One of the undisputed all-time world champions of hard rock guitar-playing, Ritchie Blackmore was born in London in 1945. A self-taught guitarist, by the mid-1960s he was working with groups such as the Outlaws and Screaming Lord Sutch. In 1967 he was approached by keyboard player Jon Lord to put together a new group.

In 1968 they formed Roundabout, together with a bassist, a drummer and Chris Curtis as a vocalist, but within a month the project collapsed and Blackmore and Lord decided to have another go. This time they recruited Rod Evans for vocals, Nick Simper on bass and Ian Paice for drums. Thus was born Deep Purple.

A year later following some reasonable chart success the vocals were taken over by Ian Gillan and bass by Roger Glover. In this line-up the band started to produce an entire new type of music, centred around Blackmore's ever increasing talents on lead guitar and Gillan's amazing vocal abilities.

Deep Purple enjoyed 5 years of unprecedented success and almost single-handedly invented the guitar rock genre of music. In 1975 they suffered from the apparently obligatory "musical differences" and Ritchie left to form Rainbow. He quickly teamed up with another rock 'n' roll god, the drummer Cozy Powell, and with singer Ronnie James Dio (later of Black Sabbath) Rainbow shot to success almost as quickly as Deep Purple had done.

In 1984 Rainbow was "put on hold" as Deep Purple decided to reform. Again they enjoyed international success with several albums and a world tour before Gillan once again left in 1989. Deep Purple continued without him, with Blackmore at the helm, and then in 1992 Ian Gillan was persuaded to return. The personality clash proved too much for Blackmore and a year later he quit to resurrect Rainbow.

In 1996 Blackmore was incorporated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and starts to put together a new band Blackmore's Night, where he remains to this day. Blackmore's influence on nearly every rock guitarist since the early 1970s has been considerable, and while there are now players who are faster and/or more impressive, as one of the founding fathers of rock/metal Ritchie Blackmore went where no guitarist had gone before, a fact borne out by the fact that most histories of rock music place both Rainbow and Deep Purple somewhere up in the top ten greatest bands.

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