David Coverdale says that the current lineup of DEEP PURPLE "prevented" Ritchie Blackmore from joining his former bandmates onstage during the 2016 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony.
Blackmore is a co-founder of DEEP PURPLE and wrote many of their most memorable riffs, including "Smoke On The Water", but he has not played with the group since his 1993 departure.
Steve Morse effectively took over Blackmore's slot in 1994 and has since been in the group longer than Ritchie.
Asked by Tigman of Poughkeepsie, New York's Z93 radio station what the Rock Hall experience was like for him, Coverdale said (hear audio below): "It was a complete and utter honor. But I was only concerned about [former DEEP PURPLE bassist/vocalist] Glenn Hughes; the rest of 'em I haven't got time for. They prevented Ritchie Blackmore from coming in to be honored as a Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer.
"I called Ritchie and I said, 'Come with me. Nobody's gonna do anything,'" Coverdale continued. "The first thing I said [during my acceptance speech] was, 'I'm so sorry that Ritchie Blackmore isn't here, without whom none of us would be on this stage,' which is absolutely true. So, Glenn and I just stuck to ourselves and had fun with CHICAGO, CHEAP TRICK, Steve Miller — everyone was just fabulous.
"So, ex-colleagues, I'm happy they'll remain ex-colleagues. [Laughs] They just don't figure in my life in any way, shape or form," he added. "[They have] an entirely different philosophy, idealogy and you name it — it couldn't be more different."
Coverdale was far more complimentary toward Hughes, whom he called a "beautiful" person. He added: "We call ourselves the Righteous Brothers. We've been the support system for each other for over 40 years… well, 45… coming up on 50… Jesus! Glenn Hughes and I, we're brothers. We got the job with DEEP PURPLE. He got in there before me and then welcomed me… 'Cause Glenn was a lead singer; he's a lead vocalist — he's extraordinary. And he came out of a band called TRAPEZE into DEEP PURPLE, where he was the lead singer. So the generosity that he gave me, being a complete new boy who had never played to larger crowds than a hundred people in clubs… It was an extraordinary time. Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord were absolute gentlemen, and for me, it was like I was at the university of DEEP PURPLE and I had the two best professors in the world with Ritchie and Jon. And [I became] friends with Glenn. Glenn and I had similar tastes in music."
Blackmore previously suggested that PURPLE's manager had blocked him from attending the Rock Hall induction ceremony, and he used that as an excuse for not attending the event.
Despite Blackmore being a no-show at Rock Hall, he was given several shoutouts during the induction speeches of the DEEP PURPLE members in attendance. In addition, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich, who inducted DEEP PURPLE into the institution, praised "Ritchie fucking Blackmore" for one of the most memorable guitar riffs of all time on "Smoke On The Water".
DEEP PURPLE's first three lineups were inducted into the Rock Hall, including Blackmore, drummer Ian Paice, late keyboardist Jon Lord, and various singers and bassists — Rod Evans; Ian Gillan and Roger Glover; and Coverdale and Hughes.
In 2017, DEEP PURPLE singer Ian Gillan shot down the possibility of a reunion with Blackmore, saying that "the rain stopped and the sun came out" for DEEP PURPLE once the guitarist left the group. He also threw shade at Ritchie's recent RAINBOW performances, saying that Blackmore is "not playing rock and roll like he used to."