The early-'70s rock outfit Elf is best-known as the group that gave singer Ronnie James Dio his start and he would eventually set his sights on a tougher, metallic sound, fronting the likes of Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and his own solo band, Dio.
The group went through several name changes in the late '60s (the Electric Elves, the Elves), before settling simply on Elf and issuing a self-titled debut recording for Epic in 1972, produced by Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover. The group's best-known lineup consisted of Dio (who was at this time going by his real name, Ronald Padavona, and also doubling on bass), guitarist David Feinstein, guitarist/keyboardist Micky Lee Soule, and drummer Gary Driscoll. The album went largely unnoticed, as did the group's subsequent two other releases, L.A./59 (issued under the title Carolina Country Ball outside of the U.S.) and Trying to Burn the Sun, as the group guested on Roger Glover's 1974 album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. Through their affiliation with Glover, Elf was brought to the attention of former Purple leader/guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who invited the entire group (sans their guitarist) to join forces as the prog metal outfit Rainbow, resulting in the release of a self-titled effort in 1975. Slowly but surely, however, Rainbow turned out to be nothing more than a solo vehicle for Blackmore rather than a true band and the former Elf members left the group one by one before Dio was the last one remaining until eventually leaving the group himself in 1978. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi