Ritchie Blackmore will make his return to rock at the 2016 Monsters of Rock Festival in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany, according to multiple sources. The festival takes place June 18, 2016.
The show will mark the first rock performance by the legendary guitarist since he began playing Renaissance-style folk music with his group Blackmore’s Night in 1997. Their latest album, All Our Yesterdays, was released September 18.
Blackmore confirmed this past September that he would perform four rock shows next June in Europe.
“I am doing four dates in June, which will be all rock,” Blackmore said. “I have the band basically together and it will be [the best of] Rainbow and Deep Purple. It’s just having fun but it’s only four dates in Europe. I don’t want to do anymore because I take what I’m doing now much more seriously.”
He has not said who will perform with him on the June dates. Joe Lynn Turner, who performed with Blackmore in Rainbow and Deep Purple, suggested this past April that he could be involved. Former Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale previously approached Blackmore about working together again.
Blackmore says his decision to return to rock, even briefly, was spurred on by his own health and by the deaths of former bandmates. His Rainbow bandmate Ronnie James Dio died in 2010, and Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord passed on in 2012.
“I turned 70 [on April 14],” Blackmore says. “And arthritis is starting to set in. Jon’s not around. So many others aren’t around. You start to see your friends pass and just feel it’s time to play some of the old songs. Nostalgia is a big reason to do it, but not the only reason.”
Despite not playing in a rock setting for years, Blackmore still does his share of shredding with Blackmore's Night, as the video below attests. This fan-shot footage comes from a 2015 concert and shows the guitarist doing some fine improv work on an extended solo.
Tickets for the 2016 Monsters of Rock Festival go on sale November 6. Blackmore’s appearance has yet to be confirmed, but we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.