Les Davidson explores the rockier side of blues with a look at Deep Purple and Rainbow mainman, the ‘Black Knight’ Ritchie Blackmore.
Born in Weston-Super-Mare, Ritchie Blackmore has gone from humble beginnings to playing in stadiums around the world. He also gained himself a reputation as a pioneering guitarist who fused blues, rock and classical styles and helped to forge the sound of heavy metal.
Ritchie first picked up a guitar aged 11 when his father told him he could have the instrument if he agreed to classical lessons. Ritchie honoured the promise and these lessons would give him a strong foundation for his future playing style, particularly in harmony and technique.
Ritchie’s next mentor was the great British session player Big Jim Sullivan. The exploding blues and rock boom of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s put Ritchie in the perfect place to hone his skills; by ‘63 he was gigging and recording with The Outlaws and Screaming Lord Sutch, and also forging a session career of his own.
Of course, Blackmore is best known for his time with Deep Purple, the band he founded in 1968. Within just a couple of years they were an international success, credited as forerunners of heavy metal and neo-classical rock. However, Deep Purple’s star burnt bright and fast for Ritchie who only lasted with the band until 1973. But he went on to form Rainbow, achieving further success and 28 million album sales.
With many line-up changes, Rainbow continued to tour and record until 1997 when Ritchie disbanded the group to form the acoustic group Blackmore’s Night with his wife Candice Night. To date they have released eight studio albums. Blackmore has stated he doesn’t much care for touring, but he and Rainbow briefly reformed in 2016 for three sold-out European dates.
Our two examples show the bluesier side of Blackmore during his Deep Purple period. Ritchie is always precise and clear in his execution, so make sure every note speaks.
WITHIN JUST A COUPLE OF YEARS DEEP PURPLE WERE AN INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS, CREDITED AS FORERUNNERS OF HEAVY METAL AND NEOCLASSICAL ROCK GUITAR MUSIC
Ritchie Blackmore with noticeably scalloped Strat