Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Ritchie Blackmore: Black Knight - Book Review

3When people ask me who my favourite guitarist is, they’re surprised when I don’t mention the likes of Hendrix, Page and Clapton. They’re surprised when I mention the name of Ritchie Blackmore.
Jerry Bloom’s “Black Knight” is an unauthorised look at one of the most enigmatic men in the history of rock music, known for his rip roaring riffs as lead axe man for Deep Purple and his own band, Rainbow.
There’s been a great deal of mythology over the years about Blackmore as a musician and a person, and Bloom tries to look into the myths, going back to his early days when his parents brought him his first guitar, right up to modern times with his renaissance-inspired songs.
It’s all in here, working for Joe Meek and appearing on several singles he didn’t even know about, through to touring with the Outlaws and playing back-up to the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. Always wanting to do his own thing, we’re taken through the formation of Deep Purple, for me the greatest rock band to ever walk God’s green earth. We find out how the band evolved, the relationships that formed, and the tensions, most notably those with Ian Gillan.
After his split from Purple in 1975, we’re taken through the rocky road that is the career of Rainbow, how he seemed to cast musicians aside at a moment’s whim.
There’s also extensive coverage of Blackmore’s personal life, how, through his various marriages and relationships, he often played away from home with the groupies, but got annoyed when those he loved even looked at another man.
Now in his early sixties, Ritchie Blackmore remains one of the most influential and enigmatic in the history of popular music, and this books captures his essence perfectly. Jerry Bloom has done an excellent job researching and putting together this biography, and it’s ironic that it’s Ian Gillan’s words that end this volume, given the tension between Purple’s most famous singer and guitarist over the years.
In conclusion - if, like me, you’re a Blackmore mark, then get this book. You won’t be disappointed.