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Ritchie Blackmore

Ritchie Blackmore is the name of one of the most influential musicians in rock history. You can't speak of Rock without mentioning Blackmore; he claimed all musical dimensions from Deep Purple through Rainbow until his new project Blackmore's Night. Though the master of six strings got an incredible creativity, he also got a bad reputation; people say he's complicated, unfriendly and arrogant.

* Where were you born?

I was born in Weston-Super-Mare in England. John Cleese from Monty Python who I adore is also born there. My family moved to Heston, near London, when I was two. I went to school there and had a special experience when I was eleven: A schoolmate once took a really cheap guitar with him to school, I was like hypnotised. It's like falling in love with a woman who you can't let go. After I persuaded my parents, my father took me to a guitar shop and said that he will smash the guitar over my head if I don't learn to play it.

When I was 18 I've been the first time in Germany, I was playing with Jerry Lee Lewis in Hamburg's Starclub. I felt that something special happened: I felt that Germany was my home, since my first visiting in 1963 I always wanted to return to Germany, England was from the beginning boring to me.

* Can you describe yourself with three words?

Temperamental, mistrustfully, honest (This was decided together with his girlfriend/fiancée Candice Night)

* What's your biggest strength?

I can drink a lot, without getting drunk…… really! And fear – I love to worry about something. Most people thing that that's a weakness, but this is completely wrong: My fears help me to develop myself and protect me from lethargy. A wise man prepares for war in times of peace.

* Are you getting up early or late?

Usually I'm getting up at six in the morning and go shopping... No, that's not true. I never get up before twelve, I think the morning is completely needless. I think that's the problem of our Association! (Very interesting... -the redaction). Nobody likes to stand up early, many people are loosing their needed sleep. I'm going at three o`clock at bed and sleep then from nine to ten hours. Many people like seeing the sunrise but I prefer the silence and mystery of the night.

* Are you religious?

I was raised as a Protestant and that's exactly what I'm doing: I'm protesting, I protect myself against all religions. I think that religions are all about the fear of God and not the Love for God. I'm a very spiritual person who is trying to find God, I'm doing lots of Séances for example.

* What's your favourite colour?

It's green. I know that everyone thinks I like black most, that's wrong! I love green, it's the colour of learning, the colour of nature.

* Why do you like medieval music so much?

I always loved German architectonics and medieval buildings. Inside my soul I see myself walking on Rothenburg's pavement when its full moon. I dream to live in such a medieval town one day but it could be better not to live in this kind of town, you have than the chance to collect new impressions, every time you visit it. My musical roots were also always in Germany; Bach, Beethoven this music is really heavy, you can't compare them to anybody else.

First time I heard this style of music was here in Germany in 1986, a friend of mine invited me for dinner to a German castle where "Des Geyers Schwarzer Haufen" were performing. From this moment I didn't want to be a Rock'n'Roll star anymore. We played at huge stadiums but there was no feeling, no emotions, the Geyers were a unit, their enthusiasm was Blackmore's Nights cornerstone, I only wanted to play like them then.

But at first I got to know my fiancée Candice. She once began to sing when I was sitting at home and playing, I was stunned… Blackmore's Night now is my priority, my inspirations and all my creativity. Rainbow was just a remake of the original line-up I got sucked playing the same songs every time.

Every time I try to progress as a musician, I'm maybe not perfect, but very choosy. When I discover that a band mate is not good enough I throw him out, I also expect that I will be thrown out if I'm not good. Many bands stay together because of familiarness or just because their managers like them to do. I can't do it like that. That's why Rainbow changed their line-up so often. However, nobody leaved voluntary, only our roadie Ian Fergusson. All the others were thrown out.

Rainbow is recommended busineswise to me, but I don't really like the business stuff: I hate to play what others want me to play and where, I hate that the priority is not the music but the marketing, I hate when people tell me what to do and how the albums must look like. That's the consequence: We've got bands like Spice Girls, who were "designed" to fit into the industry. The labels want now only the big money, they aren't interested in really good music today.

* What would you do if you were MTV's managing director?

Are you talking about Marketing Television? I would make real Music Television out of it, every band would have a chance and I would abolish the heavy rotation. I also would play all the music, so everyone could decide what he wants to hear and not play and push some crap just because people would pay a lot money for it.

* Which song should be played at your burial?

Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring (J.S. Bach; Cantata 147)

* Have you ever been to a jail?

Yes, in 1976 we had a fantastic gig. In the first row was a girl, she was getting crazy but not violent or something. But the guy from the security started to hit her head really hard. I told him to stop but he didn't so I kicked him and broke his lower jaw. The guy fell to the floor and the police surrounded us immediately. During the encore I went off the stage and jumped into a flightcase. A roadie should take me out. Suddenly there was police everywhere, dogs barking, like the whole town was looking for a murderer. It was like a movie. The crew told that I was escaped to the railway station but just in the moment the roadie wanted to load the flightcase into a truck came two policemen to check the content. I had won full board vacations... I was four days there and they did everything to sweeten my stay: They didn't let me sleep, gave me only crap to eat etc. I felt like a prisoner of war but the highlight was that I hat to pay 10.000$ for this service.

* What would be the three things you would take to an uninhabited island?

A guitar of course. Further my wife and enough to eat. I think that's enough to survive a while.

* Did you ever waste a car?

No, I don't drive cars. Last time I used the car was six years ago. The only accident that happened was when a Chinese post van crashed into my car while parking.

* What was your worst gig ever?

That was the Deep Purple concert in Birmingham 1993, "Come Hell or High Water". It's a long story: Our song 'Anya' was climbing up the charts in Germany and we needed a clip to be able to push the single. But the management wanted first to wait six weeks and then do a live clip. I told them that Gillan would loose his voice in a week again. When the filming finally began we were told that it will be filmed with six cameras and some of them would be on stage. I was against it, no one will pay to see cameras on the stage during a gig and not the band. The team guaranteed that no cameras would be on stage then.

From the very beginning the whole show was a disaster: Ian Paice started to play the song when I was still in the dressing room. I ran through on stage and nearly crashed into a camera that was there. I stopped to play and again it was promised that it will disappear from stage. When I went back on stage it still was there, so I threw water on it, as you can see on the Video.

But there were of course many other horrible shows with Deep Purple and Rainbow – because we were very tired, our playing was bad, I sounded terrible, because just nothing worked. On these shows I refused to play encores. Later people started to think that I'm playing tricks on the fans. It would be true if I kept playing that shit. I love playing encores if the feeling is right, I decline encores if the gig was shit. It's important for me to be completely honest. That's why I've got this bad boy image; I was always the black sheep. It never bothered me, contrary; I like to swim against the stream.

Stefan Glas, Rock Hard 1997 [translation from German language by Kashmir]