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.
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.
I don't like travelling so much, anyway.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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".
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
laughed and closed one eye) I heard the Geyers and thought, that's great.
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.
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
a well known and pleasant shelter. The music has something noble and
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
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
. 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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
music that inspires me is from Germany, like Bach or Beethoven, for example.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
The interview was done by Mareike Blumenrath and Jürgen Orth.