“Eric Clapton’s roadie came by the house, and he brought a Strat with him... He said, ‘I’ll sell it to you for £60’”: Ritchie Blackmore's first Strat came from Eric Clapton's collection

Ritchie Blackmore performs onstage
(Image credit: Steve Thorne/Getty Images)

In his legendary tenures in Deep Purple and Rainbow – and even through to his current exploits in Renaissance music – Ritchie Blackmore, when playing electric guitar, has rarely been seen using anything other than a Fender Stratocaster. But if it wasn’t for Eric Clapton, that might have never proved to be the case. 

Speaking in the latest issue of Guitar World, Blackmore details how Clapton altered his six-string trajectory in 1969 by – via a roadie – providing him with his first Strat.  

“I was in Deep Purple in 1969 and I was living in Acton, London,” Blackmore remembers. “We were all in the same house, the whole band. Eric Clapton’s roadie came by the house because he knew one of my roadies, and he brought a Strat with him.”  

Before then, his instrument of choice was a Gibson ES-335, which can be heard on Emmaretta, from Deep Purple's 1969 self-titled album. When its neck began to bow, Blackmore began looking for an upgrade. 

“I think [the Strat] was black,” he continues. “So I said to him, ‘Do you want to sell that guitar? It looks interesting, and I wanted to try out a Strat.’ He said, ‘I’ll sell it to you for £60.’ I said, ‘Okay, you’re on.’ So, for £60, I bought one of Eric Clapton’s old Strats that he obviously didn’t want because he gave it to the roadie.”

It seems a bargain price, but taking inflation into account, £60 then is equivalent to about £842 (~$1,075) today. 

Ritchie Blackmore playing his ES-335 with The Outlaws

Ritchie Blackmore playing his ES-335 with The Outlaws (Image credit: Dieter Radtke - K & K/Redferns)

Blackmore's guitar collection has since grown, with Stratocasters a common sight, but, as he adds in his latest interview, it was Clapton’s second-hand Strat that he said was his “initiation into playing a Strat.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Blackmore would forge a palpable relationship with Stratocasters, helping propel seminal Deep Purple albums like In Rock and Machine Head.

His Stratocasters haven't been left to collect dust, however. They feature prominently on a number of Blackmore's Night [the guitarist's Renaissance music-minded group] tracks, with The Last Musketeer, from 2021’s Nature’s Light, being a standout moment. 

As previously reported by Guitar Player, it was a track written in honor of the “favorite” band he played in back in the early '60s, called The Musketeers. He is now the sole surviving member, and the song – which oozes beautiful blues tones that only a Blackmore-wielded Strat could produce – is his tribute to his former bandmates. 

Phil Weller

A freelance writer with a penchant for music that gets weird, Phil is a regular contributor to ProgGuitar World, and Total Guitar magazines and is especially keen on shining a light on unknown artists. Outside of the journalism realm, you can find him writing angular riffs in progressive metal band, Prognosis, in which he slings an 8-string Strandberg Boden Original, churning that low string through a variety of tunings. He's also a published author and is currently penning his debut novel which chucks fantasy, mythology and humanity into a great big melting pot.