Chris Rainbow

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Chris Rainbow
Birth name Christopher James Harley
Also known as Christopher Rainbow
Born (1946-11-18)18 November 1946
Glasgow, Scotland
Died 22 February 2015(2015-02-22) (aged 68)
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Genres Pop rock, ambient music
Occupation(s) Singer, record producer, songwriter
Years active 1971–2015
Labels EMI, Polydor, Vital Spark Music
Associated acts Alan Parsons Project, Runrig, Camel

Christopher James Harley, known by the stage name Chris Rainbow (18 November 1946 – 22 February 2015), was a Scottish[1][2] rock singer and musician[3] 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 as well as solo artists. Latterly, he owned his own studio and worked as a respected producer.

Early life and name[edit]

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.[4]

Solo career[edit]

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.[5]

Radio jingles[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Vocals & Touring[edit]

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).[citation needed]

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 Willcox.


More recently, Rainbow produced several albums for the Scottish Gaelic rock group Runrig.[1]


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.[6] 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. He is survived by his wife Ibby and his son Lewis.

Brian Wilson[edit]

In 1977 Rainbow recorded 'Dear Brian,' a tribute to Brian Wilson; co-founder of The Beach Boys and solo artiste. On hearing of Rainbow's death, Brian Wilson posted the following message on his official website:

"I felt really bad to hear about Chris Rainbow passing away, he was too young. I remember in the late 1970s, a friend played 'Dear Brian' for me and I was touched and honored by it. It was a beautiful track. I wish the best for Chris's family and friends. Love & Mercy, Brian." [7]

During the 2017 leg of Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary Tour, 'Dear Brian' was played over the sound system prior to the show and during intermission.



  • 1975: Home of the Brave UK-LP/Jap-LP
  • 1978: Looking over My Shoulder UK-LP/Jap-LP
  • 1979: White Trails UK-LP/Jap-LP
  • 1981: Body Music (single)
  • 2000: The Instrumental Chris Rainbow UK mini-LP
  • 2000: The Best of Chris Rainbow 1972–1980 Jap-CD
  • 2000: Unreleased & demo tracks, 1973–1983 Jap-CD
  • 2001: The Chris Rainbow Anthology, 1974–1981 UK-CD
  • 2008: Waves UK-CD Compilation
  • 2018: White Trails Expanded edition UK-CD MP3

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Biography: Chris Rainbow". Archived from the original on 2012-02-06. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  2. ^ . "Chris Rainbow, Singer With Alan Parsons Project and Camel, Dies". Retrieved 2015-02-27. 
  3. ^ Borack, John M. (2007). Shake some action: the ultimate power pop guide. Shake Some Action – PowerPop. pp. 184–. ISBN 978-0-9797714-0-8. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Terence Dackomb, "Chris Rainbow", The Rocking Vicar, 2 July 2012, accessed 17 March 2015; Tobe Richards, "Chris Rainbow", Stuttering Didn't Stop Them! Famous People Who Stutter From Around The World, accessed 17 March 2015.
  5. ^ "Chris Rainbow profile". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Michael Russell, "Tributes paid to Skye musician and producer," West Highland Free Press, 9 March 2015, retrieved 17 March 2015.
  7. ^>

External links[edit]