Welt am Sonntag April 2016
Have you ever a watched on YouTube these lessons where Guitar Teacher teach how to play Deep-Purple- or Rainbow songs?
No. I mean, I composed these songs. There is no reason to see something to me for me.
Are you not at least a bit curious about whether they do it right?
No. If they were playing my riffs wrong, I would only say: "That's not right." And if they played it right, I would only say: "Exactly so and not otherwise". You know, all these digital channels do not interest me much. I do not own smartphone. Only an iPad. And only because it gave me friends. When I click on my iPad on YouTube and look at something, then it's all the medieval bands that I love, from Sweden, Czech Republic, but mainly from Germany.
The man who was once wrote the anthem "Long Live rock 'n'roll", listen no more to rock?
Not often. And not what is played on the radio too. I have no idea what's going on today, my wife says it now and then to me. When I hear something, then it's just good Renaissance music.
You always had strong ties to Germany, were twice married to a German woman, made albums here and has a preference for German castles. Where does it come from?
I have stayed in the 60 a long time in Hamburg, lived only in the area around St. Pauli, then on the Alster. I like the food, the architecture, the "way of life". Hamburg is the most picturesque city in the world for me. When I went there the first time, I found the city very exciting unlike England. Germany had more edge. Has something to do with the fact that Bach, Beethoven and all these brilliant musicians come from your country. I felt in Germany always at home. If at the end of the 60's I would not have got involved with Deep Purple in London, I would probably still live in Hamburg. Probably as well known musician. I remember exactly how I flew from Hamburg to London. There keyboardist Jon Lord and I got the band together. In a snowstorm in February.
Do you speak German?
It always takes a while until I can speak it again. But when I am a month in Germany with my group Blackmore's Night again, then I understand most of what I hear. I like it when people who speak German around me believe I can not understand. I am also from Germany in Long Island, where I live for a long time. I receive there four German television channels. Watch Bundesliga. I however noticed that German television has been very Americanized. That bothers me, because I like Germany because of its traditions.
What are they for you?
Besides the Renaissance music is mainly Schlager (German traditional music).
I know that the genre is not very respected in Germany. For me, it is part of a typical German tradition. I find this music very innocent compared to... say hip-hop. I would like to invent a cure for hip-hop. I think hip hop is very irritating, annoying. Pop music is very simple, but also innocent and straightforward. I think so music should be, in some way.
Which German pop musicians have since remained in your memory?
I remember the old days, 1963, 1964. Drafi Deutscher, Rex Gildo, Roy Black, Peter Alexander, not let's not forget Heino. (Laughs)
Blackmore heard Heino - I do not believe it.
I know this always triggers Germans from irritation: "You listen to this muck!" - "Yes," I say then, "that's what I'm doing." Schlager is just different, light music, you do not have to think about it.
The last 20 years you have played medieval music. There was now your announcement to play in June another two concerts with a new Rainbow line-up, a surprise. They said because of nostalgic outbursts and your arthritis. Was that English humor?
No, that's true, unfortunately. My arthritis is noticeable. I now had to be operated on one of my fingers. And nostalgia is important to me. These two concerts are first of all a lot of fun. My wife Candice had point me to this new singer Ronnie Romero - the way on YouTube. "Wow", I thought, "He sounds exciting." This gave me the idea to once again play the old Rainbow and Deep Purple songs live. Only one thing I did not want: The old songs with old fellow musicians playing at the time.
Why not? Just now, you have criticized the ageism.
That's not the point. I had played with all these musicians before already in the past. That would have been the Old Men's Club again. The old habits. It was the voice of the new singer that has really motivated me again.
You have the musicians in Rainbow already changed earlier as other underwear. One of them, singer Joe Lynn Turner, has recently sharply criticized it in a radio interview. Originally it was meant as a Rainbow reunion in this conversation. And then he had not heard from you. What do you think?
I wanted to get hold of the ball with these concerts. Joe may be a nice guy, sometimes he is angry. but I wanted to focus at the concerts in the summer on the Rainbow songs from the years with our vocalist Ronnie James Dio.
For many Dio is the best Rainbow singer, he died in 2010 from cancer.
Yes, his voice had incredible power. It was harder rock than what Rainbow had played with Turner. I do not know what Joe has said in this interview. I thought he moved to Russia. He did at least once announced in an interview he hate America and would go to Russia because he had a girlfriend there. He lives, I am told, still in America. Ultimately such statements have always to do with money.
2012 died your colleague Jon Lord, with whom you have Deep Purple classics as "Child In Time" and "Smoke On The Water" written. Had his death something to do with your decision, to play with a rock band again?
That has certainly to do that. We all are getting older. Who knows who dies next. And that includes me - hahaha.
Jon Lord had said in 2009 in an interview that he would like to compose again with you. Did it happen?
Unfortunately, no. We had before his death regular contact over the years. He was the only one of Deep Purple, whom I have met afterwards. Jon was a gentleman. He always said: No matter what previously arguments we had, let's just get together and talk together. He has, in fact, once said that we should write a few songs together. Did not work out, he was on tour, I also. Suddenly he died. That was a shock for me. I knew that he was suffering from cancer. But I always thought he would get better. To remember Jon I wrote this instrumental song, "Carry on, Jon." I find it, however, very difficult to play this song on stage. I'm often overwhelmed by emotions. Therefore I play it not live. It sounds like Jon.
Deep Purple are now in the headlines again: On April 8, the band with all its members from the different line-ups will be in New York to be awarded in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And just you, who has defined the sound of this group largely do not want to come, because you have virtually banned the manager of the current line-up to appear with the rest of the band. Does this joke never stops?
I had indicated that I thought about it, and come to the ceremony. Then the band politics came around the corner again. I do not blame the current bandmembers themselves.
So your former colleagues, singer Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice, who continue with guitarist Steve Morse and keyboardist Don Airey as Deep Purple.
Yes, in this line-up is playing so many years together. It was the reaction of the manager Bruce Payne who excited told me simply: "No, you can not play".
The head of the Hall Of Fame tried to mediate: All former members of the band had been invited and the current band would perform live. You still do not go?
No. Who the hell is this Bruce Payne that he tells to me "No"? I stay at home.
You are regarded as the eternal eccentric, the "bad guy" of Deep Purple. On the new DVD documentary "The Ritchie Blackmore Story" you see things also from another side. Musicians like Gene Simmons of Kiss and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull bow for you. Queen guitarist Brian May says: "It is inexplicable to me that people are not talking more about Ritchie, he was one of the great pioneers, even before Hendrix." Do you know why colleagues praise you but that critics have almost forgotten you?
No. I do not care what people think of me. The important thing is what I think of myself. If I am satisfied with my music, I'm fine. If I am dissatisfied with the music, I'm pissed off, no matter what others say then.
So you're still a male diva?
No, this is no ego thing.
My concern is I have to control myself in which direction I am going.
The documentation also show one of your legendary loss of control moments: when you destroy two guitars and a TV camera before 300,000 spectators at the California Jam and then almost swept by the shock of an explosion almost off the stage ...
Yes, that was a moment of luck. My roadie had poured on my instructions gasoline on the amplifier. I was mad because we contractually guaranteed to go on stage after 21.00 hours, at dusk, with full light show. The organizers then pushed our appearance forward in the early evening, as it was still light. The rest of the band said: Come, let us go on stage. But I did not - because it was not agreed. So I stayed so long in the wardrobe, until it was dark. Then I went with a lot of anger on stage and ruined my guitar. Believe me, it takes a lot of talent to break a guitar. Then I put it on fire and threw it into the prepared amplifiers. As it turned out, the roadie had too much gasoline tipped over. Not only was there a fire, but an explosion. Our drummer Ian Paice had blown his glasses off his face by the blast, but it looked great. Like nothing happened, except that there was a gaping hole in the stage.
Can we still expect something like that from you?
No. I was indeed there. You can not expect in the summer that I will still large run around on stage. I just want to continue playing, move on the road - a little bit longer.
Welt am Sonntag - April 3, 2016