In honor of Ritchie Blackmore’s birthday, we have teamed up with Guitar World to highlight a 1973 New York performance by Blackmore and his former band Deep Purple.
About Ritchie Blackmore
If you didn’t know, Ritchie Blackmore is one of Hard Rocks most legendary guitarists and the creator of some of the genres most iconic moments, including that track nearly every guitarist can recite in their sleep, Smoke on The Water. Blackmore was born in England where he started playing guitar at age 11. In 1968, Blackmore was recruited by organist John Lord to play in a band that would eventually be known as Deep Purple. Around this time Blackmore was influenced by a lot of the heavier music starting to come out of England and was influential in steering the band towards a harder hitting sound with more edge. The search for this sound lead Blackmore and his original band mates to pursue new members including vocalist Ian Gillian and bassist Roger Glover. This “Mark II” version of Deep Purple would go on to make Rock History. This lineups first major album “In Rock” is now cited as one of the original Heavy Metal Albums along with releases from Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. However, it was 1972’s “Machine Head” album that launched the band into the stratosphere. Tracks like Highway Star, Space Truckin, and of course Smoke on the Water brought the album to #1 on the UK charts. Another successful album “Who Do We Think We Are” followed in the Winter of 1973. Soon after the 1973 performance we highlight below, the classic Deep Purple lineup was shaken up with members like Glen Hughes and David Coverdale joining the ranks. Blackmore himself would eventually leave in 1975 going on to form Rainbow with the late Ronnie James Dio. Rainbow released several albums throughout the 70’s continuing on with Graham Bonnet after Dio departed. Later Blackmore would reunite with the original Purple lineup and release folk rock under his “Blackmore’s Night Project”
1973: Deep Purple Live in New York
Guitar World author Damian Fanelli who helped unearth the rare 1973 performance provides us with some great context for this performance.
We thought we’d glance back at the classic Mark II lineup of Deep Purple with Ritchie, Roger Glover (bass), Ian Gillan (vocals), Ian Paice (drums) and Jon Lord (keyboards)—tearing it up, live in New York in 1973.
The performance, which once existed in one 23-minute-long YouTube clip, is now broken out over three videos. Still, they show Deep Purple at the top of their game.
They plow through “Strange Kind of Woman” (top video), “Smoke on the Water” (middle video) and “Space Truckin'” before turning things over to Lord, who is eventually joined by Blackmore, who throws down and steps on his Strat, tosses it in the air, replaces it with another (out-of-tune) Strat and slips into smoke-machine nirvana.
While we don’t know much about the show’s exact date or venue, we know it was filmed before July 1973, when David Coverdale officially stepped in for Gillan.
The current version of Deep Purple features the same rhythm section seen in the videos below—Glover and Paice—plus Gillan on vocals. Dixie Dregs axeman Steve Morse and keyboardist Don Airey round out the band’s current lineup. Lord, who died in 2012, retired from the band in 2002. Blackmore called it quits in 1993.