The riff king Ritchie Blackmore rocks Berlin today
He is considered one of the most influential guitarists in rock history. Together with Deep Purple, he created immortal rock evergreens such as 'Child in Time', 'Black Night' and 'Smoke On The Water'. On April 18, Ritchie Blackmore and his reformed band Rainbow were on a five-city European tour for a single concert in Berlin. Before his concert, Mr. Blackmore recalled his years of apprenticeship and hiking in Germany, his surprising return to hard rock and the dream of reuniting the legendary Mark II version of Deep Purple.
Many dreams have come true during her career. When did you seriously think about making a living as a guitarist?
Ritchie Blackmore: The moment was there when I saw Tommy Steele. Hardly anyone knows him today. But then he was bigger than Elvis. I begged my father to buy me a guitar. That was not easy, because something like that - I am talking about the 1950s - cost a fortune. Then at the age of eleven my father bought me this guitar. He was skeptical because I had disappointed him now and then. So he said to me: learn to play the thing sensibly, otherwise I will knock it on your head. So I rode my bike to a music teacher, took classical guitar lessons. All in all, that was a good decision. When I was 15 I left school and I was in the Heathrow Airport area. There were some very good guitarists like the great Big Jim Sullivan. He taught me a lot.
You were only fifteen years old, almost a child when you started working for the well-known producer Joe Meek. How was it in London at the beginning of the 1960s?
Ritchie Blackmore: It all started then. The whole business was not yet invented. There were curious people, improvisers and explorers. One of them was Joe Meek. That's how I ended up with the Outlaws. We played in the studio, but also on stage, mainly instrumental numbers, which were very popular at the time. To be honest, I was very shy on stage at the time. I then learned how to move properly from Screaming Lord Sutch. He knew very well that the stage is about more than music.
After leaving Deep Purple in 1975, you formed the band Rainbow, with which you had great success and created genre classics such as 'Stargazer' and 'Man On the Silver Mountain'. In 1997 you sent Rainbow into rocker pension and from then on played with Blackmore's Night Renaissance music. How did you come back to Hard Rock?
Ritchie Blackmore: To be honest, I still love Renaissance music. It requires a completely different playing technique and dedication than is common in rock music. But then Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin called and asked if we should go on tour together. Who can say no (pause).... No, of course that was just a joke. I like to make a joke. If I remember correctly, I was thinking about a live comeback from Rainbow for the first time when I discovered the wonderful singer Ronnie Romero. His voice was made for Rainbow. And that's how we got our first appearance in June 2016 on the Loreley at the Monsters of Rock Festival.
After this appearance, many fans compared the new Rainbow formation to that from the 1970s when Ronnie James Dio was acting on the mic. Some were enthusiastic about Romero, others were missing Dio. What is your opinion?
Ritchie Blackmore: You always meet fans who prefer one or the other singer. There are also people who love Graham Bonnet or Doogie White. I don't want to hurt anyone here, but I firmly believe that Ronnie Romero is the best singer Rainbow has ever had in his ranks.
You were very young when you came to Germany with Screaming Lord Sutch and others. Do you have any memories of that?
Ritchie Blackmore: Germany has been great from the start. I have the best memories of it. The club scene was leading here and the bars in Hamburg were open all the time. It was a nice youth, many English bands played here. Since then I have loved German beer and German football. German hit songs are no stranger to me either. Because night after night, the jukebox played Freddy Quinn, Heino or the Rattles.
Is it true that you also met the person in Hamburg who had the idea for Deep Purple?
Ritchie Blackmore: Yes. This man was the singing drummer Chris Curtis. He was playing for the Searchers at the time. He called me in Hamburg in 1968 and offered me a ticket to London to introduce me to a band project that I would fit in well. This idea later became Deep Purple. By then Chris was gone. At the beginning we didn't really know where to go. We dreamed of becoming the English version of Vanilla Fudge. Back then, these Americans were the latest hype with their psychedelic organ and guitar sounds. And so our early things sounded more or less like that.
© My Heimat, Germany - April 18, 2018 / Photo: Christie Goodwin