David Rosenthal recalls playing with Steve Vai and Ritchie Blackmore


In a recent interview on Rolling Stone magazine, Dave Rosenthal, talked among other things about the band where he was playing with Steve Vai, as well as being a member of Rainbow.

“I had a lot of high-school bands and stuff like that. But when I got to Berklee, I was in a band with Steve Vai called Morning Thunder. He and I met in the first few days at school. We did a lot of playing together and we still keep in touch to this day. I’ve played on a couple of his albums.

He used to write stuff that was impossible to play, but we’d try to find a way to play it anyway. I’d write stuff. He’d write stuff. And we’d cover some Zappa tunes and we covered Happy the Man. We covered some of the most difficult music you could possibly imagine. It was just a lot of fun. It was challenging. We pushed each other and grew a lot through the whole thing. And then he eventually left to join Frank Zappa’s band.

As for entering Rainbow he said: A friend of a friend told me that Ritchie Blackmore was looking for a new keyboard player, so I sent him a cassette. It was my cover band playing a bunch of different rock tunes on one side. And on the other side was my senior classical piano recital where I played all this crazy stuff. I knew he was into classical as well.

He heard that and invited me to audition out on Long Island. It was a cattle call. I went there and they narrowed it down to me and one other guy, and then I got the gig.

One moment of the audition I remember very specifically is that [bassist] Roger Glover was running the auditions. He came over to me and said, “Let’s say that we’re onstage now in front of 20,000 people and Ritchie just broke a string and nothing is happening on the stage. You need to fill space. Go.”

I just played. I just starting playing something on the [Hammond] B3 and then I played some riffs on the Minimoog and jumped over to the clavinet. They were Ritchie’s keyboards that they had there. I had brought my stuff with me. I only had a Fender Rhodes, a Farfisa organ, and a synth. I was a student. I didn’t have any money. So they said, “Play our keyboards. Play this setup.”

I had learned about a lot of these keyboards in Theory, but I’d never actually played them. But in any event, I just played a little bit here, and a little bit there. I just played. I didn’t think anything of it.

About a year later, Roger Glover told me that out of all the people they asked that of, I was the only guy that just started playing. He said everyone else had an excuse like, “Oh, don’t worry; I’ll be prepared,” or “I’ll work something up.” Everybody had a story, but I was the only guy that just started playing.

Read the entire interview here