An Interview with
Bobby Rondinelli, Drummer of ‘Over The Rainbow’ & also Bonnie Tyler (in the USA & Canada).
The Interview took place on Friday,30th January 2009 and conducted by Glenn Milligan.
Bobby: Hello Glenn
Glenn: Hi Bobby, how you doing mate?
Bobby: Good, how are you?
Glenn: Not too bad mate. What originally turned you onto playing drums?
Bobby: I don’t know, when I was a kid, I guess The Beatles. I just always liked the drums. I was always hitting on things. It just seems to be the most physical instrument and I related to it.
Glenn: So you saw Ringo Starr playing away and thought, “That’s for me that is.”
Glenn: Awesome. What was the first kit you got?
Bobby: The first kit I got was actually a Zim-Gar kit. It was a black pearl Zim-Gar kit which was a Japanese Kit and then my Father got me a Sonar snare to go with it for on the road. Then I got a Gretsch Tom that I added onto it but then my second kit was a big Ludwig double bass kit.
Glenn: So it was a big thing to transport around no doubt, in its day.
Glenn: What would you say are your favourite drummers and how has that changed now?
Bobby: My favourite guys back then were Carmine Appice, John Bonham, Ginger Baker, Buddy Rich, Mitch Mitchell and later on guys like Cozy Powell, Ian Paice and Billy Cobham, Tony Williams - there’s so many. So many great drummers.
Glenn: Yeah, they stand out from the rest of the pack. It’s amazing since you mentioned Cozy as well, then him being in Rainbow, so that’s nice and you’ve followed in his footsteps somewhat.
Bobby: Yeah. Yeah – we became friends, Cozy was a good guy.
Glenn: Yeah, I saw him play when he was with Brian May and it was about ’92 or 93 at Sheffield City Hall – an absolutely brilliant drummer.
Glenn: What would you say your favourite gigs are from the Rainbow days and why?
Bobby: Specific Gigs?
Glenn: Yeah. Or any tours as it gets to be a blur after a bit because you’ve played so many different gigs.
Bobby: Yeah I mean the Budokan in Japan was always a fun gig, Madison Square Gardens, (New York), Nassau Coliseum, you know, LA Forum stands out.
Glenn: Yeah, is it because they were really big places and you got a lot of atmosphere?
Bobby: Yeah and they got the whole mystique that goes with ‘em and those were the gigs you really wanna be spot on.
Glenn: Yeah, excellent. Do yoy remember what bands you were playing with at the time, were Rainbow supporting or were Rainbow supporting somebody?
Bobby: Yeah Rainbow, we pretty much headlined everything we did. We had bands like Scorpions support, Iron Maiden, Pat Travers, tons of different bands.
Glenn: Is that what led you onto doing some work with the Scorpions for a bit through those guys supporting you or was it before then?
Bobby: No we became friends, we became friends when we were on tour together and I got a call from Rudolph telling me that Herman wasn’t well – he was sick and they were recording and could I come over and do some recording with ‘em. So we were already friendly by then.
Glenn: When you worked with Scorpions and Rainbow, what would you say the differences between bands and personalities? Was it very similar as in similar sorts of people as such?
Bobby: . Every band is different just because you’ve got different guys personalities. Drumming-wise, Rainbow was more of like.. more drum fills while with Scorpions it was more just like straight groove kinda thing, not as big fill, everything more downbeat and less syncopated – more straight, more rigid and more German sounding. You know, very cool but different than the way I would play on Rainbow stuff.
Glenn: So you got to do something different from what you were usually used to in the Rainbow days?
Bobby: Well when I played on the Scorpions record I was kinda thinking more towards playing to that Scorpions sound. They never really wanted it to be that different. They wanted it to be sorta what they were used to – especially for recording.
Glenn: Yeah. So you played for what fit for those guys basically?
Glenn: Makes sense. What would you say your favourite tour stories have been over the years in any band at all that really stand out? No doubt I’ve put you on the spot.
Bobby: Yeah. (Laughs). Ha, I could tell you but then I’d be in a lot of trouble. No, I mean it’s one good thing, I like touring and I’ve had a good time with every band I’ve been in from (Black) Sabbath to Blue Oyster Cult to Rainbow. Touring is always fun because you never know what is gonna happen. Without getting into specifics, I do like living out of a suitcase at times.
Glenn: And I suppose that wherever you are that’s your home, so to speak and you are happy?
Bobby: Yeah, you gotta. You know, if you don’t like being on the road, you shouldn’t really be in a rock band.
Glenn: Yeah because it’s different – another time, another place isn’t it all the time?
Bobby: Yeah, you’re always on the road man.
Glenn: Yeah, I suppose your home is on a drum seat basically in front of screaming fans and stuff with a band in front of you?
Glenn: I thought it’d be might something like that being as you’ve been doing it quite a long time.
Bobby: I’ve known it longer than I care to remember (he says jokingly). But I still love it.
Glenn: And why not? It sounds good. What about studios? What are your favourite studio sessions? Any particular things that stand out and why?
Bobby: The (Black) Sabbath sessions for ‘Crossed Purposes’ were pretty cool. We did ‘em in Wales at a place called Monorally or Monmouth. It’s like a farm and it had a nice big drum room in the back. It was great. It was really cool.
Bobby: Kinda in the middle of nowhere but it was nice.
Glenn: I suppose because it’s in the middle of nowhere it keeps people away from big bars and clubs and all that sorta stuff so you’ve not got too much of a distraction?
Bobby: Yeah well it was a drive away, but yeah - we pretty much got down to work.
Glenn: Yeah, what was your favourite songs you worked on with Sabbath? Do you have any things that stood out quite a bit?
Bobby: I would say ‘Immaculate Deception’, ‘Virtual Death’. I mean, that whole album, I was very happy with that whole album. I thought that was one of the best unknown Sabbath albums. (Laughs). That is out there you know.
Glenn: Yeah. When you were in Rainbow, with the ‘Straight Between The Eyes’ and ‘Difficult to Cure’, what do you most miss about those days?
Bobby: Being 25.
Glenn: Being 25. Good answer that!
(We both laugh)
Bobby: No, it was a good time. I mean, I was playing with Ritchie who was one of my favourite guitar players and in a band that the year before I went to see at the Caldarone Concert Hall (Hampstead, NY). I was, you know, a guy in the crowd and the next year we are playing Nassau Coliseum and I’m the drummer. So it was a good time. It was a good time for my first experience with a big band – I was touring with a headlining band. It wasn’t like... like we did a show in Canada – it was the 1st show. Yeah – we did some clubs to warm up and we went right to arenas. The drummer in the opening band comes in my dressing room after the show and he goes, “Man that was great”, he goes, “I got like about 20 concerts under my belt in big places”, he goes, “I can’t wait until I am as experienced as you”, and you know, “You seem so relaxed and stuff”, and I said, “Yeah, well this is my 1st”
That’s a true f*ck*n’ story man!
So I said, “You must be doing all right,” but I love playing and I think when you something – it shows.
Glenn: Yeah because you keep doing it don’t you no matter if you’re playing a little poxy bar or if you are playing a giant stadium.
Bobby: Yeah and we’re playing a little crap bar tomorrow night just because I love to play. It keeps you sharpe and it’s fun. You just play for fun and you don’t worry about the bread or anything like that.
Glenn: Yeah. Are you working with your brother Teddy on that one or is it a different band?
Bobby: Yeah tomorrow I’m working with my brother Teddy yep.
Glenn: On the Rainbow side of things, what songs do you enjoy drumming for?
Bobby: I them all a lot. I like them all. I like the ‘Spotlight Kid’ and ‘Death Valley Driver’ and ‘Jealous Lover’ and ‘I Surrender’. You know, they’re all good memories that we’re gonna be doing again very soon.
Glenn: What does it mean to you being part of ‘Over The Rainbow’ and how did it come about the band itself?
Bobby: It started about a couple of months ago when.. maybe it’s closer to a year ago now. Toney Carey gave me a call and asked me if I was interested in doing something for the Russian Presidents Inaugeration. And I said, “Sure”. We got a bunch of people involved but then the gig fell through.
Bobby: So we kinda forgot about it and then we corresponded a little bit more and then I get a call from Joe (Lynn Turner) one day and he goes, “You feel like maybe putting the Rainbow thing back together?”, so I said, “Yeah”. Then we called Jurgen (Blackmore), we called Tony (Carey) and the rest as they say is history and we’ll do some gigs.
Glenn: Yeah, I noticed you’re playing Russian, you’re playing the Ukraine and some Japanese dates as well. Will you be bringing it into Europe or do like a US Tour in time.
Bobby: Yeah, I’m sure we will. We are just taking the fisrt gigs first but I think it’s gonna go everywhere.
Bobby: I hope.
Glenn: You just gotta see how it all pans out really and how everyone gets on and that and all that sorta stuff as well.
Bobby: Yeah exactly but I think we’re all appreciative that people still care.
Glenn: Yeah. Definately.
Bobby: And that people are interested. So hopefully we just go out and do it.
Glenn: Yeah, I was talking to Jurgen (Blackmore) last week and he’s a really great guy and I was saying there’s a Rainbow tribute over here called ‘Rainbow Rising’ and they’re still working away so it’s good that you guys are members of Rainbow and coming out and doing it as well as proper members which is good.
Bobby: Yep, yep.
Glenn: That’s excellent stuff, yeah. What are your thoughts of being back with Joe Lynn Turner? Is it, ‘Good memories from previous and I’d love to do it’ sorta thing?
Bobby: Yeah. Me and Joe always got along. We never had a problem. We were always good friends and I’m suure it’ll be even better now because sometimes they say that youth is wasted on the young and I think it’ll be cool to rekindle the whole thing and see where it takes us.
Glenn: And having even more experience under your belt as well of being live on stage and getting it all back together again with Joe?
Bobby: Hopefully it’ll be better than ever.
Glenn: Are there certain things you are looking forward to like other countries and certain venues that are standing out right now? Like thinking,”I can’t wait to play this venue because it’s gonna be... or because I was there with a previous band or something like that?
Bobby: Well I can't wait to actually get together and play because haven’t played yet. (laughs).
Glenn: It’s as simple as that regardless.
Bobby: We’re getting ready to get off out which is gonna to happen very soon.
Glenn: Yeah. I recently got a couple of ‘The Lizards’ albums. How did that come to be? Was it because you were from New York as well and the opening was there?
Bobby: Well the way that happened is, I got a call from a Bass player named Jimmy Hasleff who used to play with Gino Vinelli and plays with The Yellowjackets and session guys – he plays on a lot of records. He called me and asked me if I wanted to play on a couple of songs from Mark Stein, the old keyboard player from Vanilla Fudge. So I said, “Sure”, so I did these sessions and they were at the bass player from The Lizards, Randy Pratts studio. He told me he always liked my drumming and asked me if I could play on some ‘Lizards’ stuff. So i said, “Sure”, and we hit it off and for about 3 years I was doing all The Lizards stuff plus all the Blue Oyster Cult stuff. I’d been into Blue Oyster Cult for about 5 years at that time so Blue Oyster Cult would get priority because it was a touring thing, so all the Blue Oyster Cult stuff and all The Lizards stuff. Then The Lizards got realt busy so I left Blue Oyster Cult, although I am still good friends and I love all those guys, to do The Lizards full-time and did that for a number of years and we came out with some good records and a live DVD, but The Lizrds is on hiatus indefinately so we haven’t played in well over a year so I don’t know if that’s gonna happen again.
Glenn: What made you guys (The Lizards) decide to do a covers album called ‘Archaelogy’?
Bobby: Well we just felt like doing some songs that were off-the-wall. Some of them were some of our favourites and it seemed like a good idea. We did it like, “Let’s record a song here”. We didn’t say, “Let’s do a covers album”, we just recorded a few songs and we realised, “Maybe this could be a covers record” and then we did a few more songs and put it out.
Glenn: Mmm, it’s nice to see you did a less obvious Humblie Pie song, the ‘Thunderbox’ song which is cool...
Glenn: ...Because everyone seems to do either ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’, ’30 Days In The Hole’ and...
Bobby: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Glenn: And you’ve picked a song and it’s like, ‘Yeah, excellent’ and it came out really, really well.
Bobby: Good. Thank you, thank you. I’m glad you like it. Yeah, I was very happy with the covers record because some of the stuff was recorded a year and a half before and I don’t even remember doing it, you know what I mean?
Bobby: And when I got the record (laughs), I think it’s pretty good.
Glenn: Awesome. That’s what you want. Brilliant. What got you on to deciding to be a drum teacher as well? Is it when you’ve got time off in the studio from being with bands and that?
Bobby: Well I taught ever since I was a kid. It was just a good way to keep sticks in your hands and make money. So it wasn’t like workin’ like a regualr job. I’d tell somebody earlier, I said, “You know, I only work 2 weeks of my whole life of a regular job for 2 weeks – that’s it.” I was always playing drums in clubs ever since I was a kid and teaching. I’m not independantly weathy so, but I always made a living playing drums and teaching was a good way to do it because you can teach all year round and you don’t have to wait for the phone to ring. So when they ask you to go on tour it keeps you sharp. That’s why a lot of my students are really good and I still teach and it keeps you current.
Glenn: Yeah. I suppose as well they recognise your name, like “Oh Bobby Rondinelli, I definately wanna get lessons off this guy because he’s been in Rainbow and...”
Bobby: It doesn’t hurt but once they come to you they either like you or not. I’ve been teaching a long time and I get along well with all different.. you know from kids to adults and I have male students, female students from ages 7 to 55 and I enjoy it.
Glenn: I guess initially they think, “Oh big Rock Star, I’ll get taught by a big Rock Star” but then they gotta really knuckle down and realise it’s just like having another teacher after the 1st so many minutes isn’t it?
Bobby: Yeah, yeah – it’s just drumming.
Glenn: What do you like most about living in New York and it’s certain areas?
Bobby: Well I think the most important thing is the people you care about nearby where I was born. That’s where my family is, my friends are and that’s why I’m here. If they all move, maybe I’ll move.
Glenn: I know - you find a lot of musicians, they seem to like disappear to LA and then to Las Vegas or dip down to Florida ‘n’ that and go to the real tropical hot places, whereas you like to live in a place that’s more like the UK (in regard to the climate).
Bobby: Yeah, I don’t mind the seasons – it makes you appreciate Summer more when you have Winter but I’m not saying I’ll never move but right now I’m a New-Yorker and I’m gonna stay that way.
Glenn: Yeah, got ya and you’re a ‘Proud New Yorker’, no doubt?
Glenn: Excellent. How was it working with Bonnie Tyler?
Bobby: Bonnie’s great and I’m still working with her.
Glenn: Are you? Excellent.
Bobby: When she comes to New York or other states or Canada I’m the drummer. I like her, she’s a great lady, she sings great – a pleasure to work with.
Glenn: That’s brilliant. Outside of drums, what do you enjoy doing?
Bobby: I collect knives, I hang out with my friends a lot, I go to clubs, I practise – a typical, you know, I collect things.
Glenn: Have you seen any new bands that you think liked the look of or took your fancy that you thought should get signed up?
Bobby: No I don’t really, I’m not that up on the new bands I hate to say.
Glenn: Yeah, there’s so many flavour of the month things going on.
Bobby: Yeah, I can’t keep up with it all.
Glenn: If you could put your own line-up of Rainbow together who would be in it?
Bobby: Well it’d be Joe Lynn Turner on Vocals, Jurgen Blackmore on Guitar, Tony Carey on....
Glenn: (I laugh) I knew you’d say that as that’s exactly what Jurgen (Blackmore) said.
Bobby: That’s the way it’s gotta be man – as it is, you know?
Glenn: Yeah. What would you say your favourite line-up of Rainbow was, apart from the one that you played in?
Bobby: Well apart from the Rainbow that I played in, I really like the Dio era Rainbow with Cozy (Powell) and Ronnie (James Dio) and Jimmy (Bain). That was a great line up.
Glenn: Because of just the power and there was something dark and different and in your face?
Bobby: Yeah, that was great, that was heavy stuff.
Glenn: Yeah, awesome. What made you decide to form your own band, ‘Rondinelli’?
Bobby: I always loved playing with my brother. We had some great music and it just seemed like a natural thing to do.
Glenn: Yeah – makes sense.
Bobby: Did you hear the one with Tony Martin that we did ‘Our Cross, Our Sins”
Glenn: I’ve not heard it personally.
Bobby: Well you should hear that – that’s a great record.
Glenn: Got ya.
Bobby: Yeah, me and my brother, Tony Martin and Neil Murray.
Bobby: You should definately get a hold of that somehow and check it out.
Glenn: Will do – it sounds good.
Bobby: It’s f*ck*n’ heavy.
Bobby: It’s musical and it’s heavy and it’s really good playing and I think you’d like it.
Glenn: Brilliant. Spot on that is. Overall, what would you say you are most proud of?
Bobby: I’m most proud of my Grandaughter and I think the book I wrote, ‘The Encyclopedia of Double Bass Drumming’. It’s a good book. I’m proud of it.
Bobby: I get a lot of feedback from people that use it and they all say it helps them and it’s very rewarding.
Glenn: What made you decide to put the book together?
Bobby: It just seemed like a natural thing to do, you know I taught a lot and actually the guy I wrote the book with, Michael Loren, he wrote a double bass book and he didn’t really play double bass so he asked me to play the book he wrote. You know and then he’d say, “What do you think of that?” and I said, “Well you know, I wouldn’t really do it like that I’d do it like this”. I’d play another one and he go, “What do you think?” and I go, “I would do it like this”, and he goes, “Yeah, yeah”. After I did that about 10 times he ripped the book in half. And then he said, “Do you wanna write a drum book together?”
Glenn: If you were to write an autobiography, what would be the main title for the book?
Bobby: Maybe ‘Raviolis and Drums’. (We laugh) Two of my favourite things.
Glenn: I thought you were gonna say that. One last thing, what other bands are you proud of working with outside Rainbow and what things have really stood out from those bands that make you proud of working with them?
Bobby: Well ‘(Black) Sabbath’ – we were great live. I don’t know if you ever saw the version of ‘(Black) Sabbath’ I was in live and ‘Crossed Purposes’ I think was a great album. I enjoyed playing with ‘Blue Oyster Cult’ tremendously – I was with those guys for like 8 years. I was very proud of ‘The Lizards’ although we really didn’t get that much international success, I think we had a pretty good reputation. I’ve really, I gotta tell ya Quiot Riot – all the bands I’ve played with. I mean I don’t have any sour grapes or bitter taste in my mouth – it was all good.
Glenn: That’s the best way isn’t it because you always think about and cherish the great moments as well with the different members and that.
Bobby: Yeah, yeah – it was all good you know. Sure there was rough times here and there with everything but you know, for the most part it was all good music and fun.
Glenn: Excellent. What would you like to say to the fans who will be reading the Interview and what to look forward to for the gigs if they are considering coming to see you guys?
Bobby: I would just like to say that I’m really looking forward to this tour with ‘Over The Rainbow and I hope to see as many fans at the shows as possible and I hope you dig it.
Glenn: Excellent, I’ll let you get off. It’s been great talking to you.
Bobby: Hey it was great talking to you. I’ve really enjoyed it. You asked good questions.
Glenn: I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it. You take care Bobby.
Bobby: Thanks Man.
Glenn: Hope to see ya.
Bobby: Hope to see ya at a show in England.
Glenn: Will too man. Later Man.
Bobby: Bye Bye.
Glenn: Thanks Man. See you later, bye.
Special Thank-You goes to Lisa Walker for setting up the Interview as