[ d e e p P u r . p l e )
Ritchie Blackmore, Interviews
The Highway Star

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Do you practice?

Yeah, a lot, I have to. When I'm home I just play the cello and fiddle around, but when I'm on tour I usually practice for an hpur and a half beforc a gig. If I think it's going to be a good gig and I want to impress, I'll really practice, otherwise I won't. But I'm always holding a guitar and fiddling with it. But that can be bad because you get really lazy, especially with a guitar like my old Spanish guitar with nylon strings. I tend to pick it up and just sit there strumming. It's like an artist and a painthrush; you just shouldn't slap colors around very lazily. If you're going to play you should play as hard as you can. It's hard to do because a guitar is such a great instrument just to sit there and fiddle with and sing old Beatles songs. That's the worst thing you can do.

Are there certain things you practice?

I don't practice specific things; I practice avenues of playing to try and lose myself in the guitar. I don't think you should be thinking too heavily about what you're playing. And lots of times when I'm playing the guitar, I don't really know what I'm doing or where I am. I'm just going up and down the guitar rather than looking at each note and thinking that's an Eb. And other times I stop completely and just go "Ohhh" in frustration. It's whether I'm inspired; being an extremist, I go from being totally uninspired to very inspired.

Did the speed and accuracy come from practice?

Yeah. I think it's because I also use four fingers and most other people just use three. When I first started I was taught to use my little finger, and of course I have ever since. Jeff Beck uses four; he was obviously taught the right way. It's funny, if you don't learn that in the beginning, you're lost. You must get off on that right away.

Would you like to put together a guitarist's album?

Not particularly, no. I wouldn't mind putting together a blues LP and just jamming with somebody like I did with Sutch. I often jam with my friends and I play much better than I do on record or anywhere else, because I haven't got the pressure, just a 12-bar and that's it, no fancy frills. As soon as someone goes, "We'll re- cord that," and the red light goes on, it's like "Oh, dear." My mind seizes up and I'm stale all of a sudden.

How would you describe your righthand rechnique?

It's up and down, always up and down. People like Alvin Lee play wrong because they play everything down. And it's so difficult to play like that. It's a very important technique to have. I often just sit in the dressing room and practice quick up- and down-strokes just changing from one open string to another. And it's very difficult. The solo from "Highway Star" is that quick up- and down-stroke. The right hand doesn't really do much, but it sounds very fast. It's like with a violinist or cellist.

Jethro Tull is one of your favorite bands?

Say no more. Ian Anderson is a genius, especially with his later stuff. It's horrifying to think how he wrote that stuff. But if you talk to him, he goes, "Oh, I just count two." But you can't count two over that, it's 9/ 5 1/2. Their guitarist, [Martin Barre, see GP. Dec. '77] and the rest of the group have memories like computers to remember that. Admittedly I wouldn't like to be in that band playing the same thing every night, hut I love to go and see them. I see them at least four times a year. In fact the last time I went and saw them was in Paris, and they put me right in the front row. I thought, "Why do they want me in the front row right in front of Ian Anderson?" So it came to the last number and Ian leaps off the stage and lands in my lap and starts singing to me. The spotlight is on me and I'm trying to act cool because my girlfriend was there. Whenever he brings out a new, LP I say I hope it's not as good as the rest of them, because then I'll feel a little bit better that I can't write like that. And sure enough, he comes out with another blinder. He gets so involved he writes a symphony. Funny enough, we had a blow with them and they were lost; Barrie Barlow, the drummer, can't keep a straight beat. Martin is fun, he's got a great memory, but he hasn't learned to improvise too well I think. He's got a problem there with his fingers, but he's still great. You can't say anything against him because he's such a nice guy. And John Glascock is a brilliant bass player, the best in the business in rock. Rainbow was after him, but we couldn't get him. If you get him on his own he's great and he's a natural. As bassist, Timmy Bogert is great, and Jack Bruce is a great bass player and vocalist.

It seems that the bass players and keyboardists you've worked with have never been quite up to your level.

That's right, that's true. Rainbow is a three-piece band really and always has been and always will be, I guess. Bob Daisley was the best bass player we could find, and we looked for ages. There are not a lot of people who want to play straight rock. It seems that when the very good guys come along, they're into this very hip jazz thing. It's very limiting and challenging to play rock, as you know. You've got set chords and you can't throw in any augmenteds, whereas with jazz you've got the whole scale. But it's worth it once you find the answers in rock and you come up with a good song. To me there's no chance involved with jazz you've got so much there to deal with.
It's a musician's music; I like to play to people.

You think your playing has changed since the days of Deep Purple?

Yeah, I was listening to some of Purple's stuff and I thought I was better than that. It's very, very sketchy and it's very clinical; at the time it was the best I could do, bccause we had three weeks to get an LP together and there was so many egos involved. But I go through the same sort of things as Jeff Beck; I'm never happy with what I'm doing. And I can't get really excited talking about myself. And that's why I can't talk about somebody else even to slag them. That's why I don't do interviews what can you say about yourself? I do this and I do that. "Yes, our new LP is great and we're touring." Everybody comes up with the usual crap "With this new LP of ours we're going in a new direction." We're not going in any direction, we're just going along. If people don't like it, it's too bad. I certainly wouldn't change to suit the radio play that's gone down in the last three years all the Fleetwood Macs and Eagles and all that business.

You don't like rhat kind of music?

Not at all. I like intensity and drama, and if I'm going to listen to relaxing music, it's medieval or classical or it's up front more. There's no in-between.

Are there any other projects you're involved in?

I haven't wanted to do any other projects, but I'd like to do some work with the band Carmen. It's flamenco style, but on rock. It'd be interesting to throw some wild solos in their stuff. I don't get inspired by many bands, but they're really interesting.

Do you take much heed in what critics say about you?

I never read reviews, because if they say it's great then you go, "No, they're wrong" and if they say it's rubbish then that's fine with me. You have to believe in yourself. I listen to friends who are fans. If a fan comes up to me and says "I like your music, but that's a bit...," I'll listen; that's my critic. But people who write I don't listen to. They're just out to get a name for themselves.

Do you like playing with other guirarists?

Not particularly, no. I think one guitar is enough unless you're into that frame of mind where you can work out very good harmonies, which I'm not into. I'm just a spasmodic guitarist. I'm into self-extemporization; I'm not into working things out too much. That's why I don't play with other guitarists.

Do you think your current playing is as good as it's ever been?

I think it's much better. That's one positive thing I can say about it.
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