July 15, 2024

Why did Ritchie Blackmore leave Deep Purple?

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 manneKeystone/Getty Images

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.

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