If the name Ritchie Blackmore is only vaguely reminiscent of the classic rock era, if the vision of his Fender Strat on his shoulders is new, and if the only riff you know from him is “Smoke on the Water,” then we beg you, to revisit some of the guitarist’s finest works.
Blackmore is without a doubt one of the best but invariably overlooked players of his generation. The artistic powerhouse that gave both Deep Purple and Rainbow their electrifying energy, guitar playing would be a very different beast without Blackmore’s contributions.
What he couldn’t do with a whammy bar wasn’t worth knowing, and his performances were always expertly balanced to serve the song and indulge his distinctive playing style. It’s a balance he developed all by himself as one of the leading players of his generation, taking inspiration from those who came before him, magnifying their influence and shifting it into the future for his legions of disciples to use for theirs own use ends.
“I owe him a lot of money,” Blackmore said when discussing Ludwig Van Beethoven’s influence on his iconic “Smoke on the Water” riff. Inspired by the composer’s famous “Symphony No. 5,” Blackmore constructed one of the most recognizable riffs of all time, allowing the music’s simplicity to negate any notion of ego-driven pomp. It has been Deep Purple’s trademark ever since, and a tune that is now recognized around the world.
However, Blackmore is so much more than just “Smoke on the Water”. He’s one of the most influential guitarists of all time, and ever since he first took to the stage in the late ’60s, fans have wanted to know what kind of music drives him, given his back catalog is as eclectic as it gets when it comes to rock musicians.
Luckily for us, Blackmore gave an interview with a fan in 1996, and he listed a selection of his favorite songs and albums of all time. A real mix that accounts for his deft and varied artistry, showing the Axeman as a complete musical sponge with a penchant for all things ’60s.
The first album Blackmore chose was 1967 A hard way by English blues giants John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Although he didn’t explain why he decided to do it, evidence can be found in another interview he gave to his fan channel in 2018.
When asked about virtuoso guitarists like Joe Satriani and Steve Morse, Blackmore shocked fans by revealing that he prefers “heart” players like John Mayall. He said: “I prefer a ‘heart’ player, I prefer someone like a blues player with the Jeff Healey type, he’s great. I think John Mayall is great too.”
It is well known that Blackmore is a devoted lover of Bob Dylan and one of the albums he chose was Dylan’s 1966 release Blonde on Blonde. In the same interview posted on his fan channel, he stated: “I would like to play with Bob Dylan. I mean it sounds kinda weird. But he’s the only person I admire in the business.”
He continued, “I’ve been in the business for so long, he’s the one that I still feel like he remains mysterious. There’s something about him that I think is really monumental and he’s so creative. If you think about all the songs he wrote, you know, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “Blowing In the Wind”, it’s endless. So I’m a big fan of his.”
To round out the 1996 list, Blackmore chose both a song and album by Procol Harum. The band behind “A Whiter Shade of Pale” are one of the most iconic outfits of the 60’s and for the Blackmore generation they are among the best. However, he didn’t choose “A Whiter Shade of Pale”; it was the follow-up single “Homburg”.
As for the Procol-Harum album that Blackmore chose, it wasn’t the 1967 debut of the same name, nor the 1968 one Shine brightbut the band’s polarizing return in 1991, The Lost Stranger. Again, the guitarist didn’t provide any reasons to choose Procol Harum twice, but as music lovers we can understand why.
Check out the full list below.
Ritchie Blackmore’s favorite music:
- John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers – A hard way
- Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
- mike Oldfield feat. Maggie Reilly – “Moonlight Shadow”
- One more time – One more time
- Protocol Harum – ‘Homburg’
- Protocol Harum – The Lost Stranger
Follow Far Out Magazine on our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.