Bassist Craig Gruber, who played with Ronnie James Dio in legendary groups Rainbow and Elf, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 63 following a battle with prostate cancer.
Gruber joined Elf in 1973, according to Loudwire, taking over bass duties from Dio, who served as the vocalist and bassist in the band since its inception as the Electric Elves in 1967. Gruber’s addition to the lineup allowed Dio to focus on vocals, and both men appeared on 1974′s Carolina County Ball and 1975′s Trying to Burn the Sun.
— spark alot (@sparklot) May 6, 2015
When Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore left the band in 1975 to form his own act, Rainbow, he not only recruited Dio as the singer, but also the majority of Elf to fill out the new lineup. Gruber played bass on the band’s first recording, 16th Century Greensleeves, which was completed in secret while Elf were touring with Deep Purple, according to Blabbermouth.
Blackmore’s decision to leave Deep Purple and form Rainbow came as a complete shock to many of the members of Elf, Gruber recalled in a 2009 interview with the Stone Cold Crazy blog.
“[Dio] said, ‘Remember the song we did? Okay, it’s already pressed. It’s already master mixed and they put it out in England and it’s No. 7 on the British charts right now.’ This was like about six months later. Ronnie also said, ‘Ritchie liked the direction, so keep this under your hat. Don’t say anything and at the end of the tour, Elf is no more, and we’re forming a band with Ritchie Blackmore.’ I’m, like, ‘Holy s***, dude.’ That was actually the beginning of Rainbow.”
— Bass Player Magazine (@BassPlayerNow) May 6, 2015
Gruber went on to contribute bass to the band’s debut album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, but was dismissed along with the rest of the lineup, aside from Dio, following its release. Recently, later Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner revealed Blackmore’s intention to possibly reform the band, as the Inquisitr previously reported, despite the deaths of several former members, including Dio.
After his dismissal, Gruber went on to play with guitarist Gary Moore and to form Bible Black with Gary Driscoll, another original Rainbow member. When Dio joined legendary band Black Sabbath and bassist Geezer Butler briefly left, Gruber was called in to play on the sessions for the Heaven and Hell album, leaving when Butler decided to return. In recent years, Craig Gruber also played in the bands Raven Lord and Zvekan.
[Image via Twitter]