Interviewed by Greg Schmitt
Date: December 2010
Greg Schmitt, from the weekly radio show Noize In The Attic , recently caught up with former DIO / RAINBOW bass player, Jimmy Bain
Greg Schmitt: First off Iíd like to obviously give you our condolences over the passing of Ronnie.
Jimmy Bain: Yes, thank you very much.
Greg Schmitt: Öand we're all enjoying the new DIO - Live At Donington CD
Jimmy Bain: Great, fantastic. I just checked it out myself, this week.
Greg Schmitt: Now, do you remember your first time meeting Ronnie? Obviously, it was back in the RAINBOW days.
Jimmy Bain: It was in the RAINBOW days, absolutely Ė it was in London & I had just spoken with Ritchie Blackmore a few days before, and he had asked me when I was gonna be playing again, and I said "next Sunday at the Marquee Club". And basically what he said was "Iím gonna come over and check you out" which freaked me out at the time, because he was my big idol as guitar players went. And as it happened, when he came over, he brought Ronnie Dio with him, and Bruce Payne, the manager, and Fergie, the roadie who was the guy who knew me, who introduced me to Ritchie in the first place. So they all flew over to London to see me play, and it was kind of hilarious, because my band really didn't do a very good job. The drummer did particularly bad, and was sick. And instead of hitting the drums, and the stick was coming up and hitting meÖ and I was singing and playing the guitar playerís rolesÖ and I was just completely disgusted, because I thought that was my big chance to get into the states and play in a band with Blackmore and stuff. And as it happens, as Ritchie put it - they made me look great, so thatís kinda how I got the job.
Greg Schmitt: And then you went onto do the "Rising" album and the live one, "On Stage".
Jimmy Bain: I did the "Rising" album, yeah, the "On Stage" album, and then was unceremoniously booted out. But I was quite happy to have had two years with Ritchie and Ronnie. It was really a great, great experience.
Greg Schmitt: Now you say you got booted out Ė what happened there?
Jimmy Bain: Well, you know, Ritchie was kinda one of these guys- his idea of a sense of humor was terror for most people, because heíd play these kind of pranks on you, and he was a wind-up merchant. Heíd come over and tell me my bass was out of tune on stage or something like that. A couple of times I knew the bass wasnít out of tune, but I played his game a little bit with him. This one particular night I felt really bad when he came over (to try it) and he was a little drunk at the time, so when he told me (I was out of tune) I said "Donít say that! Ė one more time and youíll be eating the bass!" kind of thing. So he kind of felt a little intimidated by that and I think that was one of the reasons I ended up getting my marching orders.
Greg Schmitt: And from there, you went to WILD HORSES with Brian Robertson.
Jimmy Bain: WILD HORSES, yes, thatís correct.
Greg Schmitt: Now how did you know Brian?
Jimmy Bain: Brian I knew from playing the Marquee. Before I got the gig with RAINBOW, I was playing this residency in the Marquee, and THIN LIZZYís offices were just around the corner from where the Marquee was, so he would be in the Marquee most days, most afternoons. And we were doing sound checks and I kinda Ė I knew who he was and everything. So we hit it off really well, Brian & I Ė we became really good drinking buddies, and then friends and thenÖ So it seemed natural when I came out of RAINBOW to go back to London and maybe get something together with him. And thatís just exactly what happened. And I started working with Phil Lynott at the same time, because I really liked THIN LIZZY; I loved their music and everything, and so I became really good friends with them.
Greg Schmitt: I was gonna ask you that too - you worked on both Philís solo albums, right?
Jimmy Bain: Thatís correct, right.
Greg Schmitt: So Phil didnít have a problem with you working with Brian and also him, because Brian was out of the band at the time.
Jimmy Bain: Right. It was kind of strange, because I actually knew more about what was going on with THIN LIZZY than Brian did because he was a little younger than the rest of the guys andÖ Phil and I started to write. I felt like the guys from THIN LIZZYĖ Brian & Scott were a little scared of Phil, you know, he was a little intimidating, and I find that to be not at all the case. I would just go over to Philís and we would get the guitars on and start playing, and songs came out. And they didnít do that; they waited until they got in rehearsal with THIN LIZZY. And it was a lot easier to write songs when youíre in somebodyís house than at the cold rehearsal place, so (because of) the fact I could write with Phil and write with Brian too, and I just wrote with both of them, and it was funny - I played keyboards with Phil Lynott on his one solo tour that he did in Europe, and that was around the time Ronnie & Vinny came around and started asking me about personnel for their new band which was gonna be DIO.
Greg Schmitt: Do you still keep in touch with Brian?
Jimmy Bain: Brian I havenít seen for a few years now. The last time I was over there with DIO, I didnít see him because I think he was in Europe or something, playing with somebody. But I would like to keep in touch with him- I keep in touch with the rest of the guys from WILD HORSES - Neil Carter and Clive Edwards I talk to..
Greg Schmitt: So any chance of a WILD HORSES reunion on the horizon?
Jimmy Bain: Well, you know, itís actually funny because the actual albums have just been released on CD in the states.
Greg Schmitt: I think theyíre very underrated.
Jimmy Bain: Thank you very much Ė I appreciate that. And we really wanted to come to the states, and it was kind of disappointing that we never did. We went to Japan and Europe and stuff like that, but we never got to tour the states, and that was one of the perks or things I didnít like that didnít happen for the band, that we didnít make it in the states. But I donít know, maybe itís possible we could do some shows. I would have to talk to Brian about it, but Iím sure the other two guys would be quite happy to do that.
Greg Schmitt: Now, around the same time period, you also played on Gary Mooreís "Dirty Fingers", right?
Jimmy Bain: Thatís right. I did that the same time I was mixing the WILD HORSES album. I played with Gary between noon and six, and then from seven on through the night, I worked on the WILD HORSES album.
Greg Schmitt: So you only played in the studio, you didnít tour for that?
Jimmy Bain: No, I didnít tour with him for that.
Greg Schmitt: Did you also play bass on "Love At First Sting" by the SCORPIONS?
Jimmy Bain: Yes, I did.
Greg Schmitt: And they just didnít want you credited, I assume?
Jimmy Bain: No, they paid me lots and lots of Deutchmarks, so I didnít really care too much whether they (did). I mean, I think the last (record they did), "Blackout" , they had a session player on that one. And then I was friends with Herman Rarebell, and he kind of asked me if Iíd go over and try out, and I did. And I clicked right in there with Rudy Schenker, and thatís what you do- you play with the main guitar player in the band, and he was it. And I just got right in with him with the bass, and they loved it, you know? And itís just a really cool album. And then I think after we did it, Bobby Rondinelli came in because Herman Rarebell didnít play so well Ė he was kind of a - he wasnít very good Ė he never practiced or anything, so they asked me who they should get, and we brought in Bobby Rondinelli. And we were in ABBA Studios in Stockholm, and weíd been there two weeks, and we hadnít done one song. Weíd rehearsed the song for about two months in Germany, and everything seemed like it was going to go really smoothly, but when we got there, Herman just didnít seem to have it together. So we got Bobby in, and by the time Bobby was over his jetlag, we had half the record done, you know? So it was good.
Greg Schmitt: So how much did Bobby play on it then?
Jimmy Bain: He played on quite a lot if it. Iíd bet all of it. When they were doing the US Festival, he just finished off (his parts), and I was doing some of the songs again with Dieter Dierks.
Greg Schmitt: Was this Dieterís decision or was this from band management, or whom?
Jimmy Bain: To use me and Bobby? I think it was Ė I think the Germans are very strange. I mean, if it were my band, and I was the bass player, and they wanted me to stand there and watch while somebody else played bass on an album, I wouldnít be too happy with that. But Francis seemed OK with it. You know, he did a lot of organizing for the band, getting behind the scenes as a kind of a tour manager and stuff like that, and he was just kind of getting things together for their American tour when I was there, and he didnít mind at all. We became quite good friends, Francis and I. I encouraged him to push himself to the front and not let them use you as a kind of a part-time bass player kind of thing. He did that for a while, and then after that they got somebody else I think. But I was called to play on all of it. It was a great album. I liked it. In fact, they offered me a job to carry on with them.
Greg Schmitt: To actually be a member of the band?
Jimmy Bain: Yes, they wanted me to stay and play full time with them, but DIO was just starting at that time, and thatís where my loyalty was, so I thought it was great to be asked butÖ In fact, Ronnie was a little worried when I went off to do it that maybe thatís exactly what was gonna happen, that I was gonna go and stay with them, but I told him, "Donít worry about it, Ronnie Ė Iíll be back." I was really excited about DIO, you know I thought DIO was gonna be a great band, and it turned out to BE great and I wasnít gonna leave.
Greg Schmitt: So there was some overlap there, then?
Jimmy Bain: Yeah, a little bit of overlap. In fact, I finished the SCORPIONS record and I went straight over to do the "Rainbow in the Dark" video in London, so there was about a day of overlap.
Greg Schmitt: So you mustíve been in on the groundwork of DIO. Did you have a large hand in auditioning guitarists? Or was that more Ronnieís thing?
Jimmy Bain: Well I found the guitar player, because actually WILD HORSES did a tour of Ireland of all places, and Vivís band SWEET SAVAGE were the band that supported us. So I got a first hand chance to see what he was like. And when Ronnie called and asked me if I knew any guitar players, Iíd only two in mind Ė John Sykes and Vivian Campbell. I thought ,b>John Sykes is a little bit too tall at the beginning, so we went with Viv, and Viv turned out fantastic, so it was an easy decision. We got together in London Ė we did one kind of rehearsal there where ,b>Vinny and ,b>Ronnie came over from L.A. and ,b>Viv & I came over from Ireland, and we just played for a couple of hours. And it was just electric; you know the jams we had then. So it was decided then that the band was gonna be there. And I went off and did the European tour with ,b>Phil, and Vivian went over to L.A. a couple of weeks later, and we hooked up with ,b>Ronnie and ,b>Vinny,/b> there. Thatís where the band started.
Greg Schmitt: Now I also heard that Jake E. Lee was actually auditioning at one point, before Vivian.
Jimmy Bain: I think we may have tried Jake E. Lee before Ronnie came over, he called me up and asked me what I thought of the situation. In fact he asked me initially Ė Ronnie- if I knew any bass players, and I was like "think Iíd be alright?" He thought I was doing something else at the time, but I wasnít at that particular point. I was quite happy to get involved with Ronnie again, so that was great.
Greg Schmitt: And you stayed with Dio all through "Dream Evil", right?
Jimmy Bain: Through "Dream Evil", yes.
Greg Schmitt: Then what happened? After "Dream Evil" it seems like, Ronnie disbanded the whole group.
Jimmy Bain: Yes, I think he became a little disillusioned. I could tell after "Sacred Heart" turning towards "Dream Evil" that there was a certain amount of losing our direction a little bit. You know, we would come up with songs like "Sunset Superman" on "Dream Evil" Ė it was like - I remember at the time QUEEN had the song "We are the Champions", and Ronnie wanted to have a song in that vein. And "Sunset Superman" (had the) same kind of drum beat in the beginning of it, and I was against copying or trying to have songs like a band before- letís stick to what made us successful- Keep it that way. We donít want Dio to sound like QUEEN, and so on. Thatís just an example I can give, but thatís kind of when we started to get a little frustrated, because youíve done four albums, and it starts to become "same-y" if you arenít very careful with the songs and stuff. ĎCause each time you go to try (and do) a new record, itís harder to come up with material thatís gonna be really excellent, because it starts to sound "same-y". Itís all in the same vein. So I think Ronnie wanted to try new things. (When) that song "Sunset Superman" comes on, it always reminds me of "We are the Champions."
Greg Schmitt: So around that time you did some demos with Bruce Dickinson and Frankie Banali, is that true?
Jimmy Bain: Bruce came over to my house in L.A. and I had 5 or 6 (songs to show him) and he sat down and basically came up with lyrics for all five of them the night he was there. And then (he) went off back to do MAIDENagain, and I didnít see him for another four years or something like that. But we did some demos and the first thing he said to me when I saw him in 2002 when we did those shows with IRON MIDEN was "Do you still got a tape of that stuff we did?" Shit! You know, and of course I had lost the tape many, many years before. But he remembered it, and I remembered it too. It was really good stuff.
Greg Schmitt: So thatís what I was gonna ask you - Are we ever gonna hear that? I guess weíre not.
Jimmy Bain: I guess weíre not gonna hear it now because I donít have a tape of it. You know in the moving houses situation, things get lost. And that was one of the things I was really pissed off that I lost was that tape.
Greg Schmitt: So he doesnít have a copy?
Jimmy Bain: He didnít get a copy. He was too drunk by the time he left. He could barely stand up, so I just let him sleep it off, and then he had to rush off at the last minute when he woke up, and I didnít get a chance to see him or to give him a tape or anything.
Greg Schmitt: Then in early 2000ís you actually came back to DIO for "Magica" and "Killing The Dragon". How did that happen?
Jimmy Bain: Iíd gotten where I hadnít talked to Wendy or Ronnie for a long time and then I kind of called up just to say hello and stuff like that. I wasnít really chasing a gig or anything like that. And it was just good timing on my part, because a couple of weeks later I got a call back from her, and she said, "Ronnie would like to see if you wanna come back in the band." And I said "Yeah, sure, itíd be nice," so thatís when I came back. And "Magica" was already kind of written so I didnít really get involved in that one too much. But the next one "Killing the Dragon" I was definitely very involved in, Ďcause I wrote nearly all the songs with Ronnie on that one.
Greg Schmitt: And actually, I think thatís the best one from the last ten years.
Jimmy Bain: Youíre absolutely right. I agree. And Doug Aldrich was great. And the tour ..I mean, I was watching the DVD the other night. I mean, the band never sounded tighter than with that line up. It was just phenomenal. I watched that DVD about four or five times in the last few months, and that band was so tight. We did that show at the Roseland in New York, and we shot it there and itís great - Itís a great DVD. Ronnie looks really happy, he never sounded better, and Doug Aldrich is just phenomenal on the guitar.
Greg Schmitt: Thatís "Evil or Divine", right?
Jimmy Bain: Yes, thatís correct.
Greg Schmitt: So what caused you to leave DIO a second time then, after that tour?
Jimmy Bain: Well this was the problem: Doug Aldrich got swept away by WHITESNAKE for money, and I was kind of appalled at the management of DIO that (they) didnít go after him and try to fight a little bit to keep him in the band. And so the alternative was, "OK- weíre gonna go back and start writing with Craig Goldy," and my excitement level wasnít exactly high when I heard that. And I felt like the band had sort of gotten a new lease on life, playing with Doug Aldrich and I think we all felt that. And when it was the case of going back again to Craig Goldy for, I donít know - the forth or fifth time, my heart wasnít in it. So I just told him I couldnít do that. So that was when we parted company the second time.
Greg Schmitt: And from there, you went and did 3 LEGGED DOGG. Would you ever consider doing another one, maybe with more of a classic metal sound?
Jimmy Bain: Yes, yes I would.
Greg Schmitt: ĎCause itís a great line up.
Jimmy Bain: Yeah, it was - itís a great line-up, and I thought the songs are really good. Everything just seemed right, but for some reason, itís one of these things Ė you know the album just didnít pan out. Nobody got to hear it very much, and we didnít do any shows. Vinny was involved with playing with some other bands at the time, and it got kind of stuck on the back burner. I was really pissed off with that because I thought the band couldíve gone the whole way and couldíve done the whole thing.
Greg Schmitt: Now it looks like Carlos (Cavazo) is available again.
Jimmy Bain: Yeah, Carlos is backÖ (and) Brian Young was a really good guitar player too; the guy from David Lee Roth. He did most of the writing with myself and Vinny. But you know Vinny & I put another band together quite recently with two new people Ė a guitar player called Mark Bashon (sp?) and a singer from Alabama called Doogie Black (sp?). And I was working with them for about a year, and for some reason in the last few months, since Ronnie passed away, I havenít talked to them. Iíve talked to them a couple of times (before) and I found out through the grapevine that they were working with trying out other bass players and stuff - which really disappointed me. But I donít know what the deal is. I still havenít found out really the reason why Iím not in the band, because I really like the stuff. It was really more of what you were suggesting which is a heavier 3 LEGGED DOGG, and thatís exactly what that band is like. It was kind of really good, really heavy.
Greg Schmitt: Something for the 80ís DIO fans, you know?
Jimmy Bain: Exactly. Yeah, they would love this band. And we had tentatively called it BLACK QURAN just as a sort of a bit of a dig to the Middle Eastern people a little bit, you know. Just to call it BLACK QURAN just to give something that really would get noticed, as far as a name. 3 LEGGED DOGGís a great name but nobody seemed to know who it was. BLACK QURAN would get noticed a lot faster. But Iím not sure now what the situation is - youíd have to talk to Vinny about that one. But Iím sure itíll be going forward. Iím kind of leaning more towards doing my project that I have done over the last few years, "The Key". Which is a bunch of solo songs I had that Iíve recorded now to be put out on CD Baby, along with a book which Iíve written.
Greg Schmitt: Weíd love to play it on the show.
Jimmy Bain: Oh great. Thatís fantastic. Weíd love to give it to you and see what you think.
Greg Schmitt: Is that out yet, or is that coming out?
Jimmy Bain: Iím just compiling it now. All the songs are done, and Iím just working on the cover right now actually.
Greg Schmitt: Weíll look forward to it. Thank you so much for your time.