Richard Hugh "Ritchie" Blackmore (born 14 April 1945) is a British guitarist and songwriter, who began his professional career as a session musician as a member of the instrumental bandThe Outlaws and as a backing musician of pop singers Glenda CollinsHeinzScreaming Lord SutchNeil Christian, etc.. Blackmore was also one of the original members of Deep Purple, playing jam-style rock music which mixed simple guitar riffs and organ sounds.[1] During his solo career, he established neo-classical metal band called Rainbow[2] which fused baroque musicinfluences elements with hard rock.[3][4] However, Rainbow gradually progressed to catchy pop style hard rock.[2] Later in life, he formed the traditional folk rock project Blackmore's Nighttransitioning to vocalist-centered sounds. Their latest album, Dancer & the Moon, was released on June 2013,[5] which entered at # 189 on USA's Billboard Album Charts.[6]


 [hide*1 Early life

Early life[edit]Edit

Blackmore was born as second son to his parents in Weston-super-MareSouth West England, and moved to Heston at the age of two. Though the surname Blackmore appears to be of English origin, his father was of Welsh ancestry and his mother was of English ancestry. His father was born in Cardiff and his paternal grandfather was born in Swansea, Wales.[7][8] He was 11 when he was given his first guitar from his father on certain conditions, including learning how to play properly, so he took classical guitar lessons for one year.[9]

While at school he participated in sports including the javelin. Blackmore left school at age 15 and started work as an apprentice radio mechanic at nearby Heathrow Airport. He took electric guitar lessons from session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. In 1960 and 1961 he played with some minor local bands.[10]



In 1963 he began to work as a session player for Joe Meek's music productions and performed in several bands. He was initially a member of the instrumental band The Outlaws, who played in both studio recordings and live concerts. Otherwise, in mainly studio recordings, he backed female singer Glenda Collins, German-born pop singer Heinz (playing on his top ten hit "Just Like Eddie"), and others.[11] Thereafter, in mainly live concerts, he backed horror-themed singer Screaming Lord Sutchbeat singer Neil Christian, and others.[12]

Blackmore joined the rock group Deep Purple in 1968 after receiving an invitation from Chris Curtis who originated the concept of the band (though Curtis would be forced out before the band fully formed). Purple's early sound leaned on psychedelic and progressive rock,[13] but also included generic 1960s pop songs.[14] This "Mark One" line-up featuring pop rock singer Rod Evans lasted until mid-1969 and produced three studio albums. During this period, organist Jon Lord appeared to be the leader of the band,[13] and wrote much of their original material.[15]


The first studio album from Purple's second line-up, In Rock (1970), signaled a transition in the band's sound from progressive rock to hard rock, with Blackmore being impressed at the time by the King Crimson's first album.[4] This "Mark Two" line-up featuring rock singer Ian Gillan lasted until mid-1973, producing four studio albums, and two live albums. During this period, the band's songs primarily came out of their jam sessions, so songwriting credits were shared by the five members.[1] Blackmore later stated, "I didn't give a damn about song construction. I just wanted to make as much noise and play as fast and as loud as possible."[16]

The third line-up featured blues-rock singer, David Coverdale. This "Mark Three" line-up lasted until mid-1975 and produced two studio albums. Blackmore quit the band to front a new group, Rainbow. In 1974, Blackmore took cellolessons from Hugh McDowell of (ELO).[17] Blackmore later stated that when playing a different musical instrument, he found it refreshing because there’s a sense of adventure not knowing exactly what chord he's playing or what key he's in.[18]

Blackmore originally planned to make a solo album, but instead in 1975 formed his own band, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, later shortened to Rainbow. Featuring operatic rock singer Ronnie James Dio and his blues rock backing bandElf as studio musicians, this first line-up never performed live. The band's debut album, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, was released in 1975. Rainbow was originally thought to be a one-off collaboration, but endured as an ongoing band project with a series of album releases and tours. Rainbow's music was partly inspired by elements of medieval and baroque music[4][19][20] since Blackmore started to play cello for musical composition.[16][18] During this period, Blackmore wrote a lot of Dio's vocal melodies, particularly in their debut album.[21] Shortly after the first album was recorded, Blackmore recruited new backing musicians to record the second album Rising (1976), and the following live album, On Stage (1977). Rising was originally billed as "Blackmore's Rainbow" in the US.[22] After the next studio album's release and supporting tour in 1978, Dio left Rainbow due to "creative differences" with Blackmore, who disliked Dio's fantasy oriented lyric style.[23]

Blackmore continued with Rainbow, and in 1979 the band released a new album entitled Down To Earth, which featured R&B singer Graham Bonnet. During song composition, Bonnet made his vocal melodies though it was uncredited contributions.[24] The album marked the commercialization of the band's sound, and contained Rainbow's first chart successes, as the single "Since You Been Gone" (a cover of the Russ Ballard penned tune) became a smash hit.[25]


[1][2]In San Francisco, 1985

The next Rainbow album, Difficult to Cure (1981), introduced melodic vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. The instrumental title track from this album was an arrangement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with additional music. Blackmore once said, "I found the blues too limiting, and classical was too disciplined. I was always stuck in a musical no man's land."[3] The album marked the further commercialization of the band's sound with Blackmore describing at the time a liking for the pop rock band, Foreigner.[26] The music was consciously radio-targeted in a more AOR style,[27] resulting in some degree of alienation with many of Rainbow's earlier fans.[2] Rainbow's next studio album was Straight Between the Eyes (1982) and included the hit single "Stone Cold." It would be followed by the album Bent Out of Shape (1983), which featured the single "Street Of Dreams". In 1983 Rainbow was also nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on an instrumental ballad track, "Anybody There".[28] Rainbow disbanded in 1984. A then-final Rainbow album, Finyl Vinyl, was patched together from live tracks and the B-sides of various singles.

In 1984, Blackmore joined a reunion of the former Deep Purple "Mark Two" line-up and recorded new material. This reunion line-up lasted until 1989, producing two studio albums and one live album. However, the reunion's second studio album The House of Blue Light (1987) displayed a sound that is closer to Rainbow's music. Its album's musical style differed from the traditional Purple sound due to his Rainbow background that distinguished him from other members.[29] During the 1987-1988 tour, Blackmore was repeatedly reluctant to play "Smoke on the Water."[30] Also the screaming singer Ian Gillan was forced to apologise for his vocal range had become weaker than audiences expected.[31]


The next line-up recorded one album entitled Slaves & Masters (1990), which featured former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. During song composition, Turner wrote his vocal melodies.[16]Subsequently the "Mark Two" line-up reunited for a second time in late 1992 and produced one studio album. Overall, the traditional Purple sound returned, but the guitar riffs sometimes sounded like generic Def Leppard.[32] During the follow-up promotional tour, Blackmore quit the band for good in November 1993. Prominent guitarist Joe Satriani was brought in to complete the remaining tour dates.

Blackmore reformed Rainbow with new members in 1994. This Rainbow line-up, featuring hard rock singer Doogie White, lasted until 1997 and produced one album entitled Stranger in Us All in 1995. It was originally intended to be a solo album but due to the record company pressures the record was billed as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.[33] Though Doogie White wasn't as distinctive as its previous Rainbow's singers, it had a sound dissimilar to any Rainbow of old.[27] This was Rainbow's eighth studio album made after the blank of 12 years since Bent Out of Shape and is regarded as Blackmore's last hard rock album. A world tour including South America followed.[28] Rainbow was disbanded once again after playing its final concert in 1997. Blackmore later said, "I didn't want to tour very much."[34]

Over the years Rainbow went through many personnel changes with no two studio albums featuring the same line-up: Blackmore was the sole constant band member.[25] Rainbow achieved modest success, the band's worldwide sales estimated at more than 28 million album copies, including 4 million in album sales in the U.S.[35]

In 1997 Blackmore, with his girlfriend Candice Night as vocalist, formed the traditional folk rock duo Blackmore's Night. From about 1995, they were already working on their debut album Shadow of the Moon (1997).[27] Blackmore once portrayed at the time their artistic characteristics as "Mike Oldfield plus Enya".[33] Blackmore mostly utilized acoustic guitar,[33] to back Night's delicate vocals. During song composition, Blackmore directly wrote her vocal melodies.[36]Night said, "When he sings, he sings only for me, in private".[37] As a result, his musical approach shifted to vocalist-centered sounds. They recorded a mixture of original and cover materials. The band's musical style is inspired bymedieval music and it blended with Night's lyrics about love's themes. The second release, entitled Under a Violet Moon (1999) continued in the same folk-rock style, with Night's vocals remaining a prominent feature of the band's style. The title track's lyrics were partly written by Blackmore. "Violet" was his mother's first name and "Moon" was his grandmother's surname.[34]


[3][4]Blackmore's Night in 2012

In subsequent albums, particularly Fires at Midnight (2001) which featured the Bob Dylan cover "The Times They Are a Changin'", there was occasionally an increased incorporation of electric guitar into the music, whilst maintaining a folk rock direction. A live album, Past Times with Good Company was released in 2002. After the next studio album's release, an official compilation album Beyond the Sunset: The Romantic Collection was released in 2004, featuring music from the four studio albums. A Christmas-themed holiday album, Winter Carols was released in 2006. Through numerous personnel changes, the backing musicians have totaled about 29 persons.[38] Blackmore sometimes played drums in recording studio. Possibly to concentrate on album production,[34][39] they chose to avoid typically rock concert tour to perform, instead limiting their appearances to small intimate tours.[40] In 2011, Night said, "We have actually turned down a lot of (touring) opportunities."[41] Blackmore continued to write her vocal melodies.[18] Their music is generally categorized as belonging to New age music. To date they have released eight studio albums.


During the 1960s, Blackmore played a Gibson ES-335 but switched to a Fender Stratocaster in 1970. Since then, until he formed Blackmore's Night in 1997, he used Stratocasters almost exclusively. The middle pickup is screwed down and not used. Blackmore has also occasionally used a Fender Telecaster Thinline during recording sessions. He is also one of the first rock guitarists to have used a "scalloped" fretboard where the wood is filed and carved out into a shallow "U" shape between the frets.

In his soloing, Blackmore combines blues scales and phrasing with dominant minor scales and ideas from European classical music. While playing he would often put the pick in his mouth, playing with his fingers. He occasionally uses the diatonic scale, with rapidly changing tonality.

In the 1970s, Blackmore used a number of different Stratocasters; one of his main guitars was an Olympic white 1974 model with a rosewood fingerboard that was scalloped.[42] Blackmore added a strap lock to the headstock of this guitar as a conversation piece to annoy and confuse people.[43]

His amplifiers were originally 200-Watt Marshall Major stacks which were modified by Marshall with an additional output stage (generated approximately 278W) to make them sound more like Blackmore's favourite Vox AC-30 amp cranked to full volume. Since 1994, he has used ENGL valve amps.

Effects he used from 1970 to 1997, besides his usual tape echo, included a Hornby Skewes Treble Booster in the early days. Around late-1973, he experimented with an EMS Synthi Hi Fli guitar synthesizer. He sometimes used a wah-wah pedal and a variable control treble-booster for sustain, and Moog Taurus bass pedals were used in solo parts during concerts. He also had a modified Aiwa TP-1011 tape machine built to supply echo and delay effects; the tape deck was also used as a pre-amp.[42] Other effects that Blackmore used were a Unicord Univibe, a Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face and an Octave Divider.

In the mid-1980s he experimented with Roland guitar synthesizers. A Roland GR-700 was seen on stage as late as 1995-96, later replaced with the GR-50.

Blackmore has experimented with many different pickups in his Strats. In the early Rainbow era, they were still stock Fenders, later Dawk installed over wound, dipped, Fender pickups. He has also used Schecter F-500-Ts, Velvet Hammer "Red Rhodes", DiMarzio "HS-2", OBL "Black Label", Bill Lawrence L-450, XL-250 (bridge), L-250 (neck). He used Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound Flat SSL-4 for several years and since the late 80s he has used Lace Sensor(Gold) "noiseless" pickups.

Personal life[edit]Edit

[5][6]Blackmore in Chicago, 2009.

On May 1964, Blackmore married Margit Volkmar (b. 1945) from Germany.[44] They lived in Hamburg during the late 1960s.[45] Their son, Jürgen (b. 1964), played guitar in touring tribute band Over the Rainbow. Following their divorce, Blackmore married Bärbel, a former German dancer, in September 1969[46][47] until their divorce in early 1970s. As a result, he is a fluent German speaker.[45]

For tax reasons, he moved to the U.S.A. in 1974. Initially he lived in Oxnard, California,[4] with opera singer Shoshana Feinstein for one year,[48] so she provided backing vocals on two songs in Rainbow's first album. During this period, he listened to early European classical music and light music a lot, for about three-quarters of his private time. Blackmore once said, "It’s hard to relate that to rock. I listen very carefully to the patterns that Bach plays. I like direct, dramatic music."[4] After having an affair with another girlfriend Christine, Blackmore met Amy Rothman in 1978,[49] and moved to Connecticut.[50] He married Rothman in 1981,[51] but they divorced in 1983. Following its conclusion, he began a relationship with Tammi Williams.[52] In early 1984 Blackmore met Williams in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she was working as a hotel employee. In the same year, he purchased his first car because he had finally learned to drive a car at 39 years old.[53]

Blackmore and then-fashion model Candice Night began living together in 1991. They moved to her native Long Island in 1993.[54] Being engaged for nearly fifteen years,[55] the couple married in 2008.[56] Night said, "he's making me younger and I'm aging him rapidly."[57] Their daughter, Autumn was born in 2010.[58][59] Their son, Rory was born in 2012. Also they keep two cats.[60] Blackmore plays football once a week,[39] always watches German language television on the satellite dish when he stays at his home.[45] He has a collection of approximately 2,000 CDs of Renaissance music.[58] Otherwise he travels in the German small villages on vacation every year for several weeks.[45]

In popular culture[edit]Edit

Despite completely retiring from the hard rock, Blackmore was ranked number 16 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time" in 2004,[61] and number 50 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" in 2011.[3]

In 1993, Musicologist Robert Walser defined him "the most important musician of the emerging metal/classical fusion".[62] He is also credited as a precursor of the so-called "guitar shredders" that emerged in the mid-1980s.[63]

Blackmore has been an influence on various guitarists such as Fredrik Åkesson,[64] Brett Garsed,[65] Janick Gers,[66] Paul Gilbert,[67] Michael Harris,[68] Scott Henderson,[69] Dave Meniketti,[70] Randy Rhoads,[71] Michael Romeo,[72]Yngwie Malmsteen.[73]

Also he was portrayed by Mathew Baynton in the 2009 film Telstar.


Main articles: Rainbow discographyBlackmore's Night discography, and Deep Purple discography

Session recordings (1963–1968)[edit]Edit

  • 1963 The Outlaws - "The Return Of The Outlaws" b/w "Texan Spiritual" (Single)
  • 1963 The Outlaws - "That Set The Wild West Free" (Single)
  • 1963 The Outlaws - "Law And Order" b/w "Doo Dah Day" (Single)
  • 1963 Michael Cox - "Don’t You Break My Heart" b/w "Hark Is That A Cannon I Hear" (Single)
  • 1963 Michael Cox - "Gee What A Party" b/w "Say That Again" (Single)
  • 1963 Glenda Collins - "I Feel So Good" (the B-side of single)
  • 1963 Glenda Collins - "If You Gotta Pick A Baby" b/w "In The First Place" (Single)
  • 1963 Heinz - "Dreams Do Come True" b/w "Been Invited To A Party" (Single)
  • 1963 Heinz - "Just Like Eddie" b/w "Don’t You Knock At My Door" (Single)
  • 1963 Heinz - Tribute To Eddie ("Tribute To Eddie"; "Hush - A- Bye - Baby"; "Summertime Blues"; "Come On And Dance"; "20 Flight Rock"; "I Remember")
  • 1963 Heinz - Heinz (EP: "I Get Up In The Morning"; "Talkin’ Like A Man"; "That Lucky Old Sun"; "Lonely River")
  • 1963 Heinz - "Country Boy" b/w "Long Tall Jack" (Single)
  • 1963 Heinz - Live It Up (EP: "Live It Up"; "Don’t You Understand"; "When Your Loving Goes Wrong")
  • 1963 Houston Wells - "Only The Heartaches" (Single)
  • 1963 Dave Adams - "Like A Bird Without Feathers" (the B-side of single)
  • 1963 Dave Adams - "You Made Me Cry" (the B-side of single)
  • 1963 Jenny Moss - "Hobbies" b/w "Big Boy" (Single)
  • 1963 Geoff Goddard - "Sky Men" b/w "Walk With Me My Angel" (Single)
  • 1963 Pamela Blue - "My Friend Bobby" b/w "Hey There Stranger" (Single)
  • 1963 Gunilla Thorne - "Go On Then" (the B-side of single)
  • 1963 Joe Meek Orchestra - "The Kennedy March" (Single)
  • 1964 The Outlaws - "Keep A Knockin’" b/w "Shake With Me" (Single)
  • 1964 The Outlaws - "The Bike Beat Part 1" b/w "The Bike Beat Part 2" (Single)
  • 1964 Glenda Collins - "Baby It Hurts" b/w "Nice Wasn’t It" (Single)
  • 1964 Glenda Collins - "Lollipop" b/w "Evrybody’s Got To Fall In Love" (Single)
  • 1964 The Sharades - "Boy Trouble" (the B-side of single)
  • 1964 Andy Cavell - "Tell The Truth" (Single)
  • 1964 Davy Kaye - "A Fool Such As I" (Single)
  • 1964 Houston Wells - "Galway Bay" b/w "Living Alone" (Single)
  • 1964 Houston Wells & The Marksmen - Ramona (EP: "Ramona"; "Girl Down The Street"; "I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now"; "Nobody’s Child")
  • 1964 Heinz - "You Were There" b/w "No Matter What They Say" (Single)
  • 1964 Heinz - "Please Little Girl" b/w "For Lovin’ Me This Way" (Single)
  • 1964 Heinz - "Questions I Can’t Answer" b/w "The Beating Of My Heart" (Single)
  • 1964 Valerie Masters - "Christmas Calling" b/w "He Didn’t Fool Me" (Single)
  • 1965 The Outlaws - "Only For You" (the B-side of single)
  • 1965 Michael Cox - Michael Cox in Sweden (EP: "I’ve Been Thinking"; "Is This Lonesome Old House")
  • 1965 Glenda Collins - "Johnny Loves Me" b/w "Paradise For Two" (Single)
  • 1965 Glenda Collins - "Thou Shalt Not Steal" b/w "Been Invited To A Party" (Single)
  • 1965 Heinz - "Digging My Potatoes" b/w "She Ain’t Coming Back" (Single)
  • 1965 Heinz - "Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right" b/w "Big Fat Spider" (Single)
  • 1965 Heinz - "End Of The World" b/w "You Make Me Feel So Good" (Single)
  • 1965 Heinz - "Heart Full Of Sorrow" b/w "Don’t Worry Baby" (Single)
  • 1965 Screaming Lord Sutch - "The Train Kept A Rollin’" b/w "Honey Hush" (Single)
  • 1965 Richie Blackmore Orchestra - "Getaway" b/w "Little Brown Jag" (Single)
  • 1965 The Tornados - "Early Bird" b/w "Stomping Through The Rye" (Single)
  • 1965 Jess Conrad - "It Can Happen To You" (the B-side of single)
  • 1965 The Lancasters - "Satan’s Holiday" b/w "Earthshaker" (Single)
  • 1965 The Sessions - "Let Me In" b/w "Bouncing Bass" (Single)
  • 1966 Heinz - "Movin’ In" b/w "I’m Not A Bad Guy" (Single)
  • 1966 Ronnie Jones - "My Only Souvenir" b/w "Satisfy My Soul" (Single)
  • 1966 Soul Brothers - "Goodbye Babe, Goodbye" (Single)
  • 1968 Neil Christian & The Crusaders - "My Baby Left Me" b/w "Yakkety Yak" (Single)
  • 1968 Boz - "I Shall Be Released" b/w "Down In The Flood" (Single)
  • 1968 Sundragon - "Five White Horses" (Single)
  • 1968 Sundragon - Green Tambourine ("I Want To Be A Rock’n'roll Star", "Peacock Dress", "Love Minus Zero")
  • 1968 Anan - "Medina" b/w "Standing Still" (Single)

Previously unreleased outtakes[edit]Edit

  • 1963 Chad Carson - "A Fool In Love"; "Jesse James"
  • 1963 Dave Adams - "It Feels Funny, It Feels Good"; "You Just Can’t Do It On Your Own"; "Clean, Clean, Clean"; "The Birds And The Bees"; "Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket"; "Oh What A Party"; "Let Me In"; "They’re All Up To It"; "Signs And Posters"; "Out Behind The Barn"; "There’s Something At The Bottom Of The Garden"; "The Bathroom"
  • 1963 Gene Vincent & The Outlaws - "Dance To The Bop"; "High Blood Pressure"; "Baby Blue", "Blue Jean Bop"; "Lotta Lovin’"; "Crazy Beat"; "Rip It Up"; "Frankie & Johnny"; "Another Saturday Night"; "I’m Gonna Catch Me A Rat"; "Long Tall Sally" (Those songs were recorded live)
  • 1963 Jenny Moss - "Please Let It Happen To Me"; "My Boy Comes Marching Home"
  • 1964 Kim Roberts - "Love Can’t Wait"; "Mr. Right"
  • 1964 Houston Wells - "We’ll Remember You"
  • 1965 The Outlaws - "As Long As I Live" (recorded live)
  • 1965 Glenda Collins - "Sing C` Est La Vie"; "Run To Me"; "Self Portrait"

Compilation uses[edit]Edit

  • 1989 Ritchie Blackmore - Rock Profile Vol. 1
  • 1991 Ritchie Blackmore - Rock Profile Vol. 2
  • 1991 The Derek Lawrence Sessions Take 1
  • 1992 The Derek Lawrence Sessions Take 3
  • 1994 Heinz - Dreams Do Come True - The 45's Collection
  • 1994 Ritchie Blackmore - Take It! Sessions 63/68
  • 1995 It's Hard To Believe It: The Amazing World Of Joe Meek
  • 1998 Ritchie Blackmore - Anthology Vol.1
  • 1998 Ritchie Blackmore - Anthology Vol.2
  • 2002 Joe Meek - The Alchemist of Pop: Home Made Hits and Rarities 1959-66
  • 2005 Ritchie Blackmore - Getaway - Groups & Sessions
  • 2008 Houston Wells - Then & Now: From Joe Meek To New Zealand

Guest appearances[edit]Edit

  • 1971 Green Bullfrog - Green Bullfrog aka Natural Magic
  • 1972 Screaming Lord Sutch & Heavy Friends - Hands Of Jack The Ripper (recorded live '70)
  • 1973 Randy, Pie & Family - Hurry To The City/Looking with Eyes of Love (SP, "Hurry To The City")
  • 1974 Adam Faith - I Survive ("I Survive") Intro only
  • 1980 Jack Green - Humanesque ("I Call, No Answer")
  • 1990 Rock Aid Armenia - The Earthquake Album ("Smoke On The Water '90") with Other guitarists
  • 1992 Laurent Voulzy - Caché Derrière ("Guitare héraut") Guitar solo only
  • 1996 Twang! A Tribute To Hank Marvin & The Shadows ("Apache")
  • 1996 Sweet - All Right Now ("All Right Now By Now", recorded live '76)
  • 1997 Pat Boone - In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy ("Smoke On The Water") with Dweezil Zappa
  • 1999 Geyers Schwarzer Haufen - Live '99 ("Göttliche Devise") Bonus truck
  • 2004 Geyers Schwarzer Haufen - Historock Lästerzungen ("God's Gospel")
  • 2011 William Shatner - Seeking Major Tom ("Space Oddity")
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.