The complete interview by Neal Jeffries 1995
In a dark corner of a restaurant an hour's drive from New York City, a lonely grim figure sits by candlelight. He looks ominous through the window. Long Island neighbors confirm this - they constantly see a red laser dot running around the room. The dot also runs through the restaurant full of people. Only in the very corner where this person is sitting there is no one else. Casual visitors drop into this corner to see it a bit. Directly opposite is an old life-size black statue of a knight.
It is said that ten years ago the gaze of this knight was fixed on the fireplace. But now he was staring at that very corner. The corner where Ritchie Blackmore is sitting. He told me many interesting stories until 4:30 in the morning. He said that this knight changes positions himself. He also said that at a recent spiritualistic seance, the ghost of a young girl appeared to him, who announced the name of her killer - many visitors of the restaurant knew him!
We must somehow teach him a lesson. I don't know how, but I'm coming up with something, Ritchie said calmly about the waiter, uh, no, I changed my mind. Don't need Tabasco. I was joking.
Have you seen the BBC Rock Family Trees program yet?
I prefer not to watch films with my participation. I am very embarrassed.
But you weren't there...
I know (laughs). I am always embarrassed when they talk about me. It's boring - everything I need, I know without a TV. I can well imagine what they discussed there - probably the problems that they encountered after my refusal to participate in this.
You stumbled on stage, right?
Right. I was drunk and I couldn't see well. I stumbled over my stupid boots. They had these healthy heels, not like ordinary shoes. Okay. In Birmingham, I went on stage with a glass of water. I walked over to the cameraman and threw water - or beer - on him directly into the camera lens to pull him back. He did just that.
And then it turned out that the beer hit the backstage nobility, or rather, someone's wives. They decided that I did it on purpose and began to point a finger at me. If I wanted to pour beer on someone's wives, I would have done so, but this was not part of my plans.
Then I continued to play, but I was in such a bad mood that the concert was just awful. Why did they lie to me about the cameras? Instead of starting the concert, it would be better to bring everything back to normal. You don't have to make it public. People should not think: "Why does he leave, then go on stage?" I wasn't going to play until these guys were removed. The whole question could be solved in five minutes, in two minutes... But no, they had to start the concert without me.
But this attitude also upsets the fans who pay for the tickets.
I understand, but it was only a couple of minutes from the concert, I doused someone with beer. And anyway - it's rock and roll! Unlike them, I don't want to sit quietly in a rocking chair. It's rock and roll. I could go on stage thinking, "Give me money," screaming, "Birmingham - want rock and roll?" - not that I would do that, but I could use all these clichés.
When I myself go to a concert of my favorite artists, I feel like... Once Ian Anderson told me a story. I was at the Jethro Tull concert in Hamburg, after the concert I asked him: "What were you doing with the guy in the front row? It looked very strange. You jumped down, something happened, and then you climbed back onto the stage." He replied: "Oh! This guy! He fell asleep - fell asleep at MY concert! So I jumped down and hit him!"
That is genius! This is inspiration - it's beautiful, delightful; this is rock and roll. In addition to performing your own parts, you can always add something spicy. Actually, the group is not to blame - Colin Hart is to blame. He shouldn't have lied to me that there were no cameras on the stage. Paicey didn't know at all that I hadn't taken the stage.
But about Pete Frame's Rock Family Trees...?
Yes, I've heard of him.
He must have asked you to participate in the program?
I think so. I don't remember very well. He is somewhat similar to Simon Robinson, the head of the Deep Purple fanclub who does not like the group. Wonderful! He doesn't like the band and everything they play, and he is the president of the fan club!
It seems to me that he likes it...
Like? He has a weird way of showing his love. I don't follow him, but they often tell me something. I ask: "Who told you that?", And they answer that Simon Robinson. Who is that? Some kind of horror.
And Pete Frame?
I think I received a letter asking to help him - I remember something like that - but then I forgot about him. I respond poorly to correspondence.
It was a great documentary series. And everyone I spoke to thinks the Deep Purple episode was the best. Everyone was there except you! Even Nick Simper...
Even Nick? Mostly I try to stay away from everything I've done before. But Nick... He's like a pain in the ass. He considered himself the fifth Beatle to be kicked out of the group. Cool guy, but he can't play or sing! So we apologized to him and decided to say goodbye to him. He never got over it. Very vindictive...
Also there were Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, Cozy Powell, Tony Ashton...
You know, maybe I was invited there, but my former manager could not tell me about it.
In the program, you were in the spotlight. Jon Lord said that you were a part of his life for a quarter of a century, but he still did not understand some of your antics. Obviously, you were the driving force behind the band.
I wouldn't look.
I rarely watch films about myself. I'm not interested in this. This seems to be unusual for many. You know, some people make films but never watch them? I have the same thing with music. But especially with films. Recently we filmed something, my girlfriend said that I should watch it, because it turned out funny. But my attitude to it is: "Maybe someday when I'm drunk." I hate to see myself on video. Even in football. I hate to see how I kick the ball...
Are you dissatisfied with your appearance?
It's just a little strange for me... And I don't like it when others look at me (laughs). I really hate seeing myself on video. Or hear!
So you don't listen to your music either?
I listen to what I play because I play pretty well. But as for the conversations, the recordings in the video, for me it is... (twitches). "It's me?!".
Are you shy?
I'm terribly shy!
Well, okay ... Jon said that Chris Curtis had the idea of Roundabout a year before you became a participant in the project. What happened?
Things did not move. I was going to take part in the project, but everything stood still. I played with The Searchers in '63 in Hamburg, Chris Curtis and I remained friends. When he wanted to gather a group, he sent me a bunch of telegrams to Hamburg, invited me to his place.
I arrived and - everything was just Monty Python style - he was very enthusiastic and very theatrical, a bit like Hitler! I asked him: "Who plays in the band? What is your idea?" And he answered: "YOU are the BEST guitarist in the world. You're in a group. Are you going to play rhythm guitar?", "And you're going to play solo, right? Who will play the drums?" "I'll play drums too." "And Jon Lord?" "Jon Lord will play the organ!" The band was supposed to be called The Light. And then he added: "And I will play bass and sing!" So he was going to play lead guitar, drums, bass and sing! When Jon and I met, I asked, "What's going on? Don't you think he's a little that (twirls his finger at his head)?"
Then we started rehearsing in some small house, and that was the beginning of the story of Deep Purple - Cadogan Gardens in South Kensington, right off Sloane Street, not far from Sloane Square and Kings Road. Nondescript place. And Chris was saying such crazy things, he was acting like Hitler. He had some unrealistic plans. At first we were supposed to be called The Light, and all the most popular bands of that time - like Eric Clapton and Cream - were supposed to support us. He was nuts!
When I went there the second time, the house looked like it had been hit by a bomb. There was only rubbish - no furniture or carpets - just rubbish! Someone came with a pneumatic drill and drilled everything. There was plaster everywhere. Then I noticed that the plaster started to move. It was Chris sleeping on the floor. "Oh, Richie, come in. The group is great, everything will be soon." He was just under some shit.
And that's why you decided not to work with him?
We made the decision about a week later. I met Jon - thank God we exchanged phone numbers - and he asked me, "How do you like Chris?" "Hmm, a little weird guy." "Eccentric? Insane?". Just nuts!
Then we began to decide what to do with it. We had sponsors who were going to fund the group. We wondered - maybe we should just throw him out of the project? We spoke with our sponsors, Edwards and Colleta. They were very enthusiastic about the band, but it seemed to them that Chris, known for The Searchers... Is he still alive?
I do not know.
He's a strange, very eccentric, but a very nice guy. Very cool. I remember him at the best of times at the Star Club in 1963. He played drums while standing, a very strong personality. A really rock and roll man. He didn't need show business; he did not live according to templates - and I like it. Unfortunately, he started taking drugs and he lost his mind, but he brought us all together. In a good way, it was his group. A very important person; without Chris Curtis, nothing would have happened.
Your biography on the label states that you played in The Outlaws, and that Jimmy Page also played there.
No, I played in Neil Christian's band The Crusaders. Page also played in The Crusaders. Albert Lee played in The Crusaders. Jeff Beck played in The Crusaders (laughs). All these guys!
Have you ever played with Jimmy?
Hmm, I played with him at the same festival, and once I recorded with Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page produced us, that was in '64 or '65. I don't remember who we recorded for then. But it was interesting. That's when I first met Jeff Beck. I will never forget how he played a solo - great solo! I asked him: "What is your name?" Jeff Beck. "Who are you playing with?" "With The Tridents". And I made him a discreet compliment: "I've never heard of you." But I meant, "I've never heard of you, but you play so well that you should be known." It hurt him because when I saw him again in '67 or '68 and said, "Hi! I'm Ritchie! "He replied:" Ritchie? Ritchie? Sorry, I've never heard of you" (laughs). But that's not what I meant, and he knew it - you bastard! But in '64 he was already a great guitarist. I thought, "Who is Jeff Beck? Where is he from?". I knew Page and all the other guys.
You and Page took lessons from Big Jim Sullivan. Who was first?
I didn't know he went to Big Jim's lessons. I know that he often did session work with Big Jim. And I took lessons from Jim. When I was 13 years old, I constantly sat on his doorstep. He then played with Marty Wilde and The Wildcats. Jim was a god to me because he had Gibson and he really knew how to play. Incredible. When you're 13 or 14... In those days I used to listen to Marty Wilde on the radio, it was pure rock and roll. More precisely, I was 15, I remember this show - I would like to delve into the archives of the radio, because there was a lot of good guitar playing. There the croak sounded for the first time long - before its time. It was somewhere in '60 or '61. Long before Hendrix. He played The Cryin' Game - although Page claims he played The Cryin' Game. I noticed the same thing with The Kinks. Dave Davis did the solo on "You Really Got Me", but Page always says he played there. Even Ray Davis said, "I don't know why everyone says Page played there: my brother played the solo." But for Page, that's okay. He likes to say: I played this, I played this. It seems to me... he does this - people ask him if he played in such and such a song, he replies that he played, but he does not mention that he only played rhythm guitar. Maybe that's how it was. Because Ray Davis should know better who played on his own songs than Jimmy Page.
You seem to remember that time well.
That time, yes. After '71, everything began to blur. Then huge tours began, and everything became overwhelming. And in the sixties everything was very simple and everything seemed interesting. In the seventies, everything was already tried, and everything did not seem so amazing anymore. I liked those times. But then again, I love to remember them because I was lucky with my career. Many musicians with whom I played then do not like to remember that time, because they have remained at the same level.
And Jimmy Page always says he doesn't remember anything.
When I talk to Page about Neil Christian, he always looks at me with bewilderment - I don't understand why. I want to say, "Come on, Jim, you've become a superstar, you can admit that you once played in a small band." What is the problem? "No, I don't remember that." He remembers everything, but does not want to talk about it.
Do you often communicate with him?
No, I have not communicated with him for many years.
Have you seen the performances of Page and Plant?
I didn't go to their concerts, but I saw a little on TV...
Jon said that Deep Purple got its name after your grandmother's favorite song. Is that true?
Nearly. My grandmother loved to play this song on the piano. The press once wrote that this was the last song she played before her death - I doubt it's true.
Did your grandmother make music?
No. She played a little piano, and loved to play the song "Deep Purple".
What is the name of Rainbow connected with?
With a bar in Hollywood. Ronnie and I got drunk there as usual and started discussing a name for the band. I just pointed to the sign.
It's good that you weren't sitting in the Pheasant and Barrel bar.
Or "Bull and Bush". Or any of those drag queen bars we used to go to!
You decided to replace the musicians of the first Deep Purple line-up. But Jon said that Gillan was advised by Mick Underwood.
Exactly. I told Mick that we were looking for a vocalist and asked if he knew anyone. And he replied: "Well, we have a singer, you can work with him if you want." "Why don't you work with him?" "We're falling apart." "So you don't mind if your singer leaves for us?". So we found Ian Gillan. Gillan knew how to scream. We asked him if he can shout, he said that he can, we took him to the group. Then he had a wonderful voice.
Nick said that it was very unpleasant for him to learn about his dismissal from third parties. You didn't tell him about it to his face.
When someone is fired, no one wants to run for the phone and call: "Hey! You're fired!". I always wonder why managers are paid at all. They should be engaged in the dismissal of musicians, present it in their own way. I don't think the group should say, "You're fired! We don't want to talk to you anymore." These are the managers who should say: "The guys had a meeting and they decided that you were not the right fit for them. You can talk to them, but, of course, they do not want this, because it will be unpleasant for them." In my opinion, this is the job of managers. They don't do too much anyway! At a minimum, they should distance the musicians from each other when problems arise. Usually the last thing managers want is to bring bad news to the group. They only want to hear good news - and get paid from it - but they don't want to work.
Regarding the Concert for Band with Orchestra... Jon said that you were unhappy that this event put him in the center of attention, not you.
It's true. I was not happy because... We had been playing with orchestras for a year or two, but we were a rock band. I didn't understand why we continue to work with orchestras. It was starting to piss me off. The first time we played like this, it was something new: a rock band performing with an orchestra. I didn't really like it, but we succeeded. It was just an experiment.
And then he wrote another concert - we had to play that too. I said, "No, I won't do that anymore. I play in a rock and roll band. Jon, we have to record a rock 'n' roll party album. Uninterrupted hard rock and roll".
I was impressed with the work of Zeppelin and wanted to work in the same style - if it didn't work out, we would play with orchestras for the rest of our lives. As I remember, I told him so. Then we recorded "Deep Purple In Rock" which luckily turned out to be successful. Six months later, someone told me, "This record is always played at parties." We recorded it this way on purpose so that each song was energetic. There weren't any lullabies. There was no show off, which always only gets in the way at parties. The songs sounded at different tempos, but equally energetic. Everything worked out. I was very happy with Deep Purple In Rock because I didn't want to play with orchestras anymore.
But then Gemini Suite came along - oh no! The nightmare is back! I told Jon not to count on me, and he called Albert Lee. Albert, a wonderful, wonderful person, a genius guitarist, simply replied: "Yes, I agree. What should I play?" But I hate playing with orchestras.
It's strange, because you are so fond of classical music. You recorded with a string ensemble at Stargazer, just did a Hall Of The Mountain King arrangement...
Which I am very pleased with. It was very interesting. It turned out great. At first, this idea seemed a bit trivial to me. But when I started playing it with the band, I realized that it would sound great if we recorded it correctly. I am very pleased with the result.
Some songs really stand out. I was very happy with Stargazer and I am also happy with Hall Of The Mountain King. This song doesn't have any particularly bright guitar riffs, but... it still sounds impressive. I am so often dissatisfied with my work - that is why I rarely listen to my records - but I can always listen to this song.
When I get carried away with something, I immerse myself in it with my head. When I first saw... Let's digress. I first saw Peer Gynt at the age of nine on a TV show on the BBC, a whole four-hour production with Pyotr Ustinov. When I saw these witches and the "Cave of the Mountain King" at the age of nine, it had a great effect on me.
I've always wanted to record this melody. By the way, I already did it in 1964, on a little single. But I decided to record it again, I love this melody so much. It's funny, once I played it, and they asked me: "Why don't you write it down?", I replied: "I can't, it's too commonplace." I was told: "No, you have to play whatever you like." I thought, "Damn right!"
For the last 6-7 years, when I worked in another group, I constantly had to limit myself. My desires were secondary, in the first place was always what was decided at the general meeting. But in meetings they can never decide anything. Black or White? "I want black", "I want white". As a result, I got bored with everything, and I said: "I don't care anymore. Yes, even pink." Pink? Well, let it be pink. This is how decisions were made.
There were five stubborn selfish maniacs in the group who constantly argued: "I want to do that", "And I want to do this!" Right now we only have one selfish maniac. But a couple of others are already growing up behind me (laughs).
It is impossible to make decisions with the whole group. You need a leader who decides what to do and takes full responsibility in case of failure. When the group does not succeed, the musicians do so, they begin to blame the leader. And when it turns out, they say: "We knew it!" They suddenly start saying "we". This is what my past managers did. "Guys, we have a full house today. Fine!". Or: "Well, guys, today you let us down, only half of the hall is packed."
In the seventies, did you strive to be perceived as a leader?
Not to be perceived, but I had my own clear ideas. This music was my passion. I didn't try to create problems. I just wanted everything to work out. I constantly said: "Come on, guys!". But it always seemed to me that the others did not have the same passion for music. They were rather looking for a warm place for themselves.
Why did it seem strange to me that you were not in the program.
But this passion has cooled over time. Now I am attracted to other things. As for Deep Purple, I am very happy that now I have the opportunity to live like this, but it seems to me that in the end the band has ceased to be sincere. I thought that the musicians were not working for those motives, so when I was asked to say something on behalf of Deep Purple, I replied that I was not very interested. I could say something uncomfortable for the group, so I preferred to be silent. It's better to just seem like a fool than to start talking and show everyone that you are a fool. As the saying goes, the fewer words the better. Nobody wants to be out of work (laughs)!
Roger said that you wrote "Black Night" drunk after the bar when they told you to record the single.
Right. And so it was. Nice memories. We went to a pub near Kingsway in Holborn. Our managers - just like at The Rutles - told us: "Guys! You need a hit!" Do we need a hit? God, I myself would not have guessed! Imagine, they say so: "You need a hit, you need to get into the hit parade, you need to get on television ...". "Hell! We wouldn't have guessed! Brilliant! "
So we drank and went back to the studio. I started playing the bass riff from Ricky Nelson's Summertime, which goes like this: (hums the riff), we played it to the shuffle beat. The main theme of "Summertime" is the same as in "Hey Joe" - and this is before the release of "Hey Joe". Summertime was released in '62. And then in '68 Jimi played the same theme. Then I thought that if he could borrow the main theme, then we have the right to borrow the bass one. We just added a couple of things that fit in well. Suddenly, the song took first or second place. Poor old Ricky Nelson, or the arranger of this song, is the bass player with the guitarist.
Sometimes I hear songs ... I was very friendly with Bonzo from Led Zeppelin. Once we were sitting in the Rainbow, and either he was completely drunk, or he felt bad. We drank while he sat staring at the table. He told me, "It's probably not easy to play around all the time (sings 'Smoke On The Water'). "Yeah, just like playing pranks (sings 'Whole Lotta Love'). We, at least, did not steal it from anyone!" "What are you talking about?". "I know exactly where you got this riff from (hums the riff 'Whole Lotta Love'), you took it from "Hey Joe", just played it in a different rhythm."
He thought about it. "And Immigrant Song is Little Miss Lover." "What are you talking about?" (Humming riff)... He was not happy. But he started first! Then we went to the toilet. We were at the urinals and he asked, "Rich, are you serious?" "No, I just wanted to laugh at you." "Oh, yes, me too. We will all find a place at the top." We urinated and went down to drink further.
He loved it, he loved conflicts, and I suited him. I will never forget how he began to say what and from whom we stole, and in response I began to say where they got their material from. It was funny to see how he thought: "Page, asshole, now I know!". Good times. Jon Bonham and Keith Moon were great fun.
Did you live in Los Angeles then?
Yeah. Keith constantly came to visit me. I gathered people, and he brought food.
You played with him on the "Screaming Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends" album.
Hmm. Keith was a great drummer. I remember I once asked him, "Keith, how is The Who doing?" Keith could speak in two accents: the upper class accent and the Cockney accent. He was in the upper class mood that night: "I don't know Richard, for two years I haven't gotten a call from them." Excellent. Only Keith Moon could say that! The rest would say, "Hey dude, everything's cool ...". Keith Moon was the funniest person in rock and roll after Freddie Starr.
Did Freddie Starr sing rock and roll?
Not for long. He's a good singer. I worked with him in '67 or '66. It was a group of Freddie Starr and The Midnighters. Rumor has it that he somehow performed better than The Beatles! It is not easy to overshadow it. I have several funny stories connected with him. Joe Meek and I, the author of Telstar, who sadly ended his life and shot himself, were doing studio session work for Freddie.
It was with The Outlaws. Chas Hodges played bass, he was always late for work... If the session was scheduled for ten in the morning, it began at twelve, because... Once he came up with the following story: "Joe, I was walking here, but I saw a poor little chick on the road, I picked him up and took it home, and then carried it to the vet." Complete nonsense! He always made up such excuses, and his pajamas always stuck out from under his jeans.
I was playing solo in the control room, Freddie came up to me, unbuttoned his fly and put his stuff right into my ear while I played. Joe Meek didn't like it very much. Another time Freddie and I were on the train, he was sitting opposite a young girl, and I was sitting on the other side, opposite a man in a suit who was reading a newspaper. All of a sudden, Freddie, who was suffering from some kind of antisocial syndrome, began to speak loudly to me with an aristocratic accent: "Richard, what should I do? White liquid leaks from the tip of my penis! What is it, Richard? What should I do?". He accompanied all this with gestures, the girl tried not to look at him, and the guy hid behind the newspaper. I was desperate to pretend I had never seen him before!
In 1969 it was you who wanted to see Ian Gillan in the group. In 1979, you even asked him for Rainbow. In 1984 you got back together with Deep Purple with him on vocals. But you hate each other! What's the matter? Do you think he let you down?
No, I did not disappoint. I called him Oliver Rude and he looks like Oliver Reed. He is a very rude person. It's not just the voice. It's unpleasant to be with him. Next to him, I always thought: "It's time to get out."
In 72, the group's assistants even reported to us: "If you are going to go out for a drink, we warn you: Gillan is sitting in the bar." I asked: "Is he hunched over?" If they answered, "Yes, very hunched over," it meant that Ian had been there all day and all night, and wanted to hang out on someone. It pissed me off. Why is he acting so arrogant? When I walked by and noticed a hunched figure staring into a glass of beer ... If he noticed me, he would rise and call me: "Hey!" But I answered: "Yes, Ian, is everything all right? I have to go!".
But at first he was not like that? Mick Underwood told you about this?
No. He said that Gillan pissed him off. I remember he said that he didn't like Gillan as a person, I asked why. He replied that Gillan told them that he had lost his voice and could not continue to work in their group - and then it turned out that he was already singing with us.
To understand Ian, you need to know him well. And this is not easy, because he is very cunning, very smart, he has an unusual train of thought. He has features that I don't like, disgusting features that he rarely shows. He can be very polite and pleasant, and often people see him that way. He knows how to present himself; he's smart in his own way. A very smart person. It is often said that the cleverest of us is Jon Lord, but no, the cleverest is Gillan. But he can be so rude.
I don't like being around him. Because he does a lot to shock others, to be talked about, just for the sake of it. Stories don't happen to Ian, he adjusts them himself. And every time - without clothes. Stories constantly happened to him when he was without clothes. The first ten times it's funny, but then...
But what is the difference between Gillan's vulgar jokes and Freddie Starr's antics?
You could run away from Freddie. I didn't have to work with him for so long (laughs)! When people ask me what I think of different people, I need to think about it first. In the case of Gillan, I think the whole point was that I was unpleasant to be with him. And on tour I was still very angry... I understand when vocalists lose their voice, this happens to everyone, this is understandable. But when he went on stage, and he didn't care - he sang two songs, remembering only two lines in each! It started to annoy me!
What tour are you talking about?
About my last tour with them. I wrote a long letter to the group. I said to Jon Lord, "How do you feel about Ian's third and fourth songs just grunting? What do you think is the matter? Poor fans in the crowd sing the words of all the songs, but he doesn't remember the lyrics at all! " Jon is like, "Hmm, I understand. I will speak to him diplomatically." "Well, if you tell him about it, it will be great, because I already got sick of it! Playing along with a singer who only grunts, neighs, spits and pukes is not very professional!" He got drunk and vomited constantly! It's cool, it's rock and roll, but don't forget the lyrics of two songs because of this. This is the wrong attitude towards the audience.
From this, our relationship deteriorated. He was just ridiculous. He lost his voice and didn't care; he is so smug that he allows himself to just wheeze on stage, and he didn't give a shit if he remembered the words or not. On one occasion, I even asked Rob to write the lyrics and hang them on the microphone stand. When Gillan saw this, he took the sheet, tore it up and threw it away, and then continued grunting for two songs. But then it was too late to decide something. The group turned into a circus.
But this is 1993. What happened in 1973?
I didn't like the way he sang.
What has changed since 1970?
His voice was suitable for "In Rock", but I wanted development, so that the vocalist had good phrasing, and he sang in the same style. He hardly sang a melody, and his phrasing seemed very outdated to me. In addition, when you quarrel with a singer because of his voice - that's one thing, and I completely disliked his voice - but we generally disagreed with each other, it was so strange. So we didn't understand each other at all.
In 1984 you returned with the same lineup, because for the fans it is Gillan who is the voice of Deep Purple. But now you are saying that his voice was only suitable for In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head albums?
Yes, he was only suitable for... he sang well on Machine Head, In Rock and Perfect Strangers.
Why don't you like Fireball? Ian loves this album.
Is that why you don't like him?
Not. It's just that "Fireball" doesn't have a single decent song. It's personal. I would never listen to it. It's the same with Who Do We Think We Are. A worthless dummy. This happens when the managers drive the musicians to death, and then they say that they still need to record the album. "How do we record it if we only have a week off between tours?" I've always liked In Rock, Machine Head, Burn and Perfect Strangers.
A friend of mine who also watched Rock Family Tree said that Jon Lord has a spineless character. He said almost through the entire program that he regretted what he had not done or said at the time.
An interesting word. Someone else — not me — spoke of Jon Lord the same way. Some don't learn from mistakes. Yes, I agree with this remark. I can say even more... I know Jon Lord from the other side. He is not an angel. Jon is always ready to hear good news, but when bad news comes, he disappears immediately. Oddly enough, he doesn't want to hear it. I know Ian Gillan dislikes Jon. It is interesting that it was he who called him that.
Jon said that the first time he heard about Gillan and Glover's departure was when you said you wanted to find a blues singer and bass player who could sing harmonies.
And there is. This is exactly what happened. I'm a little imp! But I didn't decide anything. I just said, "Hey, we have to do something." Everyone answered me: "Yes, you are right, but what?"
About Roger. I didn't want to fire him, but planned to leave myself. I wanted to leave the group. I said, "Paicey, we're leaving!" I wanted to form a group with Phil Lynott. I said that I wanted to leave, and he replied: "What can make you stay? We are doing so well! Why spoil everything? " I said, "No, I want to work with Phil. You and me and Phil will make a great group. I want to play more blues music."
It seemed to me that in Purple everyone was too relaxed and felt like in a rocking chair. But Paicey didn't want to leave: "Phil is a good bass player, but maybe we should try...?" I replied, "No, I can't stand Gillan." "What's the other problem?" "I want too much change and it won't be fair of me." "What changes?" "No matter".
I remember that I didn't want to agree to this. Roger was such a great guy. The next day, Paicey asked, "What should we change to keep you in the band?" I'm like (with a sigh), "We'll have to get Roger out... But I don't want to. The whole group rests on it. He is not guilty of anything. I want to work with a different bass player, more bluesy. But I have no right to demand it. That's why I want to leave and create my own group. I hope you come with me. If not, I'll find someone else."
He began to say that if Roger needed to be fired, we would fire him. "No, it's not fair. He is not guilty of anything." I was not sorry for Gillan, we both hated each other. But Roger didn't bother anyone. Why fire him? But then I said: "Okay, if you go for it, then I will stay, because then everything will change." I had problems with Gillan, but I was not going to kick Roger out of the group. I was going to leave on my own. But Paicey convinced me. Jon didn't know about it at all. As we joked, he was reading books at the time.
So you wanted to start from scratch? Is that why you planned the Baby Face project?
Yes, but I wasn't sure either. Like Phil, he has had a good career. We wanted to work together, but he just had a hit.
But did you write something down?
Yes, two or three songs.
Who has these records?
I have no idea.
In 1983, Phil told me that you have them.
No, I don't have them. And they were still only half finished. Managers should have them. I think we were produced by Derek Lawrence.
It's strange that they never surfaced anywhere.
Yes, it's strange ... With all due respect, they are ready to sell anything that can make money. They did this twenty-five times with Deep Purple albums. How long can the same albums be reissued? I've never understand this. In London Rob showed me all these albums, I was shocked: do people really buy it ?! They just re-released "Deep Purple In Rock" for the fifteenth time - now one song is playing two seconds longer. Complete shit! The tapes must have been lost, otherwise Derek Lawrence would have released them. He released the Bullfrog album, not the best solution.
Roger said that in 1973 you only told him: "It's nothing personal, it's business."
I could have said that, yes.
And he said he was more angry with Paice and Lord for their cowardice.
I will say this. Paicey tries to stay out of the way, and Jon generally... he goes into the shadows. He never says anything negative.
Let's move on to the more stupid period, the Coverdale period.
No more stupid period than the rest.
In the program he called you Ricardo. Has he addressed you that personally?
No, he called me Blackers. Here is one of my favorite stories about David Coverdale. Now he has a very pretentious aristocratic accent, although he himself comes from... where is he from? Well, you can imagine how they talk there. Once he was sitting in a restaurant and said: "Waiter! Bring me your best brandy!" The guy turned around and said, "Sir, do you prefer this sort of 1912, or this kind of 1915?" Coverdale is like (feigns panic): "Oh, yes, it will suit me!" This characterizes him perfectly.
He said that at his first concert, Purple was so nervous that he locked himself in a separate room. The managers even thought he ran away. Do you remember that?
No, but I didn't communicate with them at all. I only saw them on stage.
You didn't talk to them?
Well, not that I wouldn't talk. It's just that I rarely talk with the band before concerts. Sometimes I communicate. But it's not that I don't want to talk to them, it's just that I'm trying to pull myself together, and I don't need all this behind-the-scenes noise. In their dressing room there was the same picture all the time: Jon was playing the theme from Benny Hill, Glenn was playing Steve Wonder, and David was yelling: (in a high voice) "Baby, Baby, Baby!", (In a low voice) "Baby, Baby, Baby!" And I was sitting in my own dressing room by candlelight, trying to concentrate. We talked and saw each other, but I never went to their dressing room. I hated that.
That is, four musicians were sitting in one dressing room, and you in another?
Yes, always. It made it easier for me to tune the guitars. And usually I sit in the room by candlelight, it helps me to calm down. I can't calm down when four guys scream and scream next to me. They also constantly dragged their friends, who also loved to chat and shout.
The program showed an excerpt from California Jam. You were looking at Coverdale there as if you expected him to screw up.
If I saw this passage, I could remember what I was thinking then. But I don't remember so well. I try not to think about the past in my head. People in groups come and go.
"Burn" is one of your best albums.
A very good album. It was so good to see fresh blood in the group.
There's a huge difference between Burn and Stormbringer.
Yes true. Burn was a rock and roll band, we had fun and we all played well. And at Stormbringer, Glenn began to promote his ideas more and more in the spirit of R&B, and David was very keen on this. They got into R&B, they infected Jon because they needed a funky organ, and Paicey, he can play funk too. The whole group except me. I just said, "I hate this shit! Why are we playing this Stevie Wonder-style bullshit? I'm not a Steve Wonder fan!"
Why did you lose interest in this line-up so quickly?
Because they got carried away with this funky music.
You just remained in the minority?
Yes, in the minority. Maybe I didn't promote my ideas that much then and watched more from the outside. And they were able to turn Deep Purple into an R&B show.
At first David and Glenn were new and did whatever they were told, and then they wanted to do everything their own way?
Exactly, exactly so.
Jon said that in the studio you played great material that the band liked. But you kept it for your solo album.
Yes, because I'm tired of everything. I had to go. Everyone was thinking only about buying a house in Malibu and sticking some rubbish up their nose. The group began to turn into a simple business, and they only went about their own business. At the end of the Burn tour and during the recording of Stormbringer, the band turned into show business.
Did you compose Stormbringer in the studio?
Mostly. We wrote the music for "Burn" at rehearsals, we had a break for that. And we didn't have time for Stormbringer.
Was that when drugs first appeared in Purple's history?
I think yes. I never saw them take drugs, but then I heard, "Oh, I don't do this anymore." I didn't know they were taking them at all!
You like to drink. But have you ever taken drugs?
I am proud that I have never touched cocaine in my life. I guess I'm the only person in rock and roll who... of course, I drink, like everyone else, but cocaine? I don't need this shit. I've seen enough of people who stuff something in their nose. In this regard, I'm like Frank Zappa. He always said: "Anyone who sniffs something has no self-respect. It's so stupid." But I heard that they were all doing this, I just did not know about it.
Glenn told me you don't like Negro music.
Yes, I'm a racist (laughs).
Do you not like blacks or their music?
I don't like... I learned a lot from Jimi Hendrix and black blues guitarists. But I don't like R&B's music. I don't like disco. And Glenn was lost. He wanted to be Stevie Wonder.
How long have you not talked to him?
A couple of years ago on the phone. I asked, "Glenn, would you like a drink?" He replied: "No, I cannot. I weigh over 200 pounds. I don't go anywhere." He was very worried about his weight. I don't know why it kept him from going out for a drink.
Now he has changed a lot: he lost weight, gave up drugs, cut his hair. Now he sings much better than before.
He is a born musician. I always liked him; cool guy. But I loved Coverdale's voice more. I didn't like Glenn's high-pitched voice.
He recorded his own version of Burn and sang it better than Coverdale.
Is that true? I've heard about it. He is a talented singer.
Coverdale said that when you left the band, he made a list of guitarists who could replace you. Tommy Bolin was on this list. But rumor has it that it was you who advised Tommy to the band.
I didn't recommend Tommy Bolin to them. I knew him since I was at his concert in the Spectrum. Some of them asked me about him, and I replied that he is a great guitarist. But, like the last time, when I wanted to leave, I did not intend to sink their ship. I wanted to give them time to find themselves someone else. I don't remember recommending him to them. I think Coverdale found him.
Have you seen their concerts with Tommy?
Jon said: "We rolled all over the world, completely killing Deep Purple's reputation." Another example of Jon Lord's spineless attitude?
I can say about Jon a lot of bad and a lot of good - he was a wonderful guest at the table, my favorite companion. Working with him in a group was easy, he could portray anything. But I don't understand why he hasn't come up with a single idea until today? Very strange. I thought that in ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years a person should have had at least some idea... I never understood that, he is such a talented musician, but... I remember once at a concert I went up to him and started complaining about awful sound and poor lighting, and he kept playing and said, "Another day, another dollar!"
Rainbow was born after you became disillusioned with Deep Purple's third line-up. You first worked with the Elf group. Is it true that you played on their third album?
Then their guitarist imitated you great.
Steve Edwards? Yes. Good guitarist. But I definitely didn't play there.
Did you even plan to tour with them?
Planned... until rehearsals started and I heard how bad the band sounded. In the studio, they did everything - except for drummer Gary. Bonzo liked this drummer very much; it's a compliment - Bonzo loved the song he called "Love On The Silver Mountain". Although it was called "Man On The Silver Mountain".
One day he came to my house and said, "Play Love On The Silver Mountain." "Jon, it's called Man On The Silver Mountain. "Damn, just play Love On The Silver Mountain!" "But I want to include the classics, we have a lot of guests and I don't want to play this song." "I want f *** ing Love On The Silver Mountain!" "Okay, I'll turn it on." We almost got into a fight. We had a real fight. He had already arrived beaten, he had a large plaster on his head, under which there were scars. But he continued: "Damn, I'm your guest!"
He really liked one drum pass, but it was played by mistake. Gary Driscoll constantly lost his pace and then picked him up again. Other drummers thought, "Wow! Clever guy. He can play back and forth." In fact, Gary kept asking, "Are we still playing? Oh...". In moments he played brilliantly.
I remember that during the recording of the first album he had problems with headphones all the time. We started: "Ready?", And he just sat: (stared into the void). "Hey! Gary! Gary? Put on your headphones and turn on the sound!" "Oh, yes, yes, exactly!" We started playing, I watched him from the control room - his headphones slowly slipped off his head, and he gradually lost his pace. After four such takes, he had to glue them to his head.
Once I began to count: "One-two...", and he: "Oh, what? Uh... Three-four!" He was very nervous. Another time he counted: "One, two, three, four" - and everyone started to play, except him! And once he stopped right in the middle of a song. Martin started yelling at him: "What are you doing? Did someone say stop?" "It seemed to me that someone said stop!"
But he was a great guy. We played better than The Troggs anyway... I just don't like drummers who can't keep pace. I don't understand why they are needed in the group at all.
You must have been spoiled by Ian Paice.
Yes, he's a great drummer.
Many consider the album "Rising" to be the best in the Rainbow discography.
At that time, yes.
But not now?
Oh no. My best album with Rainbow is without a doubt the current one. Without a doubt. Everyone will say, "Of course, he will say that." But that doesn't apply to me. I really say so. This is my best album. I like a couple of others: "Straight between the Eyes" and "Difficult To Cure". "Stargazer" is a great song, but the rest of the songs on the album were mediocre. Well, that's my opinion.
Did you really set fire to Jimmy Bain's bed?"
Yes. But I told him.
Did you wake him up?
No. He was lying in bed with a girl. I went to see him, and he was like, "Hey, Ritchie! Do you want a drink? " "No, I'm going to bed, I'll see you tomorrow." But I... so... I set something on fire and put it near his bed, the fire spread to the bed linen. I thought he would notice it and put out the fire. But he didn't notice. I watched the fire: "Uh, Jimmy...". "Yes, see you tommorow!". "Hmm... Jimmy?" "Hell! The bed is on fire!" "That's better," I thought, and left. I would not have left him in the burning bed without telling him about it!
You would have been jailed for arson then.
Sure. He grabbed the laundry and threw it out the window. There was nothing else left! But the linen fell onto the lawn and the fire spread to the grass. The hotel staff were unhappy. In general, the meaning was the same as when you set fire to someone's newspaper. The man must put it out. But Jimmy was too busy with this girl...
Why did you decide to release the live album "On Stage", having only two studio albums? And why is it so short?
I have no idea. The managers are to blame.
"Long Live Rock'n'Roll" was your last album with Dio. Do you have any pleasant memories of him? Did you and Ronnie break up during the recording of the album, or later?
Ronnie and I were always close until he met Wendy, after that our relationship became very tense. She's a nice woman, but we didn't like each other. I remember one time at the Chateau when we tried to work on a song. Cozy and Ronnie were in the castle courtyard, and I tried different effects while working on the music. The two of them entered the room, and one of them said: "We want to talk to you." They came up to me from the back. I sat on my knees so Ronnie could look down on me. "Wendy just told me that your photo is on the cover of Circus and we are not there!" "Seriously? I didn't know." The three of us took part in a photo shoot, and the photographer took a couple of pictures of me alone, one of these photos got on the cover. Cozy and Ronnie said, "If you think we are your fucking servant, then we will act like that." It pissed me off. I had nothing to do with this! After that, I lost all respect for them - how petty it is!
And he ate all the cheese?
You said that Cozy ate all the cheese.
Cozy could act like a best friend or a worst nightmare, depending on how he treated you. But I don't remember saying that about Cozy. Have you eaten all the cheese? No. He drank all the milk.
Well, I know it was about products.
Right. With him was a woman named Mrs. King - a very long and boring story. I kept a diary while recording Down To Earth. In the spirit of Michael Palin, just like Thompson's School Days.
Day one: no one is there. Day three: we arrived at the castle, lit the fireplace, went to bed. Day four: they re-lit the fireplace, drank, got drunk, went to bed. Day six: Don Airey arrived... He was given a room in the chapel.
We recorded Down To Earth at the castle. Of course, I got there first, and as the leader of the group got the best room. And the group had to live in terrible rooms (laughs)! It was a Gothic German castle, Don was the last to arrive, and he was assigned the outermost room, which used to be a chapel. It was impossible to make the temperature higher than 32 degrees (Fahrenheit) in it. It was possible to light a fireplace, but the fire was extinguished all the time, and smoke came through the cracks in the chapel into the room. And the room became 32 degrees again. It was cold there!
Cozy got a very good room, because he was the second person in the group, and he also brought the cook with him - this woman. Don was the last to arrive. He began: "Where is my room?" I pointed out to him on the steps: "Over there, below!" Just like in Vincent Price's horror films. The door creaked open, Don looked around: "Damn, how cold it is!" The rest of the castle was warm, so there was obviously something wrong with the room. And the bed was where the altar used to be. There was a small fence around it. He began, "Hmm. I don't really like this room." "No, Don! It is good".
We went back to the hall and Cozy went to the bathroom. But Cozy, like Spider-Man, climbed out of the bathroom in a rubber suit. He climbed a pipe into the yard, and from there he climbed into Don's room through another pipe. From the audience, Don looked up the stairs to his room. We drank by the fireplace. Don went on: "I didn't like my room so much." Suddenly he saw a dark figure crept into the room and shut the door. "Damn, what is this ?!" After all, we were all standing in this huge room, and Cozy was supposed to be in the bathroom - you could hear the water flowing.
Don went berserk: "What was that?!" We ran downstairs and opened the door. "There's no one here, Don!" "I saw a black figure in a hood... It was a demon! I won't stay here!" Colin looked around the room, looked behind the curtains and said, "Nobody!" But Cozy was hiding there. Colin realized quickly and closed the curtains so no one could see him. Don did not notice him either, he continued to whine: "This is a demon! Demon! I won't sleep here!" We went back to the fireplace and continued drinking, and Don was still shaking: "I saw his face! I will never forget his face!" I started asking him questions. I myself have not yet realized that this is Cozy...
There was all sorts of things - this castle stayed David Bowie. But no one slept in this room, because many saw Chopin's reflection in the mirror above the bed. We were so afraid to sleep at night that we often sat by the fireplace all night, drinking, and all this in the middle of winter. Then I said: "Okay... I'm going to go to bed... Is anyone coming with me? Not? Okay! Then I'll have another beer." At four o'clock in the morning. At first, I did not notice this and did not understand why no one wants to go to their place. And they were all scared to shit! They were waiting for dawn. When it was getting light, they said, "Okay, I'll go to bed." They were shaking with horror. We walked everywhere in pairs. Cool place!
So then you were just disappointed in Ronnie?
Yes, it was unpleasant for me. I did not like it. He was so angry. "We are not on the cover with you!" Is this my fault? I stopped respecting him. But we still communicate, everything is fine between us. I always remember the good times. It's just that this moment immediately turned me away. A great singer and a cheerful person. He made me laugh to tears! He has a great sense of humor.
And for the next album, Down To Earth, you asked Roger to come back...
Yes. As a producer. But we didn't have a bass player, and he started playing bass.
On the program, Roger said that you apologized to him in this way for 1973.
Seriously? I never thought about it that way. The managers told me: "Roger is a good producer, look at his work...". I replied: "Yes, let's hire him...". But I didn't see him as a bass player. We just suddenly didn't have a bass player. Don heard him play and said, "Roger is a great bass player!" I thought, "Yes, not bad." So suddenly he became our bass player. But we didn't plan that.
But it couldn't have happened just like that! This is your group!
Yes, our then bassist Jack Green did not suit us, so Roger decided to play bass until we find someone. I agreed, and then Don started, "Roger is a great bass player." I answered: "Yes, but he's a producer. I don't see him as a bass player."
Why didn't Jack Green suit you?
The others didn't like Jack. I liked him.
You have recorded some solos for his album Humanesque.
Yes, Jack is cool. A very nice guy. But the rest of the musicians hated him. So at least something is not my fault!
Cozy said that at first you had the motivation and desire to prove something to everyone, but over time you cooled down to everything and lost your aggression and ambition. It's true? Does this apply to your entire career?
Yes. You can't be angry all the time, otherwise the roof will go.
But when you have a new lineup, you light up again.
Right. When fresh blood appears. I'm like a vampire, needing fresh blood. The reason is this, as well as all the old problems.
The first Deep Purple album, then In Rock... But Machine Head was recorded with the same lineup. It doesn't fit the concept a bit.
This is my favorite Purple album. But it fits in. It came out after the disastrous "Fireball", which was just terrible.
Why did it turn out so bad? Did you take little part in its creation?
Participated. But we have nothing to talk about.
Were you exhausted on tour then?
Yeah. As for the songs, I don't even remember a single one.
"Demon's Eye", "No No No"...
In "Demon's Eye" one riff sounds for the whole song. "Farmer's Daughter" or "Anyone's Daughter" is a parody of country and western. "No No No" was... on the verge of banality. Many people like the song "Fireball", but it's just a fast track with a double bass kick and the sounds of an air conditioner running.
In 1978, did you ask Gillan to become a Rainbow member?
Seems Yes. I went to him and knocked on the door. "Ian!" "Hell! Come in!" Imagine how best friends are! I went to him, his girlfriend was there, and asked: "I came to ask if you want to sing in Rainbow?". "Come in and have a drink." We started drinking a bottle of vodka. We haven't drunk half a bottle yet, but I was already thinking, "I'm not sure this is a good idea." He's like, "Rich, I'm so happy, I'm so damn glad you're here!" He is such a person; it has two extremes. And I thought: "Your mother! What am I doing?".
How long did you not see each other?
Years... seven... eight, nine? I suddenly realized that I shouldn't have called him. I sat and thought about it. And then he said, "I don't know Rich, I'm not sure if I can sing in your band." When we were already finishing our vodka, I prayed: "I hope... he will not agree!" But he said, "Rich, I'm not sure; I will tell you later". "Oh, okay Ian, it was nice to see you." Fuh! It's time to get away!
But why did you even decide this?
I do not know. I just forgot what kind of person he is. But when I sat next to him, I thought: "Everything is as before." But he refused, and that was it. If he agreed, I would say, "Damn! And what should I do now?".
You and Roger played Rainbow, and Coverdale, Paice and Lord played Whitesnake. There was some competition between the groups. Did you realize this?
No. When we took David Coverdale to the group, I was sure of him. Paicey found him. He turned on his cassette for me, I asked: "He sings well, who is this?" "David Coverdale". "Okay, let's invite him." I've always supported Coverdale in the band, much more than Glenn. Glenn was a great guy, but I didn't like his voice. I supported David Coverdale until I left and started my own band. For some reason, he took it as a personal grudge, like I slept with his mother or something. He's been talking nasty things about me for years! "Oh, Ritchie...", and gave out a stream of mud. For what? Because I left the band, started working with Ronnie, started Rainbow? He still has Deep Purple, what's the problem? I never got it.
Rumor has it that before Coverdale you wanted to bring Paul Rogers into the band. How far have these plans gone?
Paul Rogers agreed, he was interested, and he really thought about it. It seemed to me: "Great! Fantastic! We will have the best singer!" The rest of the musicians were also in favor, but in Melody Maker they suddenly wrote that Paul Rogers had become the vocalist of Deep Purple. I thought, "Oh no! What nonsense?" Called Paul: "Sorry; I don't know who told the newsmen about it. He replied: "I'm sorry, I thought about your proposal, but I can not help." It was Melody Maker that ruined everything for us. Because of them, he refused!
Was that before Glenn?
Oh yeah! Paul Rogers is my favorite singer. He is beautiful! Damn beautiful! What is his charisma alone. He has everything. It seems to me that if he wanted to, he would work with us. But he saw an article in Melody Maker and thought: "What are you idiots, they say that I now sing in their group, and I have not even agreed yet!" I don't know who leaked this to the newspaper, but I have a guess. This is one of the band members. He could not resist and told someone!
It's funny that you just named Jon!
Thank you for answering a question that I have not yet had time to ask. Jon said that Gillan's departure from Purple was the saddest moment in rock 'n' roll history.
In all rock and roll?
I thought it was the murder of Jon Lennon.
And I thought that Adam Ant! Was Jon standing next to Ian when he spoke?
No True? Purple often has delusions of grandeur. I'm serious. This is another reason why I wanted to leave.
"Down To Earth" was your best selling album?
"Since You Been Gone" was very successful because Russ Ballard wrote it. An interesting story is connected with it - now I will scold Cozy. When "Since You Been Gone" appeared on the horizon, the managers asked me what I thought of it. I said, "Great idea, let's write it down." It was just played by another band, Clout.
But when we started recording it, Cozy began, "I don't like this song." We recorded a take, then began recording a second, and he said his famous words: "I will play it only one more time!" He hated this song! We did another take, Roger said, "Well, not bad, but let's do a couple more takes." And Cozy replied: "Nope!". Roger said, "Come on, a couple more little passages." He took his job seriously. And Cozy replied: "No! I hate this damn song! Complete shit! I don't want to play it!". Roger decided that he would collect something using effects.
In short, when the song came in second or third, someone told Cozy, "I love 'Since You Been Gone!' And he replied: "Yes, one of my favorite songs!" Isn't that funny?
Why did Graham Bonnet leave the band?
Hmm ... Graham ... Damn it, Graham ... Roger always liked him, even though he said: "God gave him a wonderful voice, but took everything else." Roger said these things in every interview! Graham was a pretty cool guy; but completely lost! It's easy to judge others, but I remember one incident. I asked him: "How are you?" "Oh, not really." "What?". "I don't know, I just feel strange." Colin asked, "You mean?" "It makes me somehow sick." "Did you eat?". "Exactly! I'm hungry as hell! Colin turned him around, slapped him on the head, and led him into a restaurant. He just forgot to eat all the time! And all these singers also call me crazy...
Chris Curtis's idea for a carousel group has worked great in your own group.
By the way, I remember that Chris and I were once in Speakeasy, and he approached Clapton: "Eric, meet the best guitarist in the world... after me!". Eric is like, "Who is this?" I was so ashamed!
In 1984 you and Deep Purple released a video showing your first meeting in Vermont. Is this a staged video?
It depends on what moment.
I mean the moment you walk into the room and shake hands with the others. And Ian is the last to shake hands, before that, slightly pulling back, as if you were not sure that you want to greet him.
Did I really do that? I have good memories with Gillan. I often blame myself for his behavior - he also loves to tell this story. In 1970 we were at the French Rock'n'Roll Circus. He was very shy and closed until I did this to him, maybe it's my fault...
We were in this big club. I love children's pranks - he wanted to sit on a chair, I noticed that he was drunk, and pulled out a chair from under him so that he fell. But I didn't calculate that there was a big descent of fifteen feet behind us, he fell there and hit his head. I heard his head hit the concrete floor. I thought, "Oh no! He broke his head!" After that, he changed forever.
That is, you think that this blow is to blame for everything, and the point is not that after such a trick he began to treat you worse?
No, he was not offended by that. It's about the blow. I thought we were going to have to bury him - although he is a strong guy. It seemed to me that this was the end. That he's dead. But he got up, I asked: "Are you okay?" And he replied: "Yes, just hit his head a little." But he hit his head on the concrete, after that he changed.
By the way, there was another cool story there! We sat in this Rock'n'Roll Circus club, it's a very pretentious place. A woman came out onto the dance floor, she had an elaborate hairstyle, she looked like Brigitte Bardot, Marilyn Monroe, in the style of the fifties. She must have sat at the hairdresser for hours and considered herself a tidbit, dancing with some guy. Gillan was in his usual mood, looking around. We drank champagne provided by the owner of the club, but the champagne ran out and the ice in the bucket melted.
Then Gillan looked at this woman, looked at the bucket of water, walked over to her and put the bucket on her head! All over her hair! She just went crazy, her nerves were completely lost! I was dying of laughter, I could not imagine that he would do this. She went somewhere to dry her hair and came back half an hour later.
In the meantime, we drank another bucket of champagne, and he began to look at her again. I thought: "The second time he will not do this... He will not dare." But he approached her from behind and did the same again! This time she gave Ian a slap in the face. Her boyfriend ran up to him in anger: "If you do this again, then I...". Then Ian straightened up and showed how much tighter he was than that guy."... I'm leaving!"
But you changed the subject. Do you seriously think that the feud between you started because he hit his head?
Wonderful! I do not know what to say. Sorry, but let's change the subject. Let's talk about the concert setlist. Why did you change it so little before joe Lynn Turner's appearance? Why have you never played Pictures Of Home or Flight Of The Rat?
We tried to play "Pictures Of Home", which I really like on the album, but it didn't sound on stage. It's all about this six-eighths size. But I really like this melody. Once we played it, I watched the reaction of the audience. They reacted: "Well, yes."
"Flight Of The Rat" we kind of played once or twice. The same, not very successful. I don't remember it anymore. I haven't heard this song for twenty years. You need to get rid of the past and move on. I prefer to look in this direction (points forward).
That was Joe's plus. As a singer, I didn't like him, but at least you started playing forgotten but cool songs with him.
I do not agree. Joe was the best vocalist in Rainbow. Without a doubt. He sang brilliantly "Can't Let You Go" and "Street Of Dreams". He had no equal in ballads, and that was the voice I was looking for. And when we broke up and I started doing Purple, I shouldn't have done it, but I agreed because it was easy money.
I was offered a bunch of money and I thought, "Yeah, Rainbow is doing well, but damn it, I agree." It was Gillan who persuaded us all. At first I thought that we would only record one record, and then we started recording more and more. But looking back, it seems to me that it was a mistake. I had to keep working with Rainbow because Joe sang great back then.
On stage he pissed me off, he acted like Judy Garland! I could not wean him from these feminine antics: "Joe! Don't do this nonsense! " In Leeds, I once dragged off the stage and threatened: "If you make even one more feminine move like this, I will finish you off! You can't do that in England!"
I remember that he liked to jump from the drum kit.
Yes, because some girl said: "Joe, I love the way you jump." And it all started anew. But in hindsight, Joe has done more for Rainbow than any other vocalist. Ten times more! I do not want to go to the barricades with this, but it pisses me off when they say: "But Ronnie James Dio...".
But he didn't fit Deep Purple.
"Slaves And Masters" is one of my favorite albums. He sang beautifully.
But many Purple fans thought it was a hoax.
Sometimes they think so about everything you do. I'm a huge fan of Bob Dylan and I read his biography. Whatever he did, there were always those who called it a betrayal. "How can you? How dare you play electric instruments? You've sold out!" That being said, "Blonde On Blonde" is one of the best albums of all time. People are always afraid of change. When you change a little and release something new, they start, "Well, that's nonsense."
I don't like that Joe is being made the scapegoat. Even Dougie once said, "Joe was the worst vocalist in Rainbow," and I said, "No, no, no, he was the best." When he was in shape, he sang great. And now - let's forget about it! I had to fire him because he lost his voice. But how he sang before! In ballads, he was great.
What are your favorite songs from the first Rainbow album?
"Man On The Silver Mountain". The cool song was Sixteenth Century Greensleeves. His voice was perfect for my purposes. I didn't have to explain anything to him - he just sang. Stargazer is a great song too. On Long Live Rock 'N' Roll, I began to realize that he couldn't sing ballads. He sang like a little girl and it annoyed me!
Some of your best songs in the studio were partly played acoustically. But at the same time, you rarely play on it. Why? Is it harder to play? Not. In fact, it's even easier. But for concerts, acoustics are not suitable, because you have to rely on the fact that the technicians will properly rebuild it in the mix, and monitors with acoustics usually go crazy. But my next album will be totally acoustic, it will be different music. I wrote eight songs in the spirit of the Middle Ages and folk music. My girlfriend will sing. We play this music in our home bar for friends.
As for Rainbow, let's see how things go. It all depends on whether the audience wants to hear Rainbow. I leave it to the listeners to decide. If they are not interested in it, then I will stop doing it. Because I am very interested in my next project, it will be a big change for me. This music is not at all like hard rock.
You have been talking about this project for a long time.
Yes. But everything develops gradually. I like to first decide what I'm doing. They said to me: "Play acoustics ... do this, do this." And I answered: "It's early, I'm not ready yet." But now I'm ready for a change. Maybe this will be my last album where I act as a rock musician. Perhaps in a few years I will return to this - who knows! But I am less and less inspired by loud music. I like to just sit with the guitar and play more. I'm starting to get bored with this whole idea: "You gotta pound some powerful riffs." You know, I've been doing this for thirty years.
Sounds quite negative. The album did not have time to come out, and you already say that you do not make plans for this group.
I am an extremely negative person. I see negativity in any situation (laughs)! I'm British to the core!
You said that "Burn" sounds exactly what you wanted. That this is the perfect Deep Purple song.
Right. And we recorded it very quickly. In just five takes.
Why do you like this song so much?
"The voice of Coverdale, the music itself, the content. Some parts of the solo ... there are good solos. Jon had a great game. I really like the riff. I borrowed it from Fascinating Rhythm. But I realized this only when Jon Lord told me (laughs).
In what ways does Rainbow give you more options than Deep Purple?
Dougie can sing old English folk songs on acoustics. We have a half-hour acoustic program of the songs "Lincolnshire Poacher", "I Belong To Glasgow", "Lights Of Aberdeen" ... Seriously! He sings such things beautifully. He makes me laugh to tears. With Gillan and Coverdale, it was impossible - they are too serious. "We won't be singing The Lights Of Aberdeen".
Will you play the best Rainbow songs at the concerts?
Yeah. The program will include three or four old songs. Most likely, we will not play anything from the albums with Joe Lynn Turner.
It's strange, because Dougie can sing in that style. He can sing like Ronnie Dio and like Paul Rogers.
Yes, he is very talented.
Did you originally write the music for this album for Rainbow, or was it conceived for Deep Purple?
No, just for Rainbow.
Do you often listen to contemporary music? This album is not much different from 1983's "Bent Out Of Shape", it doesn't feel like you're moving forward.
What does it mean to move forward?
Rainbow sounds the same as twenty years ago. Musically, the album does not feel the influence of modern music at all.
I don't follow fashion. I stick to my style. No matter how trite it may sound, I believe that the most correct way. I never listen to modern music. I would have listened if I thought it was any good.
On the contrary, I am going back in time five hundred years ago! This is where I feel at home - five hundred years ago! And I'm going to stay there and have fun. I don't want to have anything to do with grunge. I don't want to do music that I don't like.
Name the last artist who impressed you?
ABBA. And I listen to my friends from Germany playing 16th century music on mandolins and other old instruments. But from the modern - nothing. I don't live in modern times. I do not need it. I'm not interested in what's going on now! I'd rather paint pictures than play that kind of music.
What place do you occupy among the great guitarists?
How great is the guitarist? Hmm. At home I play very well, but I rarely record it on tape. But nowadays there are a lot of great guitarists who are more technical than me. I have my own specialty, and I am very happy to be on a par with the best. In the eighties, it always seemed to me that I should play the fastest.
Then did you get into the lists of the best guitarists?
Yeah. Then Eddie Van Halen took my place. But then I noticed that Eddie couldn't do it anymore and started playing the organ! But I'm not interested in speed play anymore. I don't listen to that. I don't buy records with this kind of music, sometimes I hear something on the radio and I think, "Wow, this guy plays so fast." For example, Joe Satriani - he knows how to run on the bar. But then I hear BB King - he plays with his heart. And I start to think: "I wish he played something besides these three notes, and did it a little faster" (laughs).
Don't you think that you are underestimated? They talk about you much less often than about Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck.
Jeff Beck has always been my favorite guitarist. He doesn't need to run on the bar. It is enough for him to play one note - where does he get it from? I don't have such notes on my guitar! I love Jeff and his approach: "Which guitar player am I? I'd better go fix the car." And it is right. He does not fly on the neck, does not follow every squeak of fashion. He is what he is. He always looks the same, wears the same T-shirt. Does not bend into fashion, does not wear shorts, does not spit. He just always makes music and remains the same as in '64.
Don't you think that you deserve to be put on a par with them?
I am often told so. But Jeff did a hell of a lot. And Page did a hell of a lot. He became famous thanks to Led Zeppelin. He wouldn't be so appreciated if it weren't for Led Zeppelin.
But it's fair, because he created this group.
Yes. I don't really like their music, but I respect them, I like what they did in the sixties. There is no such thing today. What nonsense is this grunge? Why do labels release this? It seems to me that someone is pressing on them.
What do you most regret?
We need to think ... Hmm, nothing.
How would you like to remain in the memory of future generations?
"I don't really care if they remember me. Hopefully other things will bother me when I leave. I will not look back. I love life. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this, because I am often angry at today's market. You have to remind yourself: just play the guitar, don't quit. It makes me angry that so many great musicians go unheard. The music has completely lost its freshness: everything I do has already been done before.
Roger said that God pointed to you...
He often talks about God.
And gave you a talent that no one else has. But it's hard for you to cope with your talent.
I do a lot. But I only manage to express myself in my works by ten percent. The other ninety percent is very contrived. Only ten percent is the real me. As with humor - jokes are funny only when you hear them for the first time. Imagine the situation - you are joking, but you are confused, and you are asked to repeat, do it more slowly and go to the door when the ending begins. I always play my best until the recording starts. I can't specifically include inspiration. This is why it pisses me off when someone next to me cannot do their job normally. When the sound engineer cannot adjust the sound, or the singer does not sing well. Because of this, I am considered to be an irritable person!
But aren't you hurting yourself? For example, when don't you go for an encore? It upsets your fans.
If I don't go for an encore, there are usually two reasons: either it seems to me that I played badly, or it seems to me that the audience did not enjoy the concert. They just stand and think, "Now play us Smoke On The Water." And I refuse. I cannot play like a robot.
Roger once asked: "Can you record your parts right away?" I replied, "I can't record straight away if you re-record the drums twenty times. I agree to record from the first take. I can't record twelve takes to get you the perfect paradiddle." And I lost my mood. I need to record from the first take, I can do it. And Paicey couldn't do that. He would start all the time: "Let's try again." Jon and I were going out to eat at that time. "We have already recorded fifteen takes, and we will not record any more! Whatever Ian Paice says!"
They say that you have genius recordings with rock'n'roll, medieval and classical improvisations... They are all recorded from the first take. I can't do that. I even hate to think that people can hear it. Something deep inside me repels: "This is my personal music; this is the real me." But I don't want to let it out. Music flows from me by itself when I am in the right company at the right time. It's not even music, but a kind of stream. Of course, this is music, there are notes in it, but...
Touring often mean, "So guys, eight o'clock, are you ready?" And you have to turn on. You try to tune in, sometimes you get something wonderful, sometimes nothing works at all. It is not always possible to pull something out of your soul.
Last question. What would you write on your own grave?
I have to come up with something funny, but nothing comes to mind.
Something like that, yes.
"This man went down to the grave without understanding what the meaning is of everything that is happening"... So it will be - I will go down to the grave with the thoughts: "Why did this happen? What it is?". I study philosophy, religions, and... there are things that I cannot explain. I've seen such strange things, I've heard such strange stories. The funny thing is that no one believes me. Everyone says: "No, this cannot be."
Perhaps they are right in their own way, because we are not ready to understand this. I don't understand, but I'm ready. I cannot rationally judge such things, I cannot explain them. I only know that I have seen incredible things. You feel like the chosen one - you try to convey this to others, but no one believes you. Many are so afraid of seances that they consider them evil. But this is just a form of communication. Imagine that five hundred years ago, King Henry VIII at court would suddenly pick up the phone and say: "Hello, George." Everyone would start saying, "This is the devil! The devil communicates with him through this apparatus!"
Imagine that in a thousand years, in five million years, people will think about our time: "Can you believe this? In the era of electric guitars, people still did not believe in...". Time is a strange thing. If we remove space and time, then there will be complete chaos. There will be no facts or logic, because time was invented by people. So what's going on? This proves that we can move not only forward but also backward. What does it mean? That we live in parallel with another life, many lives, billions of lives? Many people say they believe in reincarnation. But no one thought that reincarnation could be in the past, and that we are returning to the past? If you include logic and expand it a little.
They also discovered black holes that absorb everything. All scientists cannot understand this. For normal logic, they shouldn't exist. But in our universe they are! So I don't believe in logic. It is present in our life, if we allow it, because people have a sense of order. Take our logic away and we are completely lost. I cannot explain this. I am still thinking about it. In some sessions I asked questions and received answers about other dimensions, other parts of my brain begin to open. Those parts that used to be asleep. I ask: "Have you lived before?" And I get the answer: "No, I did not live in the form that you know." That is, we are talking about other dimensions. This is all so strange. Sometimes I just go out into the street, gaze into the stars and think: "Where does it all end, and where does it all begin? What awaits us after death?"
How often do you conduct sessions?
Haven't spent one in a couple of months. At one time I was writing a book, keeping a journal - I have been doing this for several years. Very interesting. One of the spirits - call it what you will - with whom we spoke was incredibly eloquent and very smart, some of his answers were so deep, just incredible. What he told us had to be constantly pondered, his answers were so complex, deep and wise that it was impossible to grasp them at once. But over time, you come to understand, and everything becomes clear. They live differently from us, this is the highest standard of living. An amazing form of communication...
I believe that we live wrong, we are too petty. How much harm we do - we kill others in order to live. It is not right. Although I still eat meat. But this is wrong. And there are those who kill others for the sake of money and power... I love music because it is so pure until it gets trendy and hits MTV. Minstrels in a cart with straw: this is my favorite music. It's impossible to tweak it. As Frank Zappa said: Over the past thirty years, music has grown into a huge industry. People understood: you can make money on this. And they destroyed the music. It all became so petty. All this is vanity. The end is the same for all. All are waiting for some kind of fatal disease: heart attack, cancer or something else. What does it mean? Sometimes I start thinking, "Hmm, I'm going to get drunk. I can't take these hard fucking thoughts anymore."
We live to die. This is why we admire the comedians so much, the jesters who make us laugh - because they are not so afraid of death. This fear is common to all people. We are so afraid of death that anyone who can afford to joke triggers our reaction: "Hey! This guy is great!" Just like a shaman. It seems that he knows the way out. And if you believe in this, you will believe in anything. People who know how to make you laugh help to forget about what awaits us all.
That is why comedy programs are shown on TV late at night.
It's great! It is very useful. You can't read letters about tax debts before bed. If you laugh before bedtime, you will get a good night's sleep.
After the interview, Richie also told the following story:
"After we recorded 'Fireball' we were told to go back to the studio to record a single. We rented a studio and made an appointment. Everyone arrived except Jon. I called our office and said that everyone had arrived except Jon. They answered me: "We got him here." "What is he doing in London? He should be with us and work on the single. Give him the phone." "I... uh... I have things to do. Continue without me, you don't need me."
We did just that. We wrote Strange Kind Of Woman. I remember Paicey asking me, "Do you think Jon is hoping we will list him among the writers?" I replied, "I'm sure he hopes, we'll ask him himself." Of course, he hoped for it - he insisted on it! After that I stopped taking him seriously."
© Neil Jeffries - Long Island NY September 9, 1995
Parts of this interviews have been used in issues of Mojo The Music Magazine 1996 and Classic Rock Magazine 2016