Former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore has revealed that he will not be attending this year Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony because the current lineup of the band is unwilling to perform with him.
"Ritchie was honored by the offer of induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," reads a posting on his official Facebook page. "He was discussing the possibility of attending, until we received correspondence from the President of the Rock Hall of Fame, who said that Bruce Payne, management for the current Deep Purple Touring Band, had said 'No"……….!!!!!' Therefore Ritchie will not be attending the ceremony. He sincerely thanks all the fans that voted for him for their support."
Blackmore is a co-founder of Deep Purple and wrote many of their most memorable riffs, including "Smoke on the Water," but he has not played with the group since his 1993 departure. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony seemed like a rare opportunity to see them back onstage together, at least for one night, and in December, drummer Ian Paice told Rolling Stone he wasn't sure what would happen.
"We have to accept that there are personalities that don't see eye-to-eye in our history," he said. "How that would work, I have no idea. Whether that could be put aside, I don't know ... Some of us would think about [performing with Blackmore]. Some of us probably wouldn't. It depends how it's presented and what everybody's individual feelings are. But precedence must now go to the guys that are still working the name and keeping it alive. Their choice is final."
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President and CEO Joel Peresman says that he reached out to managers for the current lineup of Deep Purple and Blackmore to try and facilitate a reunion. "Deep Purple's manager Bruce Payne told me they were unwilling to perform with Ritchie," he says. "We've had many situations like this in the past and many times these things get worked out for one night, and then they go back to their neutral corners the next day."
Peresman relayed the band's position to Carole Stevens, who manages Blackmore. "I said to her, 'Maybe you can take the high road and reach out to them and see if something can be worked out as far as the performance goes,'" he says. "We would love to have them all play together. We always want to do that. We always want to see the actual inductees that haven't performed together in a long time, if they have the opportunity to come together for at least one night, to do that. We'd like to see it as an organization, and I'm sure fans would like to see it too."
Even if the two sides are unwilling to come to an agreement that allows Blackmore to perform with the current lineup of Deep Purple, the Hall of Fame still hopes that Blackmore decides to attend the April 8th ceremony at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. "I did read on his website that he is having surgery on his hand this month and he'll be out for at least a month," says Peresman. "I don't know how that impacts his ability to play even if he did come, but there is no way he is banned from the ceremony. That notion we would ever do that is patently untrue. We've never banned any inductee. He is invited to come enjoy the evening and accept the award."
Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan has been very consistent over the years that he would not reunite with Blackmore at the Hall of Fame. "It would be unconscionable to think about bringing Ritchie in," he told Rolling Stone in 2014. "I don't have an issue with Ritchie, nor does anyone. I've been in touch with Ritchie recently and everything's cool, so there's no bitter, personal problem. We're too old for that and everything's in the past, but no. That would be out of the question."
According to Peresman, the decision to allow the current lineup of the band to play was very simple: "There are three inductees that have kept on as Deep Purple, including some of the early original members still in the band," he says. "It's just fair that there's three of them and one of Ritch. We want to have [a performance] that represented Deep Purple's music."
David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, who were both in Deep Purple in the mid-1970s, do plan on attending the ceremony. But as of now, the plan is for only the current lineup to perform. "We can't wrestle people to the ground and hold them down and make them perform together," says Peresman. "If they want to and they can sort it out, terrific. If they can't, we can't make them."