J. R. Blackmore  
(Biography written by Karin Vrancken, translated and edited by Dave Esser/Andy Travers)

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Born in 1964 in Chiswick, England,  the only son of a world-famous guitar legend, Juergen Richard “J.R.” Blackmore began his musical career in Germany.  When he was just five years old, his parents separated and J.R. left the United Kingdom together with his mother to live in her birthplace Hamburg. It was the early years of modern-day Hamburg, which had seen legends to be like The Beatles play in the Star-Club before their heyday.  Just like his father, Ritchie Blackmore, who made a name for himself and later became world-famous as a founding member of Deep Purple and later Rainbow. If you were going to be somebody in the music business, Hamburg was the place to be and was a gateway into stardom for a plethora of bands. During the following years, his father Ritchie played several concerts in Hamburg and whenever he was in town, J.R. had the opportunity to hang with the old man.  Surrounded by rock geniuses and being part of that elite family, JR Blackmore grew up right at the heart of the seventies’ Rock and Roll scene.  Concert halls would become a second home to him and so he rollicked about behind the curtains of all kinds of stages across the world.  Naturally, he yearned to become a virtuous instrumentalist like his self-picked role models, and not just any old instrument.  Oblivious to the ramifications of stepping into so huge a pair of shoes, like his dad, who played so splendidly, he was driven to learn to play the guitar.

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On his tenth birthday – Ritchie was playing in Hamburg again – J.R. Blackmore received his first guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, gifted to him by his dad, “However, you’re going to have to learn how to play it on your own”, Ritchie told him. One of his greatest wishes had been fulfilled, yet the long phases of absence between visits from his dad weren’t easy for the boy, so he sought refuge in learning and eventually playing the guitar. It was this and his mother Margit, who gave him security, but his father, absent or not, was still his biggest idol. In 1979, fortunately blessed with his father’s extraordinary talent and with the love and support of his mother, Blackmore knew he would pursue a career in music. In 1979 he began an apprenticeship as a guitar maker, from which he graduated “magna cum laude” (with very great honour). He earned his first stripes with local rock groups in several locations and rehearsal rooms.

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In 1986, the time had come, J.R. Blackmore’s professional album premiere was on IRON ANGEL’s “Winds of War” album, followed by a collaboration with the group STRAIGHT. That year he also founded his own band, J.R. BLACKMORE’S SUPERSTITION. With it, he gained deeper insight into the scene and later the opportunity to establish himself as an individual artist with a unique acoustic pattern, after the group had been rebranded J.R. BLACKMORE GROUP. 1990 the J.R. BLACKMORE GROUP gained publicity with several concerts, including a sold-out show at the Hamburg DOCKS concert hall. Soon after came the first video production and a tour through the Czech Republic. His singer at the time was Michael Bormann (JADED HEART, BONFIRE). His first album “Still Holding On” earned him a rapidly growing fan base and further access to the professional community, where he met musicians like Wolf Hoffmann (ACCEPT) and Uli Roth (ex-SCORPIONS), who inspired him and broadened his musical horizon.

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He felt he had arrived in the world of music, when he was invited to guest-star on KING KURLEE’s version of “Smoke on the Water”, but it also became obvious, that wherever he went, wherever he was interviewed, everything was all about Ritchie. He was constantly being compared to his father and quickly discovered the enormous pressure of being the son of a larger-than-life guitar hero. He retreated into his music studioto improve his skills. Some days he almost despaired because of the pressure, which he thought would break him eventually. However, armed with his mother’s warrior heart and his father’s talent and ambition, he kept reaching for the guitar, which had given him so much security during his early years. With the growing availability of public Internet access, the amount of supportive fan mail, which greatly motivated and moved him, kept growing steadily. At the beginning of the new millennium, the idea of a purely instrumental project began to manifest itself in him. By 2002, it was ready for development, so together with his longstanding friend and co-musician Malte Rathke whose wonderful qualities as a keyboardist he appreciated greatly, Blackmore slowly but surely began it’s composition, creation and production. Good things come to those who wait.

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In 2005, the first four-track EP was born: RECALL THE PAST.  It was released worldwide exclusively online.  It took no time at all for his fan base to grow and for publishing and licensing proposals to fly in from Spain, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany. Also, people were asking for a full feature album. Things began to pick up pace. With a new label and publishing deal, only one year later the whole album, done instrumentally in its entirety, came out: BETWEEN DARKNESS AND LIGHT, a true masterpiece. By 2014 it had become one of the best-selling instrumental albums world-wide.

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Other musicians and publishers now became aware of J.R. Blackmore, resulting in several enquiries and further projects, one of which was as a special guest at ELA’s concert at the Hoetensleben Rock Festival, supporting THE SCORPIONS (who he would encounter from time to time), followed by his appearance on ELAs OUT OF TIME EP, including a music video. An extraordinary enquiry from the United States made another project possible, which would bring back to Blackmore precious memories of his childhood and catapult him directly onto the biggest stages in the world.

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In 2008, some of Ritchie Blackmore’s former bandmates from RAINBOW asked him to join OVER THE RAINBOW. Together with Joe Lynn Turner (vocals), Tony Carey (Keyboards), Greg Smith (Bass Guitar) and Bobby Rondinelli (Drums) he went on a world tour, thereby playing not only with parts of the musical family he grew up amongst, but also the songs he had known since his earliest memories. “A precious and unique experience”, according to J.R. Blackmore. By 2009, OVER THE RAINBOW had finished the world tour and had been playing with a multitude of other musical giants. They had played 13 countries and a ton of huge festivals, also headlining the internationally renowned Sweden Rock Festival.

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The Mercedes Silberpfeil racing car made a huge comeback in the 2010 Formula 1, which indirectly meant new challenges for J.R. Blackmore, who, together with ELA and TONY CAREY wrote and produced a Rock ‘n’ Racing album for fans of both racing and melodic rock music under the name of EBC RACING TEAM. Their album was called WINNERS.

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While some bands carpet bomb the market with lots of the same in a fairly short amount of time, J.R. Blackmore’s projects take time to produce, but vary greatly in style, with the way he plays the guitar remaining more or less the same, being a chip of the old block. In 2011, together with former RAINBOW keyboardist Paul Morris, he had the idea to produce another extraordinary album as J.R. BLACKMORE & FRIENDS: VOICES

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A project with diverse voices and pitches, which stand in stark contrast to each other and are unique and recognisable in their characteristics. Furthermore, it wasn’t going to be huge names, Blackmore wanted to find and support new and relatively unheard of talent. But certainly, the album would also feature friends of his, such as ELA or the vocalist he started his solo career with Michael Bormann. With Markus Teske (BAZEMENT STUDIO) he found the ideal producer to give the album its final touch, and in October of 2011, VOICES by J.R. BLACKMORE & FRIENDS came out, a truly exceptional project featuring dissimilar voices and grandiose music. Ballads, which grab hold of one’s heart and rocking songs that revive memories of the eighties – a must-hear. Naturally, with new friendships being built during this production, VOICES – Part II is a possibility to be reckoned with. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Obviously, a beast of a project like this isn’t easy to take to the stage, and not only from an organisational standpoint. Yet, J.R. Blackmore made VOICES LIVE possible with a new live band and featuring at least some of the album’s singers. Fans can watch them headlining the Hamburg Harley Days Festival 2012 on YouTube.

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A song not featured on the album, but available for download and accompanied by a music video, is Moments of Magic, which was written for his live shows in 2012, which again took him into the Czech republic.
Recently, Blackmore had to take a break due to health-related issues, from which he is recovering slowly. Naturally, he is already working on a new project. What will it be? We’ll soon know more…