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And now for something completely different

Over the course of the pandemic, Robert Fripp and his wife Toyah Willcox were entertaining themselves and their Youtube audience by recording covers of everything from Swan Lake to Smoke on the Water in their backyard.

Guitar World has recently caught up with Fripp and interviewed him about this project (which is still going strong, with 145 entries posted).

You also covered arguably the most iconic guitar riff of them all when you and Toyah tackled Smoke on the Water…

That was another fun one. I saw Ritchie Blackmore live when he was 18 at a dance hall in Poole, Dorset. I was around 17 myself, so this must have been around 1963 or 1964. Ritchie was playing with The Outlaws. There might be some footage of him with them on YouTube.

My feeling is when he got to 18, he realized that he’d gone as far as he was going to in that band. He was superb. It would be unfair to say Ritchie didn’t get better, because he continued to grow. But what I will say is that at 18, he absolutely nailed it.

He worked with [Screaming Lord] Sutch along with another mythical guitarist called Strawberry, who was somebody everyone had heard of in the reports but no-one at the time seemed to actually know his identity. He would play with his back to the audience and was a legendary player to those of us watching in the early ’60s.

I never got to see Strawberry, but I did see Ritchie. He had all the moves, all the swinging and all the chops. We met very briefly in passing and we nodded. My nod to him was one of great respect.

Read the rest of Fripp’s interview in Guitar World (albeit there’s nothing else Purple related there).

42 Comments to “And now for something completely different”:

  1. 1
    MacGregor says:

    Robert Fripp has always spoken well of Blackmore & also Robin Trower from what I have read over the decades. The only Fripp youtube clips I watch are when he is with his guitar & alone, for good reason. It is usually interesting to listen & watch his take on many Crimson classics from different era’s. His sense of humour also (did I just say that?). Cheers.

  2. 2
    BreisHeim says:

    I get to enjoy the wonderful battle going on in my eardrumlins.
    I can never decide who my favorite guitarist is, Ritchie Blackmore or Robert Fripp.
    I will keep on listening until I die, and by then, they will both win.
    And they will both give each other a friendly nod again.

  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Regarding those legendary 60ies moves, I always wonder whether young Blackmore suffered permanent damage to his lower vertebrae that might cause him discomfort today?


    Some of it obviously stuck.


  4. 4
    Svante Axbacke says:

    One thing common between RF and RB is that they went from doing great stuff to doing what makes their wives happy.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    @ 2 – well done, I like that. @ 4- yes indeed if you can’t beat them then join them it seems. Well that is one way of looking at it. The youtube thing with Fripp’s missus whilst a bit of fun is excruciating on the ‘look at me’ front. Too hyper also for me. Not to worry, I do own the Fripp Wilcox collaboration from the 1990’s the ‘Kneeling at the Shrine’ album with the band named Sunday All Over The World. It is a full band set up & original material & whilst not mainstream rock, it is good in a certain way. I don’t listen to it often but once in a blue moon I venture there. She is a different vocalist on that album, that previous punkish style that she used to do previously in the early 80’s. At least Fripp seems to be enjoying himself these days & getting ‘out there’ more than he ever did. As for BN, I did try with the first two albums then gave up willingly. Cheers.

  6. 6
    Ivica says:

    Robert guitar master ,and in love with that woman,like “our Ritchie”,
    Robert and Toyah are excellent,…chemistry, passion, talent

  7. 7
    Gregster says:

    @ 4 said…

    qt.”One thing in-common between RF and RB, is that they went from doing great stuff, to doing what makes their wives happy”…


    Happy wife = happy house perhaps might be the idea for these fellows ?…

    RF is yet another underappreciated guitarist, but have no doubt, he has a massive ( though silent ) following…Long live the King !

    Peace !

  8. 8
    Blitz Mayhem says:

    She is a goddess. I should revisit the movies where she was an actress.

  9. 9
    Svante Axbacke says:

    @5: Yeah, some short videos might be harmless but what did it for me was looking at some recent live clips on YouTube. They are touring playing those covers…

  10. 10
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Svante on the general subject of happy wives @ 4:

    You are en mycket stygg pojke!

    But also hilarious.😂

  11. 11
    Mel says:

    “To make a record ON a mobile”. Was Toyah picturing the band hooked up to a phone?

  12. 12
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Sorry to be negative but this incarnation of SOTW is so bad I am getting pain in my stomach listening to it.
    On the other hand maybe they had better versions with other songs so good luck to them but I am out.
    Cheers ✌️

  13. 13
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Wasn’t SOTW recorded in Alabama?


  14. 14
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I’m atually ok with those two lovebirds doing it, they seem to sincerely like the song (and each other) though I have a hunch that Robert was playing a C Major in the chorus and not as required a C minor [which would make all the difference with the E Toyah should be singing (“Smooooke …”) in tension with the minor third Eb note from the C minor chord, giving the vocal melody a haunting quality]. People regularly get that wrong, even the great Robert Fripp.

    On my cringometer, Toyah & Robert don’t measure as high as Candice & Ritchie simply for being more left-field and anarchic. Candice & Ritchie bring with them the faux earnestness of parents at a medieval school play performed by their children.

  15. 15
    MacGregor says:

    @ 9 – I keep dodging those live clips at Crimson’s DGM site & also at classic rock sites. Did you watch them performing Kashmir? I am curious but not THAT curious as to look & listen. Fripp is using standard tuning or at least a different tuning than the one he has used for 40 odd years. Although Kashmir isn’t in standard tuning. DADGAD I believe but no doubt a few guitar aficionados here could pull me up on that one perhaps. Cheers.

  16. 16
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Generally speaking, any cover of a Led Zep song can only improve on the original – the bar isn’t very high. And Kashmir was always a borefest where the drummer couldn’t count the meter right and just kept on drumming until he found the one again – eventually and by coincidence. Of course, when Led Zep does it, some people consider it high art.

    End of Led Zep rant.

  17. 17
    Beavis says:

    I always find their videos enjoyable and with a nice rack to look at and always liked roberts playing what a lucky man.

  18. 18
    Gregster says:

    Uwe said…

    qt.”I have a hunch that Robert was playing a C Major in the chorus and not as required a C minor”.

    The song is in the key of F-Major , the G-min riff being the II-chord. This makes the C a dominant 7th chord, & the E-natural the more correct note…

    Ian Gillan sings the E-natural in the chorus ( over the C(7) chord ), that then chromatically slides down a 1/2-step to Eb ( over the Ab chord ), & one could continue to the D, which is what RB plays in the solo at the same spot.

    The thing with Dominant 7th chords, & why they are awesome, is their fundamental building block of root-note, Maj-3rd, followed by successive min-3rds allows multiple choices or notes / scale types to be used when soloing. You could use / play the Eb note if you like.

    IG sings an E-natural in the chorus, get out your guitar & play along !

    Peace !

  19. 19
    Uwe Hornung says:

    “Ian Gillan sings the E-natural in the chorus ( over the C(7) chord ), that then chromatically slides down a 1/2-step to Eb ( over the Ab chord ), & one could continue to the D, which is what RB plays in the solo at the same spot.”

    Understood, and by convention a C Major should be played (which what most guitarists do if they don’t just power chord it sans any third at all), but if you play a C Minor 7 to Gillan’s sung E it just sounds more haunting with the Eb/E dissonance. Playing the correct C Major 7 with an E in it works too of course but it banalizes the melody. The way Gillan does it, there is something blue note’ish to it.

    BTW, on a lot of Mk III/IV versions, the chorus of SOTW is messed up because DC (not Glenn!) doesn’t get that E right, he sings an Eb (or close to it) – probably never gave it a thought. It’s only a half-step difference, but it has a profound effect (it collides with what Glenn sings who harmonizes with an E)

    I understand the logic of assuming SOTW to be in the key of F Major (I never thought of it that way), but I’m in the team who hears it as G Minor. For a while, the key of G Minor was among Blackmore’s favorite ones, he used it on SOTW, Burn and Man On The Silver Mountain – all those songs with gigantic riffs – because it enabled him to use the D and G string open for his preferred riffing in fourths and it became his trademark. I do remember these nasty Led Zep fans at my school who would say heretic things like: “Have you ever noticed how your beloved Ritchie is always playing the same riff in different variations in the same area of the guitar?” Oh the insolence, their darn drummer couldn’t even get the meter to Kashmir right!!!

  20. 20
    Uwe Hornung says:

    And in a parallel universe, the California Jam could have looked something like this …


  21. 21
    MacGregor says:

    @ 16 – shouldn’t the ‘rant’ word have been replaced with the ‘joke’ word? Cheers.

  22. 22
    Gregster says:

    @19… Uwe said…

    qt.” Understood, and by convention a C Major should be played (which what most guitarists do if they don’t just power chord it sans any third at all), but if you play a C Minor 7 to Gillan’s sung E it just sounds more haunting with the Eb/E dissonance. Playing the correct C Major 7 with an E in it works too of course but it banalizes the melody. The way Gillan does it, there is something blue note’ish to it”.

    Indeed, there’s no “right or wrong” with it, just what choices / flavour you decide to use…I posted what I said on the back of what IG sings, & when you look at all the chords used in the tune, particularly the solo section, F-Maj is the 1st-choice-key that your ears are drawn into overall…Where it can get messy, is when the riff in G-min is thought of as a III or VI chord, as each works equally well until the rest-of-the-tune & melody battles for “more correct” or “easier on the ear” note choices. Put even more simply, you can play either the Eb Major scale, or Bb Major scale over the G-min SOTW riff, & still sound correct…But the rest of the tune, & its melody much prefers you use F-Major.

    Peace !

  23. 23
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Uwe Hornung@20
    I am getting suicidal thoughts now.😂
    God forgive you man
    Peace ✌️

  24. 24
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Totally related: Don’t y’all agree that it is criminal that Big Ian never got an offer to do testimonials for barrique aromatized table water? Talk about credibility!


  25. 25
    Gregster says:

    And in respect to the thread title, & Herr Uwe’s posts at DP support acts, here’s a YouTube link to my favourite Australian bands debut album “Free Dirt”, which is superb from start to finish, its free, sounds great, so download, listen & enjoy…


    Whether “Died Pretty” would have gone-down-well as a DP support act remains to be heard, but they did have a 5-piece line-up, & same instrumentation as DP, & imo inspired creativity & music. They were quite successful in Europe through the early 1990’s in Italy & France, & were even signed with Sony for a while…

    Regretfully however, their lead singer Mr.Ron S. Peno past away a few weeks ago, so crank this up & celebrate his memory ! There’s even a tune in there that hints at “The Mule”, & offers alternatives to what a band with the same instrumentation is capable of. The drumming is quite good throughout.

    It’s not often one can say “good Aussie rock”, but this is one of those times.

    Peace !

  26. 26
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I’ve heard of the band name, but never knew the music, thanks Gregster! More REM/alt. rock than Purple, but that is not a knock. They were missing in my collection, I just tipped the Australian-German trade balance by ordering three of their CDs!

    I don’t know why you guys always seem to have a chip on your shoulder with your bands, I find Aussie rock more often appealing than not. It’s only AC/DC that bores me after three tracks, but Nick Cave washes all your sins away! And I did like INXS too. What a hymn of a song and the grand brass/woodwind arrangement is to die for!


  27. 27
    Gregster says:


    Congratulations, & thanks my friend for your interest ! I’m sure you’ll be rewarded when your disks arrive, as imo “Died Pretty” were something special, as people overseas sure enjoyed. They were played reasonably often on “underground radio” here, which is where I got to know & like them in the early 1990’s, but sourcing CD’s was always a difficult task, so you did very-well to find 3 !

    I’d suggest that because of overseas success before local / national success may have dented local appraisal of the band ?… They did release around 11 studio albums & about the same number of EP’s in their 15-odd year career, with the EP’s success likely funding further studio time for full albums lol ! And often the EP’s had non-album trax on them, or B-sides if you want to call them that. ( After 2002, they only toured on & off with no new music released ).

    My discography is certainly not complete with these guys, & I’ll make an effort to complete that. They released earlier this year a live album from a gig in Melbourne circa 2008, that contains “Doughboy Hollow” in its entirety played live, so it’s a 2 in 1 win-win if you can’t source what’s been claimed their most popular album. “Using my Gills as a Roadmap” is most excellent too.


    The above link is the official label, that has the last few releases, EP’s & the live album. It’s a poor webpage however, so click on mail order, then click on the “D” letter to scroll down for the band.

    Lot’s of good Aussie artists here. You may like “Radio Birdman” too.

    Peace !

  28. 28
    MacGregor says:

    @ 26 – “I don’t know why you guys always seem to have a chip on your shoulder with your bands, I find Aussie rock more often appealing than not”. It is what it is Uwe, I like what I like etc etc. When you live under a rock the view is much narrower & also newer. The British, European & American popular music scene is much more diverse & groundbreaking etc. I have been accused by the predictable ‘True Blue’ Aussies decades past of not supporting our Aussie rockers enough, much to my amusement. All I had to do was rattle off a few names & their music & history & they quietened down pretty quickly. I wasn’t the one going on about it, I was merely defending the indefensible, if that is the way to put it. I have supported the musicians that I like purchasing their albums, cd’s & attending concerts. Some of those artists I rate very highly. It is that there is much less to get into. That isn’t a put down at all, it is just the way it is. The same with many things in life. Crawling back under my rock again. Cheers.

  29. 29
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I liked Heaven from your neck of the woods/bushes. That is probably deemed uncool, right?


    Answers on a postcard please as to which DP alumni joins the Heaven lead singer on the chorus here; that is how I initially got to know them:


    No Glenn Hughes connection here, but everyone expected them to be the next big thing from Australia. Their music has aged well:


    And then that bass player looked faintly familiar if you – like me – have a soft spot for Status Quo … Some pipes this lead singer had.



    Australia is not only a country/continent blessed with a plethora of monitor lizard species (always a plus in my book), but also home to shit-kickin’ rock bands like these guys!


  30. 30
    Gregster says:

    LOL !!!

    Those Heaven tunes were actually quite enjoyable, danke for posting !

    The Baby Animals were a great band, & in recent years decided to give-it-a-go once again touring, but little news today of their status…

    The Party Boys were just that, & like a good party, they’re few & far between when you’re partying all the time…Not sure what happened there, but fun while it lasted.

    I thought Jet as over-rated to be honest, but the bass player Mark used to mix occasionally for our band. He was a good guy, & struck it lucky with some fellow students at Melbourne University, who were at the right place, at the right time…It was funny having the “WTF” moment whilst touring Queensland, & seeing Mark up on the TV screen, when only a month or so before he was mixing for us lol !

    Peace !

  31. 31
    Rock Voorne says:

    Australian music.

    I once saw BABY ANIMALS overhere and I was a fan, I think.

    But as they do things change, years passed bye and never saw them anymore.

    In the end missed out on newer releases, I m ashamed to say.

    HEART had its moment, yeah I know they re neither Australian nor Canadian, kinda unplugged after filling Rotterdam Ahoy twice, end 80s

    They ve been very active since, both the band and solo after Nancys boys were almost strangled on the tourbus by Anns husband.

    Missed out on so much.

    I know, there are things that are worse, but still.

    I m a man of many passions and though struggling with my health, cough, I still have the tendency to feel a lot of hurt when in one of the areas something goes wrong.

    I m a gardener, well a bit, and I planted a LAVATERA in my street in 2019 on a empty place, once there had been a tree but it was now all dirt and dogshit.

    In recent years it grew immensely well , I got ill and some neighbour started to take over the care.

    This year it had become, never seen before, immense, treelike but 2 m high.

    Last week she had been triggered to cut it short, 30 cm , ouch. She never listens to me but when I googled on it, my thoughts on it were validated.
    Cut it like this on the wrong moment and it might die when winter comes.

    That kinda hurt, to see one of my darlings might die because someones stupidity.

    Yeah, I know I m crazy too.

  32. 32
    Uwe Hornung says:

    A Dutchman who likes to cultivate flowers?!

    Have stranger things happened? Ever?

    We don’t have real Winters in Europe anymore, so don’t give up hope, RV!

    PS: I’m listening to a double CD of Died Pretty as I write. I do like how the bassist makes himself heard! And, yes, I like(d) Heart too and for a long time believed as well they were Canadian (how did that piece of misinformation ever get to Europe, you could read it wrongly in all the music mags for decades?), never assumed them to be Aussies though, they lacked that requisite beach tan. It rains a lot in Seattle, you know.

  33. 33
    JanPet says:

    Welcome to THE UWE HORNUNG website, danke for your visit to the place, where the band named Deep Purple has been and still will be , I hope.
    Enough is enough.
    Take a deep breath, relax and one day without your post, meinherr, kinda needed therapy. I know it´s not about the ego,but still…
    No offence.

  34. 34
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Deep Purple? Didn’t they do “Stairway Over The Water” or something? I have to check, but I think I still have a few thousand of their CDs stacked away. 😉

  35. 35
    Gregster says:


    Too bad about the tree Rock, but I think it will have a chance of surviving for sure. There’s not much you can do if it’s not your property. It may well bonzai & come back twice-as-strong after winter.

    @32…I have a number of “Died Pretty” discs coming in the mail, one from Germany would you believe lol (“Trace”) ! And I’ve also recorded the entire discography via You-Tube onto my Digital Recorder, & re-mastered etc the whole of the available LP’s. Trust me when I say they are all excellent, with (imo) “Every Brilliant Eye” having something a little-more-special about it, possibly it’s the heaviest sounding. No dud-tunes on any of the albums, all superb imo.You will be rewarded meister Uwe !

    Peace !

  36. 36
    Rock Voorne says:

    Dutch passion?

    I think its more a British thing?

    I was a exemption at home though I seem to stem tru my father from a line with many growers.
    And one with that name, emigrating from Germany, having the same first name as my father and grandfather did start his own forest in Pennysylvania.

    My mother couldnt grasp it and said “Probably have stared too long at plants when I was pregnant” , so…

    I was basically becoming a gardener or something but I got distracted and strayed.
    After all it was said and done I figured I d loved to have my own growery, not liking authority and thinking too much made me unhappy.

    Humans are too often corrupt, dishonest. With plants and animals you kinda avoid that.

    So yeah, I think I missed my ship/train.

  37. 37
    Uwe Hornung says:

    The Brits love their gardens, yes, but you guys are notorious Blumenzüchter …


    Another one of your lovable traits! I should know, my son-in-law is Dutch and he has an immediate rapport with anything green.

  38. 38
    Henrik says:

    Who is Strawberry?

  39. 39
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Look here, Henrik:


    “When musicians joined his band, Screamin’ Lord Sutch invariably changed their names:

    Roger Mingay was known as “Scratch and Scrape Bailey”;

    Ken Payne as “Hopping Ken Rupert Payne”;

    Bernie Watson as “Strawberry”;

    Ritchie Blackmore as “Bluebell”;

    Tony Dangerfield as “Tulip”.

    All his pianists were called “Freddie Fingers Lee The Flea” – but Fred Cheeseman kept the name forever.

    In fact, they were nicknames given to them by Tom Littlewood, Dave Sutch’s manager in the early days.”

    You hear Bernie Watson here at 00:29, it sounds a bit surf guitarish/Dick Dale’sque:


    Someone posted this here in the comments section to this vid:


    “I think Ritchie Blackmore, quoted in the Guardian talking about Bernie Watson, must have been talking about this recording of Country Line Special, and had the year completely wrong, but I’m not sure. Here’s what he said: “There’s quite a few guys before Jeff (Beck) that used distortion, but you wouldn’t have heard of any of them. Like Bernie Watson with Lord Sutch. In 1960 he made a record with Cyril Davies which had an amazing solo, all distortion. It was like Hendrix on a good night. He now plays for the Royal Philharmonic. Just gave it all up.””

    He’s the guy to the far-right (sitting, playing guitar) in this picture:


    The interview where Ritchie mentions Bernie Watson is a reprint The Guardian did in 2015 of a Trouser Press interview Ritchie gave in1978 (Dio era of Rainbow). If you don’t know that interview already, it’s an interesting read, Ritchie speaks his mind in no uncertain terms as usual:


  40. 40
    MacGregor says:

    Thanks for that Guardian interview. I have read bits & pieces over the years but not the complete rave. Blackmore, if only he could have foreseen what he would be doing now way back then eh? We have to laugh. Interesting but not surprising the Bernie Watson guitar distortion comments. I believe it, there were others before the known ones who get the recognition & that can occur with many inventions & other things in life. It is only the glitter & shine that gets through it seems. So many musicians that no one really know about doing inventive & creative things. Now where is that Robin Hood outfit Richard? Cheers.

  41. 41
    Uwe Hornung says:

    True, I’d say that Frau Blackmore today was probably a glowing fan of all things Fleetwood Mac in her youth


    and the Stevie Nicks influence both on her vocal style and her hair/stage sartorial look is palpable.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, Stevie Nicks was a role model to millions of American girls and you have to be deaf not to hear that there is something very unique to Fleetwood Mac’s sound in the Buckingham/Nicks era. Ritchie was perhaps a bit hasty in dismissing them like that, his ears are generally too good to not be able to spot what an idiosyncratic, technically impressive and artistically driven guitarist Lindsey Buckingham was/is.


    Given what Ritchie plays on guitar with Blackmore’s Night today, he should be an ardent fan of Lindsey’s technique and passion.

  42. 42
    MacGregor says:

    I know what Blackmore means though regarding Fleetwood Mac, everyone owned a copy of Rumours it seemed, even I did way back then (I cannot believe I just admitted that in public). However it is a bit too smooth in many ways. Sure they are good musicians & songwriters at certain times, but……! The Eagles became that also after Hotel California, far too smooth & glitzy. I also remember Blackmore not getting Bruce Springsteen which I agree with also. What was it he said, ‘I just don’t get that Bruce Springsteen thing’ or words to that effect from my memory. Each to their own & hindsight does make certain comments & thoughts interesting these days to say the least. Cheers.

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