Ritchie Blackmore

Spazio Rock Interview

Rock legends are recidivists too. Ritchie Blackmore has in fact decided to start Rainbow up again and, as he stated in the last interview he granted us, the credit of convincing him belongs not only to the people who have always been wanting him to come back on the rock scene but also to the charm of a past which, every now and then, comes back into fashion. Blackmore had already succeeded in such a move in the 80s and 90s and, until proof to the contrary, he can still afford redoing it nowadays, this time with a totally renewed line-up.

As anticipated, when I ask him the reason behind his decision, he answers:

Nostalgia and I thought I'd just get back to playing the old songs one more time. My commitment lies with the Blackmore's Night band but this is just a few dates for fun.

Once Blackmore made up his mind, the first step was choosing the right singer. Was it better going for a reliable secondhand solution as Joe Lynn Turner and Graham Bonnet or introducing a perfect stranger? Ritchie has gone for the second option without the hint of a doubt. The vacancy behind the microphone was assigned, in fact, to Ronnie Romero, an inspired Chilean found by Blackmore's wife Candice Night.

His style reminded my of Ronnie Dio and he had a very edgy voice but he can also sing other ways too. He is a very talented singer. I base most of my band that I put together around the singer. I always believed that if the group doesn't have a singer there is not a lot going on instrumentally you can only do so much; good singers always inspire me to play.

According to some criticisms, in order to get a warmer media approval, Ritchie might have called back some of the ex-members of the former Rainbow line-ups, just to play safe. When I ask his opinion on this matter, he is very firm and coherent with the past, as usual.

I am not a big fan of names I believe more in playing with good musicians rather than famous people.

On this subject, Joe Lynn Turner, now inconsolable, was definitely the one most hopeful in a possible reunion. When I ask him if he has any messages for his former band mate, Blackmore briefly answers:

Not off hand.

To tell the truth, Blackmore has actually taken with him somebody from the old guard: Bob Nouveau, whom we interviewed a few weeks ago. His real name is Robert Curiano and he is a bass guitarist who has already shared the stage with Blackmore for several Blackmore's Night shows. When I ask him if he has chosen Curiano for being a very good musician, he replies in his usual English sense of humor.

No, I hate his bass playing. That is why he's in the band. Of course I agree. He is a good friend too and I thought he'd be perfect for this rock and roll thing.

"Rock and roll thing" he calls it. A "thing" which will be staged only three times this year: on the 17th and 18th of June at the Monsters of Rock (Germany), and on the 25th of June in Birmingham (England). These are the only chances for all fans longing for a live performance including those songs which they have been listening to for a lifetime.

I think they are recording the show so I am hoping we don't play too many wrong notes as I haven't played these songs in 20 years. I'm sure there will be millions of bootlegs as well.

As the conversation drifts from the present shows to a potential Rainbow world tour, Blackmore flatly turns down the latter option.

No. Also, there won't be any Rainbow new studio album.

Talking about shows, the "brand new" Monsters of Rock - Live at Donington 1980 has just been released by Eagle Rock Entertainment. When I ask him if he recalls any worthy memory of that show, his reply, funnily enough, is:

Not a lot. It was just another show with a lot more people.

Just a few days ago, his former band mates have celebrated the inclusion of Deep Purple in the prestigious Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame. So I give him the chance to explain his noticeable absence from the ceremony.

«No, I was thinking about going. And then heard Deep Purple management Bruce Payne didn't think it was a good idea, so I wouldn't like to turn up at an event when there are people that are hostile, like the management of Deep Purple.

I then assure him that the entire world of Rock/Rock world was on his side, well aware that without his contribution Deep Purple won't ever be able to achieve such an award.

I wrote all the popular music that they play. I came up with the name and put the band together in the beginning to start the whole thing. But I haven't played in the band for 20 years.

Currently, the British guitar hero is focused on the rehabilitation from a surgery to a finger of his left hand. Luckily, he is positive about June shows.

Recovery is coming along. Any operation on fingers is always involved. I don't anticipate any problems.

No news on the horizon for Blackmore's Night: the follow-up of "All Our Yesterdays" still has to get started. Speaking about their last release, the label Frontiers Records has sued the band for non-fullfilment of their contract regarding promotion clauses. As far as his private life is concerned, he opens up just a little to spend, as usual, a good word for his muse, and wife, Candice:

She's a very good mother and she looks after the kids while I'm fiddling on the guitar.

Blackmore's Night will be on tour in July in Germany, which is the country that has mostly given him the historical relevance he deserves. At the end of this interview, when I finally ask him about the future, the Man in Black says:

No one knows about it.

And it sounded like a sentence. Well, said by a 70 year-old man who always looks forward instead of basking in his past glory, albeit being one of the few who could actually afford to indulge in it, we have got nothing left to do but to believe him.

Spazio Rock, Italy - May 4, 2016