It wasn’t long after a friend of mine turned me onto Rainbow in the summer of 1981 that they quickly became my favorite band, due in no small part to Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar playing. The 70s and 80s were the heyday for guitar gods, and while I was in awe of many of them, there was something about Blackmore’s playing that made him stand out above the rest for me.
Today, Ritchie Blackmore celebrates his 69th birthday.
It was a beautiful Spring Saturday on this date in 1984, the kind of day where I would normally be outside with friends, but I decided instead to spend the day in my room celebrating my favorite guitar player’s birthday by listening to the entire Rainbow catalog.
Long before music was consumed on small digital devices, diehard music fans like me had component stereo systems with speakers that were three feet high. My stereo system left me with little floor space in my room, but it didn’t matter because it was my prized possession.
With everyone in my family spending the day outside, I was free to test the limits of my stereo with my Blackmore-inspired, vinyl Rainbow-thon.
My day started with “Man On The Silver Mountain” off of the band’s debut album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and ended with “Make Your Move” off of their latest album at the time, Bent Out Of Shape. In between those two albums, I listened to the rest of Rainbow’s catalog in chronological order: Rising, Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll, Down to Earth, Difficult to Cure and Straight Between the Eyes.
To the average person, this might seem like an insane way to spend a beautiful Spring day, my family included. But to me, it was an amazing musical journey that I still remember thirty years later as if it happened yesterday.