And then there were two….
I wrote a piece in January about the murder of Gary Driscoll, the one-time drummer with Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow in the mid seventies and now I find myself writing about another former original member who died today. Craig Gruber was the bass player in the line-up which included Ronnie James Dio, Driscoll, Micky Lee Soule and Blackmore. Looking at the photograph of the band it is sad to see that only Blackmore and Lee Soule are still alive today, a poignant reminder of how so many of one’s rock heroes have succumbed to the same fate as the rest of us mere mortals, old age.
Like Driscoll and the other supporting members of Rainbow and Elf before that, he never reached the heady heights which Blackmore and Dio would attain, and like Driscoll, the first Rainbow album in 1975 would also be his last with the band. It is easy to understand how he, Driscoll and Lee Soule must have felt about their dismissal. Elf, whilst not in the Purple/Zeppelin league could have continued and maintained a steady income but Dio knew his fortune lay with Blackmore and it wasn’t until 1983/4 that Gruber would feature in a globally recognised band.
In 1983 the late blues and rock guitarist, Gary Moore invited Gruber to play on his ‘Victims of the Future’ promotional tour which secured a feature on the 1984 live album ‘We Want Moore’. What followed was not especially noteworthy and serves as a reminder of how tough the music business can be. What, I wonder, were his later years like? One doubts it was akin to Blackmore’s and given that he was working on a reunion of Elf post Driscoll and Dio’s deaths it would suggest he was hoping for a modicum of renewed interest from dedicated rock fans.
Craig Gruber died on May 6th 2015 from cancer. I wrote about Driscoll’s rightful place in rock’s history books and the same applies to Gruber. For no matter how small the inclusion, he was a part of the original Rainbow and played on some of their best loved tracks. How many times have you heard a Rainbow line-up or other band play ‘Man on the Silver Mountain’? Well, he did it first.
RIP Graig Gruber.
Categories: The Music Lounge