Martin Birch’s finest moments with Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Blue Öyster Cult

By Steve Newton If you're fan of hard rock and metal you've no doubt already heard that Martin Birch, the preeminent producer of loud rock, passed away recently at the age of 71. I've interviewed my fair share of hard-rock producers, including the formerly Vancouver-based triumvirate of Bruce Fairbairn, Bob Rock, and Mike Fraser, but … Continue reading Martin Birch’s finest moments with Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Blue Öyster Cult

Martin Birch, producer of unforgettable hard-rock/metal albums, dies at 71

By Steve Newton It's a sad day for fans of '70s and '80s hard-rock and heavy-metal. Martin Birch, who produced and/or engineered more popular metal albums than most anyone, died earlier today at the age of 71. Birch produced such monumental loud-rock albums as Rainbow's Rising, Black Sabbath's Heaven and Hell, Blue Oyster Cult's Fire … Continue reading Martin Birch, producer of unforgettable hard-rock/metal albums, dies at 71

That time Tony Carey told me that he thought “The First Day of Summer” was going to break his new album wide open

By Steve Newton Way back in May of 1984 I interviewed Tony Carey, who I'd been a fan of since I heard him playing keyboards on Rainbow's colossal Rising album of 1976. At the time of our chat he was promoting his new solo album Some Tough City, which was doing well on the charts … Continue reading That time Tony Carey told me that he thought “The First Day of Summer” was going to break his new album wide open

Newt’s Rock Hall inducts Rainbow, BTO, Steve Earle, Judas Priest, Little Feat, Todd Rundgren, and Mahogany Rush

By Steve Newton As you may aware, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame crapped the bed again yesterday, inducting the likes of Whitney Houston and Depeche Mode over nominees like Thin Lizzy, Soundgarden, Judas Priest, and the MC5. So today Newt's Rock Hall is gonna match their six additions, and add a seventh to … Continue reading Newt’s Rock Hall inducts Rainbow, BTO, Steve Earle, Judas Priest, Little Feat, Todd Rundgren, and Mahogany Rush

That time Tommy Aldridge told me why Black Oak Arkansas wasn’t mentioned in his bio

By Steve Newton When it came to hard rock drummers in the '70s, there were a couple who particularly turned my crank. One was Cozy Powell, mainly for his work with Rainbow, and the other was Tommy Aldridge, mainly for his work with Black Oak Arkansas and the Pat Travers Band. (In the '80s he'd … Continue reading That time Tommy Aldridge told me why Black Oak Arkansas wasn’t mentioned in his bio

Album review: Rainbow, Finyl Vinyl (1986)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 9, 1986 By Steve Newton Few things in the world of hard rock are as moving and intense as a Ritchie Blackmore solo, and this last live gasp from his band, Rainbow, sports some of The Man in Black's wildest playing. It's a collection of mostly live tracks recorded between … Continue reading Album review: Rainbow, Finyl Vinyl (1986)

Album review: Deep Purple, Slaves and Masters (1990)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 3, 1991 By Steve Newton So Ian Gillan has left Deep Purple again, this time to be replaced by Joe Lynn Turner instead of David Coverdale. Well, that idea has its possibilities: Turner and Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore made some fine rock ’n’ roll together in the … Continue reading Album review: Deep Purple, Slaves and Masters (1990)

That time Graham Bonnet told me that Ritchie Blackmore isn’t moody at all, just a real nice, shy guy

By Steve Newton Ritchie Blackmore is one of my favourite guitarists of all time. As a 15-year-old when Machine Head was released in 1972, I could barely comprehend how great his guitar solo on "Highway Star" made me feel. Over and over again. Two years later he did it again with the lead break on "Burn". … Continue reading That time Graham Bonnet told me that Ritchie Blackmore isn’t moody at all, just a real nice, shy guy

That time Graham Bonnet told me about unknown Alcatrazz guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen: “He’s one day gonna be a star”

By Steve Newton Back in the '80s one of my jobs at the Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver was to cover the hard-rock/heavy metal beat. Soon after getting hired as a proofreader/typesetter in '82 I was doing articles on Priest, Scorps, Maiden, and Ozzy, which--to my utter delight--often ended up as the cover story. Metal was … Continue reading That time Graham Bonnet told me about unknown Alcatrazz guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen: “He’s one day gonna be a star”

Tony Carey not happy that I blogged about his ancient issues with Rainbow

By Steve Newton Whoa! I woke up to an angry Facebook message from rocker Tony Carey this morning. Turns out the singer, songwriter, and keyboard great was none too impressed with the blog I posted yesterday, which included audio from 1984 of him denouncing his previous band, Rainbow, and in particular guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. "Why … Continue reading Tony Carey not happy that I blogged about his ancient issues with Rainbow

Bruce Dickinson in ’83: “It would be unthinkable to make an Iron Maiden album without Martin Birch”

By Steve Newton Back in June of 1983 I did a phone interview with Bruce Dickinson in advance of Iron Maiden's show in Vancouver on the Piece of Mind tour. During the course of our conversation Dickinson claimed that it would be "unthinkable" for Iron Maiden to make an album without producer Martin Birch, who … Continue reading Bruce Dickinson in ’83: “It would be unthinkable to make an Iron Maiden album without Martin Birch”

Ronnie James Dio: the Lost Interview of 1985, an Ear of Newt exclusive

By Steve Newton On December 20, 1985, Ronnie James Dio called me up at home and we chatted for 20 minutes or so. How cool was that? The legendary heavy-metal artist was doing press promoting his Sacred Heart tour, which was scheduled to play Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum on December 28, with guest Yngwie Malmsteen. We talked … Continue reading Ronnie James Dio: the Lost Interview of 1985, an Ear of Newt exclusive

Former Elf and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber dies of prostate cancer at 63

Rainbow 1975, L-R: Soule, Dio, Gruber, Blackmore, Driscoll By Steve Newton Craig Gruber, former bassist for '70s rock acts Elf and Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, passed away yesterday after a battle with prostate cancer. News of Gruber's passing was posted on the Facebook page of his former Elf bandmate, keyboardist Mickey Lee Soule: Very sad to hear of … Continue reading Former Elf and Rainbow bassist Craig Gruber dies of prostate cancer at 63

Tony Carey rips into Rainbow after “A Fine, Fine Day”, just before “The First Day of Summer”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 1, 1984 By Steve Newton The memories of his days in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow are not joyous ones for Tony Carey. The singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist was a member of the band for three years, and performed on the Rainbow Rising and Live on Stage albums before leaving in disgust in … Continue reading Tony Carey rips into Rainbow after “A Fine, Fine Day”, just before “The First Day of Summer”

Ritchie Blackmore “couldn’t care less” about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, OCT. 23, 2012 By Steve Newton Rush and Deep Purple garnered plenty of headlines in the music press earlier this month when they were among the 15 acts nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Fans of both legendary rock bands felt the selection was … Continue reading Ritchie Blackmore “couldn’t care less” about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame