Ritchie Blackmore's celebrated career in rock ended not with a bang but with Doogie White. Rainbow's Stranger in Us All, released in August 1995, marked the end of one period and the beginning of another, as hints about Blackmore's next move were embedded throughout the project.

It should have been different. After all, Rainbow had been absent from the scene since 1983's Top 40 finisher Bent Out of Shape, followed by a long-awaited Blackmore reunion with Deep Purple. But the restless guitarist continued tinkering until Purple's poorly received 1990 album Slaves and Masters found him working again with former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. (Some wags began derisively referring to the group as "Deep Rainbow.")

In keeping, a subsequent return to Rainbow seemed perhaps inevitable at the time. Only new singer Doogie White was no Turner, to say nothing of Ronnie James Dio – or even Graham Bonnet. Rainbow's earlier vocalists, each far more distinctive, found countering Blackmore's pyrotechnics an easier task. White seemed to blend into the woodwork on all but a couple of standout tracks – including "Black Masquerade," which gave Stranger in Us All its name. The album sank, becoming Rainbow's lowest charting ever.

Listen to Rainbow's 'Black Masquerade'

In truth, Ritchie Blackmore had originally intended this to be a solo effort, until label execs pressured him into reviving the Rainbow brand. It wouldn't last. A closer look at Stranger in Us All gives us a roadmap to where he'd be headed next.

Besides the core group of White, Paul Morris, Greg Smith and John O'Reilly, Stranger in Us All also features Blackmore's wife Candice Night on background vocals. She co-wrote "Wolf to the Moon," "Ariel," "Black Masquerade," and new lyrics for Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King." Together, Blackmore and Night would go on to form the ren-faire folk band Blackmore's Night. "Ariel" ended up appearing as part of their live sets.

 

 

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