Ritchie Blackmore, real name Richard Hugh Blackmore, was born in Weston Super Mare in 1945, moving to West London with the family two years later. Best known as the guitarist in classic rock band Deep Purple, he also fronted his own band Rainbow, and today performs, and records with his wife Candice Night, in the duo Blackmore’s Night.
Ritchie Blackmore started playing the guitar aged 11, his father insisting on lessons, to save his own ears! Ritchie Blackmore later said that the lessons proved to be invaluable.
He left school at 15 to work as an apprentice radio mechanic and then, improving his guitar playing, started doing session work in the 1960s for Joe Meek Productions, backing artists such as screaming Lord Sutch and playing in an instrumental group The Outlaws.
Ritchie Blackmore founded Deep Purple along with organist Jon Lord in 1968.
Deep Purple went through many subsequent personnel changes and was to break up and reform twice: Deep Purple Mark1 1968 – 1975 and Deep Purple Mark 11 between 1984 -1993.
It was while playing with Deep Purple Mk 1 that Ritchie Blackmore came up with probably his most famous riff. The song “Smoke on the Water” is Deep Purple’s best known song and tells a true story. The band on tour in America were due to record an album at the Monteux casino the following day but the casino burned down the night before in front of their eyes.
Ritchie Blackmore’s “Smoke on the Water” riff is one of the most famous rock riffs in guitar playing history.
True heavy rockers, Deep Purple were hit by personal and musical differences, rows and walkouts and Ritchie Blackmore left in 1975 to form the band Rainbow.
Rainbow released seven albums between 1975 -1984, following the same pattern of upheaval and walkouts as Deep Purple. A Deep Purple reunion followed with Mark 2 Deep Purple, then a Rainbow reunion that lasted from 1994 -1997.
Ritchie Blackmore’s, Blackmore Night has had the longest longevity of any of his musical projects.
Working in a duo with his wife, Blackmore Night a folk inspired outfit has had some success, with gold records in Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic although not with the same level of recognition as either Deep Purple or Rainbow.
Ritchie Blackmore is not easy to work with but is generally rated as being a great rock guitarist with classical influences. He uses a Signature Fender Stratocaster and he favours a Gibson ES355 – an electro acoustic for his work with Blackmore Night.