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RITCHIE BLACKMORE Biography and His Guitars

Ritchie Blackmore is a British musician best known for being the guitarist and founder of one of rock's historic bands, Deep Purple. Hard rock group pioneer in the development of the genre known as neoclassical metal.

Ritchie Blackmore: Biography

Richard Hugh Blackmore was born in 1945 in the town of Weston-super-Mare, England.

As a child he would begin to listen to artists like Elvis Presley or Buddy Holly, becoming his first musical influences.

At age 11, his father bought him an acoustic guitar and encouraged him to take guitar lessons. The young Ritchie began to progress with the instrument, in the same way, that his school performance declined, and at the age of 13, he formed his first group, along with some classmates from school. Receiving the following year a new gift from his father. His first electric guitar.

At the age of 15, he would meet Big Jim Sullivan, a guitarist much admired by Ritchie, who offered to teach him t guitar. Dropping out of school that same year due to his poor performance, beginning to work as a radio operator apprentice at London Airport (Heathrow), where his father and brother also worked.

In 1963, when Blackmore was 18 years old, he was already beginning to be valued as a session musician, taking part in various bands.

Five years later, in 1968, Ritchie received an invitation from Chris Curtis to create a rock band, although Curtis would leave the group before the band was fully formed.

In the end, the band would be completed by keyboardist Jon Lord, bassist Nick Simper, vocalist Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice. Creating the group Deep Purple. Focusing the band on styles such as psychedelic and progressive rock, or pop.

His debut album of 1968, "Shades of Deep Purple" enjoyed some success, however, after releasing a second album that same year ("The Book of Taliesyn"), and releasing another the following year ("Deep Purple" - 1969 ), success would start to fade.

At that time, Jon Lord was the leader and main songwriter of the group, while Blackmore was limited to his work as a guitarist. But before the poor reception of their last albums, they decided to change the musical direction of the group, publishing the live album "Concerto for Group and Orchestra", recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in September 1969, at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

At that time the foundations of neoclassical metal would be formed, although this fact would go unnoticed at that moment. In fact, Blackmore was not totally satisfied with this recording and commented to Lord his idea that the next album would have a more rock sound; commenting that if this was not successful, he would play with orchestras the rest of his life.

The guitarist then took creative control of the group and the result was the album "Deep Purple in Rock", published in 1970. With a good reception by critics and the public, definitely marking the authentic sound of Deep Purple, becoming an of the leading hard rock formations of the moment.

In the late 1970s, the band moved to an old house in South West England to compose a new studio album. There the guitarist, who had begun to show interest in the occult, broke open the door of Roger Glover's room with an ax to get his crucifix.

This incident and the bad relationship with Ian Gillan almost caused the dissolution of the group. But in 1971 the band released the album "Fireball".

In December 1971, Deep Purple traveled to Montreux (Switzerland), to begin recording the album "Machine Head". During their stay in Montreux, the members of the group received the invitation to attend the Frank Zappa concert at the city's casino.

However, a fan fired a flare that set the premises on fire. This fact inspired the composition of the song "Smoke on the Water", considered one of the best in rock history and which became the group's most recognizable song thanks to its famous riff.

In 1972 the album "Machine Head" would be definitively published, with stratospheric hits such as "Smoke on the Water" or "Highway Star", the legendary live album "Made in Japan" being released that same year, definitively promoting the group to the absolute fame.

After the publication of "Who Do We Think We Are" in 1973, and the album "Burn" in 1974, Deep Purple participated in the California Jam festival.

Although initially Deep Purple would be the last band to perform, the organization decided that Emerson, Lake & Palmer would close the evening. This fact infuriated Blackmore, who locked himself in his dressing room and refused to act.

After several minutes of discussion, the guitarist finally accepted and took the stage with the rest of the group.

During the last song of the performance, Ritchie smashed one of ABC's cameras with his guitar, threw several amplifier screens into the pit, and ordered his technicians to set the equipment on fire. The stage ended up covered in smoke and the band had to leave the venue by helicopter to avoid a more than probable arrest.

That same year (1974), they would begin to record the album "Stormbringer". Blackmore wanted to include a version of the Quatermass (Black Sheep of the Family) theme on this album, although the rest of the group rejected it. This situation, together with Deep Purple's new orientation towards funk, led to the guitarist's resignation.

After leaving Deep Purple, Blackmore decided to form a solo project called Rainbow in 1975, although it was originally called Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.

Originally the band's music mixed epic lyrics with the sound of neoclassical metal, definitively consolidating this new genre. Although later and after the departure of the group of vocalist James Dio, the sound of the band would become more commercial. This is precisely the cause of Ronnie James Dio's resignation.

Rainbow would undergo drastic changes in their line-up and none of these bands would record more than one album.

In 1984, Blackmore and Glover dissolved Rainbow to re-found Deep Purple.

Blackmore would publish four more albums with the Purple, but after the publication of "The Battle Rages On" in 1993, Blackmore left the group during the promotional tour of the album. Joe Satriani was hired to replace him during the remaining concerts.

Deep Purple would continue his career without Ritchie Blackmore, still active to this day.

In 1994, the guitarist reformed Rainbow with new members, and the following year the band's last studio work, "Stranger in Us All", was released. This album was originally going to be released as a solo album by Ritchie Blackmore, but the record company forced him to release it under the name Rainbow.

Once again, the guitarist dissolved the band in 1997 after the promotional tour of the album.

That same year Blackmore decided to start a new musical adventure with his partner, singer Candice Night, a backup singer in the last stage of Rainbow, with whom he formed Blackmore’s Night.

To date, they have released a dozen folk-rock and medieval-style records, the group currently remaining active.

Ritchie Blackmore: Guitars, and Amps

At first, Blackmore used a Gibson ES-335, but his most characteristic guitar is the Fender Stratocaster with a stepped neck.

Ritchie Blackmore Fender Stratocaster Guitar

Like the Fender Ritchie Blackmore Stratocaster with a scaled fingerboard and two Seymour Duncan SSL-4 pickups, one in the bridge position, the other in the neck position. The center pickup cavity is empty, as Ritchie never used the center pickup, preferring only the sound of the bridge or neck pickup separately. Going from one to the other on countless occasions in each guitar solo. Using mainly in his interpretations the harmonic minor scale.

The only difference between the natural minor scale and the harmonic minor scale is that the seventh note of the harmonic scale is one semitone higher.

The strings that he currently uses are the Picato with a very particular gauge (010 - 011 - 014 - 026 - 038 - 048). The first and fourth strings are typical of a standard 10-46 game. The second and third are slightly thinner than the standard 10-46 set for a higher definition of treble on heavily distorted sounds. And the fifth and the sect are a bit thicker, for a good roundness in the bass. Although in his time with Deep Purple the bass strings weren't that thick.

The picks he uses are also from the Picato brand, and in terms of amplifiers, he began using the Vos AC30, to later switch to a 200W Marshall Major head, to finally work with the Engl Ritchie Blackmore Signature.

Ritchie Blackmore has been a pioneer in the technical, musical, and sonic development of the electric guitar. Listed by many as the link between Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.

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