Ritchie Blackmore has caused a stir with his planned return to rock next year. But the Deep Purple co-founder and Rainbow leader asserts that will be short-term, and his primary allegiance is still to Blackmore’s Night, the medieval folk-rock group he and wife Candice Night have fronted since 1997.
“My main concern is Blackmore’s Night. That will be ongoing for a long time, hopefully,” Blackmore tells Billboard.
The group is releasing its 10th studio album, All Our Yesterdays, on Sept. 18, and Billboard is exclusively premiering the Brave-inspired track “Will O’ The Wisp” below.
“Will O’ the Wisp” has its own unique inspiration. Night says the song came from watching the animated feature Brave with the couple’s two young children.
“I didn’t know about the Celtic folklore of the Will O’ the Wisp until i saw the wisps that were appearing in the movie that basically led the character of Merida through the forest and through the stone circles to the witches cottage,” Night recalls. “It caused me to do more research into these little lighted beings that appear and disappear and change your life, change your fate through the woodlands. It was fascinating.”
She assigned the lyrics to a piece of instrumental music Blackmore had given her that suited the theme.
“I always find that Ritchie’s instrumental pieces are so visual,” she says. “When I get them they’re obviously completely music, and I just kind of close my eyes and try to imagine what would fit really well or what the pictures are that are painted in my head, the visuals to the music.”
“Yeah, the lyrics really don’t matter, do they?” Blackmore cracks, to which Night responds “You always say that. Thank you. Unless it’s Bob Dylan.”
All Our Yesterdays also includes a cover of Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” “I just love the audacity that we can approach anything we want to,” Blackmore explains about Blackmore’s Night. “We’re not locked into a box, unlike the old days where something like that would be talked down. People would say, ‘We’re not gonna play ‘I Got You Babe.’ That just doesn’t work in a hard rock band.’ In this band we can do anything we want, which kind of puzzles a lot of people. They think, ‘What are they, a Renaissance band? A pop band? a folk band? No, we like to be everything.”
The album sports a dozen tracks recorded at the couple’s home studio in upstate New York — “In our dungeon,” Night says — and will come out in standard and deluxe editions and a collector’s edition box set, with a video for “Will O’ The Wisp” included with the latter two. Blackmore’s Night played in Europe during the summer and is considering some dates along the Cast Coast this fall.
Meanwhile, Blackmore is gearing up to take the band to Europe next June — most likely England, Germany and Sweden.
“I’m now 70, so I just felt like playing some rock ‘n’ roll for a few days,” he says. “We’re going to do four or five dates of just playing the old rock stuff, Purple stuff and Rainbow. I’m doing it for the fans, for nostalgia, and the singer I found is very exciting; he’s a cross between Dio meets Freddie Mercury. So this will mean exposing a new singer to the masses, and I’m sure he’ll become pretty famous because of his voice.”
Blackmore isn’t revealing the other musicians yet because contracts are still being negotiated, but none will be known names from his previous groups as has been rumored. He plans to film and record the performances for future release.
The guitarist is also the subject of an upcoming DVD documentary, The Ritchie Blackmore Story, which is due out Nov. 6.
The authorized film biography features footage from throughout his career as well as interviews with Blackmore, former Deep Purple bandmates Jon Lord and David Coverdale, ex-Rainbow singers Joe Lynn Turner and Graham Bonnet, admirers such as Queen’s Brian May, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, Ian Anderson, Kiss’ Gene Simmons, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and more.
“I haven’t seen it myself,” Blackmore says of the documentary. “People are always going, ‘Why haven’t you seen it?’ I leave it to other people to OK. Candi’s seen it and our management’s seen it, and I go, ‘Well, how is it?’ and They go, ‘It’s very good,’ and so that’s good enough. I’m too self-conscious to look at myself on film, so I take their word for it it’s good.”