A to Z of Making It, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Ritchie Blackmore

“Being original doesn’t require being the first to do something. It just means being different and better.”
Adam Grant, Originals

History is always written by the winners. If you read any story about Metallica today, it more or less states how “Kill Em All” came out in 1983 and took over the world. But, we all know it wasn’t the case. Hell, it wasn’t the case with their first four albums. But, their first four albums are seen as different and a better alternative to the MTV friendly form of metal.

Black Sabbath as a band gets a lot of attention for being original and influential and so does Deep Purple. But in every band like Metallica, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, there is always a person who is more influential than the others.

Ritchie Blackmore has been instrumental in influencing guitarists and vocalists all at the same time while carrying influential bands.

It’s common knowledge the iron fist Blackmore wielded to get Ian Gillian to record the “Child In Time” ohhhs and ahhhs. Eventually the production team needed to resort to studio trickery to make it sound like Gillian was more able than he was. And guess what happened after the record came out and people heard “Child In Time”. Suddenly every young wannabe singer started practicing. In the same way Roger Bannister achieved the first four minute mile in 1954, and inspired a whole new generation of runners that they could achieve the impossible, in music, “Child In Time” in 1970, inspired singers to practice and achieve a new standard.

A 12 year old kid called Bruce Dickinson became attracted to hard rock, after hearing Deep Purple’s “Child in Time” being played in another student’s room at his private school. As a result, the first album Bruce ever bought was Deep Purple’s “In Rock”. A 19 year old unknown called Rob Halford heard “Child In Time” and started to change his vocal style.

And when Ian Gillian couldn’t deliver the vocal performances Blackmore wanted, he fired him and hired a young singer/songwriter called David Coverdale to do what Blackmore wanted. From this vocalist change, a whole new range of singers saw this as a new standard and started practicing. And just in case David Coverdale couldn’t deliver the vocals Blackmore wanted, he had another singer in bassist Glenn Hughes as back up.

But in the end, Blackmore felt frustrated with the musical constraints of Purple, so he left “Purple” to start up Rainbow with a singer called Ronnie James Dio. This change, further evolved how a front man should sound.

In the space of 10 years and three different vocalists, Ritchie Blackmore, blew the paradigm open of what a metal vocalist should sound like.

There was a Twitter post from Stevie Van Zandt that said the following;
“Let’s just say it was an awkward period for singers. For the first and last time in history, guitar players were king. Hard to believe, but both Rod Stewart and Robert Plant were thought of as sideman. Both started on salaries. Both considered disposable. Some resentment may remain.”

The guitar player ruled up until the start of the 80’s. After that, you had a bassist writing songs for Motley Crue, WASP and Iron Maiden, a singer/songwriter writing songs for Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi and Europe. In Dokken, you had the influential guitar player who couldn’t handle the name of the band however the drummer and bassist provided most of the vocal melodies. Even someone like Ted Nugent needed to be pushed by John Kalodner into a supergroup called Damn Yankees.

Yngwie Malmsteen formed Rainbow Part 2 and called it Rising Force with Jeff Scott Soto and then found commercial fame with Joe Lynn Turner (another Ritchie Blackmore find), only to let his ego get in the way of a good partnership. David Coverdale had a powerful guitarist in John Sykes with which he carried out an excellent musical conversation with, only to let him go before the release of Whitesnake’s biggest album. Because as Coverdale showed, the guitarist was no longer in power. The front man was. When Lynch went solo, he didn’t get the platinum awards he had with Dokken and Malmsteen’s only platinum award is with Joe Lynn Turner. Hell, Vince Neil was more well-known than Nikki Sixx.

From a guitarist perspective, it’s hard not to be influenced by Blackmore. He enjoyed playing the Blues, but he took it a few steps further, by making it progressive. Most of his progressive interludes are founded in the Pentatonic scale. Again, he was not the first to do it, however he did it good enough to make it commercially successful. Blackmore’s fusion of blues, rock and roll, classical and medieval Influences was so commercially successful, he more or less spawned a new style of guitar playing called Euro Rock/Metal. Blackmore’s stage persona and guitar/amp set up became a standard amongst the young 70’s hard rockers who would become superstars in the 80’s. Malmsteen modelled himself after him even up to the same stage stand.

And from a band perspective, every single guitarist at that point in time was inspired by Blackmore to find a vocalist who had similar/better talents to the vocalists Blackmore used. lf the band was started by a drummer and a bassist, they would be looking for a guitarist like Blackmore and a vocalist like Gillian, Coverdale or Dio.

A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories


There are still complaints about the monies streaming services pay to the rights holders of music. There are still complaints about how YouTube and Spotify have a free tier and how it devalues music.

My kids play a game called “Fortnite” on the PS4. It’s “Battle Royale” mode is free to download.  The free mode works by all players starting with no equipment except a pickaxe for resource gathering and they parachute onto the map. Once they land, they can scavenge for weapons and resources.

Over time, a “storm” surrounds the area and the players need to get to a safe area. Those caught outside the safe area take damage and potentially die if they remain outside it too long. Players can use real money to purchase in-game currency, which can be used to purchase cosmetic items. The last one standing is the winner.

I was interested in how a game which is free to download, is making some serious dollars for the development company.


Since the game is free to download, it’s already at everyone’s price point. It can’t get any lower so it costs nothing to try it.

But hang on a second, an artist put their blood, sweat and tears into their music and because they did, they should charge for it. Then again, so did the video game developers, and they haven’t charged for it. Actually video game developers spend years on games only to see them disappear on release day, because like music, no one knows which game or song/album will be a hit or a miss.

Fortnite was originally a game for purchase. Within a six months of its release in 2017, it had over a million users, that means user = sale. But then in September 2017, Epic (the game developer behind it) did something different. They released a free-to-play “Battle Royale” mode. Within 2 weeks of its release, it had over 10 million players.

On any given day, it has over 500,000 players playing the game. By January 2018, Epic added a micro transaction system to purchase items for the game. For Epic, the “Battle Royale” mode is a major hit. It’s like Bruce Springsteen, “Born In The USA” or Bon Jovi, “Slippery When Wet” or Europe, “The Final Countdown” style of a hit.

And it’s still going strong. And Epic is hoping the more support they give it, the better the experience will become and players will stick around.

You need to get people’s attention first.

So you have a product, release it for free and nothing happens.

How do you get people’s attention?

In Epic’s case, they had a well known brand and released the free Battle Royale mode for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One platforms on the same day. By doing it like this, they beat out other games with similar Battleground concepts tied in to a console. In other words, they were everywhere.

Then they controlled the narrative themselves. No one was waiting for a website or a magazine to interview anyone. The company controlled the story.

In music, we still get staggered releases to digital services. Hell there is a lot of music of bands I like which isn’t even on Spotify Australia, so in this case, I even get geo-blocked, which is ridiculous in our digital age. I can transact with Amazon US, purchase the album, but I cannot get legal access to music available in the US in Australia via a streaming service.

And in music, artists still do interviews with various press outlets, which means the press outlet controls the story.

Your best marketing tool is word of mouth.

Fortnite spread because the people who played it, enjoyed it and then they asked their friends to create an account and play with them online.

And their friends said “why not”, it’s free, let’s give it a try. And the ones who became hooked and enjoyed the online social experience, did the same to their circle of friends. And the process kept on repeating. 10 million users in 2 weeks.

Some people believe that marketing is about advertisements. It’s not.

Be social.

The game works because it connects people socially (albeit in a digital world). And when these people get together, face to face, they talk about it. Good music connects fans socially and crosses borders. There is a pretty good chance you would find an Iron Maiden fan in every country on planet Earth. For music, the social connection comes in two ways. In the digital world, it’s online communities and in reality it’s the live show.

Imagine listening to the song on a streaming service and you have the chance to view the sheet music and play along with it. Imagine listening to the song on a streaming service and you have the chance to remix a 5 second snippet of the song with someone else from another part of the world and make your own song.

Follow up the initial offering with more content.

The game keeps growing in popularity because its upgrades happen on a regular basis. In other words, the fans of the game are not waiting 2 years for a new upgrade. In some cases, it’s monthly and in the worst case it’s quarterly. And the upgrade enhances the original game and it doesn’t take away from it. Remember PokemonGo.

In music, fans are divided into camps of people who want albums or camps who just want content.

I come from the era of the album, but all I want is frequent content. It’s the reason why the bootleg industry was huge in the 80’s and 90’s. Hell, my record collection has hundreds of bootlegs, from live recordings, to demo recordings, to sound check jams and what not. It was the need to fill the gap between albums.

Build On What Came Before

And like all hit’s there is a writ. The developers of another game have threatened Epic over the game due to its similarities. But the other game has similarities to other games and those games had similarities to other games and the process just keeps on repeating.

One thing is certain. What used to work to break bands doesn’t work and artists need to think differently and take control of their story.

A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music

Live Albums

Live albums are coming out thick and fast these days. People tell me it’s because bands need to get product out on a regular basis because there is not much money made from recorded music sales. So getting new product out yearly instead of every two to three years is the new option. But it still doesn’t solve the problem of people not buying albums.

My answer always is, there never was much money made from recorded music sales.

The difference between the glory years of recorded music sales and now, is the ADVANCE. Once upon a time, the labels paid it, and now not so much.

Yes, that sweet million a band would get before the recording process even started. You see, the ADVANCE would be used to fund the demos (studio time), recording (Producer, Studio Time, Engineer, Mixer, Mastering), their lifestyles (rent, mortgage payments, addictions) and all other expenses like manager, lawyer and whoever else makes a claim.

The ADVANCE would be given on the basis that the record label would recoup those monies from the sales of the album. However, the fine print is the recouping monies would come from the bands 2% royalty percentage payments.

So if a band moves a million CD’s at $10 a CD, the gross income earned by the label is $10 million. However, the bands royalty percentage is taken from the Net income. So the label adds CD manufacturing, transportation, marketing, pizza deliveries, carpet cleaning, hairdresser bills and whatever else they could think off, in order to reduce gross to the final net income.

Let’s be generous and say the net income is $1 million.

And the band gets 2% of that. Which is $20,000. And from that $20K, the manager gets their 30%, the Producer the band wanted and the label agreed to, as long as the payment comes from the bands percentage gets 20%, the lawyer another 20%, which leaves 30% for the band.

It comes to $6,000. And from that $6K, the band needs to repay the $1 million advance. For the band to repay that advance, they would need to sell a lot of recorded albums, otherwise they would be listed as un-recouped by the label.

Not bad for the label. Invest a million and make 9 million profits. Of course, this is contingent that the band moves product. In other cases, it will be a bad loss for the label.

Don Dokken’s “Up From The Ashes” was a big loss for Geffen commercially, while Whitesnake’s “87” and Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” was a big win. Lynch Mob’s “Wicked Sensation” cost Elektra a lot of money with all the advances paid to get Lynch to sign and it didn’t do great  commercially as the label wanted, while “Dr Feelgood” and the soon to be released “Black” album from Metallica would be a great win.

“Crazy World” from Scorpions and “Heartbreak Station” from Cinderella got Mercury/Vertigo what they wanted, while others disappointed. White Lion’s “Mane Attraction” cost Atlantic a cool million and it disappointed commercially, while “Pride” was done cheap and it was a win.

Everyone knows about the Motley Crue period with John Corabi. Nikki Sixx has developed amnesia to it, Tommy Lee doesn’t talk about it, Vince Neil wasn’t involved with it, so for him it doesn’t exist and the only two people who talk about it are John Corabi and Mick Mars. The album cost a lot.

Musically, it’s one hell of an album. Mick Mars has gone on record to say the album has some of his best guitar work, and god damn it, the man is right. So it’s good to see the vocalist behind it, paying tribute to it.

John Corabi does a fantastic job giving his Motley Crue recorded output some overdue respect in “Live 94 (One Night In Nashville)”. And to be honest, songs that I thought were overproduced on the guitar side, sound massive, heavy and melodic live. It’s all raw, no crap rock and roll.

There are mistakes, there are voices hitting the pavement, but it’s totally worth it. “Power To The Music”, “Hooligan’s Holiday”, “Hammered” (love the story about the Crue audition and how this song came to be), “Till Death Do Us Part”, “Smoke The Sky” and “Droppin Like Flies” are still my favourites.

And I have a new found respect for “Poison Apples”. I always thought the original version was too over-produced, and after hearing it live, the song is a deadest killer. “Welcome To The Numb” live could have come from an Aerosmith album.

This is what music has always been about. Getting out on the road and doing it sweaty.

Whitesnake is a band which keeps firing out live recordings year after year. “Made In Japan”, “Made In England”, “Bad To The Bone 84”, “Castle Donnington 90”, “Live In The Heart Of The City” and “The Purple Tour” have been released as stand-alone albums over the last 10 years.

Of course with each album release there is a chance to cash in via the pockets of the super fans who pay for everything their heroes produce. David Coverdale knows it.

But “The Purple Album” is good. Really good. I reckon it’s because Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra are a perfect fit for the band. Veterans of the scene, they know how to deliver the goods. If you don’t believe me, check out Reb Beach’s solo on “Mistreated”. He burns and the song sounds so fresh and modern, but it was released in 1974 or 5.

There has been a lot of talk on social media about the upcoming Whitesnake release and how songs are being written by Coverdale and Beach, Coverdale and Hoekstra and with all three of the guys contributing  together.

With the talent there, it should make for an interesting listen.