Ritchie Blackmore


The climate between RAINBOW Mastermind RITCHIE BLACKMORE and his ex buddies with Deep Purple has strongly cooled down. Between Ritchie and Ian Gillan does not only prevail the ice age - also the friendship with Blackmore's friend and Rainbow producer of many years Roger Glover became in such a manner frosty that the man in black even had to find himself a new producer for his comeback album STRANGER IN US ALL. ANDREAS SCHÖWE knows why....

Ritchie: That is a long history - I believe, we must again start with my departure from Deep Purple... In the midst of the THE BATTLE RAGES ON tour I wrote a letter to the band, in which I told them, that I was leaving the band and why: because of Ian Gillan. Even if we respect ourselves for what we done in the past - we held distance to each other. I asked my manager to read out this letter on the next morning to the rest of the band - I believe, it was in a hotel in Holland. I straight away packed together my things and wanted to leave the hotel, when Roger called me: What to the devil is the matter with you? We should talk about everything once again! Man, the people run in large crowds to our concerts to see us!' Roger, what should be? There is nothing, worth to talk about worthwhile! And the people come only to us, because we play as Mark II together - not because we are good! That is a difference! Roger, my heart doesn't beat no longer for this band! We have perhaps still two, three years in this Rock'n'Roll Biz - I don't want to spoil those with Ian permanently in my neighbourhood.! The world sees a boring band, that only brings the old hits well.

I wanna take again the risk to try to cause something else!' Roger could not understand it. And I could not understand, why they didn't understand me. Since then we changed only the necessary words with one another. Accordingly to this I had to find a new producer - Pat Regan - particularly since I wanted to put something totally different on it's legs instead of a poor copy of the old Rainbow or Deep Purple. Is that the answer to your question?"

MH: Yes. The next one is, why did the legendaric Martin Birch, who produced classics like DEEP PURPLE IN ROCK and RAINBOW RISING, not receive now a new chance...

Ritchie: Martin? He was really like a brother for me... I don't know, he is somehow disappeared... I have since about ten years nothing heard from him..."

MH: Well, since we are talking about the personnel: After your exit from Deep Purple counted at least in Europe any one with a renewed cooperation of Blackmore/Dio or at least Blackmore/Turner..

Ritchie: "Really? I have for a long time no more contact with Dio, whereas I with Joe Lynn Turner actually speak on the telephone sometimes. I think of both very high, particularly because they as a singer show each quantity of radiant emittance and identity. But Joe? If he would sing today still in such a way as eight years ago - he would have been the first one who I would have been called. But he did not develop himself further and kept himself fit. He doesn't care himself about the conditions to make a good job - he wants to have a good time. That is also the reason, why the rest of Deep Purple were against Joe for BATTLE RAGES ON. He did not bring it simply any longer! I tried thereupon even to help him getting together a new band - but he didn't make it... And the thing with Dio? We do not have a problem with each other, but I never considered him again. According to my opinion he lives far too much in his own world."

MH: He's seen from the common interests nevertheless as one who could work very well with you

Ritchie: "You point there on his preferences to black magic... Let's say it in this way: We both interest us strongly for spiritual things. In our case it settled at that time also in the Songwriting, whereby the reversal, that the music is a part of the spiritual, does not function. Generally: I felt, that Dio and I as Songwriting Team no longer have much to say. Our Teamwork potential was already used up more or less with LONG LIVE ROCK'N'ROLL. My criticism at Ronnie is this, he has himself not develop any further and then just like today still about the same things sings: Demons, dragons, ghosts... That is a good thing, and it was for a while quite nice, but there are still many other topics in this world to sing about!"

MH: Have you considered at least former Rainbow musicians with the reformation of this era of the band?

Ritchie: "No, I wanted to arrange a fresh troop from the start - justr like at the start, in 1975, Rainbow... It was appropriate for me always, to give young talented, still unknown musicians a chance; to quasi discover them. Dio: It was great to present him and anybody knew before Deep Purple one David Coverdale! It is great to bring other musicians in the spotlights and to direct their enthusiasm into the correct courses. And like a Vampire I live on their enthusiasm, and that pushes me again! The only ones, of which I thought briefly, were eventually Joe, whose voice is however not in form, drummer Chuck Burgi (to be heared on BENT OUT OF SHAPE and FINAL VINYL Tracks; Anm.d.A.) and Keyboarder David Rosenthal. But I rejected these thoughts fast again, since it should represent - as said - a full new band project, which I wanted to call by the way at the beginning Rainbow Moon. But the recordcompany thought, it was better to call the whole nevertheless again Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. I was against it, because I am as personality not stable enough, to name a whole band after me: sometimes I am good, sometimes I'm bad. Sometimes I'm tough, sometimes not. I was always like that, even from early childhood. There is for example this story, when my mother arranged me a birthday party: I locked myself in my room. My mother was close to becoming desperate: Ritchie! Your friends are here! They have bring along gifts and want to celebrate with you !' I want to be however alone! Say to them, they should leave the gifts on the table and go!' Unfortunately most people get this 'Mister Antisocial' thing into the wrong place - I am a snob, or so... Like at that time with this price: Deep Purple should fly together to London, in order to receive a MTV Award. I clarified Bruce Payne, our manager, at that time my point of view: Why the devil should I fly thousands of miles with the Concorde to London, in order to get a price that didn't meant anything to me? For something like this they could give it to Phil Collins or Rod Stewart for much as I could care! If I have to travel such a distance, then at the most to Germany to visit an old castle over there!' How pissed the rest of the band was of my attitude, I do not need to tell you!"

MH: But nevertheless try to see it from the other side: You are rewarded with this price, because to many people your music, with your way of playing, your work meant something!

Ritchie: "Clear! If a fan would call and want to give to me an award, my ears would glow! But if there is someone in London who thinks: Which old folks can we this year put a piece of old metal in their hands? Oh, we take Deep Purple, because we can not throw continuously something to the Bee Gees!' I ask you: Has this still something to do with music? A price, only, because we're 25 years in the business, that's no shit worth! To me that does not mean anything, and I also do not like to shake hands to that lot!"

MH: Hm, well. But to come back to that again once more: For my taste was that exactly the correct understanding to bring your names in the light of the band designation because finally you are the leading wolf of the troop, and the title of the Debut - RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW - probably states everything!

Ritchie: "Perhaps. I do not want however, that the impression develop, that I as leader my band members patronize. They can think themselves, and they are doing that also! But allright, one should not begin again a confrontation with the label and already at the start get it all in trouble again..."

MH:So is Rainbow a real band - and not Ritchie a Blackmore's solo project?

Ritchie: "Exactly! Because I still believe in the classical band constellation. That was also the problem with the Deep Purple Mark II Reunion: It always was like: 'We come only for one album together...' My point of view always was: 'Oh No! We are back and look how far we can come again!' Exactly this same attitude I now likewise have with Rainbow. A real solo project I now have planned with my engaged - she writes good lyrics... But Rainbow is a good band! Ofcourse do I stand myself in the center - nevertheless I wish to have musicians around me, who are likewise into this thing. I want to be ONE of THEM! I have problems with people, which want to be the owner of the band... The Jimi Hendrix Experience for example... Well, in this case it may have been like that - however I am a guitarist, who has a quantity of ideas, who however still wants to play in good band. I am aware that my name for the promotional work of the recordcompanies more powerfull is than that of other band members. However I have exactly for this reason problems with the industry, which wants me to do the promotion as well. I am a musician and have therefore only on my instrument have something to say. The record has been done - nice and good. For the business are other people! It's THEIR job to promote and sell the record!"

MH: Only: I can understand the record companies there very well: For them is the CD in first instance a product ' - what behind it is, knows only the artist! Only he can explain, what the thought behind the production of this product is'!

Ritchie: "That is correct. But: After I recorded something in a certain mood and I should explain it two weeks later... Music can be described hardly only heavily with words anyway. Except that I do not want to push the people my product. It is an honour for me, that many people accepted me and want to hear my music, but there it ends also for me!"

MH: Well, so we again are back to that admitted constellation: the art on one, the Biz on the other side. But the latter makes it financial possible to survive as a musician!

Ritchie: "That's also correct, luckily a lot of people like my music, without that I have to do consessions and tell: This is the best album, which I ever made - you must absolutely buy it!'. Okay, yeah, I am very proud on what I could reach as artist. However I did not carry too far away from the supernatural, that I must be bombed with a price or something!"

MH: There are fans however with a completely different opinion!

Ritchie: "Thanks! But the biggest complement was for me, when I was talking recently with two Americans who told me, that they always heard 'Smoke on the Water', when they pulled in the Vietnam war into the fight. Can you imagine: Someone goes in mortal danger, loses maybe his life - and his last desire is, to hear your music! On the other hand: One sooo huge achievement is that also not - I played only the guitar..."

MH: In addition, there are also the fans, who you hurt, if you to your strange tendency situation the entire band Deep Purple in disrepute bring - as in that scene, which goes on the COME BRIGHTLY OR HIGH WATER video. You cannot say to yourself there: I don't give a shit on the Biz! The fans pay much money to see us! Close your eyes and go through!'???

Ritchie: "I do that! Mostly, at least... Sometimes I ask myself, why the people applaud, when on the stage a big fog goes off and the band is not full concentrated with the thing. Backstage I don't care - I have my own area, into which I can hide myself. But if I see Ian Paice who gives the full 100 percent - and then Gillan..., Sorry, sometimes he behaves like an idiot, like a circus artist! If he at least learn his texts properly, I would say nothing. He refused rehearsing 'Talk About Love' and 'A Twist in The Tale'! Why can't he concentrate on singing, where he would have to do enough, instead he pulls the mike away, have a drink continuously on his mouth and gets himself one drink after another! And if I would be a singer and notice that after three days my voice went, I would watch how I bring myself back in form and the give the crowd quality for it's money, because THAT'S what the fans can expect, because THAT'S where they have paid much money for! Once I changed this game: Ian sang, the band played - only I turned my amp totally down. If Ian behaves unprofessionel - I can do that already for a long time! I must admit: it is not fair to the fans. But therefore I left also Deep Purple... "

MH: But back? to Rainbow. Where do you see chances in view of the many fashions and trends for STRANGER IN US UNIVERSE, particularly since Deep Purple on that US market with THE BATTLE RAGES ON nothing reached?

Ritchie: "I believe, that the new Rainbow album here in the USA ten times more commercial potential has than BATTLE... Rainbow have enough Songs, which are radio suited even for American standards. The last Deep Purple album however was only okay... Allright, it was well played, had some commercial potential - nevertheless the only good TRACK on it is 'Solitaire', the rest I would arrange spontaneously under 'waste of time'. Besides Ian's singing did not impress me at all. BATTLE... is not for me in the end - like HOUSE OF THE BLUE LIGHT also - nothing else than a 'hush joke', although a few good ideas on it are, we certainly could have put into good music. I have myself not even once heard the finished album - probably, because I do not want to be reminded that one could do things wrongly in life... "

MH: There we are back again with the topic: only two years ago you said that Deep Purple was like one big family, that occasionally comes from time to time back again for an album. Do you see after the last problems today still chances for that?

Ritchie: "Yes, perhaps we come one day together again to work together. Then however only, in order to play for our die hard fans a few shows in the legendaric Mark II Line up. To pick up again to do an album under pressure? No way! I do not believe that we have to say something and that I with Deep Purpie again that enthusiasm see like now with Rainbow!"

MH: From this also my last question results: What can we expect from Rainbow in the tour that starts in September?

Ritchie: "Obviously many Rainbow Songs - and also a few Deep Purple classics; 'Perfect Strangers' perhaps... I try also to find out, what the people want to hear, because I want to play their faves, and not mine! But if I from the crowd no requests become for certain Songs, it is for me easy to play what comes straight into my mind. But essentially we are there for the fans - and not the other way round!"

Andreas Schöwe, Metal Hammer August 1995
[translated from German language]