Interview by Robert Cavuoto
Rock legends and power couple Ritchie Blackmore [guitar] and his wife Candice Night [vocals] of Blackmore’s Night will be touring the East Coast for a handful of dates, starting on July 19 in Glenside, PA. In their 20-year career, the band has released 10 studio albums and has one of the most legendary guitarists at the helm, Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow.
The band’s sound is based in 12th through 15th-century renaissance music with a modern flair by Ritchie adding acoustic and electric guitars. The songs are designed to transports the listener to medieval England where wandering mistrals performed at musical gatherings and festivals.
I caught up with Candice Night to talk about the band’s East Coast tour, the secret to their long-standing marriage, and where Ritchie keeps his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame award?
Robert Cavuoto: Blackmore’s Night will be heading out on the road to start a tour of the northeast in mid-July. How long does it take the band to prepare for the tour?
Candice Night: It’s a strange thing because we haven’t played together in about a year. Usually, at this time, we are overseas touring as we have done in the last 20 years. This was the first time Blackmore’s Night hasn’t gone as Ritchie wanted to concentrate more on the northeast of America. It’s a pretty big deal for us as we have religious gone. It’s always great playing at home and looking out into the audience seeing friends and family. The only downside of that is when you get together after the show they don’t let you forget about your onstage mistakes [laughing]. We have some amazing musicians with us, and even though we only play together for a few weeks or a month, the band come out to our gatherings to pick up the acoustic guitars and play some songs. We are pretty versed in the songs as we have been playing them for so long we bounce right back to where we are supposed to be rather quickly.
Robert Cavuoto: Will more U.S. dates for Blackmore’s Night be announced?
Candice Night: America is such a vast market and it so hard to get to everywhere you want to get to or where people want to see you. Ritchie has been touring since he was 16 years old and it’s a little tricky for him to do the normal traveling thing. At this point, he wants to stick with where he can drive to and stay one or two night between dates. It’s a very relaxed touring schedule. We don’t take a big tour bus; we take an SUV and hit the road. I would love to go to other places.
Robert Cavuoto: You recently did a tour in Europe as Blackmore’s Rainbow; tell me about the differences in preparing for both bands?
Candice Night: They are totally different. With Blackmore’s Night, we have to know more than 60 songs. Ritchie and I know even more. It’s very freeform as we take requests from the audience and have different set lists every night. Ritchie plays his improvisational solos and stands out there channeling from somewhere above to play these amazing solos. It is more creatively freeing for him to play anything he wants when he wants. With Rainbow, I think he sees it as more of a nostalgia project that he can revisit. He has great respect for the bands of those times, but he realizes that the fans want to hear certain songs from that era. He doesn’t switch it up and only plays a certain number of songs; songs that he thinks the fans will appreciate or like the best. Our bandmates are from all over the globe so we can’t all just get together and jam on things. There is a lot more of schedule checking and then flying people in. They are very supportive and have great energy. I’m so excited and love every moment of being on stage with them. It’s totally different than Blackmore’s Night but equally as fulfilling.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you think that Blackmore’s Rainbow will play some US dates soon?
Candice Night: I’m hoping that it will happen. It’s funny as it’s normally not the band members but the logistics of making everything work with agents, promoters, and the venues. We still hope to make it happen so don’t give up hope. Ronnie Romero is so great; he can sing anything from Ronnie James Dio to Ian Gillan to Joe Lynn Turner. He covers all the bases.
Robert Cavuoto: You play an impressive amount of instruments on the Blackmore’s Night CDs; tell me about how you mastered all the instruments and how you handle playing them live?
Candice Night: When you are playing things like the shawm, rauschpfeife, or cornamuseit it not like you can walk into Sam Ash or the Guitar Center to say “What reed is going to work with this?” They will look at you like you are insane! [Laughing] Nobody has ever heard of these instruments before. I make my own reeds and find my way with the correct fingering. Certain parts of the songs from the 12th to the 15th centuries are updated with new instrumentation when Ritchie adds acoustic or electric guitars. Then we add modern-day instruments, arrangements, and lyrics. You have the ghosts from that era then able to breathe new life by adding some color to them. I’m lucky to have a backup singer who not only has a five-octave range but she is able to pick up a few of the instruments so we both able to play them. It’s not easy to sing and then pick up an instrument as it pulls on different parts of your body. You can be signing from your diaphragm then pushing from other parts of the body for the wind instruments. It adds a new flavor or dimension to Blackmore’s Night.
Robert Cavuoto: You have a beautiful voice and probably could have gone into any type of music. What was it about renaissance music that made you want to peruse it?
Candice Night: Thank you. I love it and its only one aspect of music that I love. I grew up listening to Big Bands and Benny Goodman with my parents. I listened to Stevie Nicks religiously growing up. I tell Ritchie I’m a child of the 80s and all those bands. When I met Ritchie , he introduced me to renaissance music. He was the one who schooled me all these incredible melodies. When I moved in with him, we live in this old house in Connecticut in the woods with a minstrel gallery. The house was always very dark as Ritchie doesn’t like a lot of light; he is truly the “Prince of Darkness.” [Laughing] Whenever I put the lights on he goes around with a red sharpie and colors in the bulbs. He is always looking for ambience. Needless to say, everything is pretty dark in our house! The only music he would play around the house was renaissance music. At that point, it transported me. It was the perfect marriage of audio with the visual of living in this old house in the woods, with deer in the garden, and snow falling. It transported me to another time. I fell in love with the music through him. Talking to him about it helped me realize how renaissance music influenced him as far back as with Ronnie James Dio on “Temple of the King” and with Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” When he is not playing the riff during that song, he is playing notes from a medieval modal scale of 4ths and 5ths. That’s what gives it that dark, ominous sound. It wasn’t me that brought him into this music it was the other way around. In 1995 while Ritchie was recording with Rainbow, we started to write together with his idea in mind while he played on acoustic guitar. It was an escape from the corporate rock world. He had major record companies asking him to send demos of the songs. Ritchie was like, “What, I have never made a demo in my life!” I think he was getting really frustrated that they were trying to tighten the reins on his creativity. We never thought that we would put it out for people to hear. Twenty years later we are still going down that path.
Robert Cavuoto: The entertainment industry is known for short and inconsequential marriages. What would you say has been the secret to your enduring marriage to Ritchie and partnership in Blackmore’s Night?
Candice Night: Ritchie is an amazing enigma and can get inspiration from “friction.” [Laughing] He can step on stage and not enjoy the people around him even though he had played with them for many years. After a while egos got involved and everyone was traveling in different limos and only saw each other when they went on stage. Decades before they would have all hung out and gone out to dinner then slept on each other’s floor. That bond is what made it so magical in the beginning. Then success came, people get torn in different directions, and personal relationships started to deteriorate. It never got dealt with so it just festered. He wrote some amazing things during those difficult times. When Ritchie and I are together, we found that we have a great form of communication which I think is key. If there is an issue or problem, we are going to hash-it-out. There are going to be times when we need time away from each together as well. There have been times on the road where we have been so angry at each other that we needed to get separate rooms so I could have a night by myself to chill out. When you are touring, travel, and performing with somebody you are living and breathing them 24/7. We have respect and understanding for each other. I don’t think he really had that with other band members, but for us, it seems to work. I like the way we work together on a professional and creative basis where he will come up with the music, and he gives me free rein on the lyrics; once we have established a melody. The music he creates paints pictures in my head and has a storyline. I think you have to listen to what the music is trying to tell you. I translate what his music is saying. When we put the music and lyric together, we have the perfect marriage. We never step on each other’s toes. As we have a mutual admiration for each other.
Robert Cavuoto: Is Ritchie’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame award on display in your home?
Candice Night: Actually it is! He has so many trophies, awards, and gold records on display in our basement. When we first bought the house everything was white; the floor, the wallpaper, everything. We transformed the house and put in gothic doors; we painted everything burgundy with heavy drapes and emerald green carpet with sconces. We also have tapestries hanging. We transformed this contemporary house into a medieval home. It’s not huge but big enough for us, and it sits by the water. Ritchie decided he wanted to be the only musician in the world who doesn’t have a home studio and wanted a bar room. But not a typical bar, he wanted a dungeon bar! [Laughing]. It is right out of medieval England with torture devices on the walls. The entryway to the bar is adorned with all his trophies, awards, and gold records. He appreciates all of them.