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The Real Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Ritchie Blackmore

In 1975, just after he left Deep Purple, the guitarist gave a series of interviews about his inspirations and his time in the band. This is what The Man In Black had to say.

On April 18, Lou Reed, Green Day, Ringo Starr, Joan Jett and others will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, joining everyone from The Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Who to Kiss, Metallica, ZZ Top and, er, ABBA. But what about all the bands this US institution has overlooked, ignored or wilfully snubbed over the years? The giants and innovators of rock, prog, punk, blues and more who weren’t deemed important enough, cool enough or American enough to warrant entry through those hallowed portals. Nearly 50 years after forming, Deep Purple are the greatest band not to be in the official Hall Of Fame. They are one of a diminishing handful of bands who formed in the late 60s who are still active today, who are not content to rest on their laurels and who still exist in a meaningful and creative way. While many of their peers are content to play the chicken-in-a-basket circuit – their tour posters emblazoned with monochrome mug shots of how they looked back in their bushy-tailed heyday – Purple have matured like a fine, expensive wine (a Sweet Burgundy, as their former guitarist, the late, great Tommy Bolin, might have it). From 1968’s Shades Of Deep Purple to 2013’s NOW What?!, Purple’s passage through time resembles a mountain range of breathtaking highs and turbid lows. Via a series of interviews with every key member past and present, we celebrate Purple’s extraordinary, multi-decade career. We highlight the radically different personalities of the musicians who have impacted on the band, and marvel at how these contradicting characters were able to gel musically. We examine the mysterious – and occasionally devious – workings of this at times most volatile of bands. We analyse the contributions of alleged bit-part players including Nick Simper, Joe Lynn Turner and the aforementioned Bolin. Plus much more besides. This is Deep Purple dissected, deconstructed and laid bare. (Oh, and we only mention Smoke On The Water once.)

Who were your main influences?

My first influence, believe it or not, was Tommy Steele. I saw him jumping about with a guitar around his neck and I thought, that’s what I want to do. So I picked up the guitar and started prancing about like he did. Then I found out more about guitarists and started to emulate certain players. I think the first one was Hank Marvin of The Shadows. I used to play Apache, which he recorded as a single with The Shadows. Then I heard about this guitarist who was living in the Hounslow area, where I lived at the time, and his name was Jimmy Sullivan. When I saw Jim I thought it’s either a case of giving up or trying to compete. I was always trying to steal his guitar solos. 

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