Ritchie Blackmore Surprises Fans with Band Lineup for His 2016 Rock Shows

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When Ritchie Blackmore fans heard that the guitarist planned to rock again with a limited run of European concerts in 2016, they were anticipating a reunion of sorts featuring select members from Blackmore’s previous groups, Deep Purple and Rainbow.

Blackmore himself had hinted as much, telling French newspaper Le Parisien last July, “I’m thinking about doing a mixture in the band, with famous people and not so famous ones.”

Instead, the guitarist has selected a group of artists with no connection to those previous groups. For the shows, he’ll be joined by Lords of Black singer Ronnie Romero, Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson, Blackmore’s Night drummer David Keith and bassist Bob Nouveau.

While some fans may be underwhelmed by the news, this lineup will keep the focus on Blackmore, which is what the tour is all about.

Blackmore is particularly excited about introducing Romero to a larger audience.

“The singer I found is very exciting,” Blackmore told Billboard in September, before he announced the lineup. “He’s a cross between [former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James] Dio meets Freddie Mercury. So, this will mean exposing a new singer to the masses, and I’m sure he’ll become pretty famous because of his voice.”

You can hear Romero’s cover of Deep Purple’s “Stormbringer” in the video below.

Blackmore announced last July his plan to perform a limited run of rock-oriented shows in 2016. The guitarist has not played rock since 1997, when he began devoting his full-time efforts to the medieval folk group Blackmore’s Night, featuring his wife, Candice Night.

“Just for a few days, next June,” Blackmore told Le Parisien at the time. “But for now, I’m not decided on the persons I want to work with. I’ve got a good idea about the ideal candidates, but it wouldn’t be fair to say anything now.”

Blackmore will play two shows at Monsters of Rock in Germany on June 17 and 18, and another show on June 25 in England at Birmingham Genting Arena. More dates are expected to be announced. The group will tour under the name Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and perform “the classic rock anthems of Rainbow and Deep Purple,” according to show announcements. Blackmore reportedly plans to film and record the performances for future release.