Ritchie Blackmore

New Group, Same Style

Former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore readily admits that he is moody, abrupt, prefers solitude, is difficult to get along with, ignores most people because he finds them boring and that he rarely mixed socially with the members of Deep Purple. It would seem likely that the group finally dumped him because his manner bad caused conflicts. However, Blackmore says he made the decision early this year to leave —after seven years— his position as premier musician in one of the world's most popular rock bands. One evening in his unpretentious Hollywood Hills home, the slender English-man explained why be left Deep Purple and formed his own group, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.

"I had been bored with Purple for a long time," he said in an emotionless tone. 'The band was getting complacent. In my opinion, nobody had their hearts in the music. Except for a few cuts, the last album sounded like the work of an average rock 'n' roll band.

"I didn't like the pressure of touring the world and then getting 10 days off and having to go into the studio. What you get is an album that has two good songs and the rest padding. We were forcing the music, but we had to meet our album commitments.

"I've made plenty of money so I didn't want to go on in a situation I disliked. I wanted to get out before I got too bitter."

What finally inspired Blackmore to leave Deep Purple was discovering how much fun it was to work with another group. It all started when he went into the studio with singer Ronnie Dio and his band Elf to record "Black Sheep of the Family." Blackmore loves this song but couldn't record it with Deep Purple because of the group's policy —which he loathes— of only recording group-composed material.

"When I started to work with Ronnie. I had no intention of leaving Purple," Blackmore insisted. "At first we had just intended to do a single, but it went so well we decided to do a whole album. That's how our first album, 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.' came about. I had to leave Purple because this new experience was so much more rewarding, especially working with a vocalist like Ronnie.

Blackmore's dissatisfaction with Purple's, new lead singer David Coverdale was one of his reasons for leaving the group. "I'm very fussy about vocals and I was very disappointed with Purple's vocals.' he asserted. "I didn't like the way my songs were being interpreted but it's hard to tell someone how to sing. I was better off leaving and starting a group with someone whose singing I liked."

Blackmore is quite pleased with Dio's singing and with Rainbow, which also features drummer Cozy Powell. The touring band, which is different from the band on the album, has been together for less than two months and only began to tour recently. One of the engagements is a Saturday night concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.

Blackmore claims the differences in Rainbow's music and Deep Purple's music are subtle and fully expects many people —critics in particular— to miss these differences and dismiss Rainbow as merely a copy of Purple. "Besides the vocals being different," Blackmore pointed out, "the riffs and progressions are different, but they are still rather similar to Purple's. The average listener may not listen closely enough to hear the differences. The high volume and aggression are still there, because I write high energy, aggressive, nervous music. It's the same style but why should I change styles just because I changed groups? That doesn't make any sense."

© Dennis Hunt, The Los Angeles Times - November 23, 1975