Blackmore’s Night is more than just a band — it’s a love story. In 1989, Long Island girl Candice Night was attending the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, working at Bennigan’s in Commack and interning at WBAB when she met English rock guitar god Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow. Surprisingly, the meeting was at a charity soccer game when Blackmore was playing and Night was cheering on her radio station buddies. The band handily won the competition.
"I went over to Ritchie to congratulate him on his win and ask for his autograph," says Night, 49. "But when I walked away he sent a roadie through the crowd to ask who I was and to have me meet him later at a local pub."
They connected and remained in touch. Friendship turned into romance and today the couple resides in Suffolk County. Their relationship expanded into a musical partnership and by 1997 Blackmore’s Night was born. Blackmore, now 75, shifted his focus from hard rock to Renaissance folk music. Currently, the band is about to release a new studio album, "Nature’s Light."
Newsday’s David J. Criblez interviewed Blackmore and Night via e-mail about the inspiration behind some new songs, their passion for Renaissance music and why they chose to live on Long Island.
How did you get drawn to Renaissance music?
Blackmore: I had been listening to David Munrow and the Early Music Consort of London since I saw them on a BBC special of King Henry VIII's wives. The music was soul stirring and so honest, very different than what I was surrounded with in the rock world. It was real and so refreshing. Later on in the ‘80s, I was in a German castle and there was a Renaissance band of minstrels called Des Geyers Schwarzer Haufen. They were playing those songs on the authentic instruments and they instantly became my favorite band.
Night: I had never heard of Renaissance music before I met Ritchie. It was all he would listen to when I moved in with him in ’91 … I was looking out the window as the snow was falling, deer were on the front lawn, the music was playing in the background and it just seemed like it was the perfect soundtrack to nature. The audio and visual married perfectly. That’s when it clicked for me.
Which songs on the new album are the most personal?
Blackmore: "The Last Musketeer" ["Der letzte Musketier"] was written because I was in a band called The Three Musketeers. We were based in Hamburg, Germany. Our music consisted of very fast instrumentals which didn't please the audiences because they wanted to dance to our music. The musicians liked it, [those] that were in the audience, if there were any. That was in 1964-65. The other two Musketeers have since passed on, so in theory I am the last Musketeer. It was my favorite band. Partly because we never had any pressure in which to tour and everything was just fun at that point.
Night: For me, it’s "Feather in the Wind." After I lost my dad, I started seeing signs that he was still with me. One of the signs was feathers started appearing in strange places — in the kitchen, in the car, around me. So I had this idea that our spirits all become these feathers in the wind that get carried to their ultimate destinations.
When was the last Blackmore’s Night live show? Do you miss performing?
Blackmore: Schloss Abenberg, a brilliant castle in Germany [Burg Abenberg Open Air 2019 Festival]. It was outside and it was a great show. One of my favorites. It's always good to do a good last show of the tour. It was in July 2019. I’m always practicing and playing the guitar at home and sometimes, Candy and I will just play to our friends in a tavern or pub just to keep our chops up. Having played to over 200,000 people and I’ve done it for quite a while, I get just as big a thrill now by playing to 10 people and our friends.
Night: I think we miss the live experience and connecting with the fans more than anything. We miss the energy of performance. I personally miss traveling to the amazing places we were lucky enough to be able to tour in.
Ritchie, it’s been said that kids who take up guitar always try to learn the riff to "Smoke on the Water" first. What does that mean to you?
Blackmore: It pays the bills. When I first wrote the riff and the chord progression for the song, I kept it simple so that the postman could whistle it on his rounds. It’s been a great compliment that so many people enjoy it.
What keeps you on Long Island and what do you enjoy about it?
Blackmore: I’d lived in Huntington before and now we live further out east. We are very lucky to live on the water and by the woods so there is lots of nature around. And the wineries come in handy too. There’s a sense of energy on Long Island.
Night: We have culture, planetariums, aquariums, history, ocean, farmland, nature, performing arts, close enough to the best city in the world, but far enough away from it too. Twenty-four hour convenience. My love for the island runs deep. I was born and raised here. I can't imagine living anywhere else.