Ritchie Blackmore

Music Life Japan Interview 1978

Did you go to a classical music concert today?

Right. At home I often go to such concerts, today's concert was also very good.

By the way, you said that you still like music of the 16th century...

I like early music, especially Renaissance and Baroque music from the 16th and 17th centuries. Bach is my favorite composer. But this is not the kind of music that I play in Rainbow. Even though I like classical music, it doesn't mean that such music influences Rainbow's sound a lot.

When will the new Rainbow album be released?

April or March.

How does it sound compared to previous albums?

All our albums are recorded in approximately the same spirit, so I don't think it will be very different ... But I think you would like to know something about my solos? Well, they are always different... It's a difficult question, I can't describe it in detail, of course, this album is somewhat different from our previous ones, but not so much.

At concerts, you play the song "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll". Will she be on the new album?

The album itself will also be named that. I came up with it, and Ronnie wrote lyrics around this title.

What inspires you?

Thoughts come to me when I just look out the window. For example, about what will happen if I jump out of the window, or ... (laughs). Now I'm older, I have more life experience than in my youth, so it's easier for me to come up with ideas. Anything can inspire me to write a song.

How do you compose music?

Some pick melodies on the piano or guitar, but my ideas are first born in my head, only then I transfer them to the instrument. It's probably not the most common way.

I heard that the new album was recorded in a French castle, did you already work there?

Yes, we recorded something there for the second album as well, and decided to use it again, because it's an old castle full of ghosts (laughs). So I really liked it there (laughs). This is a 17th-century castle where Chopin lived a long time ago. There is such a great atmosphere that it's easier for me to work there than in a regular studio. We also played football all the time. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you need to go to the recording.

How long was the recording?

We spent a whole six weeks there, but we spent only ten days on the recording (laughs).

You had a good rest (laughs). Japanese fans love not only heavy numbers, but also calm songs like "Catch The Rainbow".


Will there be something like that on the new album?

For the new album, we recorded a song called "Girl with Rainbow Eyes", Ronnie came up with the lyrics, and I came up with the music. It is about a girl with rainbow colored eyes. The song sounds similar to "Catch The Rainbow", but we also used a string orchestra and two flutes in it ... I asked a friend from Germany to write an arrangement for a string orchestra.

What kind of music did you listen to as a child?

Everything but the classics. Elvis Presley, all kinds of rock and roll.

Did you take classical playing lessons, were you taught to play from sight?

Yes, I studied classical for a year, but when I began to think about the direction in which I would move, I chose rock.

How many guitars do you have now?

Well, six or seven.

Which of them do you use on stage?

Right now I'm using Fender, but soon I may change my guitars.

What about Gibson?

I played the Gibson for 10 years, but now I don't play it anymore. In my opinion, Gibson is a jazz guitar, it is not suitable for rock. It will sound too heavy for Rainbow, it's more melodic music. I love melodic guitars.

Do you prefer old or new models?

I don't like old models. New models in terms of technology are made better. Some musicians play older models, but they are more concerned not with the guitar itself, but with how rare it is. In other words, it's better for them to have no guitar at all than to have a new one.

What do you think about Japanese guitars?

Japanese guitars? Yes, I have one, a great copy. This is an Elephant guitar.

"Elephant"? Never heard of such a thing.

Yes, it's a joke (laughs). I wanted to see your reaction. I think I used to play on a Yamaha.

Pretty weird joke! What amplifier are you using?

I use the most powerful amplifier, it's a Marshall, I've been playing through it for 8 years. They made it for me through an acquaintance with the president of Marshall. I was introduced to him by an old friend, drummer Mitch Mitchell, who played with Jimi Hendrix.

Are you interested in the wireless connection that is being talked about so much now?

Not really. You don't get a real guitar sound with them. Some bands use these guitars, but they don't have a real guitar sound.

What strings do you have?

Top to bottom - 56, 42, 38, 16, 9. As for the effects, I only use the phaser and echo, which I made myself from a tape recorder. There is nothing better than the echo that a reel player records and plays back.

Do you do your own changes of the technique of your guitars?

No, I don't. I change a few things, but not much.

On the stage you are very active, do you never get hurt?

I always hurt something. During concerts, I don't think about it, but when I finish the performance, I notice that I hurt my hands. Here, look (shows his hands, he has a lot of scratches on his palms and fingers).

Do you want to release a solo instrumental album?

I'm not interested at all. I generally hate working in the studio. Every time I feel like I'm in a hospital.

Can you give any advice to beginner guitarists?

Good. Learn from other guitarists. But this will only work for the first one or two years. Then you have to try to think for yourself. Never copy anyone. In general, forget about it when you learn to play. We already had one Jimi Hendrix, we don't need another Jimi Hendrix. This is the main thing.

Don't you think that rock music is currently standing still?

If you look at something for a long time, you really wonít notice any movement. Everything depends on the observer. For example, if you constantly come to the same hotel in Sapporo, it will seem that this is a rotten place where nothing ever changes, and if a lot of time passes between visits here, the hotel will seem fresh and changed every time. Do you understand? It all depends on the person, everyone decides for himself whether rock music is dead or alive for him.

But what do you think of punk?

Sorry, I don't want to talk about it. I am tired of this. I have nothing to say about punk. I didn't even listen to the Sex Pistols. But in Britain there are now promising bands outside of punk. Everything depends on the point of view.

I heard that last year you had some kind of unpleasant situation in Vienna.

That's right, the guards were awful to the fans. When they tried to get closer to the stage, the guards started beating them for no reason. I put up with it for a while, but I couldn't watch my fans being beaten to death. Then I kicked the guard in front of me. Unfortunately, he fell from the impact and broke his jaw. The police arrested me right away. They let me out only two days later.

In Japan, you also have very active fans. I think you still need protection.

I understand. But I don't want my fans to get hurt. And in Vienna, the guards behaved more harshly than was necessary. I want the fans to enjoy. Violent delight has not yet threatened anyone. Rock is very violent music. One can imagine that people in their 50s and 60s are listening to rock while sitting, but this is impossible for young people. And I want them to enjoy it. In this sense, classical music is not as interesting as rock. But I enjoy the classics calmly, in silence.

Is it true that you are interested in the occult and UFOs?

I am interested, but not UFOs, although I saw UFOs with my own eyes when I was 13-14 years old, but I was not very interested in it. I don't think the aliens want to destroy us.

Have you encountered ghostly phenomena?

I donít know if itís possible to call them ghostly, but Iíve come across them. Something strange is happening around the world right now. Even in the US, many have seen strange flying objects, and some have heard incomprehensible sounds.

Do you like science fiction?

No, I can't stand it. I don't like science fiction films. I hate all this Star Wars, Jaws, Exorcist. I love Sherlock Holmes, I love old Sherlock movies. I would like to make a documentary about my own paranormal experience. In almost all modern films, the selection of actors is incorrect. For example, in vain they took Robert Redford for a role in the film A Bridge Too Far. He's a good actor, I don't feel bad for him, but he has no military experience. He does not get to act in war films. It would have been better if Burt Lancaster had been taken instead. And in general, it is not clear how Burt Reynolds became a star - he does not know how to play at all. Be that as it may, many great films suffer from the wrong actors. Do you want to know what I generally like? I don't know myself (laughs).

Your favorite actress?

We have to think... I don't know.

They say you don't like to give interviews. But I don't see you having problems with us...

I just want to keep it private. The media loves to criticize me for this.

We like to talk about music first of all, and not to criticize ...

Yes, it's right. That's why I love Japanese magazines - even if some criticism is written there, I still won't be able to read it (laughs). You have a lot of photos in magazines.

In Japan, rock magazines play a big role.

I know. Maybe it's because you don't have many radio stations that play rock? American radio is just boring. The DJs there are just awful, they only play sleepy music like Steely Dan or The Eagles from morning till night. It seems that Americans don't like heavy music. There are rock bands there, but they are never allowed on the radio.

It seems to me that there are too many formalities in the American music business.

Yeah, and I also hate all these hot celebrity parties. I don't mind parties. I like parties when friends get together and act openly.

Thank you for the interview. By the way, would you like something to drink?

Well, I wouldn't mind having another glass of juice.

© Music Life, Japan - February 1978 issue