The British guitarist Ritchie Blackmore is often recalled as one of the biggest guitar heroes in the history of music. He was a fundamental element of Deep Purple, helping the band to compose songs that would become a huge influence to countless artists who appeared in the following decades.
He also became one of the few artists who left a legendary band and were able to also become successful with their own group, since he formed Rainbow in 1975, which also became one of the most important Hard Rock groups of all time. But Blackmore is not only known for his talent, he is often recalled by being a very sincere person that always says what he thinks about other artists. He onced even mentioned an influential guitarist that in his opinion wasn’t that great.
The legendary guitarist that Ritchie Blackmore said wasn’t great
Deep Purple released their debut album “Shades of Deep Purple” in 1968, when Rock and Roll was evolving quickly and many new sub-genres were appearing. In that year, the American guitarist Jimi Hendrix also released his third Jimi Hendrix Experience album “Electric Ladyland”, the last one to feature the British bassist Noel Redding and the drummer Mitch Mitchell.
His career was tragically cut short at the age of 27 after his death in 1970 but he continued to be a huge influence for guitarists and is credited for having changed the course of the electric guitar. However, Ritchie Blackmore doesn’t have only good things to say about the late guitarist. In an interview with Guitar World in 1991 he recalled he was impressed the first time he heard Hendrix but also said that he wasn’t a great player.
“I was impressed by Hendrix. Not so much by his playing, as his attitude. He wasn’t a great player, but everything else about him was brilliant. Even the way he walked was amazing. His guitar playing, though, was always a little bit weird. Hendrix inspired me, but I was still more into Wes Montgomery. I was also into the Allman Brothers around the time of those albums.”
Curiously, Deep Purple also covered the song “Hey Joe” in their debut album, which was released one year after Hendrix covered the same song on his debut record “Are You Experienced” (1967).
For Blackmore, nobody could compete with Jimi Hendrix
Although Ritchie Blackmore said he wasn’t a great player, he praised him multiple times over the decades and said that he even likes to listen to Hendrix’s version of “Hey Joe” to be inspired sometimes. He recalled that in a radio interview (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “He had the music down, he had the composing down, he had the singing down, plus he had the showmanship. So nobody could compete with something like that. I don’t think that really anybody has come up to what he could do.”
“Because he really does everything. His thing that I thought that was very interesting, most of the people that I know that play the guitar very well, are very subdued. They refuse to get into showmanship, they think that is below them. But to Jimi was part of the whole thing of learning the guitar. When I need some stimulation, ‘Hey Joe’ is the one that does it. Because I think with Jimi he loved life, he loved to live and it showed in his playing. I think that if there are any comparisons to make. He is the Rock and Roll Errol Flynn. I think (the secret) was Jimi’s hands.”
“Because they were very big, very strong hands, he had an amazing neck with the vibrato. There is only one other person that has a similar vibrato which is Johnny Winter. But I think that Jimi had that vibrato down so well. I mean, it was absolutely amazing. I think again it was the big hands. He had really big hands to kind of grab the guitar and pull it.”
In the same conversation he said that he stopped listening to the continuous live albums released by Hendrix’s estate over the years. The reason was because he thought they were so bad that didn’t do him any justice. He also said that he suspects that they might not even be Hendrix’s recordings since they had a different vibrato, according to him.
Ritchie Blackmore said that Deep Purple “stole” many Hendrix riffs
Music is always composed influenced by what was created before and it wasn’t different with Deep Purple. As Blackmore recalled in an interview available on his official website (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the musician even recognized that they were inspired by many Jimi Hendrix guitar riffs.
“Hendrix was a little more muted music. Very, very musical, very bombastic and we kind of try to develop certain riffs that he had. We did borrow from Hendrix a lot and we took it from there,” Ritchie Blackmore said.
One of those tracks according to him was Purple’s “Speed King”, which was based on Hendrix’s “Stone Free” and “Fire”.