The shot with the smoke and pyro is from Leeds on the "Difficult To Cure" tour.

We once stole his stage outfit and my friend journalist, Pete Makowski, wore it and went in the photo pit during "Catch The Rainbow." Joe went crazy when he saw him. He wasn't so much a bad person...just insecure and out of his depth. He was more suited to singing disco. His onstage mannerisms were more suited to acting in a camp version of Hamlet than singing in a rock band. Anyway, looking at Ritchie now--dressed as Robin Hood--him and Joe would be great in a band again together.

Pete summed up Ritchie far more succinctly. Mean, moody arrogant, self-obsessed, selfish, insecure and bitter...Ritchie Blackmore possesses all these character defects. Get on his dark side and a worse enemy will be hard to find. Ask anyone he's fired. In the early 70s, Deep Purple were the world's leading purveyors of a symphonic rock sound that is now long gone. Blackmore's distorted tremolo sound has been copied many times by nearly all the guitar players (check out Billy Corgan). I met the man when still in my early teens and we hit it off as we had many things in common: Mandrax (a downer), Johnny Walker Black Label, strong German beer and a love of large breasts. The man was also my hero and having him as a friend was a dream come true. Onstage I've seen him as his best, off-stage I've witnessed his tantrums. But for all his shitty qualities, I really liked the man. He's real.

Nowadays Deep Purple are no longer a force to be reckoned with. The sound is bloated, diluted and dated. So's Ritchie who has been that way ever since he decided to take the American Radio Route, convincing himself he was the new ABBA. His influence though is still felt today. There can't be too many guitar fans who don't recognize the opening chords to "Smoke on the Water."

Blackmore has never received the critical claim he deserves. While his peers, Clapton, Beck and Page enjoy the adulation and respect, Ritchie remains in the shadows.

If you really want to hear how good he was, get Machinehead, Fireball and In Rock (Billy Corgan told me this is one of his favourite albums) all by Deep Purple.