Ritchie Blackmore

Interview in Tokyo - May 13, 1985

Was Rainbow just a prelude to the revival of Deep Purple?

RB: No. When I did Rainbow, I didn't think about reuniting with Purple, Rainbow was another band for me, but I did not see it as something that was transient before the revival of Purple. Previously, when I played in Deep Purple, I often thought that it would be interesting to work separately from the rest of the members. We were all very selfish and did not compromise, and it seemed to me that in Deep Purple I could not be myself.

You needed a group that you could completely control, and Rainbow became it?

RB: Let's just say this ... I, Roger, John, Keith ... No, Keith we didn't have ... We all thought that each of us could manage the group, and later it happened. Ian created his own group, in which he was a superstar, I got Rainbow, Jon and Ian Paice also worked successfully. Roger has earned a good reputation as a producer. Deep Purple could no longer exist within its own framework. This was the reason for the breakup of the group.

It is generally accepted that the group broke up due to your conflict with Ian Gillan.

RB: It's complicated. As you know, eccentric people find it difficult to get along (laughs). Ian and I met several times before the revival of Purple, quite a lot of time passed before we could forgive each other. Now everything is fine and we get along with each other.

What is your position in Deep Purple?

RB: I'm a guitar player. I write music and offer ideas. I do not deal only with texts and melodies, they are written by Ian and Roger.

You and Ian are eccentric people. But an eccentric rock musician may not be interesting.

RB: Right. Eccentricity is an important part of rock and roll. I always liked to take risks, I do not like to go on the beaten track. It is very important. Some famous bands never take any chances, and I don't like them either, nor their music.

Did you record "Perfect Strangers" as a sequel to "Machine Head"?

RB: Good or bad, but Deep Purple is a hostage to it's image, it's a kind of stereotype." Ian should sing like this, I have to play like that, the same with Jon. Fans expected this from us, and for us it's completely natural to play like that. This is the magic of Deep Purple.

Over ten years, recording technology has changed a lot, but Perfect Strangers still sounds very much like the seventies...

RB: Right. As I said, Deep Purple records are bought in order to hear Deep Purple. We will not change. We are a band from the seventies and we play rock from the seventies. Despite the fact that it's the eighties, I don't want to imitate modern rock. Take a look at the ZZ Top. Previously, they played as our opening act, and they still wear the same hairstyles, the same costumes, and organize the same show as in the seventies. It is important to stay the same. I respect them. I am glad that they have succeeded.

This year you turned 40 years old. How does it feel to be a forty year old rock musician?

RB: I'm not afraid to get old. But I do not like that everyone around indicates that I am already forty. With age, I learned to treat people with respect. For example, to Ian. He is only 39, but when we were younger, all his bad deeds were perceived worse than they actually were.

But many groups manage to work only while they are young.

RB: Being young is best. Youth helps to create something new, but it can also destroy you. Inexperience is almost a synonym for self-destruction. I know what I'm talking about (laughs).

There are additional songs on the Perfect Strangers cassettes. Have you recorded more songs for the album?

RB: We recorded only ten songs. Eight songs were on the disc, so there are two more songs on the cassette. The record company did this to sell both formats. You need to be careful when working with companies and managers. By the way, we are suing our old managers. Our current manager is honest, but the old managers constantly deceived us and put us in the wheel. Even now, they have filed a lawsuit and want to stop us from playing under the name Deep Purple. They claim that the name belongs to them, not to the group. In June, I have to go to court. It bothered me.

I want to ask you a personal question. Do not miss your homeland, living in New York?

RB: No question! Every day I dream of returning to England. I moved to the States in 1974 due to tax problems, and also because of my girlfriend at the time, who was from America. I still love Britain, and come back there as often as I can. Germany is my second homeland; I also dream of moving to Germany. But when I live in Britain or Germany, I miss the USA (laughs).

Are you a great patriot?

RB: Very big, but depending on what. For example, when there is a football match between the British and Germans, I always cheer for the Germans. In this regard, I am not too loyal to Britain. By the way, it surprises me that in America they don't like football at all.

Do you monitor your health?

RB: I am not on a diet, but I take vitamins and try to balance nutrition. I have never taken drugs. I do not smoke. First of all, because everyone around me smokes, and I do not want to be like the others. Sometimes I take sedatives and sometimes sleeping pills to cope with the change of time zones. It's important for me to sleep well.

Young people often want to play rock. But what makes you play it now?

RB: Need (laughs).


RB: It's a joke, but if you ask this question to any successful musician like Paul McCartney or Pete Townshend, they will laugh. If you play only for money, then you won't last long. Of course, it is better to have money than to sit without it. Yes, we are getting older, but in our hearts the love of rock is still deep.

Do you have any fetish?

RB: Yes, I'm crazy about transvestites (laughs).

You're kidding again!

RB: Seriously. I myself do not dress up, but I have many friends who like to wear women's clothing. These are very interesting people with an unusual lifestyle. They are not gay, they just do not want to live like their parents and they have their own way of thinking. A friend of mine told me that at 11 years old he noticed the difference between men and women, women seemed to be kinder to him, and he became a transvestite to find this female kindness.

There are many transvestites in Japan. Do not want to meet them?

RB: I already asked a friend about where to go. Usually they are all despised, called sick and abnormal. It also makes me sympathize with them. I don't care about gender or sexual orientation. Who decides what is normal and what is not? The so-called normal people, people who are trying to adapt to society, have always been disgusting to me. From time immemorial, geniuses were considered abnormal. Among the musicians, for example, Schubert, although I do not like his music, he was a genius and a great man. All the great composers who are now revered were once considered abnormal.

It seems to me that all these norms are connected with Christianity.

RB: Right. Therefore, many were accused of witchcraft. In the West, everything that did not fit into the Christian doctrine was considered black magic. This is all devilishness, it contradicts God's commandments. It seems to me that religion is a source of prejudice and aggression. I grew up in a religious family, went to Sunday school and studied the Bible. I could not believe what was written in the Bible. When I asked a priest or parents about this, they answered me that all the answers should be looked in the Bible itself.

Previously, bands that played anti-Christian rock, such as Black Sabbath, were popular.

RB: Yes, they did it for the money (laughs).

Over the past ten years, many famous musicians and your friends have died. Which of them do you recall most often?

RB: I had a personal assistant Ron Quinton. He was always a wonderful person and cheered me up. Once we had dinner with him in Los Angeles, and he sat completely pale and reserved, although he was usually lively and cheerful. When I asked him what was the matter, he said that he was at Jon Lord's house last night, sat by the window, and suddenly fell out of the window. He had a drug problem. And a couple of hours after this dinner, he died in a car accident on the way home.

It was not a suicide?

RB: No, a car accident. It was exactly 24 hours after falling from the window. It was hard to survive the death of John Bonham. He was one of my best friends and a great drummer.

When was the last time you cried?

RB: Recently, when we broke up with my wife. My third marriage ended very sadly. I was very bad, and I still worry about it. It's hard for me to accept that we can no longer communicate. It happens that my egoism does not allow me to communicate with a person, but feelings of affection and friendship suffer from this. For example, I didn't like Ian, but I always missed him.

May I ask a question about your son? Do not you think that it is difficult for him with such a famous father?

RB: Yes, unfortunately, he also plays the guitar, but not good enough to make money from it. And he's crazy about football. He is 20 years old, he lives in Hamburg, I meet him every time I come to Hamburg, but I treat him not as a son, but as a brother, this is for the best.

You have no more children?

RB: No, I'm careful (laughs)!

Can you tell me something about the next album?

RB: For now, there's nothing to talk about. We have not decided anything yet and do not know when and where we will record it.

Will you return to Japan next year?

RB: Maybe...

© Japanese Magazine 1985