RITCHIE BLACKMORE Says DEEP PURPLE Is 'Milking It A Bit Too Much'September 10, 2016
During a July 2016 interview with the Dutch radio station Radio Veronica, former DEEP PURPLE guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was asked if he approves of the fact that the band is still touring and making albums, more than twenty years after he left the group. He responded (hear audio below): "I don't really have much say in it. I left them twenty years ago. But I think, personally, they're milking it a bit too much. And I hear that from a lot of people — that they just keep going. If I was them, I would give it a five-year rest or something. Some of them are not very happy at home, so they like to be on the road. For me, they're doing their thing, which is… What I told them at the time when I left, I said, 'Just get another guitar player. It's no big deal.' So they do their thing."
He continued: "I think they kind of work too hard. And I blame their agent. I know their agent, and I think he's a bit of a whip. They'll work in North India, then be in Australia, then South America, and, of course, now it's showing — a couple of them are starting to become very sick. Ian [Gillan], the singer, he gets sick very often, so I really think they should take a rest, but that's up to them."
Blackmore added: "I remember [late DEEP PURPLE keyboardist] Jon Lord saying, when he was in the band, 'I don't know if this band will ever know when to stop.' I thought that was quite funny."
Ritchie, who turned 71 in April, also talked about his health and how it is affected by the touring life with BLACKMORE'S NIGHT, in which he is joined by his wife, Candice Night. He said: "Optically, I'm deteriorating very fast, as we all are. All my friends are passing away. Some of my enemies are passing away too. But we try and keep up with it.
"What I do is I limit how many times a week we play. For instance, this week, we're playing, I think, twice. And normally, our agent would tell us, to make money, you have to be playing five days a week, and I refuse to do that. I used to. With DEEP PURPLE and people like that, I would be playing and traveling all the time, and it gets very tiring. But this way we're very fresh to do our shows. So we'll be working tomorrow, having four days off, and hopefully we'll probably play for, like, four hours, 'cause we can do it, and then there'll be another few days off. And then we can do another long show, whereas in the old days, it was an hour and twenty minutes and we're exhausted because we've gotta move on to the next town.
"Of course, I basically… I control the routings and I control how often we play now, whereas the agent [booking] the tour doesn't. And that makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it? For instance, tonight we're all hanging out as a band, as friends, whereas I think if you're working every night, you hate each other."
He continued: "I remember, with DEEP PURPLE, we'd be in different hotels — have different limos, different hotels. The only time I saw anybody was just going on stage. It wasn't really normal, but it was acceptable from the point of view that I didn't want to see anybody. I didn't have the same interests. For instance, PURPLE, it was interesting how everybody was so different. One would be into, say, sports, one would be into money, one would be into just drinking. So we had all these different aspects coming into one area. And I think the band we're in now, we basically all think the same, and we all drink, except for Candi, who doesn't particularly drink. But it's much more amiable — isn't it? — this situation. It's much more easy going.
"When I was in DEEP PURPLE, for instance, I would always stay in the nearest castle to the venue that we were playing at. The rest of the band would stay in the typical hotel, which I became bored with. So I'd be going fifty miles out of the way to stay at some castle. It's a hobby of mine to stay at different castles."
Ian Gillan said in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone that he saw Blackmore's departure from DEEP PURPLE as a crucial turning point in the group's ongoing development.
"Let's get the record straight: I was just as much of an a–hole as Ritchie was," Gillan admitted. "But Ritchie carried it on for a little longer. Had Ritchie stayed with the band, it would have been all over. It would have just ended. Without any doubt in anyone's mind — it was all over. So the day he walked out was the day we had to rebuild."
DEEP PURPLE — which has been eligible for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for two decades now — finally entered the Rock Hall as part of the class of 2016. The band's first three lineups were inducted, including Blackmore, Gillan, Lord, drummer Ian Paice, and various other singers and bassists — Rod Evans, Roger Glover, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes.
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