One of the prime figures in the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was always the driving force behind Rainbow in two spells in the spotlight, between 1975-1984 and 1994-1997. Blackmore originally built his formidable reputation playing lead guitar with Deep Purple but left in 1974 in frustration at their musical direction, recruiting Ronnie James Dio from Elf as lead singer in the first Rainbow line-up. They released their debut album Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow the following year but, despite a minor hit with Man On The Silver Mountain, Blackmore promptly sacked the entire band, with the exception of Ronnie Dio. In their places he introduced drummer Cozy Powell, bassist Jimmy Bain and American keyboards player Tony Carey to establish what is regarded as the classic Rainbow line-up. They quickly established themselves as one of the world's great live bands and had successful albums with Rising (1976), Long Live Rock'n'Roll (1978) and Down To Earth (1979). Graham Bonnet replaced Dio as lead singer in 1979 but, after more personnel changes, they disbanded in 1984. After a spell back with Deep Purple, Blackmore reformed Rainbow a decade later, releasing one new studio album Stranger In Us All (1995). They split again following drummer Cozy Powell's death in 1998 after which Blackmore decided to concentrate on playing renaissance music with Blackmore's Night.