Ritchie Blackmore is the most famous member of Deep Purple, but the legendary rock guitarist wasn’t part of the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — and it was very noticeable. Blackmore had originally planned to attend the ceremony, but declined after he was told the current touring lineup of the iconic English rock band didn’t want to perform with him.
According to a post on Blackmore’s official Facebook page, Ritchie was honored by the offer of the Hall of Fame induction and had considered attending the event, but decided against it after he was told that the current lineup of the band refused to perform with him.
“Ritchie was honored by the offer of induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” the statement read. “He was discussing the possibility of attending until we received correspondence from the President of the Rock Hall of Fame, who said that Bruce Payne, management for the current Deep Purple Touring Band, had said ‘No……….!!!!!’ Therefore, Ritchie will not be attending the ceremony. He sincerely thanks all the fans that voted for him for their support.”
Ritchie Blackmore is a co-founder of Deep Purple, and the man behind some of the band’s most famous songs, including the memorable “Smoke on the Water” guitar riff. Ritchie has not played with Deep Purple since leaving the group in 1993 (the first year the band was eligible for Hall of Fame nomination, incidentally), but fans had hoped for the rare chance to see him back with the band at the Hall of Fame ceremony.
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame President Joel Peresman even tried to facilitate a reunion between the current lineup of Deep Purple and Blackmore, but Peresman told Rolling Stone the current lineup of the band wouldn’t budge.
“Deep Purple’s manager Bruce Payne told me they were unwilling to perform with Ritchie,” Peresman said. “We’ve had many situations like this in the past and many times these things get worked out for one night, and then they go back to their neutral corners the next day.”
Even though Ritchie Blackmore didn’t attend Deep Purple’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, he was still there in spirit. According to Cleveland Plain Dealer, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who inducted Deep Purple into the Hall of Fame, gave Blackmore a shout-out and praised him for creating one of the most memorable guitar riffs of all time on the 1972 rock anthem “Smoke on the Water.” In addition, former lead singer David Coverdale said he was extremely disappointed that Blackmore wasn’t part of the ceremony.
“It’s a big disappointment for me that [Blackmore] wasn’t here tonight. I emailed his manager a couple of days ago and extended a personal invitation. I never really got a response. Ritchie and I reconnected in 2012 after the loss of [pianist/organist] John Lord just to express my condolences and we buried the hatchet…which was great.”
While Ritchie Blackmore missed the long-awaited Deep Purple induction, the band’s current lineup — lead singer Ian Gillan, guitarist Steve Morse, keyboardist Don Airey, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice – performed some of their biggest songs at the ceremony, including “Highway Star,” “Hush,” and, of course, “Smoke on the Water.” More recent Deep Purple inductees David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes were on hand, but were not part of the opening performance, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
Ian Paice and Ian Gillan previously talked about the possibility of Ritchie Blackmore reuniting with the band for one night, and both dismissed any chance of it. In 2014, Gillan told Rolling Stone there was simply no way the band would agree to play with Blackmore, even at the Hall of Fame induction.
“It would be unconscionable to think about bringing Ritchie in. I don’t have an issue with Ritchie, nor does anyone. I’ve been in touch with Ritchie recently and everything’s cool, so there’s no bitter, personal problem. We’re too old for that and everything’s in the past, but no. That would be out of the question.”
Check out the video below to see Ritchie Blackmore talking about the Rock Hall drama.
[Photo By Theo Wargo/Getty Images]