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Ritchie Blackmore's combustible guitar riffs in the seminal band Deep Purple were the sparks that fed the conflagration of a whole new genre: heavy metal. Blackmore's musical ambition led him away from the band in 1975, after which he poached members of the band Elf--including vocalist Ronnie James Dio--to record the solo project that would evolve into the band Artist. Dio's lyrics were a castles-and-kings affair and Blackmore's classical-derived music suited them well. The pair--with an ever-rotating line-up behind them--recorded several popular albums, until Dio was lured away by Black Sabbath in '79. Blackmore reunited with Deep Purple in 1984, revisiting Artist briefly in the mid-'90s before finally pulling the plug on both bands and moving on to the medieval folk act Blackmore's Night.