Ritchie Blackmore

Interview December 1984

I was surprised at how aggressive the crowd was at a concert in Auckland...

RB: Well, from the stage I can't see very well what the audience is doing. But I don't like it when they are rude. Is it dangerous. Some perceive a hard rock concert as a reason to freak out, but I don't like that. It seems to me that being impressed is good, but when it starts to threaten others it is bad. This happens especially often in countries like New Zealand, where rock bands are rare, which is why everyone in the audience starts to go crazy. Just like the kids who got the new toy. They get drunk and start behaving insanely. This is disgusting to me.

Well, I judge like a Japanese. Japanese fans behave differently. We prefer to listen to music...

RB: Right. Japanese fans are different. You drink sake at a party, make noise and run after the girls, and at rock concerts behave in a completely different way. I was once at such a party...

I would like to know the history of the reunion of the group. Rumors about this event went on for several years, and two years ago I did not believe that this would ever happen...

RB: It really was an ordinary rumor, until we started negotiations. We decided to do this in March or April of this year, immediately after the Japanese Rainbow concerts. I then no longer wanted to continue working with Rainbow, and the idea came to bring together the old Purple members. I agreed and said that I would do it. Everyone was body and soul for this reunion, and I thought that it would be wonderful, especially since we had nowhere to move on alone. Formally, the decision was made in April.

In Japan, fans received the news about the reunion with great joy. How did people in the US and the UK react?

RB: In the USA they reacted well. But in the UK not very well, but it's normal (laughs). When some famous group try to do something, they immediately begin to attack it. Journalists support only novices, and when a novice finally records a hit, he immediately becomes their enemy, and they begin to vilify and kill him in the press. For example, our reunion was called unnecessary there. This phenomenon is inherent only to Britain, but: "They are already old, and indeed they do it only for the sake of money" (laughs). However, fans react differently. They were waiting for this.

Does such cynicism hurt you?

RB: This is typical of the British. First of all, I am British myself (laughs), so if I were a journalist I would do the same (laughs). I like to watch how something perfect is destroyed. It seems to me that this depends on the point of view, but in general, the British are very creative people, and besides, we have dedicated fans there.

They say that you agreed to a reunion on the condition that Ian Gillan will sing in the group. It's true?

RB: Well, isn't the most important thing who you play with? When they suggested this idea to me, I asked who the vocalist would be: Ian or David? Someone suggested Coverdale, but I wanted to work with Ian, not with David. It seems to me that David would not be interested in this proposal. I won't say that Ian's presence was my main condition, but I don't think I would have agreed with another vocalist.

Your work is closely monitored by the press. Did you feel special stress while working on the new album?

RB: Yes, there has always been a lot of tension in the group. And indeed, as you said, this time there was more tension than usual. As usual, the opinions of listeners were radically opposite. Again, there are people who found the album wonderful, and there are those who find it terrible. We knew that both of them would listen to the album, and this affected its recording.

I was surprised by the reaction to the reunion, the album is selling very well, I did not know that the group has so many admirers now.

RB: Yeah, maybe some found out about us through their parents or older brothers. But I think this is great. We have not only old fans, also new ones have appeared. Thanks to this, we can again feel like famous people (laughs).

Maybe this is due to the fact that now on the rock scene there are few really good bands?

RB: You could say that, after the collapse of Led Zeppelin there were not anymore bands with a similar sound. I also think that now there are a lot of popular bands that are actually not so good. I will not name them, but (laughs)... in fact, now there are few bands that can play well. By the words "play well" I mean when a musician is capable of performing everything from jazz to classical. And those who instead dress up in strange costumes and run around the stage can hardly be called a musician.

You were absent at a large press conference where the group officially announced their reunion.

RB: I was there, just nobody noticed me (laughs). Seriously, I agree to give interviews to people who are interested in hearing something from me, but not in the format of a press conference. There is nothing worse than sitting at a table with a small microphone and answering questions. These conversations have nothing to do with music. Such interviews are more suitable for comedians, and I prefer to consider myself a musician.

Do you consider yourself a shy person?

RB: Yes, I'm shy, and still depend on my mood. Because of this, I sometimes say nonsense, then I can hurt other participants if I sit at a press conference. I don't know what to say there. Since I play as a team now, I don't want to create problems for other musicians at such official ceremonies.

You said you like to watch other people talk.

RB: Yes, I like to watch how people behave at such events. But that doesn't mean that I like it when they watch me (laughs).

Can you then share your observations of other members of the group?

RB: Hm, that's a tough question. Let's start with Ian Paice, the easiest way to talk about him. He never changes. He is very good at money. This is noticeable when talking with Ian. For example, if you ask him about wine, he will evaluate it judging by how much it costs, whereas I usually say: "Wine is wine, if I like it, it means it's good." If you ask the same question to Jon, he will immediately begin to talk about how this wine is made, whether it is good and why. He also enjoys reading books.

About whom I can tell little, is about Ian Gillan. It seems to me that his character changes every second! Either he seems like a gentleman, then suddenly he does something unexpected. As for alcohol, he can drink with anyone, he orders one bottle after another at the bar. I do not understand how this is possible! I drank with him literally 2-3 days ago. Roger, I'm always sorry. He is a workaholic. For example, when we have a departure at 2 pm, he travels to the airport at 6 in the morning! Who wants to be at the airport at 6 in the morning? But he does it all the time. He prefers to arrive early, and even when I ask him why, he cannot explain it. When I have to sit for a long time at the airport, I start looking for alcohol, and this is an extra headache.

Good. What about you?

RB: Hmm, I don't know. I'm a different person every minute. I'm not very interested in what interests others, I think people are very strange. When they tell me that I am just like everyone else, for me it is a great insult. I take what is going on very seriously. I do not understand those who can simply say: "I do not care."

© Music Life, Japan - March 1985 issue