Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ritchie Blackmore- 65th Birthday Today (April 14th)!

Ritchie Blackmore, co-founder of Deep Purple, Rainbow, and currently fronting Blackmore's Night with his wife Candice turns 65 today.

To do a thorough bio of Ritchie might require my writing a short book- it would include two separate stints with both DEEP PURPLE and RAINBOW and would span five decades- so I'll hit the highlights, using sources like Pete Frames ROCK FAMILY TREES, Ritchie's bio (from the Blackmore's Night website), trusty old WIKIPEDIA, and my own personal recollections of his career (and my attending my first metal concert way back in 1971, featuring Ritchie and DEEP PURPLE).

Born in Weston-super-mare on April 14, 1944, Richard Hugh Blackmore first picked up a guitar at age 11. Early influences were Gene Vincent and British rock n' roll guitarist Hank B. Marvin. He became proficient on guitar, and became a session musican in the early 1960's. Ritchie joined the Crusaders, a band fronted by singer Neil Christian, in January 1965, having left the British group the Outlaws, which he had been a member of since October 1962....with brief stay with Heinz and the Wild Boys in 1964.

Ritchie stayed with Christian and the Crusaders until May, 1967...except for a brief period in late 1966/early 1967 when he teamed with "Screaming" Lord Sutch (The Savages) to form The Roman Empire. Leader Sutch required his band to wear Roman gladiator outfits...mercifully, the band collapsed, and Blackmore returned to the Crusaders. Blackmore went to Hamburg and was a band that lasted only a couple of months called Mandrake Root...which was later the title to an early Deep Purple song.

Deep Purple was formed from the ashes of a band Ritchie formed with ex-Flowerpot Men keyboardist Jon Lord and bassist Nick Simper called Roundabout. They were together for only a few months in early 1968. By March of 1968 the group had gone through several changes of personnel, and had finally settled on a lineup of Blackmore, Lord, Simper, Ian Paice on drums, and new vocalist Rod Evans. This lineup played one gig as ROUNDABOUT, and then changed their name to Deep Purple .

The first DEEP PURPLE lineup had several hit records on both sides of the Atlantic, including "Hush", Kentucky Woman", and "River Deep, Mountain High". Trouble reared its head when the band's US label folded. There was a period of inactivity and uncertainty about the group's future. Simper and Evans left, and were replaced by two former members of Episode Six, bassist Roger Glover and singer Ian Gillan in 1969. This second version of DEEP PURPLE is usually regarded as the classic version, and its most successful lineup. Their albums began with "Concerto With Group and Orchestra" (featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), and then the harder sounds of "In Rock", followed by "Fireball", "Machine Head", and the classic live album "Made In Japan". Hits included SPACE TRUCKIN', HIGHWAY STAR, and SMOKE ON THE WATER. This lineup made one more album in 1973, "Who Do We Think We Are?", at which time both Gillan and Glover left DEEP PURPLE.

In 1974 a revamped DEEP PURPLE (Mark III) consisted of Blackmore, Lord, Paice, and new vocalist David Coverdale, and former Trapeze bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes The albums "Burn" and "Stormbringer" were recorded by this lineup. Blackmore grew increasingly dissatisfied with DEEP PURPLE, and left the band in the spring of 1975. Tommy Bolin, an American guitarist who replaced Joe Walsh in THE JAMES GANG was brought in as DEEP PURPLE's new guitarist. This lineup recorded "Come taste The Band" , but by July, 1976 DEEP PURPLE disbanded.

Meanwhile, Ritchie Blackmore joined forces with Ronnie James Dio and his band Elf, which was renamed Ritche Blackmore's Rainbow (later shortened to Rainbow) in May 1975. Soon there was an almost entire turnover of musicians, which over the years included drummer Cozy Powell, keyboardist Don Airey, former Uriah Heep bassist Mark Clarke, and even old band mate Roger Glover. Dio left to join Black Sabbath in April, 1979. Replacement vocalists
Graham Bonnet and later Joe Lynn Turner fronted RAINBOW into the 1980's. STREET OF DREAMS, sung by Turner on the album "Bent Out Of Shape", might have been the most successful song Rainbow had as far as widespread commercial success and public acceptance.

In 1984 Deep Purple (Mark II) reunited and began touring and recording again, with some success. Old tensions between Gillan and Blackmore resurfaced, and Gillan was fired and replaced briefly by Joe Lynn Turner. Gillan evetually rejoined DEEP PURPLE, but Blackmore left for good in November 1993. Blackmore then reconvened Rainbow with a new lineup featuring singer Doogie White, but after recording one album, "Stranger In Us All" Rainbow folded for good in 1997.

Since 1997 Ritchie Blackmore has fronted a Renaissance themed band with his wife,Candice Night called Blackmore's Night. Their music is similar to the old Annie Haslam led band from the 1970's, Renaissance

Blackmore's Night has a strong following in Asia and a growing one in Europe. Ritchie seems happy and contented with his music and his life at this stage...and that's just about all anyone could ask for. Good for him.

For more about Ritchie click here.

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