James Stewart “Jimmy” Bain (19 December 1947 – 24 January 2016) was a Scottish bass guitarist best known for playing in the bands Rainbow and
Dio with Ronnie James Dio. He has worked with Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott, co-writing on his solo albums.
Bain was born in Newtonmore, Highland, in Scotland, and played in several provincial amateur bands as a young teen. His parents and younger brothers relocated to Vancouver, Canada. By this point he was playing professionally in Street Noise. However, he did join his family for a
brief stay in Canada. Before returning to Scotland, getting his band Harlot and then hitting the London music scene, Bain joined Harlot in
early 1974, after turning down a job with The Babys.
Bain was asked to join Rainbow after Ritchie Blackmore had watched him performing at The Marquee in London. He recorded the studio album Rising with them and played on their following world tour. While on the tour, he played on Rainbow’s first live album, On Stage. In January 1977, Bain was sacked from the band. He then toured Europe with John Cale.
In the summer of 1978, Bain formed a band called Wild Horses. Jimmy was the lead vocalist, songwriter, as well as bassist for the band, which
also included ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson, drummer Clive Edwards (Pat Travers, Uli Jon Roth’s Electric Sun) and guitarist Neil
Carter (who went on to UFO and Gary Moore). Wild Horses released two albums on EMI in Europe, Wild Horses (1980) and Stand Your Ground (1981), the latter featuring John Lockton (ex-The Next Band) in place of Carter, before Robertson and Edwards both left in June of 1981. Robertson joined Motörhead the following year while Edwards joined former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden’s S.O.S.
Bain regrouped Wild Horses as a five-piece with ex-Lautrec members Reuben Archer (vocals) and Laurence Archer (guitar), and The Next Band’s Frank Noon (drums), but they disbanded shortly after. Jimmy then worked with the former Family main-man Roger Chapman, Roy Harper, Gary Moore, and Kate Bush (on 1982’s The Dreaming). Bain co-wrote with his close friend Phil Lynott for the Lizzy man’s two
solo albums. A keyboard player as well as a bassist, he toured the material playing keyboards with Lynott’s band. Their song, “Old Town” was re-recorded by The Corrs in 1999, and became a big hit world wide.
Bain was also secretly brought in by the German hard rockers Scorpions to provide bass on their 1984 album Love at First Sting. The leader of the
band, the rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker, wanted him to join the Scorpions as full-time bassist, but their management wanted to keep the
line-up German, so Francis Buchholz was brought back and Bain’s bass tapes were deleted.
In 1983, Bain linked up again with ex-Rainbow vocalist Ronnie James Dio for the band Dio. A central figure within Dio, Bain co-wrote some of the
most successful heavy metal songs of the eighties, such as “Rainbow in the Dark”, and “Holy Diver”. These two were on their first album Holy
Diver (1983). Bain co-wrote several other songs for the following albums, The Last in Line (1984), Sacred Heart (1985), Intermission (1986),
Dream Evil (1987) and Killing the Dragon (2002).
In the mid-1980s, when the entertainment community became active in drawing attention to world charities, Bain founded Hear ‘n Aid, a
foundation in which he could involve the rock community to help eliminate world hunger. He also co-wrote the song, “Stars,” with Vivian Campbell
and Ronnie James Dio, which became the Heavy Rock world’s answer to “We Are The World”. “Stars” provided a major contribution to the famine
relief charity appeal. Bain donated all of his shares of the proceeds to one of his favourite charities, Children of the Night.
In autumn 1989, Bain formed a band with vocalist Mandy Lion called World War III. After their 1990 eponymous debut album, the band floundered. Bain’s solo project The Key utilised a far more melodic and commercial approach. Guitarist on the project was Tracy G, borrowed from Dio’s band, who was also the guitarist for World War III. Ronnie James Dio’s concept project Magica (2000) saw the return of Jimmy Bain to the Dio story. Bain played on the albums Magica and Killing the Dragon.
In 2005, Bain again joined forces with former Black Sabbath and Dio drummer, Vinny Appice, for two projects, The Hollywood All Starz and 3
Legged Dogg. While the Hollywood All Starz performed live concerts featuring greatest hits sets of the individual members, (Carlos Cavazo of
Quiet Riot was another notable member of the band), 3 Legged Dogg produced a well received album of original material. In an interview with
journalist, David Lee Wilson, Bain lamented Appice’s ultimate choice to leave both these groups so that he could tour with Ronnie James Dio in
the Black Sabbath offshoot, Heaven and Hell.
The band Last in Line was put together in 2013 comprising Bain, Viv Campbell, Vinny Appice, Claude Schnell and Andrew Freeman. The line-up, excluding singer Freeman, were the original song writers and performers on the early classic Dio albums, and so intended to play gigs and perform these songs. Bain died on 24 January 2016 at the age of 68.
Below the final video from the recently released Last in Line cd, Heavy Crown.