Rainbow Canyon consisted of Buddy Maver on drums, Gregg Grandillo, on guitar, Billy Hanna on guitar, Chester "Chet" Florence on bass and Norm Cotone, keyboards. Each musician was an accomplished lead singer and contributed to songwriting and arranging. Though in their early twenties, the musicians in Rainbow were well traveled by the time they formed the band. Buddy Maver played with several recording acts including Bocky and The Visions, Dick Whittington's Cats and Charade. Billy Hanna also played in Charade and the seminal R&B group, The Blue Eyed Soul and his Aggregation. Gregg Grandillo played with The Originals, Cottonmouth, and Fully Assembled. Chester Florence played with the O'Jays and was later in Mushroom, a psychedelic funk band, with Buddy Maver. Norm Cotone was leader of The Impalas and Pig Iron, a nine-piece horn band.
Rollin’ In The
Recording at Caribou Ranch was right out of the movies. It was a 3000-acre former dude ranch located between two beautiful mountain ranges in Nederland, Colorado. It was quite a culture shock for a bunch of funk bums from Cleveland. The studio was state of the art for 1973. The band and roadies stayed right on the ranch in new cabins that were furnished with antiques. The engineers were available to record day or night or both. But whatever the recording schedule, work stopped at 6pm and everyone went to the dining hall where a gourmet chef was cooking for band, studio personnel, and visitors. While we were there Elton John’s producer spent two weeks with us scouting the studio. Elton later recorded two albums there. “Hot To Hold You” was the first single off the album “Rollin’ In The Rockies”. “Invisible Song” featuring James Ganger Tommy Bolin on guitar was later released as the second single.
After the album came out Three Dog Night recorded “Take You Down” for their LP produced by Jimmy Ienner. When we were writing these songs we were going for a hit single. As Chester would say, “Write a good hook and hit ‘em over the head with it”. We knew that a hit single was a fast way to break the band nationally. But overall, that first album didn’t really portray the power and raw energy that the band had live.
This is what rock writers said about the band:
“…Rainbow Canyon is unique in that it is the only rocking band around with five lead singers. The stunning five part harmonies and elaborate instrumentation are perfect indications that this group is something special… Accomplished performers on stage these five young men combine musical backgrounds of jazz, the classics and rhythm and blues along with their rock strength… Rainbow Canyon is an exciting band to watch”… The Cleveland Press“…This Cleveland Quintet is just out with its “Rollin’ In The Rockies” on Capitol Records. It’s very, very good…all in all this is a very professional job.”… Jane Scott
“…Rainbow has devices like their sparkling costumes, their audience rousing lines, and the noise makers they pass out with the invitation “You’re gonna be the worlds largest rhythm section.”…The group’s magnificent vocals are showcased in “She Said” with an accapella vocal break …They are madly, wildly, unavoidably enthusiastic…and that enthusiasm bounces off the back walls and comes back and hits you in the head.”… Anastasia Pantsios
“…As a first album “Rollin’ In The Rockies” is, in fact, a coup…there are a number of songs that fall into the category of “Real Good Stuff”…pretty vocals and tasteful arrangements are Rainbow’s strong points…good productions, neat changes and lively instrumental work give them an infectious quality.”… Scene Magazine
“One of more popular bands in Ohio and the surrounding area…these Cleveland based performers are presenting some of the most energetic rock music this area has bee privileged to hear…They reel around the stage in a sort of well controlled anarchy. When organ player Norm Cotone steps out in front to sing, it’s as if a bizarre, writhing, madman has taken over the stage…their sets are fast paced high energy arrangements of songs from their last album…the group expands with some impressive solo work and closes with a medley of 50’s rock classics turned into one huge 70’s boogie rave-up complete with a little get-it-on speech by Billy Hanna delivered with uncommon conviction…one of the best live rock shows this area has seen.”… The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Rainbow’s Rock and Roll odyssey touched thousands of people and put smiles on faces. Here’s hoping this anthology will bring back memories of a time gone by for the F.O.R.C.E. (Friends Of Rainbow Canyon Everywhere).
THE SUN MESSENGER Thursday, December 5, 2002
Somewhere after the Rainbow
CD anthology marks 30th anniversary of local band that just missed pop music pot of gold
By JEFF PIORKOWSKI Staff Writer
The year was 1972 and the local rock'n'roll band Rainbow Canyon seemed poised for big things.
It had just spent time at Colorado's Caribou Ranch recording compound turning out its Capitol Records debut album, "Rollin' In The Rockies," a record that received a favorable review in Billboard. "Hot To Hold You," a single from the album, was getting positive response as well.
"All five of us were lead vocalists,'' recalls Rainbow Canyon drummer Buddy Maver. "It was kind of a Three Dog Night thing, only they didn't play their instruments, and we did."
The group was rock'n'roll with a funky backbeat singing soulful harmonies. It was a local supergroup, of sorts, bringing together some of the finest musicians from Cleveland's best bands.
As is the case in so many music industry stories, however, things didn't work out for Rainbow Canyon as its members would have liked, but the ride sounds like it was a fun one.
Consisting of Maver, guitarists Gregg Grandillo and Billy Hanna, bassist Chester "Chet" Florence, and keyboard player Norm Cotone, Rainbow Canyon's recorded efforts are now again available. In a new, three-CD collection, titled "Rainbow Canyon Anthology," are collected "Rollin' In The Rockies," a second album never released by Capitol, outtakes and the band's first demos that got them signed to the major label, and a full CD of live material culled from twoshows(Dec. 3, 1972 and June 10, 1973) atthe Cleveland Agora.
"We came together in the spring of 1972," Maver says of the band's beginnings. "We took about a month to work up songs -- about 35-40 -- which is pretty fast. And these weren't just simple (three-chord) songs, there were some nice arrangements. Then we played our first gig at the Chesterland Hullabaloo.''
· Shortly after, the group began writing songs and, six months into its existence, recorded a demo, produced by Tom Baker, that led to the Capitol contract.
"The whole idea behind the band was to make records," Maver says.
Rainbow Canyon members experienced the lives of rock stars first hand when they went to the newly opened (by the band's Chicago's producer, James Guercio) Caribou Ranch to record its debut. The setting included beautiful cabins, horseback tiding and a gourmet chef. '!It was really culture shock for five funk bums from Cleveland," Maver says.
Elton John, followed Rainbow Canyon to the ranch to record two albums, "Rock Of The Westies" and "Caribou."
"We were just called Rainbow then, but a group from Nashville already had that name. We were driving one day and saw a road sign pointing to Rainbow Canyon, and we said, 'That's our new name.'"
A problem with communication between Capitol and the group's then-manager, who Maver says "shall remain nameless," led to a Capitol representative stating that the label would not get behind promoting "Rollin' In The Rockies," an album produced by Jim Fox,
drummer for the James Gang. "It sold well in Cleveland, of course, but not around the rest of the country." The resulting lack of radio play led to the .group's second album never being released and the band's subsequent demise in 1975.
Maver went on to team with Agora head Hank LoConti to the point where he was booking bands for each of the Agora's 10 locations throughout the country. He now lives in Russell Township and has worked as a real estate investor for the past 15 years: "It's not rock'n'roll, but I'm doing all right with it," Mayer says.
Maver also operates Russell Promotions out of Chagrin Falls, which is selling the "Rainbow Canyon Anthology" via the Internet only, at www.rainbowcanyon.net. He is also looking forward to the inclusion of three Rainbow Canyon songs in a locally produced movie to be released soon, "Night Owls of Coventry."
The movie is set in the 1970s and revolves around Coventry's Irv's Deli and the many characters that hung out there 30 years ago. The Rainbow Canyon song "Suzy" will be used as the movie's theme.
A fond memory to those who used to come see the band during its regular performances at the Agora, the release of the anthology gives Rainbow Canyon another chance to shine.
"We wanted to put this out for the fans who never got to hear the second album, and because it's the 30th anniversary of our coming together," says Maver, who says he still sees most of his former band mates fairly often. Memories brought on by this latest release show that there is still life over the Rainbow.
Not Over the Rainbow Yet
Fans of Rainbow Canyon won't get to experience the '70s rock band's legendary live show again, but they can tune in to the next-best thing: The group's founder -drummer, singer and songwriter Buddy Mayer-has released The Rainbow Canyon Anthology CD.
The three-disc, 40-song boxed set not only contains the mythical band's first and only released LP, 1973's Rollin'in the Rockies, but it also features its second LP. The latter, known as "The Lost Album," was recorded in 1974, but never released and never heard by the public - until now. The anthology also includes 16 songs recorded live at the Cleveland Agora, as well as the 1972 demo records that first earned the group a Capitol Records contract. Maver introduces each section with a brief narration, and the inner sleeve contains lots of information and photos.
- David Budin
Esquire is proud to be able to offer you the Rainbow Canyon Anthology CD Boxed Set:
Canyon Anthology 3 CD Boxed Set:
2. Drinkin' No Wine
3. We Can All Have It Together
5. Hot To Hold You
7. Hanover Square
9. Feelin' Alright Tonight
11. Taste of The Good Lite
12. She Said
13. Invisible Song
14. Mr. Dream
16. High Time
17. Blue Jean Fun Machine
18. Kind Sir
19. Happy Song
20. Lovin' & Free
1. Bye Bye Baby
2. Easy Money
3. State of Mind
4. Right on The Money
7. Lovin & Free
8. Right On The Money
9. When You Come Around
10. Picture Postcard Lady
11. Daddy Get Your Baby Out of Jail
2. Rock And Roll Medley #2
4. Kickback Man
5. Walk Away
6. Jumpin'Jack Flash
7. We Can All Have It Together
8. Easy Livin'
9. Drinkin' No Wines
10. Them Changes
11. Sgt. Pepper Medley
13. She Said
14. Midnight Rider
15. Kevin Dugan Announcement
16. Rock And Roll Medley #1
But Rainbow Canyon Anthology~ golden memories will do
When Hollywood film director Paul Schrader wanted to make a movie about kids in a rock band struggling to hit the big time, he came to Cleveland in 1986 and interviewed Buddy Maver. Schrader asked to hear Maver~ life story, and the two talked for hours. The director was planning to cast Richard Gere and Bruce Springsteen as brothers in a fledgling rock band, but by the time the film was set to go into production, those stars weren't available. So Schrader wound up using Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett as siblings in the Cleveland-shot Light of Day.
Maver himself almost made it as a rock star. That was inthe early 1970s, when he played with the group Rainbow Canyon. The band's five members were exceptionally strong lead singers who also sang harmony. They were all great instrumentalists, solid songwriters and terrific showmen, earning rave reviews in every Northern Ohio publication. They had the talent, but not enough luck - or whatever else it takes - to reach the pinnacle of rock-and-roll success.
Now 55, Maver looks back on his rock career with fondness and a few regrets. In 1972, at the age of 25, he was already a 10-year veteran of the Cleveland music scene. Rainbow Canyon was doing well, and it appeared that the disappointments that had preceded the group's formation were indeed a thing of the past.
Prior to Rainbow Canyon, Maver had played with bands that made a couple of hit singles and opened in Cleveland for such big names as the Rolling Stones, the Animals and the Dave Clark Five. Despite the outward success, Maver and his cohorts never made much money. Mayer recites a litany of poor management, bad advice and worse timing.
His previous groups included Bocky and the Visions, Kichie and the Fortunes, and Dick Whittington's Cats. The latter scored a regional hit record, "In the Midnight Hour," and seemed to be on its way - until the manager left town for another gig.
Maver's next group, the Charades, formed in 1969 (evolving later into a slightly different version known as Charade). Steve Popovich, a friend of Maver's who was then working for Columbia Records in New York, introduced him to a Columbia vice president, who flew to Cleveland to hear the Charades play at the Agora. He signed them to Columbia, promising that Sylvester Stone, of Sly and the Family Stone, would produce their record. But a few weeks later, the vice president called to say he was leaving the label to manage Sly and the Farrely Stone and cotfid not take on any new projects.
The Charades ended up signing with Columbia subsidiary Epic. They went to New York to record at CBS, released a single and opened for well-known artists. Then Epic told their manager that the label wanted the group to record an album at Columbia's new studios in San Francisco, under the auspices of two top Columbia producers.
"Epic said, 'We'll spring for : everything, but we want you to pay ; for the band's airfare to San Francisco,
to show some commitment on your ;5 part,'" M. aver says. "And our manager says to me - and ['11 never forget, I was sitting there with him ii1 his office -'You must deal from a position of strength, and we want them to show a strong commitment. So I'm donna tell them that we want them to pay the airfare.' Now, thinking back, we're talking [relatively] pennies for airfare.
"So Epic has a meeting, and they decide they don't like the vibe that's going on, so they say, 'Thanks, but no thanks; we're going to release the band instead.' We were devastated. Looking back, it was a blunder."
The disappointment, Maver says, broke up the band. An interim group, Mushroom, produced a record that was too psychedelic to have much commercial appeal. Maver subsequently formed Rainbow with four other veterans of the local rock scene: lead guitarist Greg Grandillo, keyboardist Norm Cottone, bassist Chester Florence and guitarist Billy Hannah.
They signed with Capitol, which sent them to record at the Caribou Ranch, a state-of-the-art, million-dollar studio housed in a barn on a 3,000-acre ranch in Colorado. Fellow Clevelander Jim Fox, the founding member of the hugely successful rock trio the James Gang,-produced the album. While there, the group changed its name to Rainbow Canyon, because Capitol found out there was already a group called Rainbow.
When Rainbow Canyon was at irk peak, in 1972 and '73, the group played Sunday nights at the Cleveland Agora to a packed house: 1,000 wildly enthusiastic fans, week after week. Local reviewers gushed: "The stunning five-part harmonies and elaborate instrumentation are perfect indications that this band is something special" (Cleveland Press); "They reel around the stage in a sort of well controlled anarchy....Their sets are fast-paced, high-energy arrangements of songs from their album....One of the best live rock shows this area has seen" (Plain 'Dealer); and "They are madl2y; wildly, unavoidably enthusiastic, and that enthusiasm bounces off the back walls and comes back and hits you in the back of the head"
For More Information: www.rainbowcanyon.net