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Elf was an American rock band founded in 1967 by singer and bassist Ronnie James Dio, keyboardist Doug Thaler, drummer Gary Driscoll, and guitarists Nick Pantas and David Feinstein (Dio's cousin). The band was originally called The Electric Elves, but was shortened to The Elves in 1968 and finally Elf in 1972. Elf disbanded in 1975 after recording three albums and after most of the lineup had been absorbed into Ritchie Blackmore's new group, Rainbow.
The band was formed in 1967 when the members of Ronnie Dio and the Prophets transformed themselves into The Electric Elves and added a keyboard player, Doug Thaler.
In February 1968, the band was involved in an automobile accident which claimed the life of Nick Pantas. The accident forced a shuffling of the band member roles as original keyboardist Thaler moved to guitar (after recovering from his injuries) and the group hired Mickey Lee Soule to take over keyboard duties. (Upon leaving the group in 1972, Thaler moved to New York and got a job as a booking agent — Elf was one of the bands he booked.)
Elf's self-titled debut album was produced by Deep Purple members Roger Glover and Ian Paice, who happened to see Elf auditioning in 1972. For the next few years, the band enjoyed mild success as an opening act for Deep Purple.
Dio both sang and played the bass guitar until, following the release of Elf's first album, Craig Gruber was asked to join as bass guitarist. In August 1973 Feinstein quit the band and was replaced by Steve Edwards. In 1974, Elf released its second album, Carolina County Ball. That same year Dio was asked by Glover to sing on his solo album, The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. Dio's voice gained the attention of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who was beginning to tire of Deep Purple and was looking for musicians to record a solo album. Apart from guitarist Steve Edwards (and percussionist Mark Nauseef), he decided in early 1975 to use the musicians in Elf for this album, and the band Rainbow was soon formed. Though Elf had been writing and recording its third album, Trying to Burn the Sun at the same time, following the completion of that album and the Rainbow album, Elf was no more. Trying to Burn the Sun was eventually released in the U.S. in June 1975.
Although there had been occasional speculation (beginning in the late 1990s) by some of the former members about an Elf reunion, nothing formal ever took place, and with the death of Dio in 2010 it would lack a key member.
- Hey, Look Me Over / It Pays to Advertise 7” (1967) - as The Electric Elves
- Walking in Different Circles / She's Not the Same 7” (1969) - as The Elves
- Amber Velvet / West Virginia 7” (1970) - as The Elves
Compilations and bootleg recordings
- Live at the Beacon (1971) - as The Elves (bootleg)
- Live at the Bank (1972) - as The Elves (bootleg)
- Live! And My Soul Shall Be Lifted (1973) (bootleg)
- The Gargantuan Elf Album (1978) compilation of 1974 & 1975 albums
- Ronnie James Dio: The Elf Albums (1991) compiles 1974 & 1975 albums
- And Before Elf... There Were Elves (2011) - as The Elves features 12 songs from 'Live at the Bank' bootleg.
- Ronnie James Dio – lead vocals (1967–1975), bass (1967-1973, 1975; died 2010)
- Gary Driscoll – drums (1967–1975; died 1987)
- David Feinstein – lead guitar (1967–1973)
- Doug Thaler – keyboards (1967–1968), rhythm guitar (1968-1972)
- Nick Pantas – rhythm guitar (1967–1968; died 1968)
- Micky Lee Soule – keyboards, backing vocals (1968–1975), rhythm guitar (1975)
- Craig Gruber – bass (1973–1975; died 2015)
- Steve Edwards – lead guitar (1973–1975)
- Mark Nauseef – percussion (1975)
- Randy S. Thomas - bass guitar
- Prato, Greg. "Elf". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-12-08.
- Perkins, Jeff (2011). Rainbow – Uncensored on the Record. Coda Books. ISBN 978-1-908538-57-4.
Elf was essentially a blues-rock band performing material that gave Dio the perfect opportunity to display his impressive vocal talent
- "Ronny Dio's Early Years". Pavadona.com. Retrieved 2011-12-08.