"A lot of people don't like Ritchie Blackmore. But he feels he has nothing to say apart from what he says with his guitar": the mutual respect between Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore and Mountain's Leslie West was sweet and pure

Leslie West and Ritchie Blackmore
(Image credit: Bob Berg/Getty Images | Gutchie Kojima/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

For Ritchie Blackmore, hearing Leslie West's guitar playing for the first time was a life-changing experience. In an interview conducted for music channel VH1 in 2000, the former Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist spoke about hearing Mountain's Mississippi Queen in a rock bar in Germany on a night out with his bandmates in 1970, and recalled "We didn't speak to each other for about three minutes, because we thought, Who the hell is this? Because they had just completely destroyed our sound."

"There's no hard rock song which had more impact than that," he added. 

In a 2017 Newsweek interview, Blackmore admitted, "My biggest influences were Vanilla Fudge and Mountain", stating that Mississippi Queen "thundered". In a separate interview, the guitarist acknowledged that hearing Mountain's single, released in February 1970, was a key factor in Deep Purple adopting a heavier style on In Rock, which emerged in June that same year, stating that he and drummer Ian Paice "went white" upon hearing how "incredibly heavy" Mountain sounded.

"Hearing Mountain directly influenced the direction of the Purple," he acknowledged. "At the time, we were trying to find our way as a band, some sort of ‘category.’ Jon [Lord, DP keyboardist] was into the classical stuff, and, although I love classical music, I wanted to follow up the Deep Purple album, the last one with the original line-up, with something much heavier, out-and-out rock. And that’s how In Rock came about.”

After Leslie West reformed Mountain in the early '80s - the band having originally split after bassist/co-vocalist Felix Pappalardi was shot and killed by his wife - they were invited to play a number of shows with the reunited Mk. II line-up of Deep Purple, including Blackmore's band's headlining appearance at Knebworth on June 22, 1985. And in a summer '85 interview with One Two Testing magazine, West had kind words for Blackmore, who he claimed had "dainty fingers". 

"A lot of people don't like Ritchie Blackmore," said the New York born guitarist/vocalist. "But he feels he has nothing to say apart from what he says with his guitar. People misunderstand shyness for conceit. He's not arrogant at all." 

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.