Ritchie Blackmore : biography
Richard Hugh Blackmore was born on the 14 of April, 1945 in Weston-super-Mare, a small English town. Two years later his parents moved to Heston, a western outskirts of London, where Ritchie spent his childhood. Arnold Blackmore, his father, taught mathematics in youth and later earned monet building and repairing take-off and landing strips in the Heathrow airport. Ritchie’s mother ran a small shop.
Ritchie was an unsociable boy, but his shyness combined with a desire to be notable. He never was brilliant in studies – not because he couldn’t cope with homework, he just never liked school and teachers. Among all teachers only music’s teacher won his respect, because he always approached to classes in a very artistic way. The only interest for Ritchie was sport – swimming, football, javelin throwing, and at the age of ten he asked parents to buy him a guitar. Father agreed, but laid down conditions – not to play the fool and really learn to play it. The guitar was rather expensive – eight guineas, and Ritchie took father’s words seriously.
Arnold Blackmore insisted that his son should take classical guitar’s lessons and made him listen to records of the musicians, who played in an original and interesting way. Ritchie was very lucky with his teacher – Jim Sallivan, nearly the best English guitarist at that time. It was Sallivan who taught him many methods and managed to explain, that one shouldn’t copy famous musicians and should have his own style of playing.
At school Ritchie assembled the first group. It was called after the café, where many famous musicians performed: “21’s Coffee Bar Junior Skiffle Group”. Young musicians played traditional for skiffle-groups instruments – washboards and tea boxes with stuck poles in them. Ritchie wasn’t pleased with washboard as a rhythm-instrument for a long time: he turned his acoustic guitar in electric, and from old receiver he made acoustic system.
Ritchie never studied in senior high school: in 1960 he failed transitional exams and found a work in the airport – he repaired aviation radio receivers. Soon he assembled a new group, called it “Dominators” and invited his friend Mick Underwood to play. Later they both joined “The Settlers”. This group’s repertory consisted mainly of cover-versions of somebody else’s compositions and “The Settlers” worked anywhere – on parties, weddings and other similar events. It was difficult for Blackmore to combine performances with his work as a mechanical engineer, because the musicians often performed far from London, and he wasn’t allowed to be late to work in the airport.
Ritchie saved earned money for a guitar and finally saved up for his first professional instrument – “Gibson ES-335”, half-acoustic, the same as Chuck Berry had. He played – besides parties – for six hours a day, and such diligence combined with indubitable talent helped him to reach incredible techniques and virtuosity, and many musicians envied him. In 1961 Ritchie entered postal courses of the London conservatory.
In January, 1962 a great English rock-n-roll musician Jin Vincent took Blackmore in accompanying membership of his group for European tour. After that Ritchie played in a group “Mike Dee and The Jaywalkers”, and in May in got in “Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages” – one of the founders of “shock-rock” David Sutch’s group. Lord Sutch’s concerts were real shows with “rising from the dead” and other exotics and clowning, and for one year Ritchie got big stage experience, but he was very disappointed with this music.
Joe Mick, a famous producer and owner of sound recording company, offered Blackmore new work. Ritchie became a guitarist in Mick’s studio group “The Outlaws”, he played there for one and a half years and got aversion for the press and any interviews for the whole life, considering, that journalists were interested only in costumes, hairdressings and in everything except music. In 1964 Ritchie left “The Outlaws” and joined a group “Heinz and The Wild Boys” from Southampton” and for several months was on a tour in Australia and Scandinavia with this group. It is interesting, that in Sweden Blackmore is still remembered for his “twisted” solo in the group “Hainz and The Wild Boys”, but not for “Deep Purple”.