Ritchie Blackmore‘s wife has called new RAINBOW frontman Ronnie Romero “an amazing find” who “checked all the boxes” when it came to his live performance and singing ability.
Romero, originally from Chile but now settled in Madrid, Spain, made his live debut with RAINBOW in June 2016 after he was selected by Ritchie to front the latest version of the band Blackmore had formed after quitting DEEP PURPLE.
Candice Night, who has been married to Ritchie for nine years but has been together with the legendary guitarist for nearly thirty, told “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” that she came across a video of Romero while having a late-night discussion with Ritchie about a possible RAINBOW comeback.
“It was a 2-o’clock-in-the-morning YouTube search where Ritchie and I were talking about… He had been mentioning maybe reforming RAINBOW and the pros and cons of using people that had names or didn’t have names or what to do, and he wasn’t really sure — it was kind of back and forth,” Candice recalled. “So, honestly, I just looked up some bands that did cover work of [Ronnie James] Dio-era RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW [songs], and I discovered… There were three guys — I narrowed it down to that — that I thought were amazing, and I showed all three of them to Ritchie, and Ronnie was definitely the forerunner — I mean, far and away the forerunner.”
After they settled on Romero as their choice, they set about contacting the singer via social media. “And the cool thing is, I went on his Facebook page and [Ronnie] was so, like, normal — it was just a picture of him and his wife having dinner,” Candice said. “There was no expletives, it wasn’t like him drinking and getting crazy and stupid; it was him as a solid and normal person, which is awesome — and very rare in this industry. And, actually, there was another thing too — there was an a cappella version of him singing in the studio, and Ritchie was, like, ‘Wow! That’s amazing,’ ’cause it’s not masked by any of the music. He was amazing.”
Romero‘s audition consisted of a face-to-face get-together in Germany between the vocalist, Ritchie and Candice. “He flew in and met us at a castle,” she revealed. “Ritchie brought out the acoustic guitar and we sat in the back room and gave some songs to have Ronnie sing along to. And he was pitch-perfect. He can turn that rasp on or off whenever he wants to. His range… he can handle everything from ‘Child In Time’ to any of the Dio stuff to the Joe Lynn Turner stuff to the Graham Bonnet stuff, which is… that’s pretty tricky. That’s four completely different styles of singing, and yet he still manages to make it his own, but has enough grit to it where it’s just edgy, it’s rock… And it’s amazing. And even watching him onstage, he’s just solidly confident, and he checks all the boxes. So we said, ‘Let’s go ahead with it and see how it goes.’ And he’s a really nice guy; we love working with him. This is his priority, even though he does, obviously, a lot of other bands at this point. And it’s just great. He’s an amazing find. We’re so happy about it.”
In May, the revamped version of RAINBOW released its first new music in more than two decades. Two tracks were made available on iTunes: an instrumental song called “Land Of Hope And Glory”, which is is a reworking of the 1902 British patriotic song of the same name from Edward Elgar‘s “Pomp And Circumstance March No. 1”, and a re-recording of the RAINBOW classic “I Surrender”, which was written by Russ Ballard and was first released by RAINBOW in 1981. The latter song features vocals recorded by Romero.
According to Night, Blackmore and Romero have already “written a couple of songs” for future release. “I know that Ritchie had released ‘I Surrender’ with [Ronnie] singing, so it’s like a 2017 version of that. So that’s out there. But he did actually write another song with him,” she said. “I think he’s planning on writing some more songs with him for some studio stuff in the future. There’s definitely one out there that’s already in the can that hasn’t been released yet, but I know it’s gonna be released; we’re just waiting for that to happen. It’s called ‘Waiting For A Sign’. Yeah, so that should be definitely happening in the future.”
Candice, who has been recording and touring with Ritchie as part of the internationally heralded Renaissance rock band BLACKMORE’S NIGHT for the past two decades, said that she was thrilled with the prospect of her husband revisiting his hard rock roots. “I thought it was great — even if he didn’t have me in any capacity in the band,” she said. I wasn’t sure if he wanted background singers or if he was gonna choose other background singers, or whatever he wanted, but I’ve always been the biggest supporter of Ritchie, so whatever he decides to do, that’s what I’m gonna support — that is his decision — and I’ve been like that since day one.
“He’s got a lot of situations where he’s either surrounded by ‘yes’ people or people who just put up a wall in front of him before they even hear what the idea is,” she explained. “He and I just have long, communicative discussions and decision-making things. And it’s, like, ‘Look, what is your heart telling you? What do you wanna do?’ And he was excited to do it. He hadn’t done these songs in a long time, so it was a bit of a challenge for him. And Ritchie is a completely improvisational player, so he’d forgotten how to play a lot of these songs and the arrangements, and he’s not big on studying them either — he doesn’t want to sit there and listen to how he played 20 years ago, ’cause he’s right in the now, always. So it’s kind of a challenge for him to do the homework on what these songs were and what they sound like. But he puts his new spin on them while retaining the spirit of the original songs. And he goes out there and he has a great time doing it.”
According to Candice, Ritchie has “always told me his heart is with BLACKMORE’S NIGHT, and that’s his main project. But as far as nostalgia is concerned and doing these for the fans, because a lot of the fans had wanted to hear the rock songs from way back when, he’s, like, this is sort of his special gift for them.”
The current incarnation of RAINBOW includes Romero as well as STRATOVARIUS keyboardist Jens Johansson, BLACKMORE’S NIGHT drummer David Keith, bassist Bob Nouveau (a.k.a. Robert “Bob” Curiano, ex-BLACKMORE’S NIGHT), and backing singers Candice Night and Lady Lynn.
The two shows RAINBOW played in Germany in June 2016 were caught on camera to produce “Memories In Rock – Live In Germany”, which was released in November 2016 via Eagle Rock Entertainment on DVD+2CD, Blu-ray+2CD, and digital formats.