Friday, August 10, 2012

Richard Hugh "Ritchie" Blackmore

Richard Hugh "Ritchie" Blackmore (born 14 April 1945) is a British guitarist and songwriter, known as one of the first guitarists to fuse classical music elements with blues rock. He began his professional career as a studio session musician and was subsequently a member of Deep Purple, after which Blackmore established a successful career fronting his own band Rainbow, and later progressed to the traditional folk rock project Blackmore's Night with his wife.

Blackmore was born at Allandale Nursing Home, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, South West England, but moved to Heston, Middlesex (now Greater London) at the age of two. Although the surname Blackmore is thought to be of English origin, his father was of Welsh ancestry and his mother of English.He was 11 when his father bought his first guitar for him on certain conditions, including learning how to play properly, so he took classical guitar lessons for one year.
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 was given guitar lessons by Big Jim Sullivan.
In 1960 and 1961 he played with minor local bands, including the Jaywalkers.In 1963 he began to work as a session player for Joe Meek's music productions and performed in several bands. He was a member of the instrumental combo The Outlaws, and backed Heinz (playing on his top ten hit "Just Like Eddie"), and Glenda Collins, among others.
Blackmore joined the rock group Deep Purple in 1968 after receiving an invitation from organist Jon Lord. Purple's early sound leaned on psychedelia and progressive rock. This "Mark One" line-up featuring singer Rod Evans lasted until mid-1969 and produced three studio albums.
The second line-up's first studio album, In Rock (1970), signaled a transition in the band's sound from progressive rock to hard rock. This "Mark Two" line-up featuring singer Ian Gillan lasted until mid-1973, producing four studio albums.
The third line-up's new album was entitled Burn (1974), which featured blues singer, David Coverdale. This "Mark Three" line-up lasted until mid-1975 and produced two studio albums. Blackmore publicly expressed dislike for the funk and soul influences that Coverdale and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes injected into the band. Following the release of the album "Stormbringer", Blackmore, disappointed by the musical direction the group was taking, left Deep Purple. By this time, Blackmore had lost interest in playing the guitar, so he began to take cello lessons from Hugh McDowell of (ELO).
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 American vocalist Ronnie James Dio and his blues rock band Elf as studio session 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. Blackmore was impressed by Dio's relatively flexible style as a vocalist. 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. After the next studio album's release and supporting tour, Ronnie James Dio left Rainbow due to "creative differences" with Blackmore, who disliked Dio's signature 'Dungeons & Dragons' lyric style.
Blackmore continued with Rainbow, and in 1979 the band released a new album entitled Down To Earth, which featured R&B singer Graham Bonnet. 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. Bonnet left the band after this support tour.
The next album, Difficult to Cure (1981), introduced American vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. The instrumental title track from this album was an arrangement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with additional music. The music was consciously radio-targeted, in a more AOR style, resulting in some degree of alienation with many of their earlier fans. 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 Blackmore was also nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on an instrumental ballad track, "Anybody There". 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 and produced three studio albums.
The next line-up recorded one album entitled Slaves & Masters (1990), which featured former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. The album's style differed from the traditional Purple sound. Subsequently the "Mark Two" line-up reunited for a second time in late 1992 and produced one studio album. During its follow-up promotional tour, Blackmore again quit the band in November 1993.
Blackmore reformed Rainbow with new members in 1994. This Rainbow line-up, featuring Scottish 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. A world tour including South America followed. "Stranger in Us All" is regarded as Blackmore's last hard rock album. Rainbow was disbanded once again after playing its final concert in 1997.
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.
In 1997 Blackmore, with his girlfriend Candice Night as vocalist, formed the traditional folk rock duo Blackmore's Night. In 1995, they were already working on their debut album Shadow of the Moon (1997). Blackmore once described at the time their artistic characteristics as "Mike Oldfield plus Enya". Blackmore mostly utilized acoustic guitar, to back Night's delicate vocals. They recorded a mixture of original and cover materials. The band's musical style is inspired by Renaissance music and blends with Night's lyrics about medieval themes and fantasy. 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.
In subsequent albums, particularly Fires at Midnight (2001), there was an increased incorporation of rock 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 25 persons. Possibly to concentrate on album production, they chose to avoid typically rock concert tour to perform, instead limiting their appearances to small theaters or 12th century castles. Their music is generally categorized as belonging to New age music.
Equipment and musical style
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 a Olympic white 1973 model with a rosewood fingerboard that was scalloped.[19] Blackmore added a strap lock to the headstock of this guitar as a conversation piece to annoy and confuse people.
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. 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
On 18 May 1964, Blackmore married Margit Volkmar (b. 3 January 1945) from Germany.[21] They lived in Hamburg during the late 1960s, Their son, Jürgen (b. 1964), played guitar in touring tribute band Over the Rainbow. Following their divorce, Blackmore married Bärbel, a German former dancer, in September 1969 until their divorce in early 1970s. As a result, he is a fluent speaker of German.
For tax reasons, he moved to the U.S.A. in 1974. Initially he lived in Oxnard, California with American opera singer Shoshana (real name Judith Feinstein) for one year. Shortly after Blackmore met Amy Rothman in 1978, he moved to Connecticut. He married Rothman on 16 May 1981, but they divorced in 1983. Soon after, he began a relationship with Tammi Williams . 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.
Blackmore and then-fashion model Candice Night began living together in 1991. After being engaged for nearly fifteen years, the couple married in October 2008. Their daughter, Autumn was born on May 2010. Their second child, Rory was born on February 2012. Blackmore has a collection of approximately 2,000 CDs of Renaissance music.
In popular culture
Blackmore was ranked number 16 on Guitar World's "100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time" in 2004,and number 50 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" in 2011.

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