Deep Purple were an English hard rock band formed in Hertfordshire in 1968. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal and hard rock, although the members of the band have always refused to label themselves as the former. They are claimed to have sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
The band has gone through many line-up changes, as well as an eight-year hiatus and two reunions. Their second and most commercially successful line-up featured: Ian Gillan (singer), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboard), Roger Glover (bass guitar) and Ian Paice (drums). Paice is the only original member still with the band.
(1964–1968) Pre-Deep Purple years
In 1967, former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis contacted London businessman Tony Edwards in the hope that he would manage a new group he was putting together, to be called Roundabout; so called because the members would get on and off like a musical roundabout. Suitably impressed, Edwards agreed to finance the venture with two business partners: John Coletta and Ron Hire (Hire-Edwards-Coletta – HEC Enterprises).hi
The first recruit was classically trained Hammond organ player Jon Lord, who had most notably played with The Artwoods (led by Art Wood, brother of future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie, and featuring Keef Hartley). He was followed by session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore who was persuaded to return from Hamburg to audition for the new group. Curtis soon dropped out, but HEC Enterprises, as well as Lord and Blackmore, were keen to carry on.
For the bass guitar, Lord suggested his old friend Nick Simper, with whom he had played in a band called The Flower Pot Men and their Garden (formerly known as The Ivy League) back in 1967. Simper's claims to fame (apart from Purple) were that he had been in Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and had been in the car crash that killed Kidd. He was also in Screaming Lord Sutch's The Savages, where he played with Blackmore.
The line-up was completed by singer Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice from The Maze. After a brief tour of Denmark in the spring of 1968, Blackmore suggested a new name: Deep Purple, which was his grandmother's favourite song.
In October 1968, the group had tremendous success in the US (but not the UK) with a cover of Joe South's "Hush", which reached #4. The song was taken from their debut album Shades of Deep Purple, and they were booked to support Cream on their Goodbye tour.
The band's second album, The Book of Taliesyn, was released in the United States to coincide with this tour, although it would not be released in their home country until the following year. 1969 saw the release of their third album, Deep Purple, which contained strings and woodwind on one track (April). Several influences were in evidence, notably Vanilla Fudge and Lord's classical antecedants such as Bach and Rimskiy Korsakov.
After these three albums and extensive touring in the States, their American record company, Tetragrammaton, went out of business, leaving the band with no money and an uncertain future. (Tetragrammaton's assets were assumed by Warner Bros. Records, who would release Deep Purple's records in the U.S. throughout the 1970's.) Returning to England in early 1969, they recorded a single called "Emmaretta", named for a cast member of the musical Hair whom Rod Evans was trying to seduce, before Evans and Simper were fired.
The band hunted down singer Ian Gillan from Episode Six, a band that had released several singles in the UK without achieving their big break. Six's drummer Mick Underwood - an old comrade of Blackmore's from his Savages days - made the introductions, and bassist Roger Glover tagged along for the initial sessions. Purple persuaded Glover to join full-time; an act that effectively killed Episode Six and gave Underwood a guilt complex that lasted nearly a decade - until Gillan recruited him for his new post-Purple band in the late 1970s.
This created the quintessential Deep Purple "Mark 2" lineup, whose first, inauspicious release was a Greenaway-Cook tune titled "Hallelujah", which flopped.
The band gained some much-needed publicity with the Concerto for Group and Orchestra, a three-movement epic composed by Lord as a solo project and performed by the band at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Arnold. Together with Five Bridges by The Nice, it was one of the first collaborations between a rock band and an orchestra, although at the time, certain members of Purple (Blackmore and Gillan especially) were less than happy at the group being tagged as "a group who played with orchestras" when actually what they had in mind was to develop the band into a much tighter, hard-rocking style.
(1970–1976) On top of the world and breakup
Shortly after the orchestral release, the band began a hectic touring and recording schedule that was to see little respite for the next three years. Their first studio album of this period, released in mid-1970, was Deep Purple in Rock (a name deliberately chosen to distance the rock album from the concerto) and contained the then concert staples "Speed King", "Into The Fire", and "Child in Time". The band also issued the UK Top Ten single "Black Night". Blackmore's and Lord's guitar-keyboard interplay coupled with Ian Gillan's howling vocals and the rhythm section of Glover and Paice, now started to take on a unique identity and become instantly recognisable to rock fans throughout Europe.
A second album, the more mellow and creatively progressive Fireball (a favourite of Gillan but not of the rest of the band ), was issued in the summer of 1971. The title track "Fireball" was released as a single, as was "Strange Kind of Woman" - not from the album but recorded during the same sessions.
Within weeks of Fireball's release, the band was already performing songs planned for the next album. One song (which later became "Highway Star") was performed at the first gig of the Fireball tour, having been written on the bus to a show in Portsmouth, in answer to a journalist's question: "How do you go about writing songs?" Three months later, in December 1971, the band found itself in Switzerland to record Machine Head. The album was due to be recorded at a casino in Montreux, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, but a fire during a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention gig burned down the casino. The album was actually recorded at the nearby empty Grand Hotel. This incident famously inspired the song "Smoke on the Water". Gillan believes that he witnessed a man fire a flare gun into the ceiling during the concert, prompting Zappa to comment: "Arthur Brown in person!"
Continuing from where both previous albums left off, Machine Head has since become one of the band's most famous albums, including tracks that became live classics such as "Highway Star", "Space Truckin' ", "Lazy", and "Smoke on the Water", all of which were performed in their live album Made in Japan. Deep Purple continued to tour and record at a rate that would be rare thirty years on: when Machine Head was recorded, the group had only been together three and a half years, yet it was their seventh LP. Meanwhile the band undertook four US tours in 1972 and the August tour of Japan that led to a double-vinyl live release, Made in Japan. Originally intended as a Japan-only record, its world-wide release saw the double become an instant hit. It remains one of rock music's most popular and highest selling live concert recordings (although at the time it was perhaps seen as less important, as only Glover and Paice turned up to mix it).
The classic Purple Mk 2 line-up continued to work and released the album Who Do We Think We Are (1973), featuring the hit single "Woman from Tokyo", but internal tensions and exhaustion were more noticeable than ever. The bad feelings culminated in Ian Gillan quitting the band after their second tour of Japan in the summer of 1973, and Roger Glover being pushed out with him. Their replacements were an unknown singer from Saltburn in North East England, David Coverdale, and Midlands bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, formerly of Trapeze. This new line-up continued into 1974 with the heavier blues-rock album Burn, another highly successful release and world tour. Hughes and Coverdale added both vocal harmonies and a more funky element to the band's music, a sound that was even more apparent on the late 1974 release Stormbringer. Besides the title track, the album had a number of songs that received much radio play, such as "Lady Double Dealer", "The Gypsy", and "Soldier Of Fortune". Yet Blackmore voiced unhappiness with the album, and as a result left the band in the spring of 1975 to form his own band with Ronnie James Dio and Elf, called Rainbow.
With Blackmore's departure, Deep Purple was left to fill one of the biggest vacancies in rock music. In spite of this, the rest of the band refused to go down without a fight, and to the surprise of many long-time fans actually announced a replacement for the "irreplaceable" Man in Black; American Tommy Bolin.
It was Coverdale who had suggested auditioning Bolin. "He walked in, thin as a rake, his hair coloured green, yellow, and blue with feathers in it. Slinking along beside him was this stunning Hawaiian girl in a crochet dress with nothing on underneath. He plugged into four Marshall 100-watt stacks and . . ." The job was his. Bolin had been a member of many now-forgotten mid-60s bands - Denny & The Triumphs, American Standard, and Zephyr, which released three albums from '69-72. Before Purple, Bolin's best-known recordings were made as a session musician on Billy Cobham's 1973 jazz fusion album, Spectrum, and on The James Gang's "Bang" (1973) and "Miami" (1974). He had also jammed with such luminaries as Dr. John, Albert King, and Alphonse Mouzon and was busy working on his first solo album, Teaser, when he accepted the invitation to join Deep Purple.
The resulting album, Come Taste the Band, was released in the US in October 1975. Despite mixed reviews, the collection revitalised the band once again, bringing a new, extreme funk edge to their hard rock sound. Bolin's influence was crucial, and with encouragement from Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale, the guitarist came up with much of the material. Later, Bolin's personal problems with drugs began to manifest themselves, and after cancelled shows and below-par concert performances, the writing was on the wall for the band.
(1976–1984) Band split, side projects
The end came on tour in Britain in March 1976 at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. David Coverdale reportedly walked off in tears and handed in his resignation, to which he was allegedly told there was no band left to quit. The decision to pull the plug on Purple had been made some time before the last show by Lord and Paice (the last remaining original members), who hadn't told anyone else. The break-up was finally made public in July 1976.
Later, Bolin had just finished recording his second solo album, Private Eyes, when, on December 4, 1976, tragedy struck. In Miami, during a tour supporting Jeff Beck, Bolin was found unconscious by his girlfriend. Unable to wake him, she hurriedly called paramedics, but it was too late. The official cause of death: multiple-drug intoxication. He was 25 years old.
After the break-up most of the past and present members of Deep Purple went on to have considerable success in a number of other bands, including Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath and Gillan. There were, however, a number of promoter-led attempts to get the band to reform, especially with the revival of the hard rock market in the late 70s/early 80s. By 1980, a new version of the band surfaced.
(1984–1994) Reunions and breakups
In 1980, Rod Evans, along with a group of unknown musicians, toured under the banner of Deep Purple. As he was the only original member, and one little known to most fans, this band was instantly derided by press and fans alike as a fraud. The lineup performed concerts in Mexico and the USA before legal action was taken to deny them the use of the name. More information on this "fake" Deep Purple is available here and here.
However, in April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale (and legal) reunion took place. It was announced on BBC radio's The Friday Rock Show that the "classic" early 70s line-up of Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord, and Paice was reforming and recording new material. The band signed deals with Rainbow's labels, Polydor Records in Europe and Mercury in North America (both labels were at the time owned by PolyGram, and are now part of the Universal Music Group). The album Perfect Strangers was released in October 1984. A solid release, it sold extremely well, and included the singles and concert staples "Knockin' At Your Back Door" and "Perfect Strangers". The reunion tour followed, starting in Australia and wending its way across the world to the USA, then into Europe by the following summer. Financially, the tour was also a tremendous success. The UK homecoming proved limited, as they elected to play just a single festival show at Knebworth (with main support from the Scorpions). The weather was famously bad but 80,000 turned up anyway.
The line-up then recorded The House of Blue Light in 1986, which was followed by a world tour in 1987. This was followed by another live album Nobody's Perfect (1988) which was culled from several shows on this tour, but still largely based around the by-now familiar "Made in Japan" set-list. In the UK a new version of "Hush" was released to mark 20 years of the band. In 1989, Ian Gillan was fired from the band, as his relations with Blackmore had again soured, and their musical differences had widened too far. Gillan's replacement was former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. This line up recorded just one album, Slaves & Masters (1990) and toured in support. It is one of Blackmore's favourite Purple albums, though some fans regard it as little more than a Rainbow album. In fact, caustic critics dubbed the album "Deep Rainbow." Despite the renewed excellence of the band during this period, many hard-core fans were unhappy with Turner, preferring Gillan.
With the tour done, Turner was forced out, as Lord, Paice and Glover wanted Gillan back in the fold. Blackmore relented and the classic line-up recorded The Battle Rages On in 1993. During the European tour during the fall of 1993, tensions between Gillan and Blackmore came to a head yet again. Blackmore walked out in November 1993, never to return. Joe Satriani was drafted in, so the live dates (in Japan) in December could be completed. Satriani stayed on for a European Summer tour in 1994, and he was asked to stay permanently, but his record contract commitments prevented this. The band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Blackmore's permanent successor.
(1994–present) Revival with Steve Morse
Roger Glover and Steve Morse jamming during the intro to Highway Star
Steve Morse’s arrival revitalised the band creatively, and in 1996 a new album titled Purpendicular was released, showing a wide variety of musical styles. With a revamped set list to tour, Deep Purple enjoyed success throughout the rest of the 1990s, releasing the harder-sounding Abandon in 1998, and touring with renewed enthusiasm. In 1999, Jon Lord, with the help of a fan who was also a musicologist and composer, painstakingly recreated the Concerto for Group and Orchestra; the original score having been lost. It was once again performed at the Royal Albert Hall in September 1999, this time with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann. The concert also featured songs from each member’s solo careers, as well as a short Deep Purple set, and the occasion was commemorated on the 2000 album In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra. In early 2001 two similar concerts were performed in Tokyo and released as part of the box set The Soundboard Series.
Much of the next few years was spent on the road touring. The group continued forward until 2002, when founding member Jon Lord (who, along with Ian Paice, was the only member to be in all incarnations of the band) announced his amicable retirement from the band to pursue personal projects (especially orchestral work). Rock keyboard veteran Don Airey (Rainbow/Ozzy Osbourne), who had helped Deep Purple out when Lord was injured in 2001, joined the band. In 2002, Deep Purple released their first studio album in five years, the highly praised (but controversially titled) Bananas, and began touring in support of the album immediately. In July 2005 the band played at the Live 8 concert in Park Place (Ontario) and, in October of the same year, released their next album Rapture of the Deep. It was followed by the Rapture of the Deep tour.
These guys burned down the house in more ways than one. They were and still are legendary. This is why they appear in this forum. They achieved something many could not. Notoriety on an infinite level. Keep on space Truckin'!
"Master of images-Songs cast a light on you"