Why Did Ritchie Blackmore Leave Deep Purple (Twice)?
And why did the influential guitarist do it not once but twice, initially departing the English hard rock band in 1975 before returning around 10 years later, ultimately leaving again in 1993?
It's a question untold Deep Purple fans have pondered, given Blackmore's importance to the band from their founding in 1968. After all, we're talking about the musician who wrote the unforgettable guitar riff to the perennial classic rock staple "Smoke on the Water" here.
Blackmore's first stint in Deep Purple lasted until June 1975 — considered Mark I–Mark III of the band's lineup — and he appeared on the group's first nine studio albums. After that, he founded Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, the band name then simplified to Rainbow, with whom he released seven records between 1975 and 1983.
In the spring of 1974, Blackmore returned to Deep Purple as part of a Mark II lineup reunion. He then contributed to another four full-length Deep Purple releases before departing for the final time in 1993. Later, he formed Blackmore's Night with his partner Candice Night to expand on the baroque-style music he created with Rainbow in a more stripped-back, folky manne
Why Did Ritchie Blackmore Leave Deep Purple the First Time?
The story of Rainbow's formation is the main thrust behind Blackmore's first departure from Deep Purple. Amid growing artistic differences and personal discord between Deep Purple members, Blackmore left to form Rainbow with lead vocalist Ronnie James Dio and fully take the reins creatively again.
After all, Blackmore's interest in exploring more classical and folk influences clashed with Deep Purple's direction toward a more funky-inspired hard rock sound. No wonder this led to some tension and disagreement within the group. With Rainbow, Blackmore could further explore the exact type of music he wanted.
Why Did Ritchie Blackmore Leave Deep Purple the Second Time?
Blackmore's second departure was also due to creative differences and personal differences. At the time, Deep Purple were trying to pursue a more modern, prog-rock sound. But Blackmore seemingly wanted to stick with more traditional hard rock. Naturally, this led to further disagreements within the band, and he left again to reform Rainbow.
In a 2022 interview, Blackmore expanded on why he left the band that final time, saying that he couldn't find inspiration in the band's new music they were writing due to what he called a lack of melody.
"Melody is very important to me," Blackmore said. "It's an important thing. That's why, even in Deep Purple, towards the end, before I left, our music was a bit monophonic. There wasn't too much melody and if I don't hear a melody, I can't be inspired. I find that with a lot of hard rock bands today — not the death metal or whatever — the melody is certainly not there and I can't relate to that."
According to a 2010 Blackmore interview, the reason he rejoined Deep Purple in the '80s was because lead singer Ian Gillan talked him into it, despite how well Rainbow were doing at the time. Then, in 1994, he left because he apparently couldn't work with Gillan anymore because he didn't feel the singer had been taking the gig seriously.
Today, Blackmore continues to influence guitarists throughout the rock and metal world. And with all the great rock music that resulted, Blackmore fans will always revere the musician's two earth-shattering stints in Deep Purple.
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Gallery Credit: Philip Trapp