The British guitarist Ritchie Blackmore is one of the few musicians who were talented and lucky enough to have been part of two successful and influential bands. He helped to form Deep Purple in 1968 and first achieved fame as the guitarist of the group, quickly becoming in the 70s one of the most famous guitar heroes in the world. But in 1976 he decided to leave the band and created Rainbow, his own group, which also became one of the most important Hard Rock groups in history.
Besides his own talent, Blackmore had the luck of dividing the stage and studio with many incredible musicians who were part of the different line-ups both bands had. When it comes to singers, he worked with Rod Evans, Ian Gillan, Ronnie James Dio, Graham Bonnet, Joe Lynn Turner and more.
But there was one vocalist that he loved and almost had the chance to work with. According to Blackmore, the American singer was one of the best from the 80s.
The singer Ritchie Blackmore said was one of the best in the 80s
After his first tenure with Deep Purple, which lasted from 1968 until 1976, Blackmore agreed to return to the band once more in 1984 when the classic line-up reunited. That first reunion resulted in the albums “Perfect Strangers” (1984) and “The House of Blue Light”. Then the singer Ian Gillan left the group, leaving room for Rainbow’s Joe Lynn Turner to join the band. With them the group released the album “Slaves and Masters” (1990). But he wasn’t Blackmore’s first option at the time, who really wanted the Survivor vocalist Jimi Jamison.
The guitarist recalled that in an interview with Jungle Room and said that Jamison was one of the best singers from the 80s. “I had seen Jimi in Survivor and was very impressed. I remember going down to Tennessee to meet him, I really liked him as a person. He then came up to try out with Deep Purple.”
“We did 1 song, I think it was ‘Going Down’ and he was so good. Then I immediately stopped playing and just said ‘You’re in!’ He said: ‘Dont you want to do more songs?’ (Then) I said ‘No, You are so damn good. I know that you are perfect for the job.’ We went out and celebrated at a restaurant. I was full of ideas due to his melodic soulful voice. He could improvise much better than a lot of singers I knew. So he had every aspect I was looking for in a singer. Very, very nice guy. Very humble.”
“Unfortunately, 2 weeks later, we were told he couldn’t join the band. We never found out why. I think it had something to do with the management. I was surprised and saddened by what happened and it was a mystery to me what had gone down. It was a bad moment for me. I rated him as one of the top singers in the country,” Ritchie Blackmore said.
Jimi Jamison was born in Durant, Mississippi back in 1951 and first started his musical career in 1967. He was part of many bands before he became a famous Rock star. He played with groups like Target (1974 to 1980) and Cobra (1981 to 1983). Jamison finally joined Survivor in 1984. The American band had become famous two years before for their biggest hit “Eye of The Tiger”, which was part of the soundtrack for the movie “Rocky III“.
Not long after, the group had parted ways with the singer Dave Bickler. So Jamison became their new vocalist, being able to help the group to continue to be successful. They scored new hits with him like “The Moment of Truth”, which was the theme song for the movie “Karate Kid”, for example.
But his most famous song with the group was “Burning Heart”, which was also part of a Rocky movie. The track was featured in “Rocky IV“, released in 1986. It peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. But failed to have the same success as “Eye of The Tiger”, which was a number one hit.
He was a member of Survivor from 1984 to 1989, then from 2000 to 2006, returning from 2011 to 2013. With the group he recorded the albums “Vital Signs” (1984), “When Seconds Out” (1986), “Too Hot to Sleep” (1988) and “Reach” (2006).
Jamison said that he had to decline Deep Purple’s offer
Jamison told a different story about not joining Deep Purple, or at least a part of it. As recalled by The Guardian in 2014, the musician said that he had to decline Jon Lord’s and Blackmore’s invitation because at the time he was finishing his solo record.
“I really wanted to play with that band. It was an honor just to be asked. I had just finished my first solo record (When Love Comes Down – Released in 1991), They wanted me to go out and promote it.”
“I had to tell Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord [of Deep Purple] that I couldn’t join,” Jimi Jamison said. He also told Rock Eyez in 2007 that he regretted that he didn’t have the chance to perform with Deep Purple. They were one of his all-time favorite bands. “One time I had the opportunity to perform with Deep Purple. But I wasn’t able to do it. I really regret that because they’ve always been one of my all time favorite bands,” Jimi Jamison said.
As Jamison said, in the meantime from Survivor he also had his solo career going. He released 6 albums and one posthumous record called “Rock Hard” was released in 2022. The singer passed away in 2014 at the age of 63, victim of a hemorrhagic brain stroke.
At the time Purple invited Joe Lynn Turner to join the group and he only stayed in the band from 1989 to 1992, recording on the album “Slave and Masters” (1990). In 1992 the singer Ian Gillan rejoined the band and the classic line-up still recorded the album “The Battle Rages On…” (1993). Which was the last album featuring Blackmore, who left for good in that same year. He had as replacements Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and since 2022 the band has Simon McBride as their guitarist.