Chris Rainbow (born Christopher James Harley; 18 November 1946 – 22 February 2015), also known as Christopher Rainbow, was a Scottish rock singer and musician who had two hit songs, “Give Me What I Cry For” and “Solid State Brain” in the 1970s.[where?]
In addition to his solo career he was a very highly-regarded vocalist and vocal arranger who sang with many rock, pop & progressive bands and solo artists. Latterly, he owned his own studio and worked as a respected producer.
He was born the son of James Harley and Pamela Clapham. He adopted the stage name “Rainbow” to avoid confusion with Steve Harley, saying:
“Steve Harley was at his peak and I didn’t want any confusion. The name Rainbow was found one evening as me and some friends were watching TV and the reporter’s name flashed on the screen as ‘Christopher Rainbow’, so that was that.”
Rainbow had a severe stutter which disappeared when he sang.
Between 1972-73, Rainbow was involved in a band called Hopestreet.
Following this, he recorded first as Christopher Rainbow, then Chris Rainbow, and released three solo albums Home of the Brave in 1975, Looking Over My Shoulder in 1977, and White Trails in 1979.
Tracks from the latter two albums are collected on The Best of Chris Rainbow, 1972–1980, which has appeared in single and double CD sets and includes radio spots, and rare and unreleased material.
At this time Rainbow received much wider recognition for his music through the support of Kenny Everett, then on Capital Radio in London, who featured his music extensively. Some of the jingles that Rainbow made for Capital at this time were later released on an album of out-takes, demos and unreleased material.
Rainbow wrote, produced and recorded jingles for Capital Radio 95.8FM 1973 to 1984 for Kenny Everett, Mike Aspel, Tommy Vance, David Symonds and others. The jingles were arranged for broadcast by Tommy Vance and Terence Dackombe.
Rainbow made frequent vocal contributions to The Alan Parsons Project, starting on their 1979 album Eve through to their 1987 album Gaudi, and Eric Woolfson’s Freudiana (1990) (an APP album in all but name).
He also recorded and toured with the English progressive rock band Camel, providing some lead vocals on their studio albums The Single Factor (1982) and Stationary Traveller (1984).
He worked with Camel keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel on his 1984 album Heart of the Universe in a duo format, performing five lead vocals.
He sang backing vocals on the album “Song Of Seven” by former Yes frontman Jon Anderson, and toured with Anderson’s New Life Band.
Rainbow also did backing vocal sessions on albums for numerous artists including Culture Club, Elaine Paige and Toyah Wilcox.
More recently, Rainbow produced several albums for the Scottish Gaelic rock group Runrig.
Rainbow built and ran the Vital Spark Music Studio on the Isle of Skye where several artists including Donnie Munro and KT Tunstall recorded albums.
Chris Rainbow died on 22 February 2015 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Tributes to Chris were made by Ken Bruce (who played Days are Numbers) on his Radio 2 Morning Show and by Johnnie Walker (who played Solid State Brain) on his Radio 2 “Sounds of the 70’s” show.