Ritchie Blackmore

Guitarplayer Executioner

With his back against the coat rack he sits down on a chair, five Fender Stratocasters within reach. He starts to do some practise on one of them, we are facing him. Two piercing eyes look at us: "You can start."

- You've released two Rainbow-albums within the year. Was that done with the intention to establish the band prominent?

"It is always the meaning to establish every new band prominent. No, it's not like that. We didn't were that good when we started, so we did two albums. There has been a change in the line-up, so we started twice and the second album came fast after the first one.

The next album we will not record before February next year. We must do contractually only one album a year, which is a lot more enjoyable than my last band in which we had to do three each year. That's too much, too much pressure. I think the public got because of that always some good and some bad songs, while you only should give them good songs, that's what we did with this band is my onion."

- Can you remember the last time you played Holland?

"Mmmm, I can't remember when that was... the only thing I knew from this country, is a group called Focus, they have been always one of my favorite bands."

- The last time was early '73 and it was a disastrous show. The group left the stage after 45 minutes, didn't return and the crowd stormed the stage and demolished the full equipment.

"Oh yes, Amsterdam, ah, that was terrible. It went wrong right from the start, there was not enough electricity and when we arrived at the hall a man refused us to let us in. We said: "We're the band!", de man said "No, you're not gettin' in, and that's that." We got angry and when we finally made it to the dressingrooms, there appear to be no heating, it was nearly freezing, there were no drinks, nothing, nobody wanted to be helpful for us or the roadmanagers with all kinda problems like the equipment, etc. The audience couldn't help it, they were stoned though, too much smokin', "Hey man, Kosmos." We took it out on the audience, which is not the right way, because it was not their fault. But when a band get on stage grudgingly like we did, shiver with cold, irritated, then you take it out."

- Deep Purple never made up for it, they never returned to play Holland after that.

"Is that so?"

- Yes, maybe you can make up for it tonight.

"No. I play my music as good as I can, but I'm not making up for who or whatever. If they like it, they like it, and vice versa."

- Many Deep Purple-fans now follow this group. Are you aware of that?

"No, not really. I never watch the public. I don't know who are coming to see the shows. As long as they enjoy themselves it's good, but who they are, I don't know. If it's Purple-public, fine. We look like Purple, at least the group of a few years back. That's the music I like to play best."

- Recently a new Purple-album came out: 'Live in Europe'......
"Well, well! Is that a fact? How long it's out?"

- Since last week.

(Starts to chuckle) "That was a long time ago, awful record, don't buy it, hahaha!"

- Indeed it's not very good.

"It's a very poor album. It's no trash, but.... it's not tuned, off-key, the guitar is out of tune, the vocals are off-key."

- What was the reason for all that?

"Well, I really can't play off-key, I can play bad though. I didn't gave a shit then, because that moment I already had left the band."

- Why did you left that group?

"I was fed up, the music we made, the people in the group. We were all a bit tired of each other, we didn't had a fight, I didn't wanna let it come that far, you know that we started to hate each other, we just got fed up of each other. I said: I'll do the European tour and then I'm off, and they said 'allright' and asked me 'Do you have an objection to doing a live-album?', I said 'No'. they knew it was the possibility to release another Deep Purple album. And that was that."

- The only song you took from you Purple-period is 'Mistreated', are you still playing it?

"How do you know?"

- From reviews in English papers.

"That's not us, that's another band."

- ????????

"No, that us. Just kiddin'."

- That song is on the live-album of Deep Purple.

"And most likely also on the live-album of Rainbow."

- People will start to compare.....


- Why don't you do more old songs?

"They are Deep Purple-songs, 'Mistreated' is a bluessong and was in fact not suitable for Purple, although it came out well on record. Live it was doing fine as well, I always loved that song, that's why I still play it."

- Are you listening to your own albums?

"Rarely. Yesterday I heard accidentally the second Rainbow-album in the car. It was the only tape that was around. Sounded not bad, haha! I prefer to listen to old music and to a group like Focus."

- Their former guitarplayer, Jan Akkerman, recorded an album with old music. He plays on that acoustic guitar, lute...

"He's very good. De lute has ten strings, very difficult to play. I was surprised that someone from Holland could play that well."

- Did you ever met him?

"Yes, fully dressed in black leather, hahaha."

- You both have a reputation of angry young men.

"Yes? (smirk) I always have problems with the press. It's so unreal, you know, something you have to do but I don't like it at all."

- The fans like to know what you have to say apart from listening to your music. That's why we here, to listen and writing it down for them.

"That's the story they tell me, indeed. When I'm wondering: why should I do an interview, what's the point. Then they tell: the public wants to know what you've to say, but the point is: I'm the kind of person who changes his opinion from day to day. Sometimes I read what I told and think: what a nonsense, it's stupid. You need to be eloquent, experienced in talking with the press, think good before you speak. I do that hardly. I often tell things I don't mean, so that's why I try to do as little as possible interviews. But sometimes you have to, otherwise they forget all about you."

- Is Rainbow a typical heavy metal-band?

"Probably, but at the same time there's sometime else. Ronnie is for example many-sided, he sings on the single of 'Love is all', he used to be a trumpet player in an orchestra, that's why he knows a lot of staves, hahaha! I like to work with Ronnie, he hardly ever sings off-key, makes no mistakes, most singers I worked with sing like that and hope it all goes well, with Ronnie you're sure it'll go good. He's a small chap, but his voice isn't."

- Ronnie told me you thought the music of Deep Purple became too funky.

"Yes, 'Stormbringer'. 'Burn' was.... actually that was quite a good album, but then Glenn Hughes, who's a real good singer, but a real soulbrother and Stevie Wonder-fan, he wanted to go more in a funky direction and Dave Coverdale like that, and even Ian Paice started to play his drums in a different way. Before Ian was always a straight forward rock & roll drummer, just like Cozy, a few mistakes sometimes, but for the rest alright, you know, a wild man. But all of a sudden he started to try out those strange things, he started to play very formal. All very nice, tight and funky, but the emotion.... pfff, you know, no emotion. I wanted to use different keys, things from 15th century music, like... listen.... (Mr Blackmore plays some chords who remind us straight away to the group Status Quo).

"But in those days it went like....... " (Different positions, different chords) "It can also like this, the music sounds very different then. These days you only got the usual, straight-lined chords, it gets monotone in the end. What are we actually talking about?"

- 'Stormbringer"

"Oh yes, 'Stormbringer' was a good album, but for me.... I knew it was the last one for me. I was thinking everything this leads to, has nothing to do with me. The band wanted to continue in the soul-direction and I told them: I've got enough of it. They said: no, because we'll stop as well. When I had left, they decided to try it again with a new guitarplayer Tommy Bolin). I think it was especially the wish of the managers, it was not Jon or Ian, but the managers who wanted to keep the name Deep Purple alive and make some more money. After that they stopped it after all."

- I think it was very weak to let the new guitarplayer compose about the whole of the album they then did (Come taste the band).

"Exactly hahaha. I won't say anything about it. You said it all."

- My favorite track of 'Stormbringer' was 'Soldier of fortune', a very nice tune.

"Dave and I wrote that. You are right, it's one of my favorites as well. There are quite some medieval chords in, by the way, you don't know how much sweat it costed to let the others play this song. Jon was pretty fast convinced, but Ian and Glenn didn't wanna know about it at first. I then said: I'll play your funky songs if you wanna play this. And he said as drowsy as possible: alright I'll do it. Glenn hated that song, he thought it was crap.

Ian was fed up after two takes, there was not much in it to prove himself. That's why I left, it was too much everyone's solotrip. The song made it clarify a lot. I thought: you can go on with this shoepolish music, I'm gone. "

- How is your relation these days with the other former Deep Purple-members

"Fair, I met two of them recently, they came to see one of our shows."

- No violent clashes?

"No, but we should have if I had stayed. You know, it's nice to see all that money come in, but if you have done that already six years long, than you've got to be honest and say: I'll do something else, maybe it will be not that successful, but that's also not the meaning of it, I want to be myself. Then I heard Ronnie sing, a shiver ran down my spine and I knew that was the change to start something new, something I really wanted."

© Bert van de Kamp, Muziekkrant Oor November 3, 1976 [translation from Dutch language]