...A BAND ON THE ROCKS - Excerpt #10 (Ritchie Blackmore)
(From"BABYSITTING A BAND ON THE ROCKS" - available at Newbury Comics locations throughout the Northeast and online at LTCDS.com > Webstore > Books.)
"Earlier in the day, while unloading Rainbow’s gear (the Forum being a non-union arena, the college-aged stagehands did double duty, standing in for the Teamsters, too) one of the roadies handed me a naked, cream-colored Stratocaster that had been sitting atop cases near the ceiling of the semi, exactly like the one I’d always seen [Ritchie] Blackmore straddling in album photos and fanzines, and which he had played when I saw him onstage with Purple. I looked at the roadie with surprise. “No case?” I asked. I assumed that stars like Ritchie had expensive guitars, often vintage and likely quite valuable.
“Nah, Ritchie likes them to look banged up.”
My jaw dropped when I heard that, but my eyes then darted to the name Carlo Robelli in place of the famous Fender logo that would have straddled the straight edge of the headstock, just like Paul’s. “He switches his Strat for a Robelli before he trashes it at the end of the show. Doesn’t want anyone to realize it’s not the real thing, though” the roadie admitted to me...
Towards the end of the set, while segueing into tenuously controlled feedback, Ritchie casually swapped his Fender for the fake and began to abuse the instrument with a vengeance. Holding the body he banged its head to the ground before breaking its neck on the speaker stack beside him. He then tossed it to the floor and stomped on its pickups and strings. As the sonic chaos became deafening I pressed my fingertips into my ears, just before Ritchie grabbed the guitar by what was left of its fretboard and began to windmill, finally letting it fly for the rafters. The instrument clipped the lighting truss, reversed its rotation and crashed directly in front of me, splintering and spraying its bits into the audience, one slice hitting me square in the chest. Yet another memento I didn’t have the good sense to hold onto..."
Ritchie Blackmore IS Deep Purple as far as I am concerned. He was the founding member and lead guitarist, composer of most of their classic songs, most famously Smoke On The Water. Ritchie came and went from the band through the 70s and 80s. He founded a second group, Rainbow, with a revolving door of vocalists and sidemen, and then for the past 15 years or so he has immersed himself pretty much in Rennaisance-style band named Blackmore's Night, with his current wife and vocalist, Candace Night. They go so far as to perform in period costume.
I've read Blackmore's 'unauthorized' biography, although the author was the editor of his fan magazine and had spent many hours following him around, conducting interviews, and sitting in on others. I'd say it was a credible bio. Also read Ian Gillan's autobiography and a bio on DP. They all shared a few overlapping accounts.
Someone told the tale that Ritchie had an acoustic guitar that he never put in a case, and it always made it through baggage undamaged. There was another tale that his roadie got the guitars mixed up on a dark stage one night and he ended up trashing one of his Strats. Quite the character, Mr Blackmore! Awesome guitarist!
"Rock 'n' roll might not solve your problems, but it does let you dance all over them." Pete Townshend