, you know?
JC: Right. In the Conservatory to start, they usually train in classical music. When did you start going into rock-n-roll?
DS: Well, what’s really cool is my dad was working as a professional musician, you know, he was playing jazz.
DS: And he was very good. So I mean I knew at an early age that like – that my father was improvising when he was the lead. He would do that for jazz standards and things like that. But basically he took like the theory of music and applied it to his job, you know, like all jazz musicians. So I just couldn’t wait to start doing that myself, improvising – taking the form of music and playing around with it. Getting off the curriculum from the Conservatory and following your own path of what you want to learn.
DS: Again, I was very lucky that way. My dad had a huge collection of jazz albums. My uncle had a huge collection of jazz albums in the late ’50s, you know, when jazz was in its heyday. So I’ve been listening to just great great great stuff like since I was five, six seven years old. I thought it was so clever, I would actually teach to myself some of it, you know, some of the stuff that my father would have. Like Dave Brubeck, you know, West Coast jazz. Yeah.
JC: The first group that I know that you were in before Rainbow was Symphonic Slam.
DS: Yeah, that was really interesting. I was – I had been in bands since I was 13 years old. But by the time I was 18 I was doing pretty good. I was, you know, I was making a decent living as a musician and playing all the bars in Ontario, which was a real big deal back then. You would play six nights a week and you could make quite a living, so I got full-time as well as, I was going to New York for part-time for music. And it was working, it was through an agency, so they would – what they would do is they would take me and put me in the band that needed me the most
And a couple guys walked into a big bar in London, Ontario and said they were, you know, the leader of the band Symphonic Slam and he wanted to put together like what was considered super-group, so he was looking for the best guys he could find.
David (far right) in Symphonic Slam
DS: And we immediately go into the recording studio and, you know, it was a pretty major contract; I think it was around $500,000.00. But a quite a big deal for me: I was like 19, so it was quite a merry-go-round right away. And I was getting out of the bars and was on a retainer and signed to a record contract. It changed – kind of changed my life dramatically.
JC: Now that band did not have a bass player. Was it you that was playing bass on that?
DS: I was actually known for that by then, ’cause my music in the early ’70s, you know, everybody was starting to use synthesizers. So a very popular way to use them was for playing bass instead of using a bass guitar. Like in the early ’70s would be like Gino Vannelli.
JC: Yeah. I am a huge Gino Vannelli fan. I saw him live last month.
DS: His brother Joe was very good at it. Stevie Wonder, those first couple albums just – that was all done on Moogs; Gino, he was playing all the bass lines on that. Synthesizer, you know, and building up all the tracks, with Moog synthesizer and Clavinets.
So I immediately gravitated towards that, a great thing to do. And then I sort of got a reputation for it and people would hire me to play that bass. And with Symphonic Slam, they wanted to fully synthesize the sound, so that was one of the reasons why they, you know, they offered the position I was in. [Hear David play bass and synthesizer on Symphonic Slam’s “Modane Train” by clicking here.]
JC: What happened with Symphonic Slam before we get to Rainbow?
DS: Well, it went great. We got a bunch of Junos – we were up for a couple of Junos. I think it went gold. We got major airplay and play 2,000 shows. We backed up Gentle Giant, headlined Massey Hall, did the community college circuit, that kind of stuff and all that.
JC: I think Symphonic Slam also backed up Rush.
DS: Uh, no, other than Rush were doing the same thing we were. They were experimenting with a lot of synthesizer stuff, like Geddy Lee, was. Next thing, he’s using Oberheim, he’s using the Moog Bass Pedals I am doing. We all want to do the same thing. We all want to use the new stuff. It was an exciting time. It was going good. There was no real reason for me to leave the band except I got the big call from LA to do Rainbow.
JC: Now we get to the call in LA. How did you get the call?
DS: Oh, that was the craziest thing. You know, I get bored easily. We just finished the studio album. We’re rehearsing for doing the big shows. And, you know, this is not the kind of band that can just do bars. Its showcases or big shows. So, inevitably, I had a lot of spare time on my hands and I was under retainer. So I was in the position to go out and do something else full time. I could go out and do as much work as I wanted and fit it around the band’s schedule.
So, what I went up doing is grabbing as much studio work as I could, immediately. Which was great for me,’cause I got to meet a lot of people. I am still only 21 years old. I got to meet a lot of people, I got to work on a lot of projects, I got to go work in many studios. I was working out of Thunder Sound in Toronto. It was originally called Toronto Sound, it was a very famous studio in the late ’60s, early ’70s, it was probably the top in town, probably the top two or three. All the big jazz guys recorded there and I was in or out there recording what was called Demo work. A songwriter would come in and I would make the song suitable for a band situation, like guitar, bass, keyboards and background vocals. And I would sort of produce a demo so it was for publishing purposes. A publisher would be able to sell the song to a major artist so they could hear in the form they would probably want to play it itself. So I ended getting a lot of work like that. Learning how to create: A great learning curve.
I worked with Skip Prokop. Skip was the leader and drummer in Lighthouse. We did all the demo work for 3 Dog Night at the time. Like we would, we record 25 songs and we record them in the genre that they would play them in, so they could hear them. I did a fair amount of work with Skip. It was nice hiring work, pretty nice for a young guy like me. It was like, oh my God, I can be a pro. I can be as good as the top guys and do what they do. Yeah, it was great. It was just great. [To hear a sample of David’s studio work, click here to hear a minute of “Seeds ‘n Stems.”]
A guy in the studio at the time, Bob Segarini, he had a song called “Goodbye LA” and he had an album around then and he was doing OK. And I got a phone call at home and Bob was in the studio and he said, “You’re not gonna believe this, but we got a call from the manager, from Ritchie Blackmore.” I was getting airplay from Symphonic Slam in LA and he heard the keyboards on Symphonic Slam’s stuff on a major rock station in LA. On that basis alone, his manage phoned me, offered me accommodation, a departing and return ticket on a class plane, even a work visa, and then asked, “Why don’t you come audition for Ritchie Blackmore’s new band Rainbow?” And that’s the message I got from Bob, ’cause I wasn’t in the studio to take the call and it’s the biggest shock I ever got in my life. Within 24 hours, I was on a plane down to Hollywood.
JC: So you get the call from LA, you go down there?
DS: Highly exciting stuff.
JC: Right, so you audition by this point. What is the lineup by this point? There’s Ronnie, Ritchie, and Cozy…
DS: Ronnie, I meet the very first night. Cozy and Ritchie.
JC: Was Bob in the band at that point?
DS: No, they pick up Bob after me. In fact, I went down to the Whisky A Go-Go with Ritchie and Cozy. Ronnie stayed home a lot. He was more of a married guy. We went down to the Whisky and Bob was playing with the guitar player of Mott the Hoople, Luther Grovesnor.
JC: Aw, yes, Widowmaker.
DS: And Bob was playing bass for these guys. I don’t know how Ritchie was turned on to Bob, but Bob was good with a pick. He was a good bass player and he played with a pick. Ritchie was very very specific, he wanted a bass player with a pick.
JC: OK, back to the audition. What was the audition like for Ritchie?
DS: Oh, it was nuts. I am in a great sexy Hollywood hotel. I am surrounded by rock stars. I had never been out of the Canadian music scene once up to this point in my life and you got a full production, full-blown rehearsal studio in the Columbia lot in East Hollywood. I go rehearse in the place that’s the size of four high school gymnasiums. I got Toto rehearsing besides me, Jackson Browne rehearsing besides me, Stevie Wonder comes in for a couple weeks to rehearse, Weather Report, it was just insane. And they’re not telling me anything. I walk in. It’s like a full-blown stage setup for a major band.
And they ask me, “Here’s the big keyboard setup, is there anything they would like to change?” And it’s back to the older days, like it’s really loud, Marshall Stacks. My gear has got 12,000 or 15,000 watts. It’s real overkill. And it’s back to ’50s instruments. Me, I was into Minimoogs or Clavinets and Mellotrons. But in this music, you gotta have the Hammond in it. You know the Hammond is what made Deep Purple Deep Purple and countless other bands at the time too. You know, immediately I focus back on the Hammond and tried to integrate the Minimoogs. And I was big on Minimoogs and Clavinets. I was using the early ’70s instruments. But Blackmore’s thing being hard rock, it’s a bit of a more. The thing was, the Hammond organ was at the forefront of that music. The b-3, the big Hammond, I used to play that a lot as a teenager, but that thing fell by the wayside. Once they got to Deep Purple in Rock, Jon Lord was running his Hammond through a Marshall stack and he did that with Deep Purple, first off, to be as loud – just to be heard. And also, I guess, just to get that grind – that Marshall amp grind to blend with the guitar. But that never appealed to me. I don’t mind distortion on the Hammond at all. I’ve always had some distortion, but I just never – it never appealed to me to hear a Hammond through a straight static amplifier. The volume was no – it was loud enough to deafen anyone in a gymnasium, but the sound was just so brittle and so shallow. And so I dragged in a couple of Leslies – rotating speakers that were designed in the ’30s and they’re just so horribly underpowered, and you’re in a high volume situation with Marshall amps and that, and he wasn’t happy about that at all, but he let it go. So, what I ended up doing was having to stack the two Leslies offstage in a big, huge lined tent, and they were mic’d up, and then they would send the mic lines back to me, and then I had this massive monitoring rig. I would run the two Leslies – I don’t know if you care about this stuff – but I would run one Leslie quieter than the other to get less distortion on it. I would mic the top rotor of the Leslie that was more distorted so the top end was nice and grindy, but I would mic the bottom rotor of the Leslie that was quieter so there was less distortion so that the bottom end would be cleaner and warmer, and you could tell what I was doing more. It was more – the musical note was still in really good shape without being turned into square-wave. I just loved that sound – it was the happiest I ever was with the Hammond.
You know, immediately I focus back on the Hammond and tried to integrate the Minimoogs. The Moog bass pedals. Blackmore loved them so much he got a pair next week. Well, Blackmore – he never used any pedals ever. Like, he never used a wah-wah. He never used a fuzz tone. He never used anything that’s typical. He’s a straight wire guy. But, the only thing he would use is a reel to reel tape recorder for echo, like sound on sound. Like really, like from the late ’50’s. So, he would solo, and then play a bass note from the Moog pedals. I’m sure he’s not the first or last guy to do that.
But I go down there and we just jam on some things. They show me some new tunes. He got crazy ideas like, “Play something on the top of your head,” or “Jam with the drummer.” And this went on for maybe three or four days a week for a month, I guess. And it wasn’t about a month and a half later, they were doing something with three or four guys.
Stone (center) in Rainbow
DS: Before they chose me. That was pretty exciting stuff.
JC: Now the previous keyboardist Tony Carey had left because he had been the victim of one too many pranks by Ritchie and Cozy.
DS: Well, Ritchie, he’s a hard line guy. He wasn’t a kind and gentle type of guy. Either you could take the heat or you couldn’t. That was basically it. You can’t believe the pressure, I’m like 20 or 21. I jump from a small recording thing, you know the thing with Symphonic Slam was a great stepping stone, but to jump into such a large international scene. It was quite dramatic. It just affects everybody. It was insane. You immediately feel like you are under pressure. You know a lot of guys cracked. I’ve seen guys crack. And Blackmore, he wasn’t one of those nice guys, who would go, “Oh, let’s get the guy out for a couple of weeks. We’ll bring him back.” He was more, “If you can’t take it, I’ll just get somebody who can.”
He had a real bad experience – he talked to me about it – he had a real bad experience with the bass player Glenn Hughes, the bass player in Deep Purple after Roger Glover. Now Glenn was a great player and a great singer. But he had a mind of his own and I don’t know, didn’t really care for the amount of dedication thing, he was drugging. He ended up on bad terms with Glenn. Blackmore had a bad taste in his mouth with that experience. Either you are in this or you are not. Other guys find it alienating, especially coming from a guy of that stature. But you know you can’t …you gotta find a way to perform. You gotta file it all, basically.
JC: He also has a history of playing pranks and conducting séances.
DS: Well, you know, I don’t know how much this is for show or how much a believer in the dark art he was. But, he was sort of known for it and it played into his hands. But, he wasn’t the only one known for it. The guys in Zeppelin, Page was in it. They’re all dabbling. I don’t know, when you’re that famous, you start to think luck can make you or break you. There’s a natural tendency to get superstitious when you are that successful.
So, stemming from that, he was a hard line guy. He wasn’t a dope smoking hippy kind of guy. Far from it. Pretty hardline guy, tough guy, and the guys in the band were tough. The roadies were tough. You know, a rocker as opposed to a hippie. So it was kinda good, it made for a well-oiled machine. But there were some pranks, some serious pranks. Some guys didn’t take it very well, some people actually had a nervous breakdown. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me, but it was easy to see how it could.
JC: So you first began touring with Rainbow in Europe …
DS: It was weird. I’ve auditioned for a month in LA. I’m shitting bricks. Here I am with all these international stars like Cozy Powell, and Ronnie, and Blackmore. Everybody I meet is hugely famous. So I’m just this little guy, and I’m just shitting myself, right? So they fly us over to England. We’re gonna rehearse at Shepperton, the old film studio – the legendary film studio, and then all of my crew – like, the guys who look after all my gear, they’re Jethro Tull guys. Like, I thought Jethro Tull was like one of the greatest bands in the world at the time. So, for me to meet these guys and work with them, it was just like – it was thrill after thrill. So, you know, they take me out to a pub after our first rehearsal in Shepperton, which is amazing, and they get me pretty lubed, and they pack me off to my hotel room. So I sleep for a few hours, but you know, you wake up, and I just – I’m just – I was just crawling out of my skin. It’s like, “Oh my God. I can’t sleep. I’m in England. I’m playing with this legendary guitar player. I’m gonna embark on a huge European tour in a week. I can’t sleep.” So I’m in – it’s a famous hotel, and it’s in Holland Park, I think, in London. They’ve got this huge, beautiful spiral staircase that goes up to the mezzanine, and I’m sitting at the top of the stairs. I’ve got a bottle and drinking that or whatever, and Blackmore can’t sleep either. So he sees me on the stairs, and he sits down with me on the top of the stairs, he says, “You’re nervous aren’t you?” “Oh yeah, I’m crawling out of my skin, man. I’m freaking.” He says, “Listen, I hired you ’cause you’re good. Don’t listen to any of the critics. Those guys – they’re full of shit. Just play your best, do your best. I like the way you play. We’re gonna be great.”
We toured like – I have never toured like that in my life. I was on my first major expanded tour and I was in Europe, continental Europe for two months and I was touring England over a month. I had never been through anything like that where you fly every day and then check, fly again. You know, there’s nothing else but this. It’s like, “Oh my god, here we go.” But it was great. Just great.
JC: In addition to playing with famous people and touring Europe, Ritchie asks you to go for a ten minute solo alone in the crowd.
DS: There was time when he yelled over to me, “Play for ten minutes.” We’re playing a 12,000 seater. You know, we just finished through an hour set. There’s 20 minutes to go, all the lights go down, there I am with all those 12,000 people and my gear. I go, “OK, I’ll try to make something up here.” And I was featured in every show like that and I didn’t have anything work out like that. There were times when I played absolute trash. Just garbage. There were times I felt more inspired and I thought I did a good job.
You know, the drummer would take a solo, the bass would get a little solo, Blackmore would take five solos, and towards the end, I would have to take a 10–15 minute slot. Pretty scary there in the beginning. [To hear one of David’s live solos, click here.]
JC: Yes, you being out alone there…
DS: Yeah, well, they offer me drinks behind the amp stand and they’re just gone. Yeah, I’m 21, you know, moving large bricks, basically. But I got into it after a while. After 15 or 20 of those, now I know what to expect. Right, I got to know the game then. I was sponsored by a company at that time called Orchestron. It was a symphonic synthesizer but it was step up from the Mellotron. So, I would have this big keyboard and it would sound like a big choir. It was like Stealth with light optics, you know pretty digital. It was great an analog sound and it was perfect for heavy rock. In between that, the Moogs and the Hammond, I had a pretty big sound.
If I played a good solo, Ritchie would come up and shake my hand. He was respectful to me, that’s all I can say. He did play some pranks on me.
JC: Can you name some?
DS: Well, there was an expensive one. [laughs]
JC: Care to share it?
DS: Well, we were in the Continental. We were playing next night. I went to see 10cc with Cozy that night. I get back to my room and the room and I can’t open the door. And this was 1977, where rooms were 600–800 a night and there were this real pristine furniture that night. I go to open the door and see this broken piece of furniture sticking out the door. So, I say, “OK, forget it, no point in trying to open the door.” I go downstairs to see the concierge, he gets me another room, he gets me a glass of water, make sure I am tucked in for the night and the bill next night was 30,000 for the stay.
JC: Yikes, I hope he paid for it?
DS: Oh, absolutely. I never paid a dime.
JC: That prank must have been minor to that one live televised performance, which Bob rereleased it on DVD. Actually, Ritchie supposedly – he had just come out of jail before appearing on that performance.
DS: Oh yeah, yeah. We all got thrown in jail.
DS: I don’t think they got it quite right, but this is my recollection. We’re touring Europe for three months. We’re hitting everything, and everything’s over 6,000 seats in Europe. We’re in Vienna in Austria. Well, Austria – this is still like – the Berlin Wall’s still up. This is communist USSR. This is the late ’70’s, you know? Very uptight – machine guns everywhere, communism everywhere, and in Vienna, the state police – they just wanted nothing to do with us – absolutely nothing to do with us. So we’re playing this beautiful old huge opera hall – the Stadthalle in Vienna. And typical, our crowds are the guys who – well, it’s mostly male, you know? Hard rock, you know, we’re not like Backstreet Boys or something. So, they want to hear us play guitar. They want to see us play organ. They want to watch us play. So, they always generally will rush up to the front of the stage, and then there’ll be like a bunch of cow fencing or crowd barriers – cast iron or tubular steel from about 10 – 15 feet away from the front of the stage so that we have access for the roadies to run back and forth in front of the stage and/or emergencies – like, get people over the cow fencing and/or get us out of there, you know? And so, you know, this is kind of established concert protocol, but they weren’t gonna have any of that in Vienna. As soon as the kids start to get out of their seat and start to head towards the front of the stage, the head of the state police and the head of the hall are standing right on the corner of our stage off to the side, and they order the state police to go in and just crush everybody. So, as we’re playing, we look down. They are just beating – I mean literally beating – hundreds of kids almost to death with three foot oak riot sticks, and like – we’re just freaking. It’s like, “What the fuck is this?” I mean, it was horrible. We could see blood going into the air in the lights. And screaming, you know? As loud as the band, we could hear the screams. So, at the side of the stage the stage manager decides to walk down behind the cow fences. He turns around, and he’s – you know, the stage is about five feet high from the next level, turns around with his arms crossed, looking at Blackmore with a leer on his face – as to sort of infer, “This is my building, and you’re not gonna get away with any of this shit.” Blackmore never, ever, ever took any shit from anybody. I mean, I can tell you other stories, but – suffice it to say: Blackmore was like a no-compromise guy. And I mean ever. Like, people were literally in fear of this guy. Like, abject fear. He liked that. So, he sees this guy leering at him with a shit-eating grin on his face and his arms crossed over. Meanwhile, there’s 250 state police just pummeling 1,000 kids that tried to get out of their seats. So Blackmore – you know, he’s soloing away on his guitar. He walks up sort of toward the front of the stage where his Moog pedals are, and he waits till the guy isn’t looking, and walks up – walks right up to him, and just drills him in the forehead with the heel of his cowboy boot. Just drills him. Sends the guy flying off his feet – three feet in the air. He leans back, lands on his ass, right?
I knew right then and there: “Oh man, we are in deep, deep fuckin’ doo-doo. Man, this is gonna be bad – like, really, really, really bad.” So, immediately, my personal bodyguard-slash-tech guy, Raymond, he comes flying in to like – I’ve got a passageway into my rig from the back. He taps me on the shoulder. He says, “Hey Stoney, we’re gonna have to figure something out here.” “Like, yeah, I think so, Raymond. I think we’re gonna have to figure something out, buddy.” So, we just finished the end of that tune, and just left the stage. We all just frickin’ left the stage. Raymond grabs me. We’re racing down one of the hallways – ’cause you know in opera halls, they would have lots of dressing rooms ’cause there’d be lots of – I guess – divas and the actors in operas, so they’d all have their own dressing rooms. So, there’s a big, long curved hallway behind the stage, and with all these dressing rooms. And so, Raymond throws me into one. He says, “Stoney, do not move.” He locks me in there. Alright? I’ve got my bottle of Chablis, and I’m locked into this room, and all I can hear is the hallways – like, people getting stomped, people screaming, sirens going off, and dogs. I guess they let the anti-riot dogs out in the building. So, I’m locked in there, and then the sound dies down a bit, and then I get a there’s a big knock, knock, knock on the door – so, Raymond told me, “Don’t open it.” So I said, “Who is it?” And it’s one of the other – of our crew – a guy named Ox. He was my closest friend in the crew – him and Raymond. We all – I got along great with the crew because I would always sort of acknowledge them. I would go to more sound checks than any of the other guys. I’d always talk to them and ask them how they’re doing. You know, or smoke dope with them, you know? Just be one of the guys. They just loved me for that. It’s amazing what loyalty I got out of that by just being a decent guy to them. So, Ox comes to the door. He says, “Hey Stoney, you’ve gotta come with me, man. Raymond’s in big doo-doo – big trouble.” I’m like, “Alright. Let’s go see what’s going on.” So, he walks me out, and the building’s deserted, and there’s this huge riot going on in the front concourse – like this sort of opened area in front of the big opera house. I see there’s a crowd of like 3,000 people, and they’re all in a circle. And on the inside of a circle is a ring of about 100 or 150 of these state police. They’ve got machine guns and riot sticks and everything. Half of them have dogs, you know? Right in the middle of this circle is about five or six of our crew, including my guy Raymond, sitting on this big huge flight case – like, you know, a case that would go into an airplane. An animal case. So, the case is about six feet long, and it’s about three-by-three, and it’s on wheels. There’s about five or six guards sitting on it. So, I managed to get through the ring of the cops, and I sit down on the case beside Raymond, and I say to Raymond, “Let me guess, Raymond. Blackmore is inside the case?”
DS: And he says, “Yeah, Stoney. Blackmore’s inside the case.” And I said, “Raymond, this isn’t gonna work. This is not gonna go well.” he says, “Yeah, I know.” Just like then, they release about two dozen dogs on us, and I – one of the dogs grabs me by the bicep, sinks his teeth into my arm, drags me off the case – and I’m on the ground trying to pull my arm out of this dog’s mouth. The next thing I know, I get clobbered in the back of the head by a riot stick and then dragged by my hair up about three feet of stairs into an interrogation room. And then, knocked around by three or four of these fat cops – they’re slapping me around, prodding me with their stick, slapping me, saying stuff to me in Austrian like, “You’re nobody,” “You don’t control this town.” All that stuff. Then I end up going to this 500-year-old prison. They throw me in a cell, and it’s – it’s the horror story – this cell. It’s like six-by six, and it’s a strong floor to sleep on. And then about an hour later, I can hear a bash, bash, bash at the door, and there’s our manager, the tour manager, standing there with one of these cops – “Dave, get up, and get out.”
JC: You must have been happy to get out.
DS: There’s a limo waiting out in front of the prison. I get into the limo – the limo drives me really quickly – ’cause I guess he had to go back and start getting us all out of prison, and to the bar and – the hotel decided to keep the bar open all night for us. So it’s like, okay – and, I sit down, and the tour manager picks up all the drinks. It’s just whatever you want. So, you know, we all got plastered, went to sleep. We all got a police escort out of Austria. They drove us right to the German border, you know what I mean? Like, I’m in a big BMW or something, and I’ve got Colin – one of the road managers – driving me, and behind us is two state police cars, like right on our tail, at 100 miles an hour. Like, don’t stop for gas, don’t stop for a cigarette, don’t stop for fuck-all. Get out of Austria. So, fine, no word of Blackmore, nothing. You know, like me, I never thought I’d see him again. I thought, “Oh, he’ll be in jail a year.” That’s the end of the tour, and they’ll be flying me back to Toronto a week from now.
DS: And so, you know, I go to my room, I order room service, have a big meal, go to sleep – like most rock and roll guys would do back then, you’d sleep from about 2:00 in the afternoon to about 6:00 or 5:00. So, I woke up around 5:00, and I’d phoned and found out what – you know, like, we had two road managers so I get a hold of one of the road managers. I said, “So, what’s the deal?” He says, “Well, we’re gonna put the gig on hold, and we’re trying to lever Blackmore out of Austria now with money.” So, sure enough, they set up all the gear – no. Me, I think the next gig was in Munich, or – or it wasn’t in Munich and they say it was Munich, but it was that – literally, it was the next day, right?
JC: Yes, according to the DVD, it was the next day.
DS: So like – well, this isn’t gonna happen, you know? But yeah, you know, I check my gear, I go through the sound check, and go back to my room, and then the limo picks me up at 7:30 – 8:00 and I go to the gig, and there’s no Blackmore, so there’s Cozy, Ronnie, Bob, and I were sitting in the big dressing room, eating away and drinking, and – again, the head tour manager is Eric Thompson. He comes in and he says, “What I need you guys to do is go out there and just fake it.” So, we started the show an hour late. We go out there and did a quick blues shuffle. I’ll take some solos, and do a bass solo, and do a bit of a drum solo. I think Ronnie sang “Lazy” over it. It’s just an – a shuffle – a G minor or A minor shuffle. So I’m soloing away. My gear works great. Right about three quarters of the way I’m about to – six minute shuffle that was two minutes too long – all of a sudden, we hear the few scratches of a good guitar being plugged in. Sure enough, my roadie comes flying out from the back of my gear going, “He’s here, he’s here.” So, he looks like he’s in pretty rough shape, you know? He’s kinda shaky, but typical macho Blackmore fashion, the first tune we’re gonna play is “Kill the King.” On a metronome, it’s around 150–160 beats per minute. So, it’s – your chops have to be right at 100% in order to pull this tune off right. Like, generally, I would have a spare Clavinet in the dressing room and I would just warm up on some scales and arpeggios just to make sure my fingers were nice and loose ’cause I did a lot of high-speed stuff for Blackmore in the middle of that tune, right?
JC: Right, right.
DS: And at the intro, as well, right? So, for some reason, that’s the fucking one they put on YouTube – the one where we’re all hung over, we’re shaky as hell, we don’t know what the hell’s going on. So, me and Blackmore have this part worked out at the very front of the tune that goes [sings riff]. It’s fairly long. Like, it’s about 32 or 54 bars of this triplet – 16th note stuff. Blackmore misses the cue I think on – like, say it goes around four times. He misses the cue on the third one. If you watch YouTube, you see him look down at the guitar going, “Oh fuck,” and then he looks up at me going, “Do something.” I have, like, I’m standing there playing the back – like chords, you know? And I’m like, “What do you want me to do?” Then you hear Cozy kinda cut in and just do the drum intro – get us back to start the tune with the main rhythm of it. So you can see all this stuff happening in this YouTube – that version of “Kill the King” [by clicking here]. But, and then – by the time we get to the sort of articulate part in the middle where Blackmore and I are doing these harmonies, he’s got his hands back together, and it was quite good. By the time we got about a third of the way in the tune, the band settled right in and then from there to the end of the tune, it’s a good version of that song, but it’s just so strange to me that that’s the one on YouTube? You know, when we were done, we were so vulnerable, like the band was at its weakest moments – absolutely its weakest moment. So weird. But there you go. That’s a – I swear to you on a stack of Bibles – that’s what happened. God as my witness.
JC: No, no. I believe you, man. Let’s go to the Long Live Rock’n’Roll album. Now I understand the Long Live Rock’n’Roll album was half-completed when you arrived. What was completed there?
DS: No, that album was done by scratch
JC: When you were there?
DS: Yes and I had been in the band six months by then. The album before that, Rainbow on Stage, was a live album by Rainbow. What they had done, I don’t know if I got credit for it or not. I think in some prints, I don’t. That was when Tony Carey had left the band and the album was two-thirds done.
DS: What they had done was take more recordings with me in the band and used those as well.
JC: Oh, you’re on Rainbow on Stage?
DS: In Japan, January of 1978, I got a gold album for being on Rainbow on Stage.
JC: Ok, so you’re there…
DS: I’m there. Tony’s there. That’s a half-and-half album.
JC: A half-and-half album?
DS: Sort of. I can’t tell you what tracks I am on. I haven’t listened to the album in 25 years.
JC: But Long Live Rock’n’Roll is all you?
DS: Long Live Rock’n’Roll is the studio album. It was done in three weeks at the Chateau and that was an interesting experience as well.
JC: So, all the keys on that is you?
DS: Oh yeah, anything to do with keyboards is me and I did some writing on that. They paid me out in cash. I wrote parts of three songs on that album and wrote the majority of “Gates of Babylon.”
JC: Let’s start with “Gates of Babylon.” Ritchie himself admits you had something to do with that song.
DS: I really did. He just gave me the complete green light. Actually, he started writing that one on the road before we got to the studio. It’s a riff – there’s three basic riffs – rhythm riffs that wind together. So that was something that we – him and I worked out at sound checks and stuff. So, a lot of it’s not Hammond – it’s – in the body of the song, I would take the Minimoog and have like a percussion thing on it, so then it was tight, and then I had this little syncopated thing between the Minimoog and the Clavinet, and then he had a guitar part that – if you listen, you can hear three of them weave together. It’s a really nice lead. And then over that, I would – I took some more Minimoog stuff and just sort of let it sort of glide over it really long, slow fifths. I was slowly doing sort of a quartertone – flatten it up, and then a quartertone sharper, sharpened up. Just to give it that – just to give it a multitimbral sound. So that was – that was great. It was really a chance for me to be really creative.
And then he insisted – he says, “Listen, this is our big tune on this album. It’s gonna be the last song on the album. Why don’t you make something up for an intro?” I think he gave me all of an hour to do it, but I was in the control room with the Minimoogs and – just your Minimoogs, no overdubs. It was Martin Birch, and I just tried a few things, and then he said, “Well, we like that one.” “Okay, fine. Keep it.” It wasn’t any great shakes. It wasn’t like I sat down for a week and wrote anything out or anything like that. It was just sort of – basically just me jamming, improvising something. I think I got the whole intro done in under like 40 minutes or something. I took two or three shots at it. And then, so the big medley, and for the end and all that – he just gave me the green light. He says, “Listen, I have no idea what to do here. Why don’t you just write the whole middle eight? Why don’t you just write me everything out? I like what you do. Just write something out that’s big, and fat, and instrumental – lots of minor chords, lots of diminished chords, and then just write me a chart for it.” So, that’s what I did, and they gave me a chance to go in the studio, and I layered it up a bit with some overdubs, and then Blackmore came in and I sat down with him in the control room and I wrote him a big long chart for it, and that’s it. That’s the best him and I ever worked together. He was really happy with what I did, and he was actually apologetic. He says, “You know, I’m struggling with this. This is really complicated stuff.” “It’s okay. We’ll just keep going over it.” So you’ll hear edits through that solo. There’s probably half a dozen. Had to go from track to track, you know?
But, and then he said, “Listen, we’re gonna bring in the Munich – like, the chamber group from the Munich Symphony.” So, that would be, you know, two or three cellos, a couple of violas, maybe a half a dozen violins. So, he says, “Why don’t you sit down with this guy” – who is the head of the symphony – “and show him what you did, show him a chart?” And this guy was brilliant, man. He says, “I’m writing out lead lines.” He says, “You don’t have to do that.” He says, “I can hear those.” And you know, I sat in the studio with him, and he got the guys to play along with the tracks so that I could hear it in the control room, and it was so great. I said, “Oh heck” – you know, it was so good. There was just no point in even saying anything. It’s just, “Oh yeah.” And at the end, they brought the chamber music section in for the last, say, 32 bars of the song, which – to me – was so great. It’s like, well, why didn’t you just put that in there at the front? But Blackmore was right: it was so nice to hear the traditional – the guitar and the keyboards at the front half of the tune, and this let the tune build up on its own. But at the end, I mean, it’s just like a raging storm. The ending’s just beautiful. I mean, it’s a de-accelerando – like, it’s a bravado ending, and like an orchestra would do. To me, it was just – ’cause of my classical background, I was just so happy. Just, oh yeah, that’s just great. One of the violinists just decided to keep playing, ’cause he was so into it, and he didn’t think we were recording, and Blackmore and I looked at each other like, “Oh no. Leave that in there.” But as the song fades away, you hear like a gypsy violin that’s continuing, and that was just a fluke.
JC: Well, that was good. Yeah. ’Cause I like that, how it ends with that, yeah.
DS: Isn’t that great?
JC: I know.
DS: It was just one guy who was like – it was the youngest violinist, and he just – he was having so much fun. He just kept playing ’cause he didn’t – “Well, the tape machine’s off. Nobody cares.” Meanwhile, we didn’t care. We just let it run ’cause, you know, we can always go clean tracks up later. And Blackmore and I, and Martin Birch look at each other, you know, “Hah, that’s so cool. That is so completely in keeping with the tune.” Like, oh Christ, I mean, my one real regret is that – and it’s that we didn’t – that was a great direction for Blackmore and I to go in, but we didn’t pursue it. [To hear “Gates of Babylon”, click here.]
JC: What other songs did you write besides “Gates of Babylon?”
DS: I don’t know. I don’t have the album in front of me but you know what, I wouldn’t want to even venture a guess. We are working on riffs, you know patterns. Basically, most rocking songs are based on riffs and patterns on guitar, usually even by bass, and work with bass and keyboards. Basically, it’s the mechanics of the band. You work on these parts, I work on this part, but Blackmore stubbornly held on to his rights. If I stuck it out with him longer, I think I would have seen some credits. He was nice to me and said nice things about me to the press after “Gates of Babylon.”
JC: What was your relationship with Ronnie and Cozy?
DS: You know, Ritchie was such a dominant force in the band that guys like me, Ronnie, Cozy and Bob were basically in the same boat. We’re playing for a larger than life figure, so it made for a lot of camaraderie between us four. We got along great. There was never animus between us four. Ronnie’s from upstate NY, so he’s the only North American in the band besides me. So, we got along like Mutt and Jeff. We’re North Americans. There really isn’t a huge difference or there wasn’t back then. Cozy was always supportive. Told me I did a great job. Always would jam with me. Like at the rehearsals, Cozy and I would like to do the sound check. You know, drums, there’s a lot to micing drums and with your seven or eight keyboards, make sure all your lines are good, all your sounds are good. Cozy and I would go to a lot of sound checks. I don’t know if you know this, but a lot of the big bands today, they don’t even go to their own sound check. They have other people do it for them. But back in the late ’70s, things were a little more primitive, it wasn’t all computer controlled. You know I took pride in my gear, because I wanted it to sound great. I tweaked it a little and Cozy would come down there. So Cozy and I, with our big sound, we would jam. You know we would just jam different stuff. Jazz fusion stuff, you know what like Jan Hammer was doing with Jeff Beck. More progressive. When it came time to do “Gates of Babylon,” we were very close. It was a good relationship. And the sad part was, basically, that Bob was there as a bass player on stage. And Blackmore, being a guitar player, was so picky, that he wanted to do the bass parts himself. I felt bad for Bob at times, ’cause he was left holding his bass. But then again, you can’t believe the pressure, especially when you are 21 or 22 years old.
JC: What happened after the album?
DS: Ritchie was a real grinder. He was a real – you know, “We’re gonna do 250 dates. We’re not gonna spend any time being touchy and feely, or write big chunks of music out. We’re just gonna slam out like Deep Purple-style heavy rock,” just like his first couple albums – like Machine Head and Deep Purple in Rock – whereas “Gates of Babylon” was quite a departure from that. I really thought that was the future for us because – ’cause everything’s already been done up until that point. It’s like, you’re just going over the same shit, you know? Meanwhile there’s bands coming out like Yes, and Genesis, and Gentle Giant, and Asia, and these guys are getting much more symphonic. They’re creating, structuring. I remember listening to Fragile by Yes, and A Trick of the Tail by Genesis, which was just right around the same time, and they were – that’s where they were all going. “No, no. Let’s write music. Let’s write big music.” Well, Blackmore and I – well, we were good enough. We could do that, too. So, I really, really was disappointed. The album got great reviews, and it was – I’m sure it’s the high point of Rainbow pretty well into that, and we were getting nothing but great attention in Japan, and we were gonna do an American tour – a huge American tour over three months. Really I don’t think it did the band good, but I don’t know. It was just doomed to be that kind of – just a raw stage heavy rock band, and it just got really boring, to tell you the truth. Ronnie and I were just coming to the end of it, ’cause Ronnie – he wanted to do the same thing. He wanted – Ronnie’s stuff after that was much more dramatic, and he got to write more – he considered serious music. Like, I was working on Ronnie’s album – his first solo album
JC: When you say solo album, do you mean, you were working on Holy Diver?
DS: It was stuff before Black Sabbath which again, was more structured, more written, more thought out. Yeah. We were sitting there with a couple of guitars in Connecticut, and just going over melodies and basic stuff, and you know – ’cause we got along so well. We just liked spending time together. We just got along great. We’d play, and sing, and write a bit, and then we’d watch a baseball game. Stuff like that. And Blackmore – he was a real curmudgeon. He wasn’t really supportive of any of that at all. He just thought it was too touchy feely, and he just wanted to get back to grinding it out on stage – you know, just slam it. You know, which is fine. We were good at that. I remember hearing – we got pirated a lot. I guess a lot of guys – we were known as a good live stage band, so we got a lot of pirate recordings, and I remember hearing one that I did in Atlanta, and it was like, “Christ, we are good. We are a frickin’ good band.” Tight, tight, loud, and explosive. The solos are good now. We were good. I guess that’s all I wanna say about that.
I got one more great, great story for you on Atlanta if you have time.
JC: Okay. Yeah, I’ve got plenty of time.
DS: It’s funny. It was in Atlanta as well. I had my wife with me, and I played a great solo that night. For some reason, I don’t know why, that night I just couldn’t do anything wrong. The gear sounded perfect. I just – got a standing ovation. We got a couple encores. It was a great night. Near – about halfway through the night, ’cause we were on stage – it was a hard-seater, like a big huge building with no seats in it – and they let a lot more crap go on on the stage than they used to. So, you have a room full of people that are just ripped out of their mind on drugs, they’re ripped out of their minds on alcohol, and a whole bunch of them had like illegal fireworks. There was this one particular one; it’s called an M-80, and it’s like a big blasting cap. It’s not even a firework. Someone threw one, and they had my wife – like the big console, you know, the mixing board out in the middle of the room. And it’s all cordoned off and everything, but this one M-80 just ends up going – going right over there into security, landing right on the mixing board, and blowing up. My wife got hit by some shrapnel from it.
DS: The same frickin’ night, somebody takes a beer bottle from the audience, throws it in a big huge – like a fly ball, right? It comes out of nowhere, and I see it through the light line – like, the light line’s maybe 15 feet in front of me. That’s where the whole stage just lit up. So I just pick it up coming through, like going end over end about 25 feet in the air, and it hits Ronnie right in the head. It just cracks him right in the head. Ronnie’s down on the ground on all fours. I go running out from my gear. By the time I get to Ronnie, two of our crew are right with him, are saying, “Dave, no, it’s okay. Dave, it’s okay.” So reluctantly, I go back to my gear, and I’m done, like, I’m not playing anymore. Fuck this. And we have this huge line of amps, and so my personal roadie runs behind the staging and the amps over to Ritchie Blackmore’s roadie, who was Ian Ferguson at the time, and Fergie gets back to Raymond, my personal roadie, says, “They’re sewing Ronnie up, so we’re just gonna play for a while, and then Ronnie will be back out.” I was pissed. It’s like, “Fuck you.” It’s like, “Hey man, this is one of our band members, man.” You know, this place doesn’t deserve us. Let’s just play for another 15 minutes – just play some blues solos and get the fuck out of here. And Blackmore’s, “No, no, no.” So, they jumped to my solo early, and then I played this great solo, and then Ronnie – blood still running down the side of his head, and he’s all wrapped up. He can’t hardly sing ’cause it’ll open his sutures, and we do one half a tune more and then we call it a night. I walked back into the dressing room, and – you know, like when you’re on stage, you’ve gotta have a couple of drinks. I mean, it’s so stressful. You’re already playing for 12,000 to 20,000 people. So, I’ve got two thirds of a bottle of Chablis – I drank Chablis and soda water. Didn’t want to get too hammered up. You can hydrate on the soda water and ice. You know, it was nice. I pulled it out of my stash – like my cooler just behind my amps. I grabbed two thirds of the bottle, and I got the bottle in my hand, and I’m so fucking mad at Blackmore. I just wanted to kill him. And Blackmore comes up to me, about six to ten – eight feet away. He says, “That was a great solo.” I was so fucking mad at him, I grabbed the neck of the bottle, and I throw it at him as hard as I can – like, just wing it at him. Had I meant to hit him, there was no way he was gonna get out of the way, but I aimed – I aimed about two feet to the right of his head. It just exploded about two feet behind him against the wall. He just shit himself, and everybody else in the room shit themselves because no one ever does this to Ritchie Blackmore, right? So he’s standing there dumbfounded, and then I’m like, “Oh God man, I’m so sorry. I am so sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’m just totally – totally upset about Ronnie.” In total shock, he said to me, “Oh, I totally understand. I totally understand.” He reaches over to the table, he picks up a 40 ounce bottle of scotch or something, and he throws it against the wall and I think that – and then we proceed to trash that dressing room, and then the roadies heard about it, so they come in and they help us. It was actually so bad, we were pulling the wiring out of the walls and tearing the drywall out. I think the bill for that one was even higher than my hotel room he damaged.
DS: But I never saw a dime of it.
JC: Yes, and you were touring with REO Speedwagon, who couldn’t have been more incompatible to tour with.
DS: Oh God. There’s huge stories over that one, too.
JC: I am sure there are. But we have had enough big stories now that I think the reader has gotten the gist at this point and we have to move on. Let’s go on to what happened after the American tour. The lineup would dissolve, only leaving Cozy and Ritchie for the next album. What happened there?
DS: Well, that was weird. Ronnie was just – he was just fried with Blackmore. Blackmore was one of those guys, “Let’s go out there four nights a week.” I mean, you’ve got four nights, five nights a week on tour, right? You want to – you take a hard rock singer like Ronnie who’s always singing like high C’s all night. You’re gonna kill him. That’s a great way to kill him. Like, nowadays, they don’t do that. They don’t do that. You’ve got in-ear monitoring and you space out the tunes where the guy’s gonna kill himself. And Ronnie had just had it, so he’s like, “My voice is not made out of titanium, man.” So Ronnie and I had the same feelings about Blackmore. It’s like, yeah, you’re great, yeah, you’re a great guitar player, and yeah this is really wonderful, but man, this is not what we got into music for as kids, you know? Like, when we were teenagers. We wanna make good music. We wanna be as best as we can be. We don’t want to just be fuckin’ grunts in the tour circuit, you know? And we were capable of it. We were good marines. We were good grunts, but to what end, you know?
He didn’t really change the lineup, per se. He fired Bob. He did let Bob go. Ronnie and I – we just quit.
JC: So Ronnie and you quit – you were not forced out?
DS: I wasn’t fired, no. Hell no. I quit.
JC: You quit because…?
DS: It was really weird. He fires Bob. We’re rehearsing outside of New York City, and he brings in Clive Chaman I think was the bass player’s name.
JC:Yes, Clive was in the Jeff Beck Group with Cozy Powell?
DS: This guy is totally the wrong bass player. First off, he’s black, and Blackmore is very prejudiced. He was always prejudiced against African-American people. Second off, this guy is totally like early – middle-70’s jazz style of bass player.
JC: Yeah, I know how he played. I couldn’t picture him in Rainbow, yes.
DS: Yeah, he plays with his fingers. He’s got that barking midrange tone. He’s just totally the wrong fucking guy, you know? So, we were in rehearsal for a couple weeks, and it’s just sounding like hell. The band sounds terrible. Ronnie and I are like, “Oh God, what are we doing here?”
That’s when the offer came in from Sabbath, and we were sticking around with Blackmore. Ronnie calls me up in the middle of the night and he says, “Hey, you wanna go play with Sabbath?” I’m like, “Maybe.” They made me a huge offer – they made Ronnie an offer he couldn’t refuse. Like, the cash was just insane, and points, and full credits and all that, and they made me – they didn’t make me an offer as big as Ronnie ’cause Ronnie – they absolutely had to have Ronnie. They needed a leader. But, I guess Ronnie said, so like, “Wherever I go, Dave Stone goes.” I guess they wanted to expand their sound and try to modern up, too, you know? Get more synthesizers. So, I gave Ronnie the green light, and we started negotiating with Black Sabbath. But I really had ambivalent feelings. Like, I never thought Sabbath was a great band. Like, Purple – every guy in Purple could really play. Jon Lord was – he was considered a top keyboard player. Ian Gillan – top singer. Ian Paice – definitely top drummer. Blackmore – top guitar player. So, like, amongst us musicians, we always totally respected Deep Purple ’cause they were good, you know? Whereas Black – to me, Black Sabbath was more like a dog and pony show. It’s like, oh yeah, you’ve got blood, you’ve got goth, and you’re singing about the devil, and you’ve got this, you’ve got this really evil name. So, with me, naïve 22 year old me is like, like, I’m all attitude. It’s like, I don’t know if I want to be associated with these guys. I was a big kinda guy in karma. I was raised Russian Orthodox, so it just bothered me. I was like, “Okay, yeah, I’ll go play with Sabbath for a year. It’s gonna be great for my career, go make lots of money, get treated probably a lot better than I did with Blackmore, or like less dates, more comfortable.” The guitar player in Sabbath – Tony Iommi?
JC: Yeah, Tony Iommi.
DS: Was going through a real messy divorce, so all the assets for Sabbath were completely tied up. So, they couldn’t make a move until that got settled, and then they could straighten out my immigration stuff, and they didn’t want to sign me to a contract so – I wanted a fair bit of cash out front. And right then, I got the call from SRO – from Rush’s management that they would love me to play in Max Webster. I just thought, oh, this would be great. I’ll go back home to Canada, I’ll play in a top Canadian rock band, we’ll get into an album right away, I’m gonna do the first national simulcast. And again, I thought Max Webster was this great band. Like, all the guys were really talented there – great drummer, great guitar player – that kind of thing. So I just told Ronnie. I said, “Listen, I gotta go home. I’m gonna go play with my hometown boys.” I just packed up and joined Max Webster.
JC: So you left Rainbow to join Max Webster?
DS: Literally the end of my international career was that day.
JC: Okay, so you were there. I wasn’t sure if you were leaving for the same reason Ronnie left, ’cause you know what happened to Rainbow afterwards. Ritchie was gonna go in a more pop direction.
DS: Well, he had to. I mean, it was crazy. As far as – I think our keyboard player’s name was Don Airey.
JC: Don Airey, yeah, that’s who took over.
DS:He’s a friend of –
DS: Him and I got along great. I met him about half a dozen times. There was no problem there. I don’t think he joined the band right away; they hung out in New York for another couple months and finally got together. That’s when they brought that singer in, Turner.
JC: Well, Joe Lynn Turner came later. Graham Bonnet was the first guy who came in after Dio.
DS: Well, I don’t know, but the only reason I think he took that direction was probably industry pressure from Polydor Records and the fact that he had – he’s got guys around him that are from the next generation. So he probably just thought, “What the hell, maybe I’ll go and try and make some money.” I don’t know what he was thinking. My conversations with Blackmore ended that day. I like – the only time I ever spoke to anybody after that was I saw Ronnie once in Vancouver, and I talked to Cozy a couple times on the phone, ’cause he was trying to put back – I guess Blackmore and him wanted to try and put back together a reunion Rainbow thing for one tour. And then Cozy died. He called me, and then died a week later. That was really upsetting.
JC: Right. Anyway, so, you saw Dio, once in Vancouver?
DS: Yeah, he came through with his solo band. His health was starting to deteriorate. Like, Ronnie was a good ten years older than me, and his health – you could tell his health was just – he was skinny – he’d lost most of his hair…
JC: Oh, so this was very recent when you saw Ronnie?
DS: Fairly recently. It was less than ten years ago, but he just didn’t – he looked really rough. The band was really loud and kinda just – it just reminded me of having to go half-deaf every night and you waste your bad monitors, all that old fucking grind. Heavy rock grind. I just – I was done with it. I was just done with it. Too old.
JC: Anyway, so you went into Max Webster.
DS: Yeah, which was great at the beginning. But, what I didn’t realize what a horrible, horrible contract Mitchell had with Ray Danniels and Vic Wilson over at SRO at Anthem Records. I mean, it was just a nightmare contract.
DS: I think by that time, Kim had – or Max Webster had five golds, two Canadian platinum’s – considered like – I thought they were considered a, say, top five Canadian band at the time. And, we’re broke. We’re freakin’ broke. I can make money on the side doing session work and all that, and I was comfortable. I’m fine. I had money from Blackmore, too, but Kim, he’s living in a little crappy little house down in East Broadview there. He can’t even make his mortgage payments, you know? So, you know, Kim and I lived in the same neighborhood near the beaches, and so we would stop at a hotel and chug a beer and talk a bit. He started slinging all this stuff to me and I didn’t realize, “Oh, this is just a horror story. I just made a huge mistake.” Thankfully, I didn’t sign anything long-term with those guys.
JC: Yeah, the album you were on, Universal Juveniles, that was the last of Max Webster.
DS: By then, it was already – the band, for all intents and purposes, was dead.
DS: I mean, Ray Danniels got the guys from Rush to work with us on a couple of tunes, and so we collaborated on a couple tunes. That was a lot of fun. No one told us what to do in the studio, so Kim and I sorta got to do what we wanted to do. We were working out of Phase One, and it’s also when I got to work with Jack Richardson, the legend Jack Richardson. Jack Richardson was the chief engineer, and then the other guy was Dave Green – I’m sure these guys are legends. I know Jack’s dead now, but I know Dave Green went on to do like major international things. It was totally professional. The sound was great. Those guys totally knew what they were doing, and I wasn’t under any specific – I wasn’t under any contract, so I thought what the hell? I started working on BB Gabor’s second album, and I was gigging again, making sure I’m solid in the Toronto Scene. I would go and do all the session work at Phase One at 2:00 in the morning. After I’d play, I’d just go play somewhere and then drive to Phase One at 3:00 in the morning ‘cause that was the only time I was available, and they would be there. So I did that for two weeks, and then – I guess they tried using Doug Riley on some of the stuff – the Doctor Music guy? And they weren’t happy with some of the stuff he was doing. So, I’m pretty sure – I pretty well replaced everything. I just basically did all that stuff I wanted to do when I was rehearsing with Kim three months before that. Like, we did one national tour, and before we got to the album stage, and that’s when Kim and I got to work on the stuff that’s on the album. So then when they put me back in the studio, Kim and I went back and did all the stuff that we were recently doing three months before that. So, that was cool. One of the nicer things that I think I ever did was a little synth solo on the Max Webster album – Universal Juveniles. It’s a thing that’s called “Chalkers.” [To listen to “Chalkers”, click here.]A lot of the guitar is doubled with the Oberheim. And then I take a little Jan Hammer type solo in the middle of that. I thought that was kinda cute. But, that was it.
Then that’s when I realized – it’s like, this business sucks. And you know, I was never a major songwriter. I was never gonna – I work more on songwriting now than I did back then. I consider myself – I’m a player. That’s what I am. I’m a player. I just thought, you know, I’m in like middle-late 20’s now, and kinda getting burnt out on the whole thing, and maybe I’ll just try and find a different kind of lifestyle. My wife got offered a posting in Vancouver with Canadian Press. She was a graduate journalist. She had a career, too. So, I – ’cause I’d been touring since I was 18 across the country, and Vancouver’s such an amazing city, and it’s like, “Oh God, any chance to move out to Vancouver – Christ – just blow Toronto off and move to Vancouver.” I moved to Vancouver, and then I did a few albums out here, and then I just basically packed it in after that. I did Doucette’s third album, Prism’s third album. And I got to asked to play with Loverboy.
DS: I’m in Calgary, and Lou Blair owned a club in Calgary called The Refinery. Him and Bruce Allen were putting Loverboy together. So they asked me to join. I thought they were nuts. Like, hey, what do you mean? Like, they were all gonna get perms, they were all gonna wear like red leather pants. They wanted to do this like glam rock thing, and I’m like, “No. No thank you. Gonna pass.” And they finally ending up getting a guy no one ever heard of. But, you know, like, you flash it, what, 15 years later? I play this guy’s anniversary party. He hires me and I had a good club band then at the time. They hired my band to play his big anniversary party, so I just said to him. I said, “How much did you make?” He said, “Only about $6 million.” I made a $6 million-dollar mistake.
JC: Oops!! What happened after the albums and Loverboy?
DS: Played country and western. Lots of money in that. Spent the next ten years playing live, playing country western, did some session work. I don’t know. It’s all pretty hazy. I became a heavy-time drug addict then, too. Like, in Vancouver, the drugs are everywhere, and they’re so cheap it’s crazy. Toronto was pretty – had probably respect then for rampant drug use. A lot of the guys I worked with in Toronto are dead. So, you know, drugs were a real problem back then. For me, as much as the next guy.
JC: But you survived.
DS: Well, so far. That’s about it.
JC: What have you been doing recently?
DS:I still play. I play every weekend, and I – bought myself a nice new Yamaha digital piano thing. I became a better musician. I studied music. I practiced. Jazz playing. Like, I went and did grand piano on the cruise ships. A registered jazz musician at KLON in Long Beach in California. I think I’m a pretty good musician – especially now with my knowledge. I feel like my knowledge of music expression – like jazz, you know – I feel that’s quite strong, so I’m not ashamed of my musicality. I’ll put it that way.
JC: Yeah. So, I guess what I’m asking is: although you continued with the music, you just weren’t in the industry anymore.
DS: Yeah, but you know? It’s been so long, I don’t even know – I wouldn’t even recognize the industry. I’m sure – I’m a dinosaur. Gigs were just horrid back then, and I – from what I hear, things are – it’s night and day. Meanwhile, I’ve been really working on my guitar playing so I can record.
JC: You are recording now?
DS: I don’t know if you heard any of my stuff. You’re welcome to. But other than the drums, I play everything. Have a listen. [Readers can listen to “The River” sung by David’s son Jordan by clicking here.]
Well, so far. That’s about it. Nothing to report, really. I did – the other thing – a guy named Clayton Priske. He’s getting some internet play.
JC:Yes, the Jo Kamel band.
DS: Well, you know, for Clayton, it’s – he tries real hard. He’s a good kid and he tries hard. I knew him when he was a teenager, and he was like a foster kid almost. He was hanging with the band I had at the time I first knew him. I’d make sure I’d have the best guys in there. He’d always be picking up on how we did it, just seeing more like professional musicians at work, you know? And then flash to 15 years later, he’s like, “Oh, help me with this stuff.” So, sure. So I threw some Hammond. [Readers can listen to “August” by The Jo Kamel Band by clicking here.]
I mean, I think that stuff I’ve got in the can is pretty good. I really don’t – I’ve never been an industry guy, so I don’t even know what my next move would be. Here’s this stuff. I played on all of it. It’s pretty well recorded. It’s listenable. Here’s a bunch of tracks finished. What should I do? Even talking to you right now, I’m still increasingly at a loss.
You know, like I’m 60 years old, and I – largely because of drugs and rock and roll, I’m pretty burnt out. I just want the rest of my life to go okay, and that’s basically it.
Dave today with his friend Clayton Priske