Ritchie Blackmore

Interview Popular Magazine

I see you again completely changed the line-up...

You know, uh, I love changes (laughs). Seriously, Jeff Beck does the same, and I understand very well why. The fact is that I always want to do everything at the highest level, but no one plays as good as I would like. A musician may be suitable for one album, but not suitable for the next. Or he starts to get sick or is killed by drugs. I will never keep a musician again just to preserve the line-up, I realized this in Deep Purple. I wanted to change the line-up, because I was tired of everything, but, apparently, it was bad for the image... But why should the group be limited to what the public wants? I never told anyone to leave Rainbow out of pleasure or in order to maintain my reputation as a bad person. There was always a good reason for this.

Just a musical reason? Not a personal conflict?

The only time personal motives were involved here was with Ronnie... Ronnie was a very good singer, but after a while he completely lost all inspiration and did not seem interested anymore, while I was completely devoted to the group. I think he imagined that when I put together my group, it would be the second Deep Purple. He thought the band would be good musically and financially at the Deep Purple level. When he realized that Rainbow could not achieve this, he began to think about leaving... Now he sings with Black Sabbath, it seems to me that they changed their name to Sabbath. And if Ozzy Osbourne, meanwhile, continues to perform under the name Black Sabbath, it will be a very funny situation.

Have you ever regretted that Rainbow did not reach the level of popularity of Deep Purple?

Oh no, when I left Purple, I understood that. Unlike what many thought then, I had no illusions. I left because it seemed to me that Deep Purple said everything they could, but I knew that it was one of those rare groups that managed to achieve such a huge status, and that this did not happen again. For me, it would be like hoping that leaving the Beatles, I will create the Rolling Stones. Seriously, this is just stupid.

Why is Roger Glover back?

We were unhappy with the sound of the music and the production. Roger was producing, and we turned to him. Cozy and I have a very bad character. Nothing on stage, but when we have disagreements in the studio, it comes to a fight. Roger is much more diplomatic, much calmer. He listens to all our opinions, takes them into account, leads everyone to agreement and leads progress. He is a catalyst, a real producer, while Martin was essentially a fantastic sound engineer, he was pleased to record everything we played. Now Roger requires much more from us, and I myself would never have the patience to be a producer.

And the producer also became a bass player?

We had a bass player, but he did not suit us. Like many bass players, he was, in fact, a failed guitar player who seriously thought that playing four strings would be easier. You canít imagine how common this misconception is. It is rare to find a real bass player such as Roger. In such circumstances, it was logical that he began to record bass parts, but at first I did not think that it would be interesting for him to join the group. But he agreed. We have been performing for the first time since he left Deep Purple.

Your new singer, Graham Bonnet, where did you find him?

Remember The Marbles? This is a group that entered the Top 20 in England in 1968 with the song "Only One Woman". It was a very good song. We then started Deep Purple, and one day in a car we heard on the radio an incredible voice. The perfect musical voice that moved from the bottom to the top as if it cost him nothing. In the front seat, our then singer blushed! I said: "If we have to compete with them, it is better for us to immediately tie this up." And then Graham disappeared. I was told that he was too addicted to drugs, all that. I didnít remember him again until the day came when we had to find Graham... There were no problems.

You worked with many great musicians. Many do not understand why you refuse to continue to work with such talented colleagues.

I'm too picky. I constantly strive for excellence, but I always forget that rock and roll was not created for this.

Why are you breaking the guitars?

This is my last statement at the concert, when everything has already been said, and you need to sacrifice the guitar to the public. It is also a manifestation of my animal instincts. I love to ruin everything, this is one of my bad habits. It also helps the audience let off steam, because usually this is what they themselves wanted to do at work for a whole week. It helps me to be discharged too.

Graham has a very unusual look for your type of music.

Yeah... He just has such a hairstyle, but for people this is enough to say: "Oh, you are adjusting to New Wave." This is silly. In fact, Graham was greatly influenced by the singers of the fifties, so he still wears such a haircut, that's all.

When you recorded your first Rainbow album, you had a very unusual idea to use classical structures in rock. It didnít work?

No. That was a mistake. To create rock music in the spirit of the 16th century then seemed to me an original and unusual idea. But after the first album I came to a standstill. I always admired the music of the Renaissance, but everything has its place. This is not what the audience wants to hear at a rock concert. Such music requires a certain classical rigor, which is incompatible with the sense of liberation inherent in rock and roll.

On stage, you still occasionally play individual inserts from the classics, but avoid any attempts to mix the classics with rock. Now do you think this confusion is impossible?

Yes. Nothing will ever come of this. I must admit that I am mired in complacency... Now I try to use only the most exciting elements from the classics, but do it very briefly. I understand that the public does not need classical music lessons, but for my part it would be hypocrisy if on stage I limited myself to Chuck Berry's riffs, and behind the curtains I felt upset because of this. In the end, when I was twenty years old, classical music did not interest me, but any musician who has been practicing his instrument for twenty years wants to move on to something more sophisticated and technical than rock, for example, jazz or classical. Personally, I donít like jazz, so I turned to the classics. But now I try to look at things in perspective. Iíve been playing rock and roll for twenty years, but Iím trying to create honest music, for myself and for the public, and give it something more than what they heard when they first attended a rock concert.

What do you think of New Wave?

Honestly, I do not really follow it. Most of what I heard I didn't like. In general, it seemed to me that all they can play are songs like the early Who "Canít Explain." The singers are more furious: I hate it when they fake it and hide behind the fact that itís such a riot... I like The Cars. It seems to me that they really have something to say, they do not just replay the old rock and roll cliches. Not everyone needs to be a rebel. What to oppose? Against everything in fashion now? 90 percent of punk bands are limited to this, they are only trying to impose a new form of social structure. I oppose any form of social structure. I am not interested in what others think. I am me, and thatís it. I do not want to be part of a New Wave, or Old Wave, or anything else. I will continue to play the guitar while people come to my concerts.

You have a reputation as a person with a difficult character...

Yes it's true. Living with me is difficult, I have an impossible character, but the fact is that I am an emotional person, and I refuse to do what is expected of me. That's why I started this business, besides the fact that I really like to play the guitar - because no one can tell me what to do. If I want to break a guitar, then I break it. If you ask me to bring dinner to my room and throw it out of the window, I can do that too. I can do whatever I want if it does no harm to anyone. At least I try to avoid this, but sometimes it is impossible.

Such privileges are often attributed to rock stars.

May be. But for me, a rock star is someone like Rod Stewart or Peter Frampton, whose plastic costumes are being watched by eating a bag of popcorn or a box of cheese. I donít like this kind of business. You also have an image. You always dress in black.

Yes, because I like the black color for its tension and charisma. I am a very busy person, and this is reflected in my music. My difficult character is not an image. I'm not a good guy, many journalists can confirm this. So much so that it costs me bad reviews. In fact, except for the case when I tore the tape from the interview of the journalist from the newspaper Record Mirror, because it was completely unbearable, I never was rude to reporters. Just, uh ... I donít understand why I should show sympathy for someone when I really donít feel it. This is not interesting to me! I'm just trying to be honest with the public. Criticism is nothing more than another statement from the establishment. Dot.

Do you think criticism of Rainbow is unfair? Is the group at the level that suits you?

No, none of what I do or what others do is at a level that would suit me. The reason is my terrible character!

© Popular Magazine, Spain 1980