Chris Rainbow

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.

Chris Rainbow
Birth nameChristopher James Harley
Also known asChristopher Rainbow
Born(1946-11-18)18 November 1946
Glasgow, Scotland
Died22 February 2015(2015-02-22) (aged 68)
Isle of Skye, Scotland
GenresPop rock, ambient music
Occupation(s)Singer, record producer, songwriter
Years active1971–2015
LabelsEMI, Polydor, Vital Spark Music
Associated actsAlan Parsons Project, Runrig, Camel

In addition to his solo career he was a vocalist and vocal arranger who sang with many rock, pop and progressive bands as well as solo artists. Latterly, he owned his own studio and worked as a respected producer.

Early life and name

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]


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]

In 1979, Rainbow also began his long association with The Alan Parsons Project, recording on many of their albums from Eve through Alan Parsons' 1999 solo album, The Time Machine.[6]

In the early 1980s, Rainbow joined Camel, appearing on the albums The Single Factor and Stationary Traveller, and performing with them on their 1984 tour, recordings of which were released as the album Pressure Points.


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.[7]

Brian Wilson

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 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."[8]


  1. "Biography: Chris Rainbow". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  2. . "Chris Rainbow, Singer With Alan Parsons Project and Camel, Dies". Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  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.
  7. Michael Russell, "Tributes paid to Skye musician and producer," West Highland Free Press, 9 March 2015, retrieved 17 March 2015.
  8. "From BW.COM ADMIN: Brian's message about the passing of Chris Rainbow". 26 February 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2018.

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