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He set the world on fire

Ritchie Blackmore was a guest host on SiriusXM’s Guitar Greats show last month (April 12) where he discussed some of his biggest guitar inspirations, and Jimi Hendrix in particular:

When [Hendrix] came to England, Jeff Beck came up to me and said ‘Ritchie, we’ve got to do something about this guy’,” Blackmore said. “And I said ‘who are you talking about?’ And he said ‘Jimi Hendrix, he’s killing everybody over here – he’s upsetting everybody!’

And I’m like ‘well Jeff if you can’t do it, nobody else is going to do it’ because I always thought of Jeff as being the best rock player.

I followed him because I thought the way he used riffs [and surrounded songs] in a riff – it had magical moments. Brilliant guitar player and he also looked like he was from the moon.

Really in a way he didn’t have to play the guitar, because he looked so strange and different to the typical English musician, and it worked and i’m so glad it did. Unfortunately it only worked for three years, but he certainly set the world alight.

I only met him once. It was in the Whiskey in Hollywood and I was going into the toilet and he was playing with his hair or something. I mean I always thought of Jimi Hendrix as the ‘Wild Man Of Borneo’ and there he is – fixing his hair in the mirror.

That was the only time I met him and we kind of nodded to each other and that was it. So I never really got to know him, yet he certainly set the world on fire.

Besides Hendrix, other guitar players mentioned as inspirational were Les Paul, Albert Lee, Eric Johnson, and Trevor Rabin.

Thanks to Guitar.com for the quotes.

9 Comments to “He set the world on fire”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ignoring of course “Catch the Little Wing”


    (they morph from one song into the other at 2:49)

    here are two of Ritchie’s most Hendrixy moments …



    And Coverdale – always a big Hendrix fan – following suit …


    Plus Bernie Torme, the old swashbuckler, didn’t just get his shirts and coats from Jimi …


  2. 2
    MacGregor says:

    Trevor Rabin? Now there is a surprise, we know Blackers was into the AOR influenced American slash British versions of ‘new’ bands around the late 70’s & into the 80’s. Maybe the AOR version of Yes fell into that genre, of course Foreigner was an influence on Blackmore apparently. I can understand Eric Johnson being mentioned. He has always liked Albert Lee, cue Green Bullfrog. Cheers.

  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Blackers liked these guys too, anything with a good melody:


    And wanted him as a keyboarder for Rainbow:


    And him as the bass player there …


    The ole (attempted) PROG poacher!

    Rabin (whom I saw not that long ago with the now lamentably defunct ARW) is an impressive guitarist. Immaculate chops, style and energy.

  4. 4
    Michael says:

    It was a great show. I was very happy to tune in one night and find out that he was guest hosting. I was surprised to find that many of his favorites are also favorites of mine. Agree that Trevor Rabin was a complete surprise.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    Yes indeed Trevor Rabin is a fine musician & the 90125 debut ‘Yes’ album is great. However his influence should never have been allowed to take hold over the band, songwriting, producing, mixing etc. Rabin was never in agreement for the band to be named Yes, again another record company & management decision taken because of commercial interests. The next album Big Generator was terrible, AOR & heavy riffing influenced garbage & anything that followed, excepting a couple of lengthy tracks from the Talk album. I hold Chris Squire responsible for allowing that to happen, too much success & hedonism from the show business side of things in the 80’s.
    Not to worry, Rabin has done well over the years with movie soundtracks also & ‘Yes’ it was nice to see ARW together for a while, plenty of energy there & good to hear those 90125 songs performed live again. A wonderful bass player is Lee Pomeroy & Lou Molina the 3rd, nailed Bruford & White’s drumming style really well. Definitely more Yes than the Steve Howe tribute band. Cheers.

  6. 6
    MacGregor says:

    Blackmore wanted Eddie Jobson in Rainbow? Or do you mean Geoff Downes. I couldn’t see that working with Jobson. Tull had him for one album & tour in 1980/81, brilliant lineup that was & Jobson on the violin is very good also.
    I have read ‘Yes’ wanted him pre 90125, 1982 & that new Trevor Rabin lineup but that didn’t work out. I think they did rehearse together or something. Jobson would have been a musical threat to Blackmore in Rainbow me thinks, a bit like David Stone was with the composition thing in Gates of Babylon. Cheers.

  7. 7
    Uwe Hornung says:

    [ indignantly! ; – ) ] No, Jobson! (And I’m prepared to swallow the insult as a Curved Air, Roxy Music and UK fan that you would think I would mistake him with an ex-Buggle!) They did rehearse in 1975 at Pirate Sound, but Carey – lured by Bain – got the job.


    With the first demise of Roxy Music (where he hadn’t really been happy on a personal level and the bohemian entourage surrounding Ferry), Jobson was kicking his heels and auditioning with quite a few bands, inter alia, he had a job offer from Procol Harum and Yes had been approaching him as early as 1974 to follow Rick Wakeman (he preferred to stay with Roxy then). In the end, he went with Zappa (for a while, but that is where he met Terry Bozzio, his later band mate in UK).

    Later on he would not only rehearse with Yes, but even semi-joined them enough to appear, albeit only in glimpses, in the Owner of the Lonely Heart video @0:19 and 0:31 (wearing a blue shirt) and at 5:40 (suited, from behind):


    You’d be forgiven to mistake him as Geoff Downes (in Asia at the time) with his blond hair, but he sure didn’t look like either either Wakeman or Tony Kaye. But then Yes line-ups are even more complex than Purple ones:

    “Jobson was briefly a member of Yes in 1983 after the departure of keyboardist Tony Kaye. Jobson neither recorded nor performed live with Yes. His only official appearances with the band were in promotional photographs, and in the video for “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” but the video was released after Kaye had rejoined and Jobson had departed. This resulted in Jobson appearing (though edited out as much as possible) in the original version of the song’s video. Jobson has stated on his website that he was asked to replace Kaye, and was hesitant to do so until after hearing the band’s new release, and then rehearsing with the band in London. He returned to his home in the US as a full member of Yes, and set forth learning the band’s repertoire. However, several weeks later he received a call from the band’s management advising that Kaye was back in the group and the two would be sharing keyboard duties. Jobson declined, and left the band.”

    I believe Ritchie had a penchant for people with Prog Rock-type chops, but expecting them to play what they must have considered simplistic, not (to them) challenging heavy rock. Eddie Jobson, John Glascock, Mark Clarke, David Stone, Don Airey … Essentially, he was looking for Jon Lord types, people extremely adept even at more sophisticated music, but happy to back him in a largely non-Prog musical environment. Those people are hard to find and even harder to keep happy; he got lucky with Don Airey, but even that didn’t last (yet paved the way for Don becoming the to-go-to-session-keyboarder for myriads of hard & heavy bands).

  8. 8
    MacGregor says:

    I thought you meant Eddie Jobson, Downes wouldn’t have been around in the mid 70’s era. Although when you mentioned Blackmore eyeing him I was thinking more early 80’s perhaps after Don Airey left Rainbow. Jobson appears on the overdubbed King Crimson live USA tracks, replacing the violin that wasn’t audible from the original David Cross lineup gig, from 1975. The progressive tag sits much better with Jobson than Downes to my ears. Downes is more Asia type, not as busy & how he is still Yes keyboardist is well, because of Howe & Squire no doubt, a link from the 1980 album Drama initially. I doubt that Downes would be in Yes if Jon Anderson was there. I have read many reports of post 2010 ‘Yes” & so many fans are disappointed with Downes take on classic Yes material, he just isn’t that busy sort of player with the chops required. Regarding Eddie Jobson in Tull I first heard him on the A album, & then on that Slipstream VHS, those live clips are incredible, heavy & powerful & dramatic Tull indeed on that tour. Then later on I picked up the UK music, he is an incredibly talented musician fast Eddie. He may have changed AOR ‘YES’ perhaps a little, although they were pretty straight by then & Jobson may have been too busy a player at that time of Yes’ journey. I haven’t heard about him being sussed for the Relayer era of Yes, Vangelis (RIP) was though apparently.
    As for Jobson in Rainbow, any era of that band would not have suited Jobson’s playing to my ears. Hindsight again. He was really at home in Tull though & I was hoping at that time he would have been there a little longer. I do like him in Curved Air of course & Darryl Way before him, a great band they were. Way recorded violin on Tull’s Heavy Horses album.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Geoff Downes is a fine song writer and great at creating keyboard moods and landscapes – a strong or dedicated soloist he’s not, certainly not in the Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz or Tony Kaye tradition.

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