Interview Spanish Popular Magazine - 1997
How's the American Rainbow tour going?
Ritchie: It's already done. It was surprisingly good, although I don't like touring that heavily anymore. I'm still nervous before a tour and I still like to play, but after a week of travelling around, I get very tired.
Was it a heavy schedule this time?
Ritchie: I'm tired of hotels and sleepless nights in them. I'm very irritable, I don't like to travel a lot, I feel that it's not very good for me. If it depended on me, I would give two concerts a week, but that doesn't happen very often on tour. On big tours, you have to play 5 or 6 times a week, it's killing me, I'm starting to get sick. Of course, I have a duty for my fans, who come to our shows, but meanwhile, I start to get very tired of it all.
Is it true that you aren't a very public person when it comes to speeches?
Ritchie: Yes, that's true.
So, what would you say if you were inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame?
Ritchie: It would be an honor, of course, but all these people behind this organization don't really appeal to me. At the moment, I'm much more proud of my new project Blackmore's Night, it calms me. It often happens that I can't listen to my recordings, after I've finished them. When I hear it back, I often feel that some of it is just crap.
Ritchie: Because I know that I can play better, and that's why I just hate to listen to my own records, because making a record takes so much time and in the end you are just sick of hearing it. The latest Rainbow album was good, I liked it, but the previous one "The Battle Rages On" was impossible to listen to for me. I never listened to the whole thing. I also don't like "Nobody's Perfect", the Deep Purple live album, because I played very poorly on that one. I should have acted a little bit more professionally.
We recorded some excellent albums, such as "Machine Head", "In Rock", "Slaves and Masters" or "Burn", but we also produced some horrible stuff over the years... But hey, that's just my opinion. It's hard to work and come up constantly with fresh ideas when you are under such a pressure. I remember being in the studio, and we had problems with the songwriting. I always had to wait for the others to record the vocals or the drums. In the end, when it comes to me, I'm always completely lost. I think many guitar players are just waiting to play their solo. But I, unlike many others, have other prioritys. The most important thing for me is the melody of the song, the arrangement and feeling. I play guitar solos only as a supplement.
Do you think it's possible to record a song in just one take?
Ritchie: Yes, I think we did that.
Ritchie: I can't remember. Jon Lord and myself looked at each other and said: "Hey, that's enough". Even the engineer did agree with us, so we decided to release the song as such. But Ian Paice usually said: "Let's play it one more time, I think we can do that better!". Jon said: "Ian, what's the problem?" And Ian said: "Look, you did your overlay, but I haven't!". So we did that song again for the third, fourth, fifth, tenth, fiftieth time! In the end we all got bored with it and left the studio, but Ian stayed to play it again. Some time later we came back and asked him: "Paicey, how are ya?". I think Ian's problem was that he couldn't understand that the result was already very good. He is a perfectionist.
In 1994, you have revived Rainbow with former members of Alice Cooper and Blue Oyster Cult.
Ritchie: Yes, Greg Smith played with Alice Cooper. Most of the musicians live on Long Island, where they used to play in clubs. Sometimes people ask me: "Why do you not hire famous musicians?", to which I reply that I'm interested in new talents. It was the same situation with people like Ronnie Dio or David Coverdale... I hate to rely on old favourites just for the sake of it. I have always preferred fresh, energetic people. It's a risk, but a reasonable one in my opinion.
Many people tend to use famous musicians.
Ritchie: So does Jeff Beck. He always takes the most famous musicians. I've never done this. Maybe it's interesting to play with famous musicians, but for me the main thing is enthusiasm, which I can see in all these young, unexplored people. They want to get out there. If you take all these experienced musicians, they will say that they were already in Spain or are familiar with the United States. That's just boring, I hate that. It's great to take people with you to places, where they always wanted to go. The problem with young people is that after two years, they start to build a big ego, and that's always the moment where I usually say "Good-Bye"...
I had a ticket for a Rainbow Show in Barcelona, but it was cancelled. What happened?
Ritchie: Good question. Which year?
Ritchie: When exactly?
I think the concert was announced to take place in March or April.
Ritchie: What happened? (Ritchie turns to Candice) - tell me what happened.
Candice: We had Problems with Neil, your agent.
Ritchie: We've had some big problems with our agent. Now we have another agent. He was supposed to organize our tour through Poland, Hungary and... It's a long story. When we went to Germany, I said to him: "Neil, in Addition to Germany, we would like to play in Poland, Greece, Hungary, France, Spain...". He said: "Absolutely no problem". By the time we had finished our tour through Germany and the Scandinavian countries, and according to him, there was a big interest in other European countries. When I got home, I called him and said that we would like to perform in countries like Poland, Eastern Europe, Greece... and he said that we can arrange that, no problem. After some time I called him again and said: "So, what's up?". He had organized a tour through those countries, and when we looked at the shedule we saw that the tour was supposed to start in Poland, and then over to Hungary and two concerts in Spain... But suddenly these shows were cancelled, and we came back to play in Germany. I told him I didn't want to go back to Germany, because we had already performed there six months ago. At this point, the story becomes confusing... Fact is that he was already working with me back in Purple and we always used to play the same countries. As a result, I wrote him a letter asking him to remove the German dates, and told him to organize shows in countries, where he haven't played before. He answered as usually: "No problem" and the whole thing started again. We got a call from a Polish organizer to find out that the show was cancelled. I even saw posters for these Shows. So I wrote him a letter in which I've expressed my discomfort and that I was tired of his way of working. I worked with him for 15-20 years. Unfortunately, when we wanted to organize a concert in Poland, promoters said they had returned the money for the tickets to the customers, and that after three cancelled shows, nobody believes that we will actually perform there. So we had a lot of problems because of him.
Maybe your agent thought that you won't sell enough tickets in Spain?
Ritchie: Yeah, he told us so. It was just impossible to organize a tour with him in the end. In the old days it was a pleasure to work with him. But there was another situation where we had to cancel a concert in Spain. It was with Deep Purple in 1993. We had to play in Austria, and right before there were gigs sheduled in Saint Sebastian, Barcelona or Madrid, I can't remember exactly. I told the management that it was bloody impossible to get from Spain to Austria within one day with all the equipment. Because I looked at the map and saw that it was impossible because we had to travel through the mountains, cross the border... Neil didn't want to do any break between these shows, but he tore up the contracts for these shows in the end. When I asked him why he did that, he just said that it was my idea to play in Spain at these particular dates. He tried to blame me! I was very angry at the time. I'm happy that we've parted ways now.
So that was when the problems with Neil started?
Ritchie: I think we had the first problems with him in 1993, since then it became worse.
So after all, do you still plan to visit Spain with Rainbow in the near future?
Ritchie: Not at the moment. Rainbow is left on the margins. Now I'm fully concentrated on Blackmore's Night. Indeed, many people ask me about that. I returned to Rainbow 3 years ago, but I'm not satisfied with the current line-up of Rainbow, I think I'll fire them all.
Because they're not good enough?
Ritchie: No, not because they are not good enough, it's just that the whole thing goes into the wrong direction. The singer is too keen on classic rock and roll. At the start I was also into that, but not now. Now I'm on a wave of blues, but he doesn't understand that, and that's the problem. I don't think I will continue working with this line-up.
So before you are going to put a new line-up together, will there be a long break until then?
In 1993, you've left Deep Purple because of "creative differences" with Ian Gillan. What does that mean?
Ritchie: I was sick of his behaviour on stage. I was often asked: "Why did you leave the band?". I usually say: "Have you seen Ian Gillan on stage?". I have already answered this question before. We never understood with each other. He never liked me, and I never liked him.
Ritchie: Well, maybe in 1970, 1971 and 1972, and then in 1985, only one year. I had a problem with him. The record company wanted him back in the band, whilst I was hoping to be rid of him forever. I didn't want him back, I wanted to work with another singer. But the record company and the others, especially Ian Paice, wanted him back.
Was Ian Gillan really so difficult to work with?
Ritchie: Well, if he could sing, we might would have been able to use him for something worthy of mention.
He's a bad singer?
Ritchie: I don't like his singing and I don't like him as a person. In short, I can't work with that guy.
But Ian sang "Child in Time", which is very difficult to sing.
Ritchie: "Child in Time" was a very complex song to sing for Ian. But I like singers, who have variety in their voice. Ian Gillan doesn't have that. Moreover, on stage, we used some effects, laid down in Jon Lord's keyboards, to cover up his voice. Jon helped him to sing the high notes. But that wasn't the only problem with him, I just hate him as a person.
But he's a star.
Ritchie: I still don't like him. You can't behave like that, just because you're famous.
He had a problem with selfishness?
Ritchie: It's not just his singing. I remember one day where he couldn't remember the lyrics and even laughed at it. And when we started to play the next song, he still couldn't remember the lyrics for that. So we did two songs in a row where he couldn't remember the lyrics. Ian was drunk at every concert in 1993. He drank every night, but he didn't care. We played one song, where he couldn't remember the words, and the next one - and then I started to get angry. The fans always supported us, I could hear them singing the words, that he had forgot. He also would go backstage, where nobody could see him, to vomit! There were problems when we started to perform "Child in Time". We asked: "Ian, can we play it today?", and he answered that everything was fine, no problem. But then during the show he lost his voice! He told us that he had learned a new vocal technique that allows him to sing even when his voice was almost gone. So I said to him: "Well, okay, good". He told us that we could count on him and promised that he could sing "Child in Time" every night. So a week after the tourstart he came to me and said: "Rich, let's skip "Child", I can't sing it, I can't even speak". It was ridiculous! So out of frustration about him I just played the opening bars to "Child in Time", so Ian had no choice, he had to sing the song. He looked to me as if he wanted to cry out: "You bastard". And that's when the whole mess started. When a person drinks everyday, and then even vomits backstage during the show, that means that he doesn't care about the fans. He should have taken care of his voice to sing "Child in Time" and should have also learned the lyrics properly, but instead he was always drunk!
Did you also have these kind of problems in the 70ies?
Ritchie: Yes. He was always acting silly and trying to joke around. When he forgot the lyrics, he looked at us and laughed like a fool: "Hee, hee, hee". It's like if I had said: "Oh, today I've just put 4 strings on my guitar. You have a responsibility towards the public. But Ian didn't seem to realize that.
Candice: It's disrespectful to the other members of the group.
Ritchie: On stage I'm a very passionate person. At the moment Gillan forgot the lyrics, I went to Ian Paice, but he was too busy doing his thing, he didn't even notice that. He didn't care about these things, he just did his work behind the drums, which he does very well. Same with Jon Lord. They just wanted to make money, and I can say that it was a very good business back in the 80ies, but I wasn't very happy about the whole thing. I'd rather play with a band that puts real enthusiasm in the music. I couldn't bear to look at the front row on the puzzled faces in the audience of people, being disappointed that the singer was unable to sing the right lyrics. Ian Gillan was just taking it as a joke. I didn't want to continue with him.
That's not very professional.
Ritchie: Yes. It was very emberassing.
What did you think when he joined Black Sabbath in 1983?
Ritchie: What I thought? He was jumping from one band to another back then. But I think it's unfair to talk about it now, because he's not here to defend himself. But to be honest, I haven't heard anything that he did with Black Sabbath or his solo band.
He recorded an album called "Born Again" with Black Sabbath and they even made a live version of "Smoke on the Water".
Ritchie: I haven't heard it. His style is not mine. I prefer singers with a bluesy approach.
You once said Gillan wasn't able to improvise on stage, as well as Coverdale.
Ritchie: That's true, but Coverdale had at least more blues in his voice. Ian Gillan wasn't able to improvise a note. The interaction thing we did in "Strange Kind of Woman" was my idea, he just followed me. It may seem arrogant, but it's not. If you were at his side every night, you would agree with me. I have a reputation for being a difficult person, it's normal that people think: "If there are any problems, Ritchie has probably caused them." Sometimes that's true, sometimes not. What do you think, Candice?
Candice: I think Ritchie always expects the maximum from the others. I don't think you're tough, you're just very demanding.
Ritchie: That's true.
Related to this you've fired all the ELF members before you even released your first Rainbow record? They all joined the band, but in the end you just stayed with Dio...
Ritchie: That's right. They were very good in the studio and seemed to be very attuned. But when we started rehearsing for the live shows, I realized that it weren't the right people. At the time I went to Ronnie and told him that we had to find other musicians. The problem with the bass player was that he couldn't sing, and we needed a bassist who could sing. The drummer Gary was good, but he wasn't the right guy for the live situation. They were all good guys, but we needed some really good musicians. It wasn't until we wanted to go on the road, that I thought about changing them.
But they were friends of Ronnie James Dio. So how did he feel when you wanted to replace them?
Ritchie: It wasn't a big surprise for Ronnie. The decision wasn't made within one day. It took us two weeks to think about it. I discussed the situation with Ronnie and he agreed to do it.
Do you think that Ronnie Dio can be seen as THE voice of metal?
Ritchie: No... He's great, but I think nobody should nail it down to just one person.
But he represents heavy metal?
Candice: You mean in Rainbow?
No, in general throughout his whole career...
Ritchie: Not really. Ronnie has a good voice, but he only goes in one direction. He's a very talented singer, he's never out of tune. But in my opinion one of the best singers is Paul Rodgers. I also like Lou Gramm of Foreigner.
Candice: Axl Rose.
Ritchie: Axl Rose is very talented! One of my favourite rock bands at the moment is King's X.
Ritchie: He's a good bass player, but not one of my favourite singers, because I don't like Stevie Wonder. He likes Stevie Wonder, but I don't. I respect Stevie Wonder, he's a great musician, but I hate his music. Jack Bruce is a good singer.
Ronnie James Dio has a classical training...
Ritchie: Yes, I think he can play the trumpet.
Do you Keep in contact with people like Rod Evans or Nick Simper?
Ritchie: I used to be in touch with Rod Evans after he left Deep Purple. He's a great guy! But a couple of years later he moved to America. I always liked Nick, but once you ask someone to leave, the relationship gets very tense. I said: "Nick, we needed other people", but it was very difficult to maintain a friendship with him.
You fired him?
Ritchie: It was a decision by the whole group. Everyone thought that we needed another bass player, it wasn't just me. Jon Lord and Paicey agreed to find another. Nick wasn't a very good bass player. So shortly after that we met Roger Glover and stayed with him.
Rod Evans formed The Original Deep Purple and toured America in 1980.
Ritchie: Yes, he toured through Mexico, I think. But I never heard what they did.
In 1975 you left Deep Purple because of musical differences, although you were one of the founders...
Ritchie: The first album "Burn" was OK, but when it came to "Stormbringer" the others in the group had become very jazzy and funky. I didn't like that, I wanted to play straight rock n' roll. I didn't like "Stormbringer" at all, only 2 or 3 songs: "Soldier of Fortune", a song that Glen hated, so I told him that If I played "Hold On", a song that I hated, he would do "Soldier of Fortune". "Gypsy" was a good song and so was "Stormbringer", but it was getting too funky. Ian Paice and Jon Lord liked that music, Glenn Hughes too...
So you left them...
Ritchie: Yes, that wasn't rock n' roll. So I spent some days with this small man...
Candice: Ronnie Dio?
Ritchie: Yes, Ronnie Dio (laughs). We did a few songs and it worked so good, that we did a whole album, very fast. It was very relaxing, because Ronnie had no ego back then, and Deep Purple had five big egos.
Also Ian Paice?
Ritchie: Of course! Five egos make it very difficult to work properly. If you were saying black, the other one said white and so on... So there were 5 guys with different opinions, it drove me crazy. I couldn't work with these guys anymore. It went nowhere. We couldn't agree on anything.
How do you feel about the fact that everyone is always blaming you for everything? We are now sitting here and for me it's not difficult at all to be with you.
Ritchie: I can't say I was innocent, but you should have been there everyday to see what was happening.
Candice: I know you, I know how you react. Ritchie is a person who is very moody, but he keeps his feelings to himself a lot of times, he doesn't explode very easy. When he goes home, he feels relieved. A few days later, when he returns to the studio and the same problems are surfacing again, he gets really nervous and his anger explodes.
Ritchie: I don't like people just wandering around in the studio, I like to see people working things out. I think it's very difficult for a group to get along for many years.
The Rolling Stones seem to get along very well (laughs).
Ritchie: Yes, but they seperate from time to time to stay together. What they have done each on their own did not work, but they need to do things outside the group, Jagger on his own, Keith with the Winos... I think Charlie Watts is the character in the group that unifies ideas. They all respect each other. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have been hating each other for a long time, but money is the word, so when the manager offers 6 million dollars, everyone returns to the group. The last time we reunited Deep Purple was just for the money. I know what I'm doing now is risky, it's a very intimate and personal kind of music, but at least I'm not going through life thinking: Another day, another dollar. Now I play minstrel music, can I make money with it? The managers and promoters hate it. But I don't want to do this for money, I do it because I like it and the people who listen will hear that we had a good time doing it. People are doing so many things in this world just for money...
Have you heard of the "Page & Plant" project? Imagine "Blackmore & Gillan" - wouldn't that be a nightmare?
Candice: Exactly. (Laughter)
Ritchie: Luckily, I'm in a position that allows me to do what I really want, now. I have enough money to not even think about it. Thank God!
"Smoke on the Water" is THE Deep Purple song. It's a very simple song. Does that confirm that the best songs are also the most simplest?
Ritchie: That's true. I think we wrote that song in 5 minutes. I played the riff to Ian Paice and Ian Gillan suggested a certain way of playing it, so that it fitted his voice. It was all done very fast.
What inspired you at the time?
Ritchie: Nothing, really. I just played the riff and the whole thing developed itself.
You were in a hotel in Montreux.
Yes, just Ian Paice and myself trying different rythms.
Looking at the pictures of the "Machine Head" booklet gives me the feeling that you were uncomfortable with all the equipment provided in several rooms, all these cables through the corridors...
There is this anecdote that someone burned the whole local down, where Frank Zappa played a concert.
Ritchie: Yes, the mothers were playing when it happened and a fan in the audience started the fire. It started in the curtains and a few minutes later the whole house was burning.
It's said that during the tour of "Perfect Strangers" in Australia, you held a seance sorrounded by candles and two naked girls.
Ritchie: In Australia?
Yes, Australia in 1984. You've been in a hotel room practising spiritualism.
Ritchie: That's not true. In Australia?
Maybe it's a rumour...
Candice: Ritchie and I practise spiritualism at home, but not as you say.
Ritchie: That's one of the many typical rumours about Ritchie Blackmore.
Are you not scared of those things?
Candice: No, because you feel like you're talking to a person. What we do is to put letters in a circle and one case upside down. It's like using a dial. You have to do it with 3 people. We do that very often.
Ritchie: It's a communication with spirits.
Candice: So what did you do in Australia?
Ritchie: No! Maybe it was Stuart Smith.
Candice: Oh, Stuart Smith is a roadie who always pretends to be Ritchie towards other people (laughs). A very strange guy.
Ritchie: One night we were in a bar in Australia and Stuart and myself did a seance, but it was just him and me.
Is it not dangerous?
Ritchie: No, it's only dangerous if you are looking for danger.
You need a medium?
Candice: No, I think it's all in people's minds.
Ritchie: People get confused and think it's like in some Hollywood movies. The Poltergeist has nothing to do with the spirits. People tend to mix it with the devil. You're not cursing the devil, it has more to do with telekinesis.
Candice: I think that people easily forget that we are composed of energy: your brain, your back, your heart...
Ritchie: It's one of the things that I do when we're not playing music. People don't understand what we're talking about until they were at one of our sessions. They ask "Where have I been?". Once they did it, they want to do it again, because they've overcome their initial fear.
Can you give us examples on which kind of people you've met?
Ritchie: We don't talk to people. Communication takes place with ghosts, most of them were not born yet. It's hard to explain. Candice: People are very limited beings. We only have five senses. Disembodied ghosts look at the world not through eyes, they see it through other ways that are not available to us. They are not limited with our senses. Many people don't believe it, but when you're in a dark room, you also don't see chairs and tables, even if they are there.
Ritchie: There are lights over your head, but you can't see them because your eyes don't see what's happening outside their field of vision, I can see the light, because I see what's happening behind you, as well as you can see what's going on behind me. We both see different things, and while we are sitting at the same table in the same hotel, we perceive what's happening in different ways. On my side I can see the moon, and you can't. What I mean is that two people are in the same place, but see the world differentely. So I'm very interested in the psychology of our society. Everyone sees things differently. We all have different perceptions.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Ritchie: Yes, I believe in reincarnation, but I also believe that some ghosts are wandering aimlessly in our world, because their bodies have died a sudden death. The world is full of wandering spirits, but no one understands that. Other ghosts are reborn in another time. There are things that are very difficult for me to explain, but I'm not so ignorant to say that ghosts do not exist.
Do you have bad experiences with ghosts?
Candice: Some ghosts are trying to scare us.
How do they do it? Are they moving the furniture?
Candice: No, they threaten us. They say that we will die, and other nonsense like that. In such cases, you must make clear that you don't want to talk to them and they should leave.
Ritchie: The smarter you are, the easier you will get in touch with a reasonable ghost. We used to hold sessions with people who wanted to communicate with Jimi Hendrix...
Have you ever tried to get in contact with people like John Lennon or Jim Morrison?
Ritchie: I personally never made an attempt to contact a celebrity. When a person dies, he ceases to be famous. In this world we are all equal. We never tried to get in contact with famous people or asked which horse will win the race tomorrow... If you approach it seriously, you get a serious answer, and that's what we are doing. However, we had friends who seemed to be very serious about it to us, but after a few sessions, they wanted to get in contact with a rock band or ask ghosts questions about what will happen with their boyfriend, very stupid things.
Let us proceed to the next topic. The album "Concerto for Group & Orchestra" of Deep Purple was an idea of Jon Lord. Did you support the idea of this project at the time?
Ritchie: It was an idea of Jon Lord. We did it in order to get into the newspapers. In 1969 we needed something that could help us to get into the news programms. Jon liked the idea of playing together with an orchestra. He wrote the music for this album and made a TV appearance to announce the whole thing. It was a good project, but I was not particularly happy with it.
Were you satisfied with the results?
Ritchie: No, not really, the music was not very good, but the goal was achieved. Shortly after this, Jon asked us to take part in another project like that, and we were told that there would be no room for discussion. So we did it, but I said to Jon: "The next album will be a rock n' roll album!". So we wrote "In Rock". And the orchestra thing finally came to an end. (laughs)
Any other special memories about TV appearances at that time?
Ritchie: Many! For some reason we recorded a video for a German TV director, he came up and we had to get out of a statue, which was made of plastic, pick up the instruments and play. But we refused. On another occasion, Ian Gillan wore a jacket that the television producer didn't like. Gillan refused to take it off, so the producer didn't want to film us. (laughs)
What did the jacket look like?
Ritchie: It was a kind of employee airlines jacket with a fur collar. Nothing unusual. But it was 1971, and it was expected that men should come out of the dressing room wearing a tie. So we told the producer that we couldn't agree on that.
Two years ago, Deep Purple came to Spain and played a lot of cities, where almost no-one else ever played before.
Candice: I think, Deep Purple will tour until the end of their days (laughs). Ritchie: Deep Purple have become like naughty children. I'm so glad that I don't belong to this group anymore... I'm very happy. I say this in all seriousness. I'm so happy that I don't take part in this any longer. The whole structure of Deep Purple is very unhealthy, but there are certain things that we shouldn't talk about, right, Candice?
Ritchie: You would be able to understand if you would take a closer look on it.
But why did you reform Deep Purple in 1984?
Ritchie: It was a very hasty decision. Rainbow was very successful, things had gone very well... But I was offered a lot of money for it, and I decided to take a break for two years, and then return to Rainbow. Ian Gillan tried very hard to convince us to make this reunion: "Let's do it, let's do it!". I thought it was a good idea, because Ian was singing very well at the time. After the release of "Perfect Strangers" I began to realize that something was wrong, but I still had not thought about it properly at the time, so we wrote another record, and it was terrible.
"The House of Blue Light".
Ritchie: Yes, that was nonsense. And then Joe Lynn Turner joined the group. I blame myself that I stayed in the band for so long. I just did it for the money.
You didn't like "Nobody's Perfect"?
Ritchie: I only like "Perfect Strangers" from that time with Gillan.
Have you heard what Dio has been doing recently?
Ritchie: I had no opportunity to visit his concerts, but I heard from a couple of critics that the tour wasn't very good, but I don't know it myself. He has a very strong voice, and I don't think he ever lost it. But let's talk about me, Ronnie has his thing going. My priority is Blackmore's Night now.
Dio sang "Man on the Silver Mountain", "Long Live Rock n Roll" and "Mistreated".
Ritchie: These are good songs and he sings them for many years. Interestingly, at first he was afraid to sing "Mistreated", because he wasn't sure if he could perform it better or as good as David Coverdale. But he became very comfortable with it.
He said that he left Rainbow, because he didn't like the direction you wanted to go into.
Ritchie: That's true. I started to become bored of the direction we went with Dio after a few years and we were tired of each other. When Cozy Powell came to the studio, he looked at Ronnie, and we all realized that we weren't really excited to do anything. At that point I decided that it was time to do something different. I think Ronnie's voice only fits one kind of genre, and I wanted to go into other areas. I wanted to write love songs like "Street of Dreams", "Stone Cold"... I was looking for other singers, because Ronnie had a problem with songs about love, he prefered to sing loud "Yeee's!". Of course, everyone has his own style. For example, I don't know how to play country or western...
What do you think of his albums "Holy Diver" and "Last in Line"?
Ritchie: I've only heard a couple of songs. I think "Rainbow in the Dark" was very nice.
Many people critize you for taking a more commercial path with Rainbow.
Ritchie: It's not their business, I don't think anyone knows what's best for me, apart from myself!
Are there any positive memories of the recording sessions for "Down to Earth"?
Ritchie: No, absolutely not! It was the most difficult album of my life!
Because of Graham Bonnet?
Ritchie: Yes. Roger Glover and myself just went mad because of that guy. I could tell many stories, but they could damage Graham, and he's a good man.
Why did you hire him then?
Ritchie: Because he could sing all these high notes.
So you don't like "Down to Earth"?
Ritchie: Not really.
Even "All Night Long"?
Ritchie: No. I very rarely listen to my records, I always prefer to look forward. I hate to look back in the past. But I listen to my new album "Shadow of the Moon" all the time. This album is incredibly good in my opinion, I'm very satisfied with it. Candice's voice and the songs, that's exactly what I wanted to do. I like to play in a rock band, but only one month per year. The rest of the time I prefer to play music of the Renaissance.
You have already started to write new material?
Ritchie: Yes. I have already prepared six new songs. It's a joy to listen to "Shadow of the Moon", for example, in the garden. This music is ideal for a good rest and some relaxation. Rock n Roll is more suited for bars. I played it for 35 years. I've always played rock, but now I'm a little bit tired of it, I need to change my direction. It won't be easy to arrange a tour for this. We will play all these songs acoustically. For me, it's a novelty, now I listen to musicians playing acoustic guitar. For example, Gordon Giltrap or Adrian Legg. It's a completely different approach. And we are thinking about arranging concerts in castles. I would like to see us playing there.
Like Mike Oldfield, who has played at Edinburgh castle in honor of the release of "Tubular Bells II"?
Ritchie: I don't like that sorts of stuff, our concerts will be much smaller.
What do you think - how will your fans react to this?
Ritchie: I think my fans will be pleasured. They get older, too, like me. I'm 52 and the fans at my age maybe are not so crazy about rock n' roll anymore. They have families, and they want to hear soft music. If I would release another rock album, the fans would say: "Well, Ritchie, okay...". But the reactions to this disc will be more diversified.
What do you think of people like Marilyn Manson? Right now he's as popular as you or Zeppelin were back in the 70ies.
Ritchie: No, I don't think so. Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple don't spit into the crowd or crucify people on stage. I think he's just a clown. Marilyn Manson is a clown, but a smart one. Everytime I listen to his interviews, I understand what he wants to express with his show. People are looking for a show anyway. The other day I saw him live, and it all seemed very silly and the show ended with a big bang or something like that. I know that you're might be thinking about Kiss now, but I don't regard them in the same category. People go and see their shows, but not only to see blood or explosions... and Marilyn Manson doesn't know how to sing or play an instrument, he's not a musician. It's like a circus, people look at him as a three-headed man, he always scares people with this terrible look. But as I said before, he's very smart. Have you ever noticed this?
We've interviewed him several times for this magazine.
Ritchie: He knows what he's talking about, and he knows how to speak in public. So people are more concerned about his philosophy.
But he was not the first American who opposes puritanism and religious fanaticism?
Ritchie: I have my own opinion about religion. Religion - is money. I'm a very spiritual person, but I'm not religious, because religion is a synonym for the word "money". But that's another topic (laughs).
Is it true that you had a fight with musicians of UFO in 1981 in Barcelona?
Ritchie: No, that's not true. There was a fight, but it was my tourmanager, and he had a fight with their singer Phil Mogg. My tour manager was Ian Broad. The musicians of UFO drank way too much, but Ian was a good guy. By accident, he poured whiskey on Phil Mogg's T-Shirt, who then poured whiskey into his eyes, so he was taking advantage. It seemed unfair, so I suggested to Ian that they should put up a fight in the street, where no one could stop them. Phil Mogg is a very good boxer! They made a real fight and no one intervened. But at one point Phil Mogg hit Ian and threw him on the floor, so I intervened to stop this slaughter. Of course there were rumors that he had a fight with me! Ritchie's a good scapegoat. If it's raining, they blame Ritchie Blackmore.
Did you hear the cover of "Hush" by the band Kula Shaker?
Ritchie: No, I haven't heard it.
It's very similar to the version of Deep Purple.
Ritchie: Really? Jon played very well on that song, it was an excellent idea.
You took part in Pat Boone's latest project "No More Mr. Nice Guy".
Ritchie: It was a nice project. He asked me to play on this CD, because when I went to school at the age of 11, I was listening to Pat Boone records, so I was glad to take part. I worked with Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent, but I never took part in a tribute album by any of them, with the exception of this one and another CD of Hank Marvin.
Are you satisfied with this new version of "Smoke on the Water"?
Ritchie: I haven't heard it. I recorded the guitar seperately, when I was on tour, but I haven't heard the finished track.
Do you prefer Elvis or Pat Boone?
Ritchie: Both, I listened to them when I was a teenager.
But the music of Pat Boone wasn't so severe.
Ritchie: Yes, but I liked Elvis, Buddy Holly, Pat Boone... So I considered it an honor to work with a musician, which I had listened to at an early age.
The rap group "Boogie Down Productions" recorded a song on their latest album with the riff of "Smoke on the Water". But that seems to be a quite normal thing to do these days...
Ritchie: Oh sure. What's the name of the band?
Boogie Down Productions.
Ritchie: Well, we'll sue them. Recently, I hear the "Smoke on the Water" riff quite often in the music of different groups, so that's very tempting - especially when I know the name of one of these groups.
Do you like rap?
Ritchie: No, there's not anything I like about it, absolutely nothing. Zero.
Is it true that the riff for "Burn" is based on "Fascinating Rythmn" by Glenn Miller?
Ritchie: No, but it sounds similar. Many things sound similar in music.
Have Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple been friends in the 70ies?
Ritchie: We were friends. I haven't seen Jimmy Page for some time, but we've known each other since 1962.
Do you agree with me that especially Robert Plant was just interested in making money?
Ritchie: No, but they have lost direction. Jimmy seems rather lost. I haven't seen him for a long time.
Have you heard the album "A Tribute to Led Zeppelin", released by Atlantic records?
Ritchie: I haven't heard it. Have you, Candice?
Ritchie, is it true, that you are a fan of ABBA?
Ritchie: Why??? Because it's one of the best bands in the world! They have some of the best tunes, like The Beatles. These are the best two groups in the world. No one wrote better songs. They are timeless.
What's your favourite ABBA song?
Ritchie: "Waterloo" is a great song, but my favourite is "Dancing Queen", a magnificent composition, and some excellent keyboard work. I've always liked melodious music, even when I played hard rock. If you pay attention, you can hear that I never played loud just for the sake of it. I can't play music without a good melody. Ian Paice doesn't like melodic music, he likes simple riffs and chord sequences. Jon Lord also loved melodic music. So sometimes we wrote a song of six or seven chords, but the others didn't like it. That's probably why I don't like bands like Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. The only two songs I like by Led Zeppelin are "Kashmir" and "When The Levee Breaks". These were good songs, but I've never been a fan of them. And I don't like Black Sabbath too, although I have to say, ten years ago, I really liked what Ozzy Osbourne did on his own. He sang very melodic songs for some time, and that's the most important thing for me.
You don't think "Paranoid" is a melodic song?
Ritchie: No, I don't.
There's one person that speaks very well about you at the moment, David Coverdale. We interviewed him recently and he said that it's been a pleasure to work with you. Can you say the same about him?
Ritchie: I discovered David Coverdale through Ian Paice. One day I put the tape on with his voice, and I liked it very much. He had a bluesy sound, which was what we were looking for. But only a year and a half later, I had to leave the group. David did a good job on "Burn", but after "Stormbringer" it all fell apart for me.
You liked Whitesnake?
Ritchie: They were good musicians.
Is it true that you forced David Coverdale to take diet pills when he entered the group?
Ritchie: Yes, he was too fat. He had to loose many kilos. When he first came to the audition, I said that our last singer Ian Gillan was a guy with a very nice look and that if he wanted to be the new singer, he had to loose weight. If you tell someone that you're gonna work with him, but he has to loose weight, he won't do it. But if you tell a guy that you won't work with him, until he has lost some weight, he will do it.
Was it your idea?
Ritchie: No, it was the whole group, but I was the one who inisted on it the most.
What did you think about Tommy Bolin?
Ritchie: He was a good guitarist.
His playing in "Smoke on the Water" was horrible.
Ritchie: Tommy Bolin was always taking drugs.
When you were recording "Slaves and Masters", it was Joe who suggested that the band should go more into the direction of "Motley Crue", because he was a fan of their album "Dr. Feelgood", but you refused to do so. Is that true?
Ritchie: That's true, I don't like Motley Crue. Joe Lynn Turner is too americanized.
Yngwie Malmsteen is one of your most obsessive fans. He imitated you on many occasions. He has also played with Dio in the Hear-n-Aid project, with Joe Lynn Turner in Rising Force and with Graham Bonnet in Alcatrazz. Apart from that he has also participated in a jam with Ian Gillan. It seems he has been working with all your favourite musicians.
Ritchie: Yes, I think he's already watching out for my next singer. (laughs)
Do you like him as a guitar player?
Ritchie: Yes, he's good.
When Deep Purple played the California Jam, you refused to go on stage, because you weren't in accordance with the time, because it was still daylight. Once you were on stage, you broke a TV camera, so that the police was on their way, but you flew away with a helicopter. Was it because they wanted to arrest you?
Ritchie: Yes, but because the stage went up in flames.
Why did you do this?
Ritchie: To show people what we could do. It's a little bit like Marilyn Manson. After such things people will talk about it for years.
So what happened with the police?
Ritchie: They didn't catch me!
Which music are you listening to these days?
Ritchie: I don't listen to rock n roll. I like King's X or Mountain, but I don't like much of today's music.
Ritchie: Not at all.
Which are your favourite guitarists?
Ritchie: Jeff Healey, John Mayall... I'm more interested in blues and classical guitar players than in people like Joe Satriani. For example, Eric Johnson interests me, he's a genius. Of course, Steve Vai is very good and Joe Satriani, too, but I find them boring.
Did you hear Joe Satriani with Deep Purple?
Ritchie: No, the last thing I want to hear is something related to that group.
Are you interested in the style of Robert Johnson?
Ritchie: He's okay. These days there's a lot of snobbery among guitarists. No Fender guitar sounded well before the sixties. Playing the guitar well doesn't mean that you have a lot of speed in your fingers. There's a lot more to it. It's more a thing of the mind.
Eric Clapton said that playing the music of Robert Johnson was very difficult. It was simple but very complex at the same time.
Ritchie: No comment.
It's very funny to hear this comment from Eric Clapton, as it was said that he was the god of the guitar in the 60ies.
Ritchie: Who said that?
Ritchie: Eric has done a lot of important things for the guitar with Cream... really a lot.
Like Eddie van Halen?
Ritchie: Yes, he's a good guitarist. But I think he's going through a time where he doesn't know what he really wants. That also happened to me. The hardest part of it all is to find good singers.
Do you like Van Halen?
Ritchie: No, I like Eddie, but I never liked the band.
Ritchie: A nice guy, very solid playing.
Do you like his style in Black Sabbath?
Ritchie: It was a good band, but as I said before, I personally prefer what Ozzy Osbourne did in the early 80ies.
With Rhandy Roads?
Ritchie: No, after Rhandy Roads.
With Jake E. Lee.
Ritchie: Yes, that period. He had a great keyboard and bass player; very good songs and melodys.
You like Rhandy Roads?
Ritchie: Yes, yes, of course, he was a nice guy.
Did you know him personally?
Ritchie: Yes, he was very quiet, very shy, but a very nice guy.
Do you think that there'll ever be band that will follow a similar style like Rainbow or Deep Purple?
Ritchie: No, because it's not fashionable. If Rainbow or Deep Purple would have success right now, there would be a lot of other bands like that. But right now people like Alanis Morissette are trendy, and there are lot of Alanis Morissettes (laughs). Did you notice that? When someone has a lot of success, a lot other similar artists pop up.
Do you like Nirvana?
Ritchie: Not particularly, but I think it had something. Once they had success, the record labels left the door open to a lot of similar groups, and that's when the whole Grunge thing started. Grunge is something that has never interested me.
How about the latest reissues of all the material by Jimi Hendrix?
Ritchie: I was a fan of Hendrix. He made three albums. If I would want to listen to Hendrix, I would listen to these three albums and no remixes or other things that have been digged, just to make money. The same happens with Deep Purple. How many times do they want to re-release these albums? Sometimes they just change the cover and put a flower on it or whatever. The record companys are always looking for money. It's great for collectors. But I won't buy the reissues of Hendrix, because I already have these discs at home for a long time.
Do you still consider Jimi Hendrix as the best guitarist?
Ritchie: Jimi Hendrix had a great voice for rock n roll, the best riffs, the best show, his arrangements... I think his guitar was least important to me. But that's just my opinion.
Ritchie Blackmore Interview - Spanish Popular Magazine 1997
- translated from Spanish language -