RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Ritchie Blackmore – The Ritchie Blackmore Story 
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rating: B+

Ritchie Blackmore is one of the most respected hard rock guitarists in the history of the genre.  The ‘man in black’ helped invent neo-classical heavy metal with his medieval-oriented guitar solos.  He gave the world perhaps the most played guitar riff ever with the opening notes to “Smoke on the Water.” Blackmore then left the hard rock stage and played mainly acoustically oriented music with his wife Candice in Blackmore’s Night.  He did all this without ever becoming a media darling.

No, Ritchie has long preferred to let the music do the talking and keep his own mouth shut.  He has not entirely shunned interviews over the course of his career, but he has not proffered up a lot of time to the press either.  That is what makes this documentary so compelling...  We get to hear Ritchie speak about Deep Purple, Rainbow and Blackmore’s Night as he has never done so before.

Blackmore has long been a controversial figure who has been very difficult to be in a band with.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask anyone who was in Deep Purple or the 100 or so members of Rainbow.  The guy had a vision, drive, an attitude and a penchant to do things how he sees fit to do them.

It would have been nice to hear him open up and be more honest about his role in the breakup of Deep Purple, but then again, I suppose the stories about Ian Gillan and Ritchie not liking each other are fairly well known by now, regardless.  There are still plenty of good stories, history and even ‘fessing up in this chronicle, though no huge unearthed revelations.

The documentary also contains many guest speakers who praise Blackmore, including Phil Collen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Lars Ulrich, Gene Simmons, Brian May, Steve Lukather, Joe Lynn Turner and Ian Anderson.   Each musician seems very sincere in paying homage to Blackmore. 

The documentary is well done, and Blackmore seems very comfortable telling the tale, making us wish he would do more interviews, as the man has lived an interesting life.  RB has a lot to say, and I want to hear even more than this in-depth documentary can incorporate!

Oh, one last thing... Ritchie really likes beer!  The only time he does not have an ale in hand or on the table in front of him is when he is with his wife and has a guitar occupying his hands...  Now that’s rock and roll!

Pick this one up, as it is ‘his side’ of the story.  The Deep Purple live clips are wonderful, and the Rainbow footage is amazing.  One complaint though: This archive didn’t even mention the song “Stone Cold” and glossed over the Rainbow album Straight Between the Eyes, which is a shame... as that album is great!

At the end of the day the biggest enemy of the documentary is time.  It would need to be three times longer to get his career all fit into the schedule.  What is here, though is very well done.

Join Ritchie for a virtual pint, and watch this one with your Blackmore friends... then go out, get in your car, cruise the strip, and crank up In Rock.

By Jeb Wright