On This Day (February 20)…Difficult to Cure Virginia Beach

Rainbow kicked off their Difficult To Cure tour on this day in 1981, playing at the Peppermint Club on Virginia Beach.

The official debut of the Difficult to Cure Lineup. From left to right: Joe Lynn Turner, Don Airey, Roger Glover, Ritchie Blackmore. Not visible: Bobby Rondinelli. Photo by Scott Glover. Retrieved from here.

This tour was undertaken in support of Rainbow’s newest album, Difficult to Cure, which had been released just seventeen days prior. With this new album, Rainbow debuted a new arena rock sound, something quite at odds with the tour’s quiet beginning playing clubs!

Almost half of the brilliant Down To Earth lineup was scrapped between the last gig the band had played, including Rainbow mainstay Cozy Powell. Bobby Rondinelli took his place at the drums, an occurrence which would be amusingly repeated in the 1990s in Black Sabbath when an injury forced Powell to take some time off. Graham Bonnet, meanwhile, was replaced by Joe Lynn Turner, who would later become the first person to cross over from Rainbow to Deep Purple. Don Airey at the keyboards and Roger Glover on bass survived the purge to play on another album.

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The Difficult to Cure lineup. From left to right: Don Airey, Roger Glover, Joe Lynn Turner, Ritchie Blackmore, and Bobby Rondinelli. Retrieved from pinterest.

The Concert

Setlist.fm is not helpful for this concert, but a general list for the tour shows a mix of this album, a few hits from Down to Earth, and three songs from the Dio era–just enough to remind concertgoers what band they were listening to! “Smoke on the Water”, one of Deep Purple’s most popular (and most radio-friendly) songs, was also played (source). This signaled the first official blurring of the lines between Blackmore’s two bands as music began crossing over. When Purple reunited later in the decade, the opposite would happen when the title track for “Difficult to Cure” would frequently appear on their setlists.

On some nights, the group also played a few encores, including a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire”. According to recollections, that did indeed happen at this performance! (source)

Reactions to this concert were overall quite positive. Every member of the group was said to have done quite well and wowed the audience, proving themselves worthy holders of the Rainbow name. Some comments suggest that the group was dissatisfied with the space, however; Ritchie Blackmore ended the show by sticking his guitar straight through the ceiling according to a few accounts! (source) That’s certainly a step up even from wrecking amps.

No recording of this concert is known to exist.

The Venue

The venue at which they performed and Blackmore caused some damage was the Peppermint Club, a 1000-person venue. Implications from articles I’ve read suggest it was first opened in the 1920s, specifically around 1926. Originally, it was the dance hall from the New Ocean Casino, getting it’s more flavorful name in the 1960s.

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Exterior of the club. Retrieved from pinterest.

The club was remembered as having a lively entertainment scene, catering both to out-of-town acts and more local color. It was closed in 1994, to the horror of locals. While setlist.fm lists a replacement club, I have been unable to find any information about it online. A Facebook group commemorating the old site can be found here.

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Venue Sources

  • Edit on 2020-09-17: Optimized for new site.

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