Ritchie Blackmore oftentimes finds himself straddling the worlds of Rainbow’s hard rock (he recently released the multi-volume set Memories in Rock II) and the medieval music-inspired Blackmore’s Night; the Deep Purple founding member’s early days were as equally nuanced. Mentored by Big Jim Sullivan, one of the UK’s premiere session guitarists of the late 1950s and 1960s, Blackmore also served stints as a member of The Outlaws, an English instrumental outfit frequently used by storied record producer Joe Meek and also backing early Beatles collaborator Tony Sheridan.
For someone whose constant quest for melody and artistry has made him a fan of everyone from Glen Campbell and Buddy Holly to Karen Carpenter, Joan Osborne and Anne Murray, Blackmore was happy to share some other names who have resonated with him over the years.
(May 31, 1955, to present)
“I just saw him on some public access show down in Tennessee that Jim Lauderdale was hosting. [Tommy Emmanuel] was ridiculous. His form of improvisation is amazing. He plays two different styles. He’s got the finger style down and I’ve noticed that when he uses a thumb pick, he’ll use it like a plectrum.
I hated seeing him right before I got to bed because I didn’t sleep. He’s probably the best player in the world.”
(January 23, 1910 to May 16, 1953)
Django Reinhardt, who I like to listen to quite a lot. There’s quite a lot on Django and I liked the fact that when he made some money, he would take a taxi ride in Paris to Lyon, which would cost him a fortune. That’s about 300 miles. He would spend all his money and then go back and do some more shows. But they could never find him because he was in the woods with his gypsy friends. I liked the way there was a story about him checking into the best hotel and he made a campfire in the middle of the room and he was thrown out of the hotel. That’s something Keith Moon should have done.”
(April 26, 1938, to present)
“It was Duane Eddy who stole my heart. I went to the airport to meet him and I stayed there for hours when he came into London Heathrow. They told me that he was gone and I was sitting there like an idiot waiting to get his autograph and I’d cycled all the way there, which is a long way. The poor woman said he went hours ago. He came in and went. There was no fanfare to meet him, but I was there and I completely missed him.”
For LIW’s full interview with Ritchie Blackmore, see Blackmore’s Night: Renaissance Rockers