[% META title = 'Ritchie Blackmore, Interviews'

Speed King
by Morchedai Kleidermacher

    Along with Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Peter Green, Ritchie Blackmore is now one of the true gods of British rock guitar. The fierce vibrato, the sweet/biting Strat-touch-Marshall tone, the sublimely savage blues-meets-classical licks are all trademarks of the much copied Blackmore style (just ask Y. Malmsteen).
    Blackmore is devoting an entire album to the acoustic guitar this fall. It's sort of a renaissance, pop-folk acoustic thing he says of the project, tentatively titled Medieval Moons and Gypsy Dances. It's the type of stuff you can imagine people in Europe playing around a castle when the full moon's out. I'm quite excited about it because it's so different - there's not going to be any Marshalls.
    Marshalls, however, were much in evidence during the recording of many of Blackmore's classic tracks with Deep Purple and Rainbow. At a recent meeting with Guitar World, the Strat-lord took the opportunity to sound off about some of those prime-cut tracks.

Deep Purple: Hush
    It was my idea to do Hush, a song by [session guitarists/solo artist South. I heard it in Hamburg, Germany. So I mentioned it to the band, and we did it. The whole thing was done in two takes. We did the whole album in 48 hours.
    I liked the guitar solo - especially the feedback. That was done with my Gibson ES-335, which I don't have anymore because my ex-wife stole it. I used that right up to the In Rock album, on Child In Time and Flight of the reason I changed to a Stratocaster was because the sound had an edge to it that I really liked. But it was much harder to get used to. When you're playing a humbucking pickup, you've got that fat sound and it's quite forgiving. But when you lay with Fender pickups, they are so thin and mean and edgy and hard. And every note counts; you can't fake a note.

Deep Purple: April
    I was born in that month. It was just a little throwaway tune I had. I brought it to Jon and he worked out the classical thing in the middle of it. I haven't heard it in 25 years. It was pretty adventurous for this time - especially the key of A flat.

Deep Purple/the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Arnold Concerto for Group and Orchestra
    I have no idea what to say about that. I never play it. I didn't even listen to the live record. It was something of a novelty. Trying to play with 25 violinists sitting next to you was not the greatest fun. I had my small Vox amplifier, and they were basically holdind their ears and saying "Too loud!" So here I am trying to play to an audience, and I've got these violinists sticking their fingers in their ears. I felt like "Oh, yeah! Great! I'm feeling on top of the world here. Boy, this really inspires me to let go".

Deep Purple In Rock: Hard Lovin' Man
    One of the engineers who originally worked on that album was this stuffy bloke who didn't like rock and roll music. While I was recording the solo on that song, I got this urge and started rubbing the guitar up and down the doorway of the control room to get all that wild guitar noise. So this bloke looks at me, and he's got this expression on his face as if I'd lost my mind.
    Another time, we were listening to a playback and I went "I can't quite hear the guitar". And this guy's going "Guitar? It's deafening, it's absolutely deafening! I can't take it, it's too loud". And I'm going "Y'know, I can't hear it. I realy can't hear it". And this guy's going "You can't hear the guitar?It's fucking deafening, man. What's wrong with you?". And then Martin [Birch, engineer] goes "Oh, wait a minute", and he pushes the fader, and the guitar had been completely off. So the guy went "Ooops!" And then he had me thinking it was me, that I had lost my senses or something.

Deep Purple In Rock: Child In Time
    That record was sort of a response to the one we did with the orchestra. I wanted to do a loud, hard rock record. And I was thinking "This record better make it" because I was affraid that if it didn't we were going to be stuck playing with orchestras for the rest of our lives.
    Child In Time is a great song. Ian Gillan was probably the only guy wh could sing that. It was done in three stages, sort of like an operating thing. That's him at his best. Nobody else would have attempted that, going up in octaves.
    I think the guitar solo is relatively average. I did it in two or three takes. back then, whenever it came to guitar solos, I was given about 15 minutes. In those days that was enough for the guitar player. Paicey would be there tapping his foot, looking at his watch going "How much longer?" And I'd be like "I've just got my sound together", and he'd go "You going to be much longer?".
    Sometimes on stage I would play it much faster than the record. I'd like i real fast and paicey would like it really fast. Only problem was coming into that part at the end of the guitar solo [hums part] that the band would do i unison. You can only play that so fast - unless you start tapping which I don't do, out of principle. It's just an A minor arpeggio but it's all downstrokes. You try and play that really fast after you've had ten scotches! That's hard to do.

Machine Head: Smoke On The Water
    We did that track in a different place than the rest of Machine Head, which was recorded in the Grand Hotel in Montreux. It was recorded in a big auditorium in Switzerland using the Rolling Stones' mobile studio, which was in a truck. For the backing track, we were going for a big, echoey sound. The police started knocking on the door. We knew it was the police, and we knew that they were going to say "Stop recording!" because they'd had complaints about the noise. So we wouldn't open the door to the police. We asked Martin "Is that the one?" and he said "I don't know, I've got to hear the whole thing all the way through to know if it's the one". The police, who had a fleet of cars outside, kept hamering at the door. We didn't want to open up until we knew we had gotten the right take. Finally we got it: "No mistakes. That'll do". After that, the police said "You've got to stop, you've got to go somewhere else".

Machine Head: Highway Star
    I worked out the solo for that one before I actually recorded it, which I never used to do. I fancied putting a bit of Mozart over that chord progression, which itself it's taken from Mozart.

Machine Head: Lazy
    That's a weird solo because I did a particular part one day and I did another part another day; you can hear the difference. I still criticize that solo. I think the song was great; the composition was good, but I could have done better. I was inspired to write that by Eric Clapton's Stepping Out.

Who Do We Think We Are: Woman From Tokyo
    I got that riff from Eric Clapton as well - from Cat's Squirrel.

Made In Japan: Strange Kind Of Woman
    We got that whole call-and-response guitar thing from Edgar Winter's Tobacco Road. He and Rick Derringer used to trade off on that, and we were i that band [Edgar Winter's White Trash] at the time.
    I turned Ian Gillan on Edgar Winter. "Listen to this scream", I said. And Ian's like "Who's that?", and I said "Edgar Winter - Johnny Winter's brother". And all of a sudden Ian started screaming [giggles]. That's where the scream the end of the song comes from.

Trascribed by Ferran Nogués, edited by Svante Pettersson