|Elf was a blues-rock band founded in 1967 by singer and bassist Ronnie James Dio, keyboardist Doug Thaler, drummer Gary Driscoll, and guitarists Nick Pantas and David Feinstein (Dio's cousin). The band was originally called The Electric Elves, but was shortened to The Elves and finally Elf in mid-1970. Elf disbanded in 1975, after recording three albums.
On February 12, 1970, the band was involved in an automobile accident which claimed the life of Nick Pantas, whom the band decided not to replace. After recovering from his injuries, Doug Thaler played keyboards with the band for one more year. He quit the band after their 1972 album, Live at the Bank, and was replaced by Micky Lee Soule. (Upon leaving in 1972, Thaler moved to New York and got a job as a booking agent? Elf was one of the bands he booked. In 1983, he became co-manager of Mötley Crüe. Present day he works at Metropolitan Talent as an artist manager, working with artists such as Art Garfunkel, Bruce Hornsby & Ratdog).
Elf's self-titled debut album was produced by Deep Purple members Roger Glover and Ian Paice, who happened to see Elf auditioning in 1972. For the next few years, the band enjoyed mild success as an opening act for Deep Purple.
Dio both sang and played the bass guitar until, in 1973, bass player Craig Gruber was asked to join. The same year saw Feinstein quit the band, to be replaced by Steve Edwards.
In 1974, Dio was asked by Glover to sing on his solo album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. Dio's rich, soulful voice gained the attention of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore who had just left Deep Purple and was looking for musicians for his first solo album, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Apart from guitarist Steve Edwards, he decided to use all of the musicians in Elf for this album, and the band Rainbow was thus formed, with Blackmore replacing Edwards. After they finished recording the album, however, Driscoll, Gruber, and Soule were replaced by Cozy Powell, Jimmy Bain and Tony Carey, who played with Dio and Blackmore during the subsequent tour; Elf was no more.