Besides being one of the most influential guitarists of all time, known for his work with Deep Purple and his own band Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore is also often recalled for being a sincere person. The British musician always gave his real opinion on any subject, even when he was talking about his peers.
Back in 1975, in an interview with International Musician magazine, he even listed two guitarists that he was not a big fan at the time. Rock and Roll Garage selected what Blackmore said about those artists over the decades.
The 2 guitarists Ritchie Blackmore said he was not a fan in the 70s
“I never saw what was in Clapton at all. He’s a good singer,” Ritchie Blackmore told International Musician magazine. In that same year, in a conversation with the Creem magazine journalist Cameron Crowe, who years later would become a famous movie director, Blackmore once again said that he was “never knocked out with Eric Clapton’s playing”.
“Couldn’t care less about other guitarists. It’s ridiculous. Everyone plays guitar now. Doc tors play guitar now. There are so many guitarists around now it’s unbelievable. I always find it embarassing when people ask me what I play and I have to admit, ‘Uh, guitar. EVERYBODY plays guitar’.”
“But Hendrix gave me a faith in the music scene. And when Cream came along, I thought ‘Well, it’s all happening again.’ Although I was never knocked out with Eric Clapton’s playing, it was competent, and he was copping a lot of the English blues guitarist, and that was a good sign. He had a good sound, but Hendrix was way a head of him because he could write, hecould sing, he could perform. He blew it from 1970 onwards, though,” Ritchie Blackmore said.
The first Stratocaster that Blackmore had was previously owned by Clapton
Every famous guitarist is usually directly linked to the guitar model he uses and there is no way to talk about Ritchie Blackmore’s career without mentioning the Stratocaster that became his trademark. Curiously, the first one he ever bought was previously owned by Eric Clapton.
The Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist was good friend of a Roadie that used to work with Clapton and ended up buying one of his guitars. He recalled that story in an interview with Guitar Player in 2021. “I knew Eric Clapton’s roadie. He was a friend of ours. And I think Eric had given him one of his Strats as a present. Probably because Eric didn’t want it. I think it had a slightly bowed neck, which was making the action pretty high. [The roadie] said, ‘I’ll sell it to you for £60.’ So Eric Clapton’s throwaway Strat came in handy for me,” Ritchie Blackmore said.
“I’m not too struck on Jimmy Page,” Blackmore told International Musician magazine at the time. Curiously, Blackmore had the chance to see Page playing years before both of them got famous. They were raised in the same area in England and besides seeing each other playing in bands in the early days, they had the chance to work as session musician on a couple occasions.
The Rainbow founder and guitarist recalled those moments on his documentary “Ritchie Blackmore Story” from 2015 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “It is strange how we all come from the same area. Like I said, with Jimmy Page, he was in the same village, it’s like a village. Really not even a town. Clapton was a few more warm miles out and course (Jeff) Beck was in another area, but course, the same age.”
Ritchie Blackmore continued:
“I knew that he was going to be somebody then. Not only he was a good guitar player, he had that star quality there. There was something about him, he was very poised and confident. He was confident but not arrogant. So I thought ‘he’s gonna go somewhere’ that guy, you know. He knows what he is doing.”
“He was way ahead most guitar players, he was really good, he knew he was good too. (Also), he wasn’t arrogant but he was very comfortable within himself. Then 64 or 65, I met up with him, we did a couple of sessions actually with him,” Ritchie Blackmore said.
He said that Led Zeppelin influenced Deep Purple to make their sound heavier
Although Deep Purple is known as one of the most influential Hard Rock bands of all time, they always had a Psychedelic and Progressive side in their music, that could be hear on their first albums released in the late 60s. Their songwriting really changed on the 1970 album “Deep Purple In Rock” and Blackmore told Classic Rock magazine in 1995 that Led Zeppelin was their main inspiration for that change.
“I was impressed with what Zeppelin did. I wanted to do that kind of stuff, and if it doesn’t take off we’ll go and play with orchestras the rest of our lives. So we did it, and it was ‘Deep Purple In Rock’, which, luckily, took off. We’d purposely made it so it hammered along every song, there was no lull. I was very pleased with it because I never wanted to work with an orchestra again,” Ritchie Blackmore said.