Devil on strings finally tamed
Ritchie Blackmore (once Deep Purple) enjoys
medieval music and is now "a spiritual man"
'The personification of evil'. 'The devil on strings'. Ritchie Blackmore, completely unpredictable for years, legendary guitarist for the English rock band Deep Purple and composer of 'Smoke On The Water' seems finally tamed. No more 'Smoke' for Ritchie and certainly no 'Child In Time'. The man of the world famous guitar intro to 'Smoke' has almost literally been overtaken by history. Together with his wife he only makes medieval music under the name 'Blackmore's Night' - yes.
By the way, you hardly notice that when he arrives on Long Island, New York, in his glitzy convertible at the extravagant restaurant The Squadron Fighters, with bombers in the garden and portraits of famous war airmen on the wall. No Renaissance attire this evening; Ritchie Blackmore is completely in black, up to and including jet black dyed hair with ditto wrong mustache.
Even during the starter, sarcasm reigns supreme and one sniff follows the other. "I think it's a bit of a mess in Amsterdam, and it doesn't seem to have gotten any better, does it?" Immediately afterwards he declares his love for Germany, his 'motherland', he says. "I love it more than my once beloved England. Germany is the land of musical history. The land of the great composers. In the years I've lived there, I've really come to see it as my home."
Later, laughing: "I couldn't enjoy Deep Purple in the last few years. I hated everything. The touring, playing hard rock, the whole thing around it. Everything! I had come to realize that the audience wasn't coming to hear what solos I played. When I smashed my Fender guitar I got more applause than after the solo of Child In Time".
And I've always hated touring, unlike the rest of Deep Purple". That, added to the fact that Ritchie Blackmore and singer Ian Gillan wanted to hit each other's brains ten times a day, created a chronic explosion hazard. Ritchie: "When I got out of Deep Purple for the second time, I knew for sure: I never want this again. At that time I was already writing songs for us".
By 'us' he means himself and his wife Candice Night, an American singer who met Ritchie during a game of football. "We were playing against a New York radio station and I noticed what a hard shot she had."
Candice turned out not only to shoot hard, but also to love medieval music, just like Ritchie. That passion already influenced Ritchie Blackmore in the early days of Deep Purple and later also the music of his own band Rainbow.
"Ian Anderson, the foreman of Jethro Tull, introduced me to the instruments that were used at the time. A world opened up for me. I discovered composers such as Thomas de Chateau from Antwerp and Pierre Attaignant. Their work turned out to be perfect to my ideas about melody. In all my songs for Deep Purple and Rainbow the melody line came first. Then the rest, although that was sometimes forgotten. That's why I had such a deep desire for something completely different I found out that you can drastically change your course musically in your fifties".
"To try to be the hard rocker at that age, I find it rather unbelievable. Just as I find the whole pop music pretty unbelievable. Plastic, fake and talentless. They are all musicians who can't play anything at all. Don't play, don't sing anything. nothing! The real craft of the musician is a dying breed in pop music. It's all one big lie".
On Fires At Midnight, the new and third album of Blackmore's Night, Ritchie Blackmore appears to have not lost the feeling for composing lyrical melodies. In fact, Candice's lyrics radiate an inordinate dose of bliss. "Candice has made me a happy person. She always calls me a grumpy ass, and I am, but I learned from her to enjoy the moment, it has given me the belief that there is more. I have become a spiritual person. It is a feeling I had never experienced before".
"Deep Purple doesn't interest me anymore, even though it's a great band, without a doubt. But they are doing the wrong thing. Roger Glover (bassist and producer) has re-released the old records and on some songs they have taken the original solos from me and set up others. Solos that I recorded at the time, but which we deliberately did not use at the time. I am almost inclined to sue those guys". After the conversation ends, Ritchie Blackmore signs for fans in the foyer of the restaurant. Suddenly he turns around and says, "Do you feel that too? There are ghosts here." Candice: "Yes Ritchie, you are right".
Blackmore's Night will be playing on October 3 at Paradiso in Amsterdam and on October 4 at 013, Tilburg.
The album 'Fires At Midnight' (SPV) is now available everywhere.
Jean-Paul Heck, Rotterdams Dagblad - October 2, 2001