The Musical Work Of Ritchie Blackmore
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A Rock God
Ritchie Blackmore is a musical genius. He formed not one but two of the pillars of hard rock and heavy metal – Deep Purple and Rainbow. He’s a prolific songwriter and a virtuoso at guitar playing. He was just 11 years old when he received his first guitar and he took classical guitar lessons. A few years later, he was taking electric guitar lessons.
He’s had several impressive songs under his belt but here are ten of his finest works.
10. Deep Purple – “Wring that Neck”
From Blackmore’s blistering guitar to Jon Lord’s jaw-dropping organ riff – this is absolute musical perfection. It’s wild and powerful. Blackmore was still coming into his own as a songwriter. For this, he worked with Nick Simper, Lord, and Ian Paice.
9. Rainbow – “All Night Long”
Working alongside bass player Roger Glover, Blackmore’s hooks are incredibly catchy. Taken from Rainbow’s fourth studio album Down to Earth, Blackmore was holding auditions after he kicked out two members bassist Bob Daisley and keyboard player David Stone. This might not be his best work but he still managed to deliver the goods.
8. Rainbow – “Kill the King”
This aggressive and menacing number showcases Blackmore’s mastery of the guitar. Interestingly though, Ronnie James Dio once claimed this is about a chess game. Okay, then.
7. Deep Purple – “Black Night”
Blackmore is basically responsible for creating most of Deep Purple’s iconic tracks, this one included. In an interview Roger Glover shared to Metal Hammer how this song came about: “I love the way that song was born. It happened one night in the studio after we finished Deep Purple In Rock and the management were screaming for a single, because there wasn’t an obvious single on the album. So we thought that we’d humor them, because we never thought of ourselves as a singles band. We spent a whole afternoon trying to get a riff and nothing happened. Round 7:30 we decided to go down to the pub and stayed there until closing time and came back to the studio completely drunk wherupon Ritchie (Blackmore) picked up the guitar and started playing what was to become ‘Black Night’ and we said ‘yeah, that sounds great let’s do that.”
6. Deep Purple – “Knocking at Your Back Door”
Even if this didn’t crack the top 10 and even with the sexual innuendos in the lyrics, it undoubtedly highlighted Blackmore’s musicianship. Ian Gillan commented about the song’s message: “But it’s a humorous thing and not meant to be offensive. And I think it was just an afterthought. It certainly wasn’t what inspired the song.”
5. Deep Purple – “Highway Star”
This rock anthem is mostly known for its classically-inspired guitar courtesy of Blackmore. He wasn’t even trying when he came up with the riff – that’s a genius for you. Fans often consider this as the first “speed metal” song.
4. Deep Purple – “Speed King”
Raw and fiery, Blackmore unleashed his inner beast with his insane licks. At that point, it was pretty clear that he was a force of nature.
3. Deep Purple – “Child In Time”
Blackmore became one with his guitar as he delivered one of his greatest solos. From the guitar playing to Ian Gillan’s vocal performance, it will take your breath away. It’s truly iconic.
2. Rainbow – “Stargazer”
We can throw in all the superlatives in the dictionary and that still won’t do justice to how epic this track is. Blackmore’s guitar playing is masterful and of course, he had to throw in a face-melting solo for good measure.
1. Deep Purple – “Smoke on the Water”
This needs no introduction. It’s the song that propelled Deep Purple to rockstar status thanks in part to Blackmore’s brilliance. Ian Paice admitted, “The amazing thing with that song, and Ritchie’s riff in particular is that somebody hadn’t done it before, because it’s so gloriously simple and wonderfully satisfying.”