Ritchie Blackmore took the stage Friday at Loreley, Germany's Monsters of Rock to perform the works of his two pioneering heavy metal groups – Deep Purple and Rainbow – for the first time in 19 years.
Performing with a new lineup of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow –keyboardist Jens Johansson, singer Ronnie Romero and Blackmore's Night vets drummer David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau, Ultimate Classic Rock reports – Blackmore performed a 13-song set split evenly between Deep Purple classics ("Highway Star," "Smoke on the Water," "Child in Time" and more) and Rainbow standouts ("Stargazer," "Spotlight Kid," "Long Live Rock n' Roll") plus his cover of Russ Ballard's "Since You Been Gone."
Blackmore, one of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists, last performed under the Rainbow moniker back in May 1997. Since then, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted guitarist has dedicated his craft to renaissance and baroque music, leaving his rock roots behind for nearly two decades.
When it was revealed that Deep Purple would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, band members David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes reached out to Blackmore to see whether he'd want to participate in the induction ceremony, even offering to play a Deep Purple track in a renaissance-style arrangement, Coverdale told Rolling Stone. Ultimately, Blackmore turned down the invitation to reunite with his bandmates.
"We have to accept that there are personalities that don't see eye-to-eye in our history," Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice told Rolling Stone in December. "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."
Despite the non-Deep Purple reunion, in 2015, Blackmore revealed that he would instead reform his Rainbow project, with some 2016 festival dates in the works. Blackmore's Rainbow next performs Saturday night at another Monsters of Rock fest, this time in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany
Watch more fan footage from Blackmore's rock return below: