Solo albums: Keyboard extraordinaire, he can play whatever he wants, no matter the style. He was born in Sunderland, England on June 21st, 1948. After playing in several bands, he started his professional career with his own band in 1972.


Formed in May 1974, a powerful lineup, built with several Cozy former bandmates.

But sometime later, Clive Chaman has to abandon the band, and Clive himself recommended Neil Murray to substitute him for several gigs, in September 1974, and then again, in February 1975. But Cozy splits the band in April 1975.


Jon Hiseman resurrects in May 1975 his band Colosseum under a different perspective. No sax, but still jazz-rock oriented. He finally completed a superb lineup, although there were some different tentative initial lineups.

(scan courtesy of Alex Gitlin)

After one album, Strange new flesh, in the summer of 1976, Starrs and Murray are fired at the suggestion of Bronze Records, who then drop the band anyway. In September 1976, they get a new bassist, John Mole, but they don't get a new singer, as Gary Moore will sing from now on.

They release two more albums along 1977: Electric savage and War dance. Superb albums, very intrincated. All the players are fantastic there, but I specially love the 'duels' between Airey and Moore.

Electric savage was recorded in the winter of 76, after a week of live rehearsals. Don writes the tracks 'Am I' and 'Intergalactic strut'. My favourite tracks are 'Put it this way', 'Desperado' and the superb 'Am I'.

In War dance, Don writes the tracks 'War dance' and part of the suite 'Star maiden'.

In August 1978, Gary Moore leaves to join Thin Lizzy, and Don calls brother Keith.

When they were thinking of the recording of a new album, Don receives an offer from Rainbow he couldn't turn down, leaving the band in December 1978.

There's an album called The Rainbow family album (1994, Conoisseur), containing tracks from people who once belonged to Rainbow. It includes tracks from Rainbow (live tracks), Cozy Powell, Deep Purple, Elf, Roger Glover, Fandango, Wild Horses, Tony Carey, Alcatrazz and Dio, plus one track from Colosseum II, 'Am I', taken from Electric savage.


A few months after Don has joined Rainbow, Gary Moore called him to play on a TV appearance at the 'Old Grey Whistle Test' program on January 1979, promoting Gary's album Back on the streets, where Don played. This was the very interesting lineup:

They played at least two songs, 'Back on the streets' and 'Don't believe a word'. Oh, who may have a copy of that? :) :)


A superb band. They had lost their singer, Ronnie James Dio, in November 1978. He's replaced with Graham Bonnet. And Don Airey enters the band in December 1978, thus rejoining with former colleague Cozy Powell.

(scan courtesy of Alex Gitlin)

They release a new album, Down to Earth, and then, in August 1980, Cozy and Bonnet quit. Ritchie gets two new, young faces, who later went to be famous musicians in the future:

They release a new album, Difficult to cure, that includes the big hit 'I surrender', written by Russ Ballard (he had also written 'Since you been gone', from Down to Earth).
(from left to right: Don Airey, Roger Glover, Joe Lynn Turner, Ritchie Blackmore, Bobby Rondinelli)
(click on the photo to get a bigger image, 79 Kbs.)

Soon after they finished a world tour, Don leaves the band to join Ozzy. This must be at the beginning of 1981.

Next Rainbow album was Straight between the eyes. It was supposedly recorded with Don's replacement, David Rosenthal, but I've read in several places that Don is also featured in some tracks. I can't confirm it, as my Spanish copy hasn't any kind of credits for musicians. Can anyone confirm me this point, please?

There is a Rainbow later release, called Finyl vinyl, which includes several live tracks. There are several lineups in the album, and Don appears in some of the tracks (the live track 'Since you been gone' from Donington 1980, the unreleased studio track 'Bad girl' from 1979, and the studio B-side 'Weiss heim' from 1981).

There is an album credited to Ritchie Blackmore, called Rock Profile, volume two (Apr 1991, Connoisseur), where there are included 3 live tracks from Rainbow, when Cozy was in the band.  CHECK IF DON APPEARS

There's also a collective album that contains live tracks recorded in the Monsters of Rock festival from August 1980 at Castle Donington. It includes two tracks by the Rainbow lineup with Graham Bonnet, 'Stargazer' and 'All night long'. As far as I know, this album has never been released on CD. Other artists appearing there: Scorpions (2 tracks), plus 1 track from April Wine, Saxon, Riot and Touch.


In January 1980, Cozy asks some of his friends to back him in some BBC broadcasts promoting his first solo album, the magnificent Over the top. What a lineup!!!

They appeared in the 'Old Grey Whistle Test' TV show, as well as a radio broadcast for an 'In concert' program. Those recordings are very powerful. Amazing lineup and amazing playing. The track listing included songs from Cozy's 1st album, plus Jack Bruce's own 'Ticket to waterfalls'.


Gary and Don together again... In November 1980, Gary Moore assembles a band to play four gigs. Three of them were at The Marquee in London.

(scan courtesy of Alex Gitlin)

There's a live album from those concerts. It's called Live (at the Marquee), and it was recorded on November 5/6, 1980.


After having released his solo albums, Bernie played some concerts for a radio program, 'In session', with a lineup comprising some of his friends:

These recordings later appeared in The Friday Rock Show Sessions. There are 4 tracks recorded with this lineup. These tracks also appeared as bonus tracks in the reissues of Bernie solo albums.


A hard rock personality! You either love or hate his voice, but he's one of the most charismatic singers in the hard rock scene (ah, I love his voice and his albums, by the way!).

Don played in their first solo album (the masterpiece Blizzard of Ozz; listen to Don's work on 'Mr. Crowley', my favourite Ozzy tune - incredible!). But first tours were made with Lindsey Bridgewater. After leaving Rainbow, Don joins the band in March 1981 (I need to check the date!! - maybe it's January 82?).

But, tragedy beats them when, on March 19th, 1982, Randy Rhoads dies in a plane accident. He went with their bus driver and a wardrobe assistant in a light plane that crashed. A real tragedy; to me, Randy was a genius. Being so young, he could have reached the highest peaks in rock music.

In order to complete the tour, Ozzy searchs for new guitarists.

Bernie Torme is a fantastic player, but he only played 7 days with them. I think John Sykes was also called, but a young Brad Gillis was the one who stayed. This was April 1982. A pity that there isn't official live material from this lineup featuring the band repertoire, as Brad really made a very good work with Rhandy guitar parts.

After the tour finished, in September 1982, Ozzy decided to make a new tour (and live album) only featuring Black Sabbath songs, and Don Airey decides leaving. Asked why he left the band, he said "those old Sabbath songs hadn't keyboard parts!".

Some years after Randy Rhoads death, it was released a 2LP live, called Tribute, featuring 13 live tracks, plus 1 track in the studio featuring Randy alone. It's not stated the lineup for these recordings, but my guess is that they include Don Airey.

There's a 2CD compilation called The Ozzman comet, and Don Airey appears there, although he's not mentioned. Ozzy even tells a list of his musicians along the years, and Don Airey is no mentioned at all! :(


In September 1982, Don rejoins his friend Gary:

They release the great live album Rockin' every night - live in Japan. Initially to be released only in that country, fortunately it was later released all over the world. I love this album, and the dedication of the song 'Sunset' from Don Airey to the great, late Randy Rhoads is very emotive.

(clockwise, from top left: Neil Murray, John Sloman, Don Airey & Ian Paice)

But for the next studio album, Sloman leaves the band in February 1983:

They keep on with the tour as a quartet, but in May 1983, Don leaves to join Ozzy again, being replaced by Neil Carter.


Don rejoins Ozzy on May 1983.

They record the Bark at the moon album, and start touring.

For a couple of months or so, Tommy Aldridge is replaced by another fantastic drummer, legendary Carmine Appice.

They released a live video, Live in Dortmund, taken from the Dortmund Heavy Festival, where they played along with Quiet Riot, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Def Leppard and Scorpions.

But, after Carmine Appice leaves, Tommy Aldridge comes back to the band.

But this lineup dissolves in January 1985, after the Rock in Rio Festival, being Jake E. Lee the only one to remain with Ozzy.

and then?  

For two years, Don was playing in lots of albums, as we can read in the sessions page. I could read in rock magazines about lots of rumours about him joining Whitesnake, or Alaska. Some years before, I also read about him joining Hughes-Thrall, also MGM.

unnamed band (almost Asia)  

In June 1986, there were two benefit concerts at The Marquee by this lineup assembled by John Wetton and Carl Palmer:

In some magazines, the lineup was called Asia, due to Wetton and Palmer presence. They played material from Asia, Robin George, and Don played some classical parts in his solo (the famous theme used in '2001: a space oddisey', for example), as well as some covers (Rolling Stones and Beatles).


Sometime in the late 80s, Don Airey met Italian guitarist Dario Mollo, who was playing with his own band Crossbones. After many personnel changes, Dario and Don assemble a new lineup for touring Europe:

Help with additional info needed, please!


In September 1987, he joins this mythical band.

After a tour, he leaves them in January 1988, with the idea of recording his own album. Some Tull recordings with Don finally appeared in the 3CD boxset 20 years of Jethro Tull. Here, Don appears in five live tracks: 'Farm on the freeway' and the classic 'Living in the past' (both recorded live in November 1987 in Philadelphia), plus the classics 'Thick as a brick' and 'Songs from the wood', and the short song 'Wond'ring aloud' (all three recorded live in October 1987). Other great musicians appearing there: Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick, Clive Bunker, Barriemore Barlow, Gerry Conway, John Glascock, Martin Allcock, etc.

There's also a single CD taken from the boxset, called 20 years of Jethro Tull (highlights). In this compilation, Don appears in two of the songs mentioned above: 'Living in the past' and 'Wond'ring aloud'.


This was the band for guitarist and singer Jack-E McAuley. He assembled a backing band for concerts, Poor-Mouth, without an stable lineup, but always comprising superb musicians, such as John Gustafson (bass), Rod Demick (bass), Don Airey (keyboards), Chris Parren (keyboards), Nick Payn (sax, flute), Clive Bunker (drums), Howard Tibble (drums). The band released two albums, but I don't have them, so I don't know if Don appears there. Help, please!


Fantastic guitarist Ray Minhinnett assembled a superb blues band:

Ray Minhinnett (guitar, vocals)
Andy Pyle (bass)
Don Airey (keyboards)
Graham Walker (drums)
The Q-Tips Horns (5 musicians)
But, this band was approached by Gary Moore, who took them with him, renaming the band as The Midnight Blues Band, as we're going to read right now.

(Gary Moore & Don Airey)

In April 1990, Don is again playing with Gary Moore, touring to promote the fantastic album Still got the blues, where Don also appeared (watch the sessions page):

For some concerts, they were joined by the late Albert Collins, who appeared as a guest in Gary's blues albums.

The tour finished in September 1990.

and then?  

In 1991, he starts his own company, Don Airey Music, as well as playing sessions, soundtracks, etc.


In 1991, Chris Thompson assembles a band for touring Germany:


This super band was assembled by Bernie Marsden, to promote his own tribute to Peter Green, the superb album Green & Blues (although Don doesn't appear in it). In Bernie's own words: "Green & Blues All Stars is me and whoever I take on the night". So, there were different musicians. Some of them were (not all together, of course):
Bernie Marsden (guitar)
Micky Moody (guitar)
Snowy White (guitar)
Colin Hodgkinson (bass)
Andy Pyle (bass)
David Levey (bass)
Tony Ashton (keyboards)
Don Airey (keyboards)

horn section & backing singers


In January 1993, it was the 25th Anniversary of this great band, and they planned to make a celebration tour, and they asked Don to play with them for the tour (replacing Chris Parren).

After the Anniversary tour, Hooper and Airey left the band later in 1993.


Around June 1997, he joins ELO Part II (they are called this way since Jeff Lynne left the band) for a South American tour, replacing Louis Clark (who was playing some concerts in China, promoting his own work Hooked on China). So, Don Airey is called not only as keyboardist, but also as orchestral arranger:

When Louis Clark returned to the band, Don left them.


In 1997, Don convinces superb singer Colin Blunstone (ex-Zombies) to sing live again, both touring together along Europe. Don produced Colin's album, The light inside, that features the last work Cozy Powell ever did. Recorded in February 1998, it features old mate Rod Argent (keyboards), plus Keith Airey (guitar), Rob Harris (guitar), Mo Foster (bass), Alex Meadows (bass), Don Airey (keyboards), Cozy Powell (drums), Darrin Mooney (drums), Carlos Hercules (percussion).

I need help with live lineups, please!!

Don leaves Colin Blunstone's band around May 1998.


G3 is an idea assembled by Joe Satriani (whose origin comes from the Guitar Legends concert in Spain, watch my pages on Neil Murray or Cozy Powell for details). He could notice the power of three guitarists playing together. First tour he made consisted of Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Eric Johnson. Since then, several variations have been made in the lineup.

In 1998, Don joins the G3 tour, playing in Uli Jon Roth band. The other members of the roster were Joe Satriani and Michael Schenker. The lineup for the great Uli Jon Roth was:


Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden have been playing together under different names since they met in Whitesnake. This time, they thought it was about time to remember those times. They join some Norwegian musicians, including a very good singer called Johnny Lande.

(scan courtesy of Alex Gitlin)

They release a first studio album, called Once bitten. The Japanese edition contains two bonus tracks: 'All dressed up' and 'September tears'.

(scan courtesy of Alex Gitlin)

It was followed by the release of a fantastic live album, Live in Europe, that was recorded earlier in 1997. But problems between members arise in January 1999.


After parting ways with singer Johnny Lande and the other Norwegian members around January 1999, the rest of the band decides to team with Robert Hart (ex-Bad Company), hence the new name, Company of Snakes:

This was the lineup that played in Spain in January 1999. As soon as Neil Murray finished the tour with Brian May, he joined the band. This was around February 1999. This is the stable (and superb!) lineup for the band, although as busy musicians, sometimes they have other commitments to fulfill, so some of their friends play the odd gig with them.

After the tour by Company of Snakes is over, Don is planning to perform his own solo tour, to promote the reissue of his solo album, K2.

And now? 

Don is currently recording an album with the band Ten, commanded by great guitar player Vinny Burns, and lead singer Gary Hughes. Rumour has it about him joining the band, but I don't think this is accurate...


So far, Don has only released one solo album:

This is Don Airey's solo project, a mixture between speech and music. With Gary Moore and brother Keith Airey (guitars), Laurence Cottle (bass), Cozy Powell (drums), plus vocals by Chris Thompson, Colin Blunstone, Mel Galley and Genki Hitomi. It was issued as a limited edition in Japan and Germany only. Fortunately, it's going to be reissued worlwide on May 1999, remastered and repackaged. Please, visit Don Airey's official website (see below) for details about how to get this album.

Two singles were released from the album:


Press here to read about Don Airey sessions

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Thanks section

Very special thanks to: Don Airey, for his help and kindness.

Special thanks to: great fan Alex Gitlin, for all his help, albums and lots of scans, Jose Luis Schenone, for his help with ELO info and his kindness (check his ELO website), Laurent Biehly, for his great help and info on The Snakes.

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Page created by Miguel Terol on: 08/May/2000. First published on: xx/xx/xx. Last modified on: 03/September/2001.