Rob Fodder was Ritchie Blackmore’s PA from the late 80’s and is still
involved with all things Deep Purple/Rainbow related - appearing at fan
conventions Q&A sessions as well as keeping in touch with former band members
Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner.
How did you get into the music business?
I'm not sure if I actually got into the music business as such and certainly
wasn't in my plans, but I was given a unique opportunity to work for my
What first attracted you to the music of Deep Purple and what was the first
record you bought by the band?
My mum had the "In Rock" and "Concerto" albums. With the Concerto, I think it
was the First Movement that made an impression on me with the orchestra and band
battling it out for dominance. With In Rock, I think it was the sheer brute
force of that album.
The distortion, the whammy bar, the Hammond and the driving power of Paicey's
drums. It was like a kick in the face and they were my first encounters with
Purple. I was about 10 at that time. In later years I remember my mum getting
Stormbringer. I can't be sure of the first album I bought, but I think it was
either Machine Head or Made in Japan.
What are your all time top five favourite Deep Purple albums and why?
Wow, that's tough as it depends on my mood, but here goes.
In Rock. It was the first real hard rock album and set the benchmark for all
heavy rock albums after. A great raw sound and not a bad track on the album.
Machine Head. I guess the definitive Deep Purple album that was going to be the
basis of the live set for years to come...even to this current day.
Burn. A great debut for Coverdale and Hughes and showed that Purple could still
rock without Gillan and Glover albeit with a more bluesy feel which I love. With
brilliant tracks like Burn and Mistreated they couldn't do wrong.
Live in London. If anything just for the fact that Ritchie seems to be on fire
at this show. You just have to check out his solo on "You Fool No
One"......amazing! A great example of the MkIII line up in full flight.
Live in Stuttgart '93. For personal reasons really as I was on this tour. Mr
Gillan's recollections are of half empty arena's on this tour, the one's I
remember were sold out! Many fans claim that this was the best tour since the
70's. Despite the tensions offstage, onstage the band were flying. I have rarely
seen such solid band performances and the Stuttgart show was one of many which
highlighted this on this tour. This is the show which should have been filmed
instead of that NEC debacle
How did you get to become Ritchie Blackmore’s PA? What was it like in that
role and what were the highlights for you?
It's a long story, but I'll try to summarise it.
I first met Ritchie in'81 in Brussels after a Rainbow show. I had travelled
there as part of a package which included the concert ticket, hotel and coach.
Myself and a couple of friends spent about 90 minutes with him in his dressing
room, just drinking beer and talking. I remember being in total awe and Ritchie
telling me to stop asking so many questions lol.
Then in 1987, I started a new job with British Airways. One day I was chatting
to one of my work colleagues who assumed (because of the length of my hair) that
I was into rock music and asked who my favourite musician was. Obviously I
answered "Ritchie Blackmore", to which he replied "Ahh, my brother"!!
I thought it was a wind up at first, but after a few questions it turned out to
be true. I was planning to travel to Germany to see a DP show and his brother
said that he'd tell Ritchie to expect me.
At the show in Cologne, Ritchie had sent his guitar tech, Cookie, out to find me
and take me backstage to meet up and have a drink and a chat. We got on really
well and he invited me to future Purple shows.
In '91, I went to a few of the European shows and started helping Jim, the new
guitar tech, set up the equipment and run a few errands. Then at the end of the
European tour, I had a call from Jim asking me if I wanted to be Ritchie's
assistant and to be in NY on the 11th April.
The job itself was a dream come true and comprised of anything and everything!
Arrange transport, hotels, interviews, meals, football games. Make sure that he
was in the right places at the right times. It was quite demanding at times as
you were on 24 hour call.
As for the highlights, there's so many! I got to travel the world with my
favourite musician and 2 of my favourite bands. Meet other musicians and fans
that I would never have had the chance to meet. Playing football at Bayern
Munich's training ground and it being on TV. Staying in castle's and witnessing
paranormal activity. Making people's day by getting autograph's or setting up
meet and greets and of course being able to watch and listen to Ritchie play
guitar on and offstage close up. The list goes on.
Have you enjoyed his work with Blackmore’s Night?
In the beginning I thought it was a great idea as a side project to Rainbow, but
I must admit that it doesn't really appeal to me now since it seems to have lost
direction. I think the last few albums have been predictable and repetitive and
judging by the soundclips of the next CD, I think I'll pass on it thanks. But
he's doing what he wants to do and I guess he's earned that right.
Of the various members who have been through the Deep Purple who have you
kept in contact with still?
I speak with Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner quite often and have been in
contact with Jon Lord by e-mail.
Do you think Ritchie Blackmore will ever reunite with his former Deep Purple
or Rainbow colleagues even just for a one-off gig?
I really don't know. I don't think so, but you should always expect the
unexpected with Ritchie....or was that the Spanish Inquisition? I know that
there had been talks when Cozy was alive for a Rainbow reunion, unfortunately
they didn't materialise.
Any good rock ‘n’ roll tales to tell?
I have many good memories of my time with Ritchie and I could write story after
story!! Two that spring to mind are when after a show in Cologne on the "Battle
Rages On" tour, we were driving to our hotel which was an old monastery in the
middle of nowhere.
We were hurtling down the Autobahn in the pouring rain, when Ritchie who was
navigating notified me that this was our exit, just as we were about to pass it!
I thought we could make it and came off the Autobahn to be met by a sharp right
turn. The car started to slide and I corrected it but we slid off the road into
woodland. Hedges, bushes and tree's passed the windows of the Merc at high speed
until we finally came to a stop.
I tried reversing out but the wheels were bogged down in the mud. So here I am,
on my hands and knees in the pouring rain, covered in mud and trying to put wood
under the tyres to get some traction and there was Ritchie and Candy pissing
themselves laughing and taking photo's of me!
Luckily, some passing fans saw the incident and stopped to help us push the car
After a show in Poland, we had a private jet waiting to whisk us back to
Budapest where we were to be based for a few days. Ritchie had decided to treat
his guitar tech Jim, for a night in a hotel rather than travelling on the bus
and so he came back with us.
Shortly after arriving at the hotel, we decided to go out to a bar and left it
to Jim to ask the Concierge where we could find one and arrange a taxi.
We arrived at the bar to find two of the biggest doormen you'd ever seen. Inside
was basically a lap dancing club. Ritchie and I bought a couple of drinks while
Jim enjoyed the attention of the girls there. Ritchie quietly told me to go
outside and get a taxi without Jim noticing, so I made out that I was going to
the bathroom and left.
A couple of minutes later, Ritchie came running out of the club laughing with
tears in his eyes, jumped in the taxi and we sped off to the hotel.
We both knew that Jim didn't carry any money and he'd just ordered a large round
of drinks for all the girls there.
We got back to the hotel and went to the bar for a drink, still laughing at
Jim's situation. About 15 minutes later, we heard a bit of a fracas coming from
the reception area just around the corner and we recognised Jim's voice. Ritchie
and I ran to the lifts before he could see us and locked ourselves in our rooms
till he cooled down.
It turns out the 2 rather large gentlemen at the door of the club, "escorted"
Jim back to the hotel so that he could get some funds to pay for the drinks. He
had to wake Colin Hart up and borrow $200. Luckily enough, Jim is often the
brunt of Ritchie's pranks and could see the funny side.
Who are your own musical heroes, and why?
Most of the Deep Purple and Rainbow family, but especially Ritchie Blackmore,
Ronnie Dio, Jon Lord, Ian Paice and Glenn Hughes. Their music speaks for itself
and even to this day they inspire and influence young musicians around the
Which have been the best bands you have seen play live, and why?
I've been fortunate to see many bands live and obviously I would have to mention
Deep Purple and Rainbow. In addition I would mention Cornerstone. They have such
an energy onstage despite not having the opportunity to tour extensively.
Pink Floyd as each concert is an event. The combination of exceptional sound and
vision is mind blowing.
Rata Blanca. A band that's little known in Europe, but with guitarist Walter
Giardino they have a sound that has been sadly missed by DP/Rainbow fans since
Ritchie left rock music.
Queen. With the best front man ever and great musicians, they made "stadium"
rock what it is today.
Christ....I could go on and on......lol
Interview © 2008 Jason Ritchie. All rights reserved.
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