Graham Bonnet Opens The Book On His Colourful Career Including Regrets over Leaving Rainbow
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metal talk
2nd January 2017

mark taylor
Words And Video: Mark Taylor

graham bonnet

Graham Bonnet has led an illustrious career from hitting the charts with the pop duo The Marbles way back in 1968 before taking on a brief acting role in the 1974 comedy film 'Three For All'.

His musical solo career then led him to be invited to join one of the biggest heavy rock bands around, Rainbow, where he enjoyed chart topping success with the album 'Down To Earth'.

After walking from Ritchie Blackmore's outfit, Bonnet would work alongside such guitar greats such as Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and many more.

Graham was in London recently and MetalTalk's Mark Taylor spoke to the Skegness born singer at length about his new album 'The Book' and his colourful career, including how he got to work with the Gibbs brothers from the Bee Gees, his solo career before joining Rainbow and his regrets on leaving the band at the height of their success and his joy on returning last year to perform back at his birthplace.

Here's the interview in full.

graham bonnet

The Graham Bonnet Band recently released 'The Book' through Frontiers Music and you can read MetalTalk's Johnny Main's review of the album right here.

In the interview above, Graham speaks about the making of the video 'Into The Night' which is filmed in 360 degrees angle. Tilt your screen to get different views of the activities. Just don't fall off your chair when doing so.

In the interview Graham also mentions the re-issue campaign over the last year by Cherry Red/Hear No Evil Recordings who have been releasing all the solo albums plus Alcatrazz and Blackthorne recordings. Below are reviews of the latest offerings.


graham bonnet

Alcatrazz, with the extra zee in order not to be confused with the British band of the same name, was formed by Bonnet in Los Angeles after his short sojourn with the Michael Schenker Group.

Formed in 1983 along with New England members Gary Shea on bass and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo plus Iron Butterfly drummer Jan Uvena and a young hot shot guitarist called Yngwie Malmsteen, the idea was to create a style similar to that which Bonnet enjoyed with Rainbow. However after just one studio album, Malmsteen was given his marching orders, along with his ever growing ego.

His replacement was another rising star in Steve Vai who had been working his wizardry with Frank Zappa.

Produced by the renowned Eddie Kramer, 1985s 'Disturbing The Peace' saw Alcatrazz progress with a less Metallic groove while still holding onto their rock credentials.

The impact was immediate with the MTV smash of 'God Bless Video', however a lack of touring meant that Alcatrazz were hardly noticed outside the States and Japan.

The album had its hard rocking moments, testing Bonnet to the fore on tracks such as 'Mercy' and 'Wire And Wood', but the highlights were the slower numbers where Vai could add some jazzy solos on the ode to James Dean, the AOR breeze Of 'Will You Be Home Tonight' and the mystic charm of 'Desert Diamond'.

There's an extra bonus DVD with this Hear No Evil release with an entire live concert filmed on this tour in Tokyo, Japan making for a very tasty package.

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graham bonnet

Their third album again featured a different guitarist after the band were left to eat 'em and smile as David Lee Roth asked Steve Vai to talk about a Yankee Rose.

Danny Johnson, who had previously worked with Rick Derringer, Alice Cooper and Rod Stewart was brought in to replace Vai.

The album is actually a much more smooth affair. Any track would be suitable as a backing soundtrack for an episode of 'Miami Vice' with the typical sound of 80s slick production.

Following the success of labelmates Heart, Capital Records wanted Alcatrazz to use some outside writers but Bonnet and the band were dead against this so a compromise was met with the inclusion of two cover versions.

The first choice works surprisingly well and opens the album. A reworking of 60s beat group The Animals' 'It's My Life' is almost unrecognisable from the original version and is a fine version despite not being exactly what Capital Records had in mind.

The second choice was a song originally done by a youthful Bonnet with The Marbles, 'Only One Woman', and it's given the modern production flare.

The album has an even flow with songs such as 'Undercover' and the tribute to Japan with 'Ohayo Tokyo' being the highlights of this enjoyable record which never got its recognition upon release in 1986 by failing to chart which led to Alcatrazz being dropped by Capitol and the band's eventual demise.

Included are a bonus eight tracks recorded live in Long Island, USA, which make for a timely reminder of what could have been.

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graham bonnet

Following the break up of Alcatrazz, Graham kept himself busy with projects by Impelliteri, Forcefield as well as another solo album and in 1993 he teamed up again with Jimmy Waldo.

The pair joined guitarist Bob Kulick who had worked with Kiss and Meat Loaf plus the rhythm section from Quiet Riot, drummer Frankie Banali and bassist Chuck Wright. With these credentials the band promised to make some serious noise and a new super group was formed.

With Grunge in its prime, the nineties was not kind to most artists who had enjoyed the excesses of the previous decade. This album reflects the time it was made with a much harder, darker approach.

Every song is a pure belter. Kulick's heavy riffage pushes Bonnet to sing a lot heavier with the opening barrage of 'Cradle To The Grave', 'We Won't Be Forgotten' and the title track being standouts.

Contributions from Marc Ferrari, Steve Plunkett, Chuck Burgi and Kullick's brother Bruce all provide for a very solid album which is complemented by a couple of unplugged bonus tracks.

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graham bonnet

Through lack of touring and the changing times, Blackthorne sadly had a short shelf life, so short that their second album remained in the can for an amazing twenty-two years.

Finally out of the treasure chest, 'Don't Kill The Thrill' really is a lost gem. Reduced to a trio of Bonnet, Waldo and Kullick handling both guitar and bass parts, this offering is actually superior to the previous album with a clear production and more accessible songs like the title track, the heavy slide guitar of 'Wild Inside' and the spellbinding 'Paralyzed'.

Bonnet seems more at ease with these recordings and Kullick's playing is more fluent and the release is augmented by no less than twenty bonus tracks with a plethora of live recordings which include versions from Bonnet's past as well as insightful interviews.

A most worthy collection.

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To find out about the Alcatrazz albums 'No Parole From Rock 'N Roll' and 'Live Sentence', click here.

For a review of Graham Bonnet's early solo albums 'Back Row In The Stalls', 'Graham Bonnet', 'No Bad Habits' and 'Line Up' click here.

Main photo crdit: Hugh Gilmour


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