Sixteenth Century Greensleeves

Album: Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (1975)
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Songfacts®:

  • When performing this song with Rainbow, lead guitarist Ritchie Blackmore would lead into it with the original "Greensleeves". Running to 3 minutes 21 seconds, it was co-written with lead vocalist Ronnie James Dio who said "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" is Blackmore's idea of a castle where the black knight lives. The black knight of course being Ritchie and the black knight periodically comes out of his castle and captures a young peasant maiden from the village.

    Blackmore appears to have lived out this fantasy in his personal life; after lengthy spells with Deep Purple, Rainbow and Deep Purple again, he formed Blackmore's Night and began writing, playing and recording traditional Olde Englishe music. The other half of the duo, the former Candice Isralow, met Blackmore when she was still a teenager. In October 2008, after working together for more than a decade, the two married. On stage, the stunningly attractive American blonde - Blackmore's fourth wife - has the appearance of a true Mediaeval damsel, and in spite of their age difference, this appears to be a marriage made in heaven. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • Ritchie Blackmore quipped that this song was "written by Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest."

    "I went to the door one night and there was an arrow in the door holding a piece of paper, and it had this song written on it. There was a note attached reading 'Please record this song or I'll shoot you."

    This was from a 1975 talk with Jon Tiven. Blackmore then offered a more sensible explanation: "My favorite all-time song is the old tune 'Greensleeves,' and in England I used to live just a little ways from Windsor Castle, I was always up there just looking at the place. We wanted to record a song about castles and crossbows, and I was pleased that we were able to keep that hard rock thing within a classical mode."
  • Hugh McDowell from the Electric Light Orchestra played the cello on this track.

Comments: 2

  • Ricky from Killie, United KingdomWhile being interviewed for Deep Purple's Now What!? album, Roger Glover mentioned that back in 1972 during rehearsals for Who Do We Think We Are? Ritchie had a riff he was playing around with. The rest of the band liked it but he said he was going to keep it for a solo album - turns out it was an embryonic version of 16th Century Greensleeves!
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrOne of more "interesting" songs on the album; of course I played along with every album I bought !!
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