What do Ritchie Blackmore, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton have in common besides being some of the most influential guitarists of rock’s classic era?
As it happens, they all grew up not far from one another, southwest of London. In this clip from the newly released documentary The Ritchie Blackmore Story, Blackmore talks about some of their shared youthful influences and his impressions of first meeting up with Page in 1962.
All four were born in the mid Forties: Page and Beck in 1944, and Blackmore and Clapton in 1945. Blackmore recalls that when he turned 11 and received his first guitar, rock and roll’s main performers were Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Those were not only his influences, he notes, but also Page’s, Beck’s and Clapton’s.
“And they had brilliant guitar players,” he says. “Scotty Moore [for Presley], Buddy Holly played, and you had Cliff Gallup playing for Gene Vincent. You had all these brilliant players, and we all idolized them. And it was a very exciting time.”
He also ponders his and his fellow guitarist’s similar backgrounds. “It is strange how we all come from a similar area. And with Jimmy Page, he was in the same village. It’s like a village, not even a town. And Clapton was a few more miles out,” he says, while Beck grew up in Wallington, about 25 miles from Page’s home in Epsom.
The most colorful memories in the clip concern his meeting Page when he and Page were 17 and 18, respectively.
“I met Jimmy Page in ’62. I was playing with a group called Screamin’ Lord Sutch and the Savages, and we used to dress up as cavemen,” he recalls. “And we played with a band called Neil Christian and the Crusaders, who I played with later. And Jimmy Page was playing his Gretsch guitar with Neil Christian. And I knew he was going to be somebody then. Not only was he a good guitar player, he had that star quality. There was something about him. He was very poised. and confident, but not arrogant.”