EXCLUSIVE – RITCHIE BLACKMORE INTERVIEW
RUSHONROCK was there to witness the opening date of the new tour in support of latest album The Dancer And The Moon.
And Blackmore took time out to talk Jon Lord, his classic rock legacy and the hope that his young children will have a positive future in Britain.
Rushonrock: Blackmore’s Night have just released a seventh studio album – when you started the project with Candice did you ever imagine it yielding so much material?
Ritchie Blackmore: Yes. It’s very enjoyable and when one enjoys something one makes a habit of doing it again.
Rushonrock: Do you feel as if you’re flying the flag for neo medieval music in the mainstream when the genre would, otherwise, remain underground?
RB: I never thought of it that way before but that is a compliment so I’ll accept it! However, there are so many great neo crossover bands. Thank goodness I can pick them up on YouTube and enjoy them as you can’t hear them on the radio.
Rushonrock: When did you first realise this was the type of music that would keep your creative juices flowing?
RB: 1972 and David Murrow. Listening to him with the early music consort of London playing this incredible music.
Rushonrock: Dancer And The Moon is as diverse as any Blackmore’s Night record – do you feel the band has licence to stretch musical boundaries?
RB: I never apply for a licence. However, it might have run out so I better go and renew it.
Rushonrock: It’s always a brave decision opening up with a cover – what was the thinking behind kicking off D&TM with I Think It’s Going To Rain Today?
RB: No thinking. I just threw the songs in any order and I didn’t work out which ones would come first. They appeared in any order.
Rushonrock: You also include a very poignant tribute to Jon Lord – how did his death affect you?
RB: It came as a terrible shock as we all thought he was getting better. He was doing what he loved the most though, playing the classical oriented music that he wrote with orchestras. Unfortunately quite a few musician friends that I grew up with have died in the last few years. It’s a pity we didn’t get to do a few last shows with the original line up. I wrote the instrumental. I had it kicking around the house for a while but when we recorded it I was reflecting on him and that’s when I decided to add the organ solo in his style as if he was going off and playing. He will be sorely missed. Sometimes I think it’s always the people left behind that suffer more then the people who left us.
Rushonrock: Did Jon’s passing evoke memories of the Deep Purple days and do you still look back on that period of your career with fondness and pride?
RB: I always look back at memories with Jon with fondness and pride. He and I started the band. Back in ’68, when I flew over from Germany to England to meet him and the managers to discuss the forming of the band and who we were going to have in the band, Jon and I both had classical leanings. He more so than I – so we had something in common immediately. We threw some names together. He wanted to call the band Orpheus. I mentioned Deep Purple and we both decided on the latter because there were lots of ‘colour bands’ around – Moody Blues, Pink Floyd etc. – colours were in!
Rushonrock: How do you feel about your status as an enduring classic rock icon despite moving on from that genre some years ago?
RB: I think I exhausted myself in the heavy rock side of things. I needed a change. Never have I thought of myself as an icon. Just a guitar player paying the bills is what I am.
Rushonrock: Do you feel blessed to be able to work alongside your wife? It’s a situation most couples can only dream of.
RB: Yes, of course. Very lucky. We have a great time composing, writing and touring.
Rushonrock: You have a young family now – how does that impact upon Blackmore’s Night in terms of writing new music and touring
RB: They get in the way cause they’re little handfuls! Candice does all the hard work of looking after both of them. I appear now and again and they say who is that man? We have great times with the kids. Because we don’t tour that often we can be with them more often.
Rushonrock: Would you be happy for your children to make their living from music in 20 years’ time?
RB: whatever they want to do is ok by me. I just hope there are responsible people in the government who know how to treat the people in 20 years. There are some pretty shady characters in the government right now destroying the country. I’ve considered moving. But that’s another story.
Read a review of Blackmore’s Night here: http://bit.ly/16GJkj6
I’m a journalist specialising in sport and rock music. Can’t play either so I write about them instead.