Steve Vai discusses the impact of Ritchie Blackmore on rock music in a interview posted on Deep Purple’s YouTube channel
Vai: “The moment I heard Deep Purple and that guitar… for me, in the very beginning, before it was Deep Purple, it was Led Zeppelin because that’s what I was exposed to, and then the world opened up. I remember when I went out and got Machine Head (’72) and Who Do We Think We Are (’73). What an album, oh my God! To have a record like that and to have a guitar player like Ritchie in your radar and your field, it was just the greatest…you just think, ‘What would my life have been like without that?’
One of the things that a lot of guitar players go after is different sounds. You’ve tried different amplifiers, you plug in different effects, you put the microphone way over there, you know, you’re constantly trying to create a space. He didn’t do much of that. He created all of that incredible music with a Strat and a Marshall. I can’t verify that, but from what I understand, in his playing, there were no excuses. It was completely honest playing and you got to be ready for it.”
Wymer Publishing has announced the upcoming release of Ritchie Blackmore: A Life In Vision, a limited edition deluxe photo book, out on September 12, and only be available directly from their website. Limited to 1,000 copies worldwide, if you order now your name will be included on a dedicated fan page.
This new deluxe photo book compiled by Blackmore biographer Jerry Bloom is the perfect companion to his 2006 biography, Black Knight, as it portrays Blackmore’s career with photos and memorabilia from 1958 to the present day.
Not only does it feature a large selection of photos, many of which have never been seen before but following years of research by Bloom, it also includes the most comprehensive gig list ever published, for Blackmore’s pre-Deep Purple career between 1958-67 with over 300 gigs detailed from his days with The Outlaws – backing Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis; with Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages; Neil Christian & The Crusaders; and even going back to his earliest bands such as The Vampires and The Kestrals.
“It kinds of goes that way. Yngwie [Malmsteen], I do a track with him, and then we all do a track, and on the last tour we did [Edgar Winter’s] ‘Frankenstein.’ You got to hear it. All those sax harmonies, I got every note.”
Is it just instrumental or is there any singing?
“There’s vocal songs throughout the set.”
Do you guys sing or do you have a separate vocalist?
“Nuno’s incredible, we don’t have like a separate vocalist. Nuno and Zakk, and actually oddly enough, Yngwie. He’s actually a really good singer.
“On the last tour, we got a live record coming out and we did ‘Highway Star.’ You know the solo that Ritchie [Blackmore] does? Imagine that in five-part harmony. Yngwie sang that, now this one we replaced with ‘Burn,’ so we do the same thing.”
You a big fan of him, Ritchie Blackmoore? Wasn’t you in his documentary? It’s about him, but it’s obviously all the phases of Deep Purple.
“I was a teenager in the ’70s, you know. Like – Queen, Zeppelin, Deep Purple, that was my food.”
I think that Brian May don’t get credit.
“He doesn’t, man. In that whole genre, in that whole period – he’s one of the most unique contributors. He doesn’t get credit. Because what he does is so rich and so specific, and so deep, it fits so well in Queen music, you just feel it as part of that music.
“But when you break it down and when you look at it from a guitar player’s point of view, it’s unique, and nobody to this date could do what he does and make it sound like that.
“He is an iconic player. His tone, his choice of melody notes, he doesn’t just do solos. His solos are melodies, and they’re perfectly in place.”
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Have you seen the Queen movie [‘Bohemian Rhapsody’] yet?
When did you start playing guitar?
“I started in my mind when I was about six, but I didn’t actually start playing, put my hands on it until I was 12.”
Who was your big influence?
“Jimmy Page. That was the first one. When I heard Page for the first time, I was like, ‘That’s it, I’m playing the guitar.’
“I loved it – the guitar – before that, but for some stupid reason I was just too afraid to pick it up and just didn’t feel I was cool enough or something. And then finally when I heard Led Zeppelin, that was it.
“Then the floodgates opened up. Then I heard Queen and all that stuff from the ’70s. Because that was my age at the time, like KISS, Alice Cooper...”