The classic band Ritchie Blackmore thought were “idiots”

Ritchie Blackmore

Not every rock band strives for innovation every time they take the stage. Most prog-rock bands are looking to create a vast epic that will last 20 minutes at a time. But some of the world’s biggest stars tend to get by with simple songwriting tools. They often play the most straightforward riffs possible to get the audience on their feet. While Ritchie Blackmore occasionally indulged in simple guitar riffs, he believed one band was far from breaking new ground.

Before Blackmore rose to prominence with Deep Purple, he was already looking to branch out from traditional songwriting techniques. After spending the first half of the group’s career as a jam band, Blackmore’s ferocious licks, combined with Jon Lord’s Hammond organ. It became a central part of their sound, paving the way for the hard rock and heavy metal that would follow years later.

Blackmore would not remain in the hard rock genre for long, leaving his successful band to form Rainbow. The new outfit provided him with an excuse to stretch his muscles with various Renaissance-style music. However, one of the rock and roll legends was experiencing their renaissance.

After becoming one of the most famous names of the British invasion, The Rolling Stones began working on returning to their roots throughout their 1970s output. Brian Jones’ death lent a dark undercurrent to the end of the 1960s. The albums such as Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street featured some of Keith Richards’ most revered licks, all while employing his signature open G tuning.

Richards could tune his guitar in a variety of ways. But Blackmore never considered them to be particularly special. Both bands incorporated blues elements into their first albums. But Blackmore did not believe The Stones had much going for them beyond their bluesy swagger.

When asked about his musical tastes, Ritchie Blackmore admitted that he would never listen to The Stones recreationally, saying, “The Stones? I thought they were idiots. It was simply a nick from Chuck Berry riffs. Chuck Berry was okay. I’m sometimes outspoken, but I don’t have time for the Stones. I can see why they’re respected; their rhythms are very good and consistent on record. I respect them, but I do not like them.

Blackmore may have had harsh words for Richards about how he came up with his riffs. But the guitarists share more similarities than most people realize. Blackmore is better known for his licks and knowledge of various exotic scales. Both he and Richards have placed a strong emphasis on rhythm in their respective bands. They always lay down a clear pulse that allows the song to ebb and flow throughout its duration.

Richards has found his niche for writing fantastic songs. Blackmore has continued to innovate throughout his career, even abandoning rock and roll for his Renaissance-themed project, Blackmore’s Night. For all of the great licks that Richards and Blackmore have given the world, the Deep Purple guitarist is more interested in where his muse will take him next than in replicating what has come before.

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