ESP Stratocaster with Fender Neck

(previously owned, played and demolished by Ritchie Blackmore)


rb-strat.gif (50625 bytes) Now, I know you're gonna like this story. And the best bit about it is that, unlike most of my stories, this one is really true!

Growing up in the seventies in Germany, I subjected myself to a lot of early Deep Purple music. Purple Mark II, if you really wanna know, the lineup consisting of Ritchie Blackmore (g), Jon Lord (keyb), Ian Gillan (voc), Roger Glover (b), and Ian Paice (dr). In fact their double live album, "Made In Japan" is what made me pick up the fine art of guitar playing. So jamming along to "Lazy", or "Strange Kind of Woman" etc. was definitely my thing!

Ritchie Blackmore left a profound impact on my personal style of playing, and I am a big fan to this day. In 1979, I found myself traveling to concerts of Purple spinoff bands like Rainbow or Whitesnake (see also my weird experiences on my London-page). Rainbow, Ritchie's follow-up band after leaving Purple, performed a series of gigs in Germany in '79. The encore,  would usually be "Do You Close Your Eyes", during the slide solo of which Ritchie would switch guitars, and smash up a backup axe. Me, knowing and anticipating all of his moves form countless concerts, I caught the neck of a sunburst, factory-second Stratocaster. When I got it, half of the headstock was missing and the fretboard had cleanly lifted off of the neck, up to the third fret. I took the broken neck home and restored it. I glued on a replacement piece of wood for the missing part of the headstock, installed Schaller tuners and put in new frets.

The body it is now attached to is an ash ESP left-handed Strat body. It is left-handed, because I know Ritchie loves that Hendrix-kind of upside down look. There is a Seymour Duncan humbucker in it, the second coil can be split away by tugging at the volume pot, which has a built in push-pull switch. I also have a Kahler whammy bar installed.

I will forever be indebted to my friend Horst Fleckhaus, for taking this great picture of Mr Blackmore, just seconds before he smashed up the sunburst, black pickguard factory-second Stratocaster, the neck of which is now in my possession.

As you can see, Ritchie replaced the usual bottleneck slide with a bottle of Ballentine's before getting started on his demolition-antics. The original photo clearly shows (it doesn't show up well enough on the Internet) that at the base of the neck, above the 12th fret, an extra piece of maple had to be glued in. This is probably the reason why it had been marked a factory second. Luckily for me, this is what authenticates both the neck as having been personally smashed up by the man himself!

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