Knight without fear and aristocracy

Translated by: Sabine Zimmermann and Rainer Klos

Ritchie used to cause feelings of fear in many a person?
Nicknames like "Prince of Darkness" and "Man in black" and lots of stories being told about him, dating back to the good old hard rock days are woven around the legendary personality of this real rock legend. But what the ex Deep Purple guitarist really taught the world (if genius can be taught) is how to play the guitar. If guitarists with exceptional abilities were ennobled, Ritchie would have been knighted a long time ago. And maybe…? Who knows, he comes very close to it with his new project:
Not afraid of doing something unconventional, guitar-icon Blackmore and his partner, singer Candice Night, fulfil themselves a medieval dream, away from the paths of commerce. Inspired by the pure beauty of Renaissance music, strange and yet so familiar sounds of period instruments, interwoven with modern arrangements and poetic legends they take us on a joyful journey through time. Those lucky enough to experience Blackmore's Night live think they can understand the magic of the sounds: Only on very rare occasions has music been celebrated with such love and devotion. Candice's fascinatingly clear voice, the magical, absent-minded playing of the wizard of the strings Blackmore, violins, hurdy gurdies and bagpipes - a spark that flies over to the audience (most of them appropriately dressed in garb) and casts a hypnotic spell on them. If you want to feel a bit of this magic, too, I can only recommend you: Let yourself be enchanted by Fires at Midnight!

A real castle built the scenery for the crowning end of this years Blackmore's Night tour. After a great, more than 3 hours long concert at castle Rabenstein we meet Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night for an interview.

Interviewer: Your concert this evening was a really great event. That was more than music, it was magic! How have you felt the atmosphere when you had been on stage?

Ritchie Blackmore: It is always something special.

Candice Night: Like a party. There are many friends in the audience now.

Ritchie Blackmore: In principle we are trying to play for an audience of only two- or three hundred. It should never become a kind of robot-show, like it is on big events. With 2000 people you can't have the same atmosphere, you can't feel the same.

Candice Night: It wouldn't be so intimate.

Ritchie Blackmore: So we prefer playing four evenings in succession at the same location and only for a small audience. Even if our promoter doesn't like that very much, finally it doesn't bring so much money. But I don't like travelling so much, anyway.

Interviewer: How did you come to this castle?

Candice Night: Actually we were accommodated on another castle quite near, because we had a concert there the other day. So we had all our medieval costumes with us. We wanted to go out for dinner but we were told that it wasn't possible, because they were having a closed society, a medieval group! So the complete band and we were going to dress medieval and so we were allowed to sit in the back- room. After some time we started to make music and one by one, all the people came to us- the whole party society. Especially the organizer of the party, Felix from Rabenstein, liked our music and we got friends. He is the lord of the castle here at Rabenstein. So we finally had been invited to the party…. By the way, I became a knight that night. Felix is in an organization, which authorized him to knight someone. So we got to know Felix. And now we often play at his castle.

Interviewer: Let us talk about your new album "Fires At Midnight". I have read in the booklet that parts of the melodies have been taken from traditional Renaissance songs. Tell us something about the creation of the songs: What do you think about first-Do you write the lyric first and search for the melody then or in reverse order?

Ritchie Blackmore: I have many small melodies in my head that I play for Candice. Then we talk about what associations they rise in us; winter, weather, soldiers, fights. Sometimes I then choose the melody. The rest is a kind of cooperation.

Candice Night: The special thing with Ritchie is that he has so much creative spirit to use the original melody from the 15, 16. century as a frame. He doesn't hear it note for note, he is a great improvisator.

Ritchie Blackmore: But the interesting thing with Candice is that she has an unbelievable hearing. Much better than mine. I have the technique, but she can hear every wrong note. She even can pick up the complicated melodies and transfer them.

Candice Night: We complement each other very well. I have something like a recorder in my Head. I can pick up note for note immediately, but Ritchie can improvise better.

Interviewer: Why have you put your version of Bob Dylan's "The Times Are A Changin" on Your new album?

Ritchie Blackmore: (joking) Bob called me constantly and molested me on the phone. "Bob, Leave me alone" and then I sometime said "Yes, Ok, I will put "The Times They Are A Changin" on my album. No, seriously. Bob is a great hero for me. I have followed his work all the time. I was impressed. Just as I was when I heard the Byrds for example. I love the Byrds and I love Sonny and Cher. I took the rhythm of " I Got You Babe" from 1964 (imitated the rhythm) and mixed it under "The Times They Are A Changin".

Interviewer: Which songs on "Fires At Midnight" do you like best?

Candice Night: I like "Hanging Tree" best. I love songs, which are telling a story, which remove to a character and not are only telling one of your own experiences. It is exciting to remove to someone or something, to feel with them, to see through their eyes. (Hanging Tree tells the story of a tree that had seen someone hanging on it, editor.)

Ritchie Blackmore: Maybe "Midwinter's Night". Or "Fires At Midnight". It is hard to decide and live every song is different. Even every instrument has it's own life. I have to talk to my lyre sometimes….

Candice Night: Like Pandora (that's how she calls her electric bagpipe; editor)! She wants to talk to me today. She was very moody. She wants to fight with me.

Interviewer: Candice, you have had your own radio show and your unique voice is giving the special character to the songs. How have you become such successful singer and songwriter? Is there a special training?

Candice Night: I think, no one of the trainings I had has given me the ability for this. I have taken lessons when I was a child, about twelve years old. I think my parents haven't sent me to the lessons because they liked my voice, but because of I was the first born at home and they didn't know what to do with me. (laughing).I had also singing and acting lessons. In theatre performances like Mary Poppins I have learned to be in front of an audience. But I couldn't learn it stimmlich. I think that's an ability you can't learn when I meet Ritchie at a party he heard me singing. It was at one of Ritchie's Parties, at which everyone has to do something creative, at which we get to know each other. Everyone has to do something creative, like dancing, singing a song, saying a poem, painting a picture…He asked me to sing a song. So I did and I think he liked my voice. Since then I've been singing for him…so I've said, everyone has to give something personally. Shall I tell you something personal from Ritchie? Something personal from Him is for example that he likes vacuuming. Now you have a couple of female fans more, Ritchie!

Ritchie Blackmore: One day when I was vacuuming our house, my drummer visited me and Said:" What the hell are you doing?" and I said, "I'm vacuuming, aren't You doing that?" And he answered me: "Ah, no!" Two weeks later we went on tour and we were accommodated in a hotel in Copenhagen. I couldn't sleep, because of my bed was standing directly at the wall to the neighbor room and someone was making a terrible noise there. So I rearranged the furniture and put the wardrobe in front of that wall.

Candice Night: The first thing he is always doing when we are coming to a hotel room is that he rearranges the furniture.

Ritchie Blackmore: I needed half an hour and it was very strenuous, but then I saw that the floor was dusty at the place were the bed had stood. So I searched for a hover and started to vacuum the dust. Suddenly there was a knock on the door- again my drummer. He asked:" What the hell are you doing" And I said:" I'm vacuuming". It was very funny to see his face. He must have thought:" Now he is completely crazy".

Candice Night: Now it's something like a tradition. So if you want your room vacuumed, tell it. But be careful that you aren't standing in his way. He is like a storm when he is vacuuming.

Interviewer: … and when he isn't vacuuming he is luckily making music. What was the reason for doing Renaissance music? Was there something like a special change in your life on which you have decided to do medieval music?

Ritchie Blackmore: For me the change was in 1972. I saw a film, of course I mean Bob and I, we were spending very much time together. (is laughing humorously) No, it was in the early eighties, I think. I saw a TV series called "Henri the eighth and his women" and the film music was from David Monroe, from the "Early Council of London", very pure and simple music. Since I've heard this music it gripped me (singing it) and I knew that's it what I'm fascinated of. But at this time I hadn't the requirement to play it myself. I only want to feel it, to be a part of it. I've never thought that I really can play this music with all its wood instruments. All these strange wind instruments, so I thought that I could only translate it for me. I haven't followed these things at once, not until 1986, it was only the release. Then I met Albert (Albert Dannenmann, from the medieval band "Die Geyers") at a German castle and heard them playing. It got a hold of me again and I asked him " Do you need a guitar player"? By the way, I was drunken and it was a hard time, because of Bob didn't answer my phone calls…(Ritchie laughed and closed one eye) I heard the Geyers and thought, that's great. That was the second step on my way.

Candice Night: Since then he has a scar for life.

Ritchie Blackmore: From this moment on, I started to be busy with the sound of medieval Music; for example with the lyrics and with the Swedish Fidel and so I got step for step into this music. Normally it will need 30 years to get the abilities for all this. When I was playing with Deep Purple and Rainbow I have already liked it to listen to medieval music in the hotel room. The Others must have thought that I'm crazy, but they have always thought that."Blackmore is crazy, he is waiting for a phone call from Bob Dylan, the whole time. They asked me, "Why are you listening to this strange music?" "What is that?" John Lord was the only one who was really interested in it. The others said: "That's a crap!" And then I played it to Candice. I said: "Listen to this and listen to that", and then we played it together.

Candice Night: Before I met Ritchie I had never heard of this music. It's a so beautiful, a so complex but simple music. It touches the soul. We've heard it on journeys from a portable CD-player and while we were listening we looked at the environment, the trees, the green grass, the blue sky or at the chimney fire. The music brings you to a different time; it is a well known and pleasant shelter. The music has something noble and honest.

Ritchie Blackmore: It has depth. The music is so rich of emotions; it's very organic, very fresh. The music, which was written in the 15. Century wasn't written for the radio. That's a big profit! I think today everything is much more sterile. Everyone is writing music, for it's playing on the radio, to make money with it. That's a vicious circle! Today everyone sounds like Britney Spears.

Candice Night: Yes, every time the same music and only different faces.

Ritchie Blackmore: Only 1/20 beats, boom - boom - boom…

Candice Night: I think it's a pity that it seems like the music has lost it's innocence, it's mysticism. Everything is colder, chosen about how a face is looking through a camera. That's what it's like in the music industry. That's especially a pity for the children. Come to our concerts and look at the little boys who still believe in Robin Hood and the little girls who are still able to believe in fairytales. I think you shouldn't take it away from them so fast.

Ritchie Blackmore: They see Candice and they see a princess in her. Have you seen the movie "The Princess Of Bride"? Normally it's a girl's film…. I have seen it maybe ten times. Candice told me "You must see this film" and I have only thought, "that's for children".

Candice Night: Yes, I have tried to convince him six months long, that he must see this film. But every time I put it into the video recorder, he ran away. One day, when I came back home from shopping earlier than he thought, I surprised Ritchie when he was really watching the film. He said enthusiastically: "That's a great film!" I said: " Don't tell me, I've tried to convince you for this over months."

Ritchie Blackmore: "You must see this film!"

Candice Night: It's wonderful to get out of the daily routine. The Problem nowadays is that the people don't feel anything; they don't know how it is to walk through the grass without shoes, running over sand and watching the sunset. All these things are always around us, but we don't realize them.

Ritchie Blackmore: I think it isn't the guilt of the society; it is the influence of the society that is storming on them from outside. For example all the music, which sounds like plastic. Look at the big record companies that decide with their money what is played on the radio.

Candice Night: For me the visual is very important, you should know that I'm living in America. We haven't got any castles or things like that; we have got many shopping centers, but not very much architectural history. But here in Germany you can drive from one castle to the next one. In your imagination you can see how the maid is waving her handkerchief through the window and the knights in their shiny amours. I think that's very exciting, it impressed me. That's like electric energy, simply perfect to get out of the daily routine. Others like it to watch a baseball match and I have my imagination. Could you imagine a world far away, I would see myself in this one here.

Interviewer: Do you feel at home in Germany?

Candice Night: Yes, absolutely! I think we have played in Germany more often than in every other place in the whole world.

Ritchie Blackmore: I have a very special relation to Germany.

Candice Night: You mean you are possessed by it.

Ritchie Blackmore: My English fellows aren't very happy because of that, especially when I'm for Germany, when we're watching football. Of course, I have seen the qualification match, Germany - England.

Interviewer: Then you've lost in some way….

Ritchie Blackmore: That's right, I bet on Germany.

Candice Night: Imagine, he was even wearing the German dress then.

Ritchie Blackmore: Yes, my English friends are always asking me then. "What is wrong with you?" I must say, that my first meeting with football was before I Played I myself in school, when I saw Franz Beckenbauer. I saw music! If he hadn't been, I would never have been interested in football. In England it's only based on "kick and rush" to overrun your enemies without any technique or cleverness.

Candice Night: They only want to win because of having a party after it.

Interviewer: But football isn't the only reason why you feel at home in Germany?

Ritchie Blackmore: That's right! It is the Teutonic music. The music we are playing has its roots here in Germany. I think I have lived here in my previous life. I'm very interested in spiritual things like communication with ghosts and things like that. And I feel especially near, as if I lived here in a previous life .I 'm always drawn back to here. I can't explain that, I mean in England there are beautiful landscapes, too and of course I feel well there, too. But it isn't the same as here. All the music that inspires me is from Germany, like Bach or Beethoven, for example.

Interviewer: In the run-up of the soon coming movie "The Lord Of The Rings", there was a big discussion in the Internet. Many people wrote e-mails in which they told, that they want to have music from Blackmore's Night on the soundtrack of the film. Are you interested in a project like that?

Candice Night: Yes, we have been trying since a long time to get a chance to do the music for a movie. We love what we're doing, the music we are playing and when we are watching movies like "Elisabeth" we have often thought: "We should have done the music to it." Unfortunately, we aren't business-orientated people and it seems like being a politic to get involved with the film industry. I think they are choosing the same record company and the same musicians. I mean, these ones that are already in the charts. But it is either good to know that the people want us and "The Lord Of The Rings" would have been great.

Ritchie Blackmore: But I must also say that it would consume lots of creative energy, to do a 40 minutes long soundtrack. It would take one year to do it.

Interviewer: You've said in an interview that you've admired in your early time as a guitarist, colleagues like Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Sullivan and others. Today you are definitely one of the most respected guitar players. Is there still someone who inspires you today? A kind of idol.

Ritchie Blackmore: From the view of a guitar player I would say, that Eric Johnson is one of the best. But when I want to have an inspiration I prefer it to listen to a singer or a violinist. I have a bad habit, I don't listen to other guitar players very often. Normally I should do it, when I want to get a better technique. Sometimes I listen to good Spanish guitar players, they are playing very fast and clever. I have played the guitar for 42 years now. And for me it is important to touch someone's heart with it. When I was 16, I thought it is important to play fast. Today I think highly of that (droned a slowly melody) and I can say, Eric Clapton is one of them, who have the ability. He is very good, but he isn't a great technician. But that's not important, because he knows how to touch someone's heart with music.

Interviewer: Can you tell us something about your future plans or about your next project?

Ritchie Blackmore: We'll fly back to the USA, but I fear, With the given political situation, we will have to join the army, immediately…No, seriously, I'm in big sorrow, because of they are maybe making an Attack on a nuclear power station, for example. We only live 20 miles away from one
Candice Night: I think, since the 11. September the people are shocked. But of course we hope the best. In December we want to come back to Germany to make music again. Maybe we are doing a Christmas show with Christmas songs.

Interviewer: Thank you for this interview!

The interview was done by Mareike Blumenrath and Jürgen Orth.

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