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From Mandrake Root to Mozart

In his 1997 interview for the Japanese TV RB explains origins of riffs for several Purple classics. Some are very well publicized, some are not. Some connections are pretty obvious, while others not so much.

Thanks to Gillanfan89 for uploading the video and to Daniel Bengtsson for bringing it to your attention.

23 Comments to “From Mandrake Root to Mozart”:

  1. 1
    Roberto says:

    blackmore stoled ‘freball’ black night’ ‘smoke on the water’ ‘child in time’ ‘burn’ riffs…pratically “his” best ones…sad

  2. 2
    Roberto says:

    ‘picture of home’ too…

  3. 3
    Drdp says:

    The MASTER explains! I just wish he would put down that acoustic, pick up a White Strat’ and just BLOW!!!!!!!!!! Regards,Drdp

  4. 4
    kraatzy says:

    That is my Mr.Genius: It´s Mr.Ritchie Blackmore.

    It is very sad, that he plays if anything a drop of ROCK and not at all gigs … I love the last Rainbow episode. I miss it.



  5. 5
    HZ says:

    Roberto, chill out.. Even Mozzart had an inspiration and pattern to write down his music, it’s not called stealing. Words are words and notes are notes, it’s about arrangement, sound and style. How many tunes are inspired by Blackmore (Enter Sandman is inspired by SOTW, all Iron Maiden is “Rainbow Rising” for me, just with two guitars) – both DP and Rainbow. Stargazer is inspired by Kashmir, no connection music-wise, but the style is Middle Eastern totally, so he did it encouraged by Page. Contact Lost is Wolf Song, well almost, but it’s Contact Lost and I’m glad that Morse has covered that style besides what he did previously etc. LZ is heavy blues, I mean Page even said that he was inspired by Umm Qulsum, famous Egyptian female singer, things heard inside afro-american or ME community ages before. It’s about what you create on it, on that mutual wealth.

  6. 6
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Stargazer and Kashmir.

    I read somewhere he must have been listening to Jan Akkermans TABERNAKEL
    Dutch widely acclaimed, if thats something meaningful………deja vu…Mr Morse?????, guitarplayer in FOCUS, used the same thing.

    It was not Page that invented it, he USED it from Morocco or something like that.

    Both he and Plant were into that kinda thing.
    Untill it got annoying.
    Remember the 1996 reunion with the Eastern Orchestra?
    nICE FOR A song or two and then utterly boring!!!!

    Even worse…..

    Standing front row I saw Page s juices flowing out of his nose and mouth, due to overdoing cocaine.

    What a disgrace ful sight!!!!

    Never saw Blackers show up like that.

  7. 7
    kraatzy says:

    Hey guys,
    everythink is stolen at least from the old classics.

    The point or secret is, how skilful you have stolen and you interpret it in this “new” old song.
    Look at the plagiatism-story about Joe Satriani and Cold Play.

    Where will you make a exactly distinction from owm music to the music of another. That is the mean thing.

    For me Ritchie is my genius. Nobody has taken him to court. Or has tried to do this – I think … he is not a plagia(r)tist 😉



  8. 8
    Jeff Summers says:

    @ 5
    Burn, Child in time, Black night and Smoke were difinitely stolen…NOT inspired by!! they are note for note! Rythmically they differ (in some cases.) Anybody who has ever played an instrument seriously or written songs knows this as fact.

    It’s interesting that Ritchie is making a point of telling the world this after he is no longer in the band isn’t it! this just hammers home the type of person he really is, what a shame that he could not be more magnanimous:)

    Ritchie was always my inspiration as a guitar player and in many cases as a writer…We all get inspired by, that is unavoidable, but very few actually go to these lengths 🙁

  9. 9
    ormandy says:

    Very Beethovenian of Blackmore and Co. 🙂

    Now Page and Co; they just plained ripped off old songs.

  10. 10
    purplepriest1965 says:

    Thanx for triggering me to learn another English word, Jeff!!!!

    I m not completely sure but as far as I can remember he always was open about that DP took things from this and that.

    Maybe he is more precise lately than before?

    I must admit it makes me cringe everytime the ahem, spotlight, is being focussed on this part of Ritchie but……
    It never takes away the passion I feel for the things he did and THAT SOUND, THAT FEEL, THAT CERTAIN AGRESSION……

    I one was at a BN show in Germany around 1997 where he did that electrical ending of the show.
    And the moment he just played a few notes to get into it……
    That moment was worth the price of the admission alone!!!!

    DP will probably always be with me, its with me since I was 12.
    It s a HABIT, hehehe.

    Inbetween I pursued many other musical or non musical passions but I always FOLLOWED the original first love.

    Talking about GREAT ripp offs, if I m not mistaken, is Y and T s The Kid Goes Crazy from the album CONTAGIOUS from 1987 not a splendid one taken from Van Halens Hot For Teacher?

    On the other hand, Y and T is OLDER than Van Halen and probably VH took a lot from Y and T around 1974 …1976 before they got picked up by Gene Simmons of KISS.

    Btw, wasnt it VH that first called themselves Mammoth?
    The sound by Y and T to me often makes me think of a MAMMOTH SOUND.

    Mark, still not off his Y and T craze……

    Somebody give me a shot!!!!!

  11. 11
    T says:

    The French philosopher Jean de la Bruyère said, “Everything has been said, and we are more than seven thousand years of human thought too late”–and he said this over 300 years ago.

    One can compose any random combination of notes and they are likely to have been previously composed or recorded at some point in time in much the same way that any random words or phrases are likely to have been written before. However, even though many words in this very sentence have been strung together before in an identical manner does not mean I ripped it off from someone else. Even if I did, it’s what I do with it that counts.

    This is the reason that composers turned to the 12-tone scale and intentional dissonance in search of something new. That search led to people such as Edgard Varèse, the “father” of electronic music, whose pops and beeps transcended what most of us would call “music” in search of something “original”.

    The point is this: Before all the Blackmore-bashing begins, it should be noted that composers have turned to outside influences for inspiration for a long time. Brahms composed a theme that sounds like “Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star” and Beethoven’s An die Freude sounds suspiciously like “Yankee Doodle”. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture contains a number of folk music themes, including “At the Gate, At My Gate” and “God Preserve Thy People” in addition to the Marseillaise–but no one ever accused him of ripping off the French National Anthem.

    Many composers wrote “Variations on a Theme By” such as “Variations on a Theme by Paganini/Mozart/Schumann/Haydn” and sorth forth which today would be called a “tribute”. In these compositions, a motif is “stolen” and then performed backwards, in differents keys, upside-down, re-arranged–all in an attempt to create something new with a theme written by someone else but which the composer admired.

    The context of Blackmore’s work is completely different than those from which he drew inspiration. Although some riffs may be musically similar to another, a stripped down monophonic line is only a part of music, and a riff does not a song make.

    To the layman, music is usually “melody”. However, to a musician, music also includes timbre, rhythm, arrangment, and something of which Blackmore is particularly fond, harmony–all of which would have to be duplicated verbatim in order to be a “rip-off”.

    A good example of this is the riff to “Burn,” which came from George Gerschwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm”. Listen:


    Although the main theme seems vaguely familiar, this song is NOT “Burn”–a song done on electric instruments, with added lyrics, long soloing, heavy drumming, a new melody–a completely different arrangement with a far more aggressive tone and feel– even if a motif was borrowed. In fact, it’s not even a note-for-note replication of the motif.

    I just attended a guitar session with Paul Gilbert. He spoke of composition, and how he often “steals” chord progressions from old 60’s pop tunes and composers such as Paganini as a starting point for a new song.

    If a chord progression is sacred intellectual property, than anyone who’s played a 12-bar blues is in a lot of trouble.

  12. 12
    HZ says:


    Well Jeff, I know what you are saying, and I have classic guitar education, also played in few bands, and I’m still saying that fourths are fourths, and everything is in arrangement and style and sound. Even Bethoven played same notes, precisely. Never mind. Ritchie was and is eccentric, though I don’t care, I just love his music and style, and his work in DP and Rainbow. We’ll never have that kind of guitarists and bands ever. That’s sad for me.

  13. 13
    Jeff Summers says:

    @12 I love Ritchie too, by far the biggest influence on my musical career 🙂

    @10 Priest, you are welcome my friend:)

    @11 There’s no justification for ripping note for note, despite the different cadences involved. It could be argued the Ritchie based his whole career on these stolen tunes…Despite this, Personally I’m happy that he did otherwise DP would definitley never have been as succesful as they were…

    The early Purple sound also had so much to do with all of the muso’s involved. The writing also had at least 50% input from IG and RG. The melodies and humourous lyrics are as important as the riffs in any song 🙂

  14. 14
    HZ says:


    Jeff, read T’s post again. Blackmore is just honest to say how he’s got an inspiration, but his opus is to big for arguing around several riff’s and his career. He was way more creative than any of his counterparts like Page or TI, which we found playing afro-american music more heavier and distorted. The problem with Blackmore is that he doesn’t know how to be legendary, while he is that for most of HR-HM players. I mean Beethoven came with SOTW model, played backwards, so what?
    Ritchie is the best of his generation, and most eccentric, and most unpopular in media, and most envied by guitarists in the same time.

  15. 15
    AndreA says:

    The world is so awesome because with of people we have different minds,words,discussions…


    Entersandman=SOTW? iron maiden=rising?..ahahahah

    About Kashmir,I know that RB told years ago that this is the only one LZ’s song he appreciate…..But I love Stargazer more than it. I should bring respect to Page but at the end LZ is a pure stealer blues band mixed with RnR,nothing more..I prefer Free than them,I have never loved the cicken Page’s voice…. Paul Rodgers is better…

  16. 16
    ormandy says:

    >> The problem with Blackmore is that he doesn’t know how to be legendary <<


  17. 17
    HZ says:


    As far as I know for Enter Sandman Kirk said that, Rising as you find for first time those “riding rhytms” that Iron Maiden uses always… Never mind. Yes, Ritchie said Kashmir inspired him to write Stargazer, but I agree, Stargazer is far better, and no connection with Kashmir at all.

  18. 18
    PaulH says:

    Very interesting clip – had not seen it before. Even though I’m bored with his music nowadays it’s good to see he still has – or had – a sense of humour. Couldn’t resist having a dig at Ian Gillan though, right at the end. I guess IG has been guilty of the same thing – a true love/hate relationship those two have always had!

  19. 19
    purplepriest1965 says:

    @ 15

    I think you tried to tell us that you dont like the voice of Robert Plant?

  20. 20
    AndreA says:

    thank you for you comment HZ @17

    yes PP,at all…I can appreciate it in WHOLE LOTTA LOVE or in THANK YOU…but when he uses high…I am off.

  21. 21
    HZ says:

    Talking about Ritchie, he’s got daughter with Candice 🙂

  22. 22
    Chris says:

    That hat goes so well with that jacket! 😉

  23. 23
    Mattdif says:

    There is not one musician anywhere (especially in rock music) that never used other peoples ideas, notes, riffs, etc.. Sure Black Night is You Aint Seen Nothing Yet but play them both back to back and which one do you want to hear over and over again? Go listen to any Stones, Beatles, Zep, Elvis, etc… All were considereed pioneers yet everything they did was done before. It’s how they did it that made them good. I’m sure the same can be said about musicians in all other types of music throughout the history of music.

    What makes a musician is a combination skill, arrangement, attitude, taste and sound. IMO, overall DP in their peaks were second to none. In somoene else’s opinion it could be the Osmonds…


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