ABC News RadioThe controversy over the absence of Deep Purple founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was the main topic of conversation backstage at Friday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Brooklyn, NY, with the band’s past and present members noting that Blackmore had been invited, and it was his choice not to show up.

Blackmore’s apparent refusal to attend allegedly stemmed from the fact that he’d been invited to attend the ceremony, but not to perform with the band, as he’s not part of their current lineup. Purple bass player Roger Glover said that while it would be “lovely” to be “standing here with Ritchie, “that’s not reality at the moment.” Frontman Ian Gillan noted that he’d invited Ritchie to attend twice.

Purple drummer Ian Paice backed up both his bandmates, saying, “Ritchie is a singular animal. And he could say he wasn’t gonna turn up for the last six weeks and it’s just like him to have turned up! ” He laughed, “It would not have surprised me at all to have turned round and seen him there. But that was Ritchie’s choice and that’s fine.”

Whitesnake‘s David Coverdale, who sang with Deep Purple from ’73 to ’76 and was also inducted Friday night, said that he’d “extended a personal invitation” to Blackmore to sit with him, but “never really got a response.” Coverdale said in 2012, after the death of Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, he and Ritchie had “buried the hatchet of 30 years of inflammatory oratory,” and added, “It’s a big disappointment that he isn’t here tonight.”

Deep Purple superfan Lars Ulrich of Metallica said it wasn’t his place to get involved in the controversy, but noted, “I’m sure if Ritchie really wanted to be here, nobody in this building was gonna keep him out.”

Ulrich, a Hall of Fame member himself, was then asked who else he’d like to see inducted in the coming years. The drummer mentioned Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Judas Priest, but said he particularly hoped Rage Against the Machine, who are eligible next year, would get in. “I hope we don’t have to wait decades [to see them] get in, because their influence is obviously immeasurable,” said Ulrich.

Another inductee, Steve Miller, made headlines backstage by dissing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for making his big night “so unpleasant” (see related story). Before that, though, he was asked to name the song of his that means the most to him. He said, “This one,” and then serenaded the press room with a tune he didn’t write: the standard “Nature Boy,” made famous by Nat “King” Cole. Why? Because, he said, it was the favorite song of his godfather, the late guitar icon Les Paul.

Chicago, another inductee, didn’t speak backstage, but the guy who inducted them, Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas, did. He noted his fondness for the band in all its various incarnations, but got a laugh when he said that he particularly liked the 1980s, more pop-oriented material because, he noted, “If I pulled out a Chicago record and played [‘Hard to Say I’m Sorry’] in a car, I could get laid in high school easily.”

He added, “But I just think…as you dig into them and really get into the history, you see them as this bad-a** rock and roll band and not as this soft jazz band.”

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