Black Knight: The Enduring Rock Legacy Of Ritchie Blackmore

We present a career-length playlist honoring the work of one of the world’s greatest guitarists.

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Ritchie Blackmore - Photo: Fin Costello/Redferns
Photo: Fin Costello/Redferns

One of the world’s greatest guitarists, born on April 14, 1945, is a deserving subject of a career-overview playlist, and so we present Ritchie Blackmore In 20 Songs.

Of course, you’d need five times that number to do full justice to the English guitar virtuoso’s contribution to British rock, especially as his recording carer stretches over more than 55 years. But we’ve compiled a 94-minute snapshot that embraces his early sessions, his work with the Mk I, Mk II and Mk III line-ups of Deep Purple, and the other acclaimed bands that he formed, Rainbow and Blackmore’s Night.

Richard Hugh Blackmore was born in Weston-Super-Mare and grew up in Heston in Middlesex. He first played his own guitar at only nine or ten, when his dad bought him his first model. By the early 1960s, barely 16, Ritchie was playing at the famous Two I’s coffee bar in Soho, London, and with groups like the Dominators, the Satellites, Mike Dee & the Jaywalkers, and the Condors.

Nurtured by Joe Meek

In 1962, Blackmore had his first spell with Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages. That was just before he took the lead guitar role in the Outlaws, who also featured bassist Chas Hodges, later of the enduringly popular duo Chas & Dave. Under the immediately distinctive direction of producer Joe Meek, they released their own single “Return of the Outlaws,” which leads off our playlist, in February 1963.

The Outlaws also backed many of Meek’s other artists. These included Glenda Collins, John Leyton, Jess Conrad, Burr Bailey, Gunilla Thorne and, perhaps most notably, Heinz. His 1963 Eddie Cochran tribute hit “Just Like Eddie” features Blackmore’s contributions. Then in 1965, Ritchie’s own name was on an Oriole record label, with “Getaway,” credited to the Ritchie Blackmore Orchestra.

The mid-1960s saw Blackmore in demand for sessions and gigs everywhere. He performed in the Three Musketeers, as one of the Crusaders behind Neil Christian, in the Trip for Ricky Maocchi and, as one of the Savages, for Jerry Lee Lewis, no less. On record, he backed Christian and, among others, Ronnie Jones, in a line-up that also featured Hodges and the prolific and ever in-demand keyboard player Nicky Hopkins.

Blackmore rocks

As a harder rock sound became the vogue in the later 1960s, Blackmore was at work with groups such as Sun Dragon and Boz. That group was fronted by later Bad Company member Boz Burrell and featured not only Hodges, but Jon Lord on keyboards and Ian Paice on drums. “Down In The Flood,” the B-side of their 1968 single version of “I Shall Be Released,” had an earlier-1960s R&B flavor given contemporary rock power by Blackmore’s fluid lines.

That leads, of course, to Deep Purple, whose Mk I line-up is marked by “Why Didn’t Rosemary?”, a frequent fan favorite from their Deep Purple album of 1969. Also, by their US hit version of Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman,” from Purple’s second LP, The Book Of Taliesyn.

Purple fans’ favorite solo

While the playlist celebrates Blackmore’s finest playing, rather than necessarily his bestsellers, we couldn’t omit Purple’s great 1970 hit “Black Night.” From that year’s classic In Rock album come “Hard Lovin’ Man” and the epic “Child In Time.” The latter was voted in a 2005 poll by subscribers to the website to contain their favourite Blackmore solo of all.

“Pictures Of Home,” from another of Purple’s album landmarks, Machine Head, is another performance much loved by devotees. So is his live display on “Highway Star,” from one of the great rock concert albums, Made In Japan. The Mk III Purple line-up is remembered with 1974’s “Burn.” Then, momentously, the guitarist entered a new chapter of his career with Rainbow.

“Stargazer,” from their second album Rising in 1976, is one of Ritchie’s most revered solos. The Rainbow years are also marked by the dynamic title track and “Kill The King” from Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll and the hit single “Since You’ve Been Gone.” The reunited Purple Mk II line-up features with the title song from 1984’s Perfect Strangers and that album’s “Wasted Sunsets.” The 1987 follow-up The House Of Blue Light offers “The Spanish Archer.”

Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers (Official Music Video)

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Blackmore’s Night, the band Ritchie formed in 1997 with vocalist Candice Night, have so far released no fewer than 11 studio albums, and three live sets. The title track from 2001’s Fires At Midnight, with its eastern flavors, showcases both Night’s vocals and, from around the five-minute mark, another blinding Blackmore solo.

Listen to the Rock Icons playlist.



  1. Daniel

    April 14, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    And SIXTEENTH. CENTURY. GREENSLEEVES didn’t make the top dozen? I am confused.

    • a.k.

      February 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Cannot agree more

  2. Hans

    April 14, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    “Rising” first album ???? Never heard of “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975) That was the first one.

    • Aldoux

      April 16, 2015 at 6:39 pm


      I think Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow was a RB solo album while RISING was a Rainbow album, that’s the difference…

      • Katarzyna

        December 5, 2015 at 1:24 pm

        Are you high?

    • Paul

      July 21, 2015 at 8:44 am

      No smoke on the water or any of the dozens of other tracks which are much more defining

    • Mike

      September 10, 2016 at 4:51 am

      nowhere in that story does the person claim, that it’s his first album with rainbow.

  3. joe

    April 14, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow came out in 1975, featuring Ronnie James Dio as Lead singer, it has a cartoonish castle on the album cover with a rainbow in the background behind the castle. You may have heard of the this tune ” Man On The Silver Mountain “

    • Steve

      September 10, 2016 at 12:04 am

      That “cartoonish castle” is a guitar btw

  4. joe

    April 14, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Rainbow Rising came out in 1976!.

  5. rob houben

    April 14, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Ritchie, congratulations on this milestone in your life.
    Rob Houben as a loyal fan since I heard of your music.

  6. Godfrey Davies

    April 15, 2015 at 2:28 am

    Whoever did this need to do his homework, there are so many errors. Why Didn’t Rosemary was not off the first album, which was called Shades Of Deep Purple, NOT Deep Purple (that was the title of the third album). As someone also pointed out, Stargazer is not off the first Rainbow album. This has been cobbled together by someone who has little knowledge or has not doen any research into the great man.

  7. Torsten Waldow

    April 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm


  8. James Gay

    April 20, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    deep purple is the best rock band ever

  9. Robbie

    April 14, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    No ‘Gates of Babylon?’ Deary me…

  10. Jim G

    April 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    What about the live version of Catch the Rainbow from Rainbow On Stage……….stunning!

  11. Фёдор Андреевич Новосельцев

    April 14, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Happy Birthday,Ritchie!!!

  12. Pinchers

    April 14, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    There will never ever be another entertainer like Ritchie again, he is a one off and i for one am glad that he has been around in my era ‘cos years and years from now he will be remembered and i was there.

  13. Dronov Oleg

    April 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Happy Birthday,Ritchie, always stay yong!

  14. Steven Jackson

    June 22, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Upon my back I proudly have tattooed the “Rainbow Rising cover. What a crap list! Mistakes plus and what about” A light in the black” R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio. A huge happy birthday Ritchie, A legend amongst the legends.

  15. elgaio

    September 9, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Blackmore the best…fuck the rest.

  16. Nikolay

    September 10, 2016 at 2:06 am

    This article is clearly a teaser. Every song written by Ritchie in Deep Purple and Rainbow is great and is eligible to be anyone’s favorite. Personally, I am grateful for his music.

  17. Steve

    September 10, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    I don’t think the list goes anywhere near covering Richie Blackmore’s best work. What about Lazy, Burn, Mistreated, Soldier of Fortune, Gypsy’s Kiss; Man of the Silver Mountain, Catch the Rainbow, Kill the King, Rainbow Eyes, Lost in Hollywood, Love’s No Friend of Mine – and many more that of that quality?

    I bought Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow in vinyl when it was first released. The covers is a cartoon image of both a castle and a guitar. I got to see the Richie in 1976 in Australia shortly after Rainbow Rising was released. Needless to say in was a great show.

  18. kralle

    September 15, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    I worship everything he has ever done exept the years 81-87 where he is just superb..
    Before and after that THAT tone that no one else have just kills me..
    So bloody god guitar player and musican..

  19. Haggis Muncher

    November 5, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Saw Blackmore in Vancouver with Deep Purple in 1972 . CHANGED my life forever . SEEN all the big bands from that Era . Richie” stage show and presence just blew me away . way ahead of the rest . long live The Wizard .

  20. tavo

    April 15, 2017 at 1:05 am

    The info is very bad !!! but Ritchie is the Best !!

  21. James Andrews

    April 15, 2017 at 2:40 am

    Ritchie Blackmore is my favorite guitarist. I have seen him in concert with Deep Purple. Rainbow and Blackmore Night and he is truly phenomenal. Ritchie stay healthy and please come Washington D.C.with Rainbow one more time. Happy birthday Ritchie! Rock on.

  22. Pam smith

    April 16, 2017 at 1:13 am

    We were on our honeymoons in st Lucia in 1983.. you and Christine were at the same resort as we were.. we had drinks after dinner. Hope you are well.. always have lived deep purple and rainbow.

  23. Mike Wasco

    October 8, 2017 at 7:56 am

    If Hard Lovin Man (Deep Purple) and Gates of Babylon are not in the top 20 whoever the doorknob that did this list needs to step down …because your not a true genuine RITCHIE BLACKMORE fan ..Since You’Been Gone ? ?? ….gimme a fucking break !

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