DEEP PURPLE STORY II – Deep Purple are cited as one of the pioneers of hard rock and heavy metal, along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The group have influenced a number of rock and metal bands including Metallica, Judas Priest,Queen, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Alice in Chains, Pantera, Bon Jovi, Europe, Rush,Motörhead, and many new wave of British heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard. Iron Maiden’s bassist and primary songwriter, Steve Harris, states that his band’s “heaviness” was inspired by “Black Sabbath and Deep Purple with a bit of Zeppelin thrown in.”
“In 1971, there were only three bands that mattered, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple.”— Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliot.
In 2000, Deep Purple were ranked number 22 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” programme. At the 2008 World Music Awards, the band received the Legend Award. In 2011, they received the Innovator Award at the 2011 Classic Rock Awards in London. A Rolling Stone readers’ poll in 2012 ranked Made in Japan the sixth best live album of all time. As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Machine Head (1972), Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple’s Machine Head was released on 25 September 2012. This tribute album included artists such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, Steve Vai, Carlos Santana, The Flaming Lips, Black Label Society, Papa Roach vocalist Jacoby Shaddix, Chickenfoot (consisting of former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, guitarist Joe Satriani and Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the supergroup Kings of Chaos (Def Leppard vocalist Joe Elliott, Steve Stevens, and former Guns N’ Roses members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum).Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Before October 2012, Deep Purple had never been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (though they have been eligible since 1993), but were nominated for induction in 2012 and 2013. Despite ranking second in the public’s vote on the Rock Hall fans’ ballot, which had over half a million votes, they were not inducted by the Rock Hall committee. Kiss bassist Gene Simmons and Rush bassist Geddy Lee commented that Deep Purple should obviously be among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. There have been criticisms in the past over Deep Purple not having been inducted. Toto guitarist Steve Lukather commented, “they put Patti Smith in there but not Deep Purple? What’s the first song every kid learns how to play? [“Smoke on the Water”] … And they’re not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? … the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has lost its cool because of the glaring omissions.” Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash expressed his surprise and disagreement for the non-induction of Deep Purple: “The list of people who haven’t even been nominated is mind-boggling … [the] big one for me is Deep Purple. How could you not induct Deep Purple?”. Metallica band members James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett have also lobbied for the band’s induction. In an interview with Rolling Stone in April 2014, Ulrich pleaded: “I’m not going to get into the politics or all that stuff, but I got two words to say: ‘Deep Purple’. That’s all I have to say: Deep Purple. Seriously, people, Deep Purple. Two simple words in the English language … ‘Deep Purple’! Did I say that already?”In 2015, Chris Jericho, WWE wrestler and current vocalist of rock band Fozzy, stated: “that Deep Purple are not in it [Hall of Fame]. It’s bullshit. Obviously there’s some politics against them from getting in there.”
In response to these, a Hall of Fame chief executive said, “The definition of ‘rock and roll’ means different things to different people, but as broad as the classifications may be, they all share a common love of the music.” Roger Glover remained ambivalent about induction and got an inside word from the Hall, “One of the jurors said, ‘You know, Deep Purple, they’re just one-hit wonders.’ How can you deal with that kind of Philistinism, you know?”. Ian Gillan also commented, “I’ve fought all my life against being institutionalised and I think you have to actively search these things out, in other words mingle with the right people, and we don’t get invited to those kind of things.” On 16 October 2013 Deep Purple were again announced as nominees for inclusion to the Hall, and once again they were not inducted.
In April 2015, Deep Purple topped the list in a Rolling Stone readers poll of acts that should be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016. In October 2015, the band were nominated for induction for the third time. In December 2015, the band were announced as 2016 inductees into the Hall of Fame, with the Hall stating: “Deep Purple’s non-inclusion in the Hall is a gaping hole which must now be filled”, adding that along with fellow inductees Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, the band make up “the Holy Trinity of hard rock and metal bands.” The band was officially inducted on 8 April 2016. The Hall of Fame announced that the following members were included as inductees: Ian Paice, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, Rod Evans, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. Excluded from induction were Nick Simper, Tommy Bolin, Joe Lynn Turner, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and Don Airey.
Prior to the induction ceremony, Ian Gillan announced that he was barring Hughes, Coverdale, Evans and Blackmore from playing with them onstage, as these members are not in the current “living, breathing” version of the band. Of the eight inducted members, five showed up. Blackmore didn’t attend; a posting on his Facebook page claimed he was honoured by the induction and had considered attending, until he received correspondence from Bruce Payne, manager from the current touring version of Deep Purple saying, “No!” In interviews at the Rock Hall, however, Gillan insisted he personally invited Blackmore to attend, but not to play onstage. Evans, who had disappeared from the music scene more than three decades prior, also didn’t show, whilst because Lord had died in 2012, his wife Vickie accepted his award on his behalf. The current members of the band played “Highway Star” for the opening performance. After a brief interlude playing the Booker T. & the M.G.’s song “Green Onions” while photos of the late Jon Lord flashed on the screen behind them, the current Deep Purple members played two more songs: “Hush” and their signature tune “Smoke on the Water”. Although barred from playing with Deep Purple, both David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes (as well as Roger Glover) joined fellow inductees Cheap Trick and an all-star cast to perform a cover of the Fats Domino song “Ain’t That a Shame”.
New line-up, successes and struggles (1973–1976)
Gillan admitted in 1984 that the band was pushed by management to complete the Who Do We Think We Are album on time and go on tour, although they badly needed a break. The bad feelings, including tensions with Blackmore, culminated in Gillan quitting the band after their second tour of Japan in the summer of 1973, followed by the dismissal of Glover, at Blackmore’s insistence. In interviews later, Lord called the departures of Gillan and Glover while the band was at its peak “the biggest shame in rock and roll; God knows what we would have become over the next three or four years.”
The band hired Midlands bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, formerly of Trapeze. According to Paice, Glover told him and Lord a few months before his official termination that he wanted to leave the band, so they had started to drop in on Trapeze shows. After acquiring Hughes, they debated continuing as a four-piece, with Hughes as bassist and lead vocalist. According to Hughes, he was persuaded because the band would be bringing in Paul Rodgers of Free as a co-lead vocalist, but by that time Rodgers had just started Bad Company. “They did ask,” Rodgers recalled, “and I spoke to all of them at length about the possibility. Purple had toured Australia with Free’s final lineup. I didn’t do it because I was very much into the idea of forming Bad Company.” Instead, auditions were held for lead vocal replacements. They settled on David Coverdale, an unknown singer from Saltburn in Northeast England, primarily because Blackmore liked his masculine, blues-tinged voice.
This new lineup continued into 1974, and their spring tour included shows at Madison Square Garden, New York on 13 March, and Nassau Coliseum four days later. The band coheadlined the famous California Jam festival with Emerson, Lake & Palmer at Ontario Motor Speedway located in Southern California on 6 April 1974. Attracting over 250,000 fans, the festival also included 1970s rock giants Black Sabbath, Eagles, Earth, Wind & Fire, Seals and Crofts, Rare Earth, and also Black Oak Arkansas. Portions of the show were telecast on ABC Television in the US, exposing the band to a wider audience. This lineup’s first album, titled Burn, was highly successful, reaching No. 3 in the UK and No. 9 in the US, and was followed by another world tour. The title track, which opens the album and would open most concerts during the Mark III era, was a conscious effort by the band to embrace the progressive rock movement that was popularised at the time by bands such as Yes, ELP, Genesis, Gentle Giant, etc. “Burn” was a complex arrangement that showcased all the members’ virtuosity and particularly Blackmore’s classically influenced guitar prowess, while Hughes and Coverdale provided vocal harmonies and elements of funk and blues, respectively, to the music, a sound that was even more apparent on the late 1974 release Stormbringer. Besides the title track, the Stormbringer album had a number of songs that received much radio play, such as “Lady Double Dealer”, “The Gypsy” and “Soldier of Fortune”, and the album reached No. 6 in the UK and No. 20 on the US Billboard charts. However, Blackmore publicly disliked the album and the funky soul elements, even calling it “shoeshine music”. As a result, he left the band on 21 June 1975 to form his own band with Ronnie James Dio of Elf, called Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, shortened to Rainbow after the first album.
With Blackmore’s departure, Purple had to fill one of the biggest vacancies in rock music. In spite of this, the band refused to stop, and announced a replacement: American Tommy Bolin. Before Bolin was recruited, Clem Clempson (Colosseum, Humble Pie), Zal Cleminson (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band), Mick Ronson (David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars) and Rory Gallagher were considered.
There are at least two versions of the Bolin recruitment story: Coverdale claims to have been the one who 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.” But in an interview published by Melody Maker in June 1975, Bolin claimed that he came to the audition following a recommendation from Blackmore. Bolin had been a member of many now-forgotten late-1960s bands – Denny & The Triumphs, American Standard, and Zephyr, which released three albums from 1969 to 1972. Before Deep Purple, Bolin’s best-known recordings were made as a session musician on Billy Cobham’s 1973 jazz fusion album Spectrum, and as lead guitarist on two post-Joe Walsh James Gangalbums: Bang (1973) and Miami (1974). He had also jammed with such luminaries as Dr. John, Albert King, the Good Rats, Moxy 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 October 1975, one month before Bolin’s Teaser album. Despite mixed reviews and middling sales (#19 in the UK and #43 in the US), 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 Hughes and Coverdale, the guitarist developed much of the album’s material. Despite Bolin’s talents, his personal problems with hard drugs began to manifest themselves. During the Come Taste the Band tour, many fans openly booed Tommy’s inability to play solos like Ritchie Blackmore, not realising that Bolin was physically hampered by his addiction. At this same time, as he would admit in interviews years later, Hughes was suffering from a cocaine addiction. After several below-par concert performances, the band was in danger.
Band split and solo projects (1976–1984)
The end came on tour in England on 15 March 1976 at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. In the words of Jon Lord:
“At one point during the show, Glenn said to the audience, “I’m sorry we’re not playing very well, but we’re very tired and jet-lagged.” And I remember spluttering to myself, “Speak for yourself.” I was working like a Trojan to try and make this work … Paicey was playing like a madman just to keep it all together … Coverdale was singing his socks off. So to hear this guy who was extremely high on various substances telling the audience, “I’m sorry, We aren’t playing well” kind of rankled me a bit. I came off stage and went straight to my dressing room, which I was sharing with Ian Paice, and I said, “Ian … that’s it, isn’t it? That’s absolutely the end of this band as far as I’m concerned. Why are we doing this to ourselves?” So he and I shook hands and said, “It’s over. Thank God.” About ten minutes later, Coverdale came in, big blustery guy that he is, and he said, “I’m leaving the band!” And we said, “David, there’s no band to leave.””
The break-up was finally made public in July 1976, with then-manager Rob Cooksey issuing the simple statement: “the band will not record or perform together as Deep Purple again”. Later in the year, Bolin had just finished recording his second solo album, Private Eyes, when, on 4 December 1976, tragedy struck. In a Miami hotel room, during a tour supporting Jeff Beck, Bolin was found unconscious by his girlfriend and bandmates. Unable to wake him, she hurriedly called paramedics, but it was too late. The official cause of death was multiple-drug intoxication. Bolin 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 Gillan, Whitesnake and Rainbow. The now-defunct Deep Purple began to gain a type of mystical status, with fan-driven compilations, reissues and live records being released through the remainder of 1970s.This fueled a number of promoter-led attempts to get the band to reform, especially with the revival of the hard rock market in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1980, a touring version of the band surfaced with Rod Evans as the only member who had ever been in Deep Purple, eventually ending in successful legal action from the legitimate Deep Purple camp over unauthorised use of the name. Evans was ordered to pay damages of US $672,000 for using the band name without permission.
Reformation, reunions and turmoil (1984–1994)
In April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale (and legal) reunion took place with the “classic” Mark II line-up from the early 1970s: Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover and Paice. The reformed band signed a worldwide deal with PolyGram, with Mercury Records releasing their albums in the US, and Polydor Records in the UK and other countries. The album Perfect Strangers was recorded in Vermont and released in October 1984. The album was commercially successful, reaching number 5 in the UK Albums Chart and number 12 on the Billboard 200 in the US. The album included the singles and concert staples “Knockin’ At Your Back Door” and “Perfect Strangers”.Perfect Strangers became the second Deep Purple studio album to go platinum in the US, following Machine Head.
The reunion tour followed, starting in Australia and winding its way across the world to North America, then into Europe by the following summer. Financially, the tour was also a tremendous success. In the US, the 1985 tour out-grossed every other artist except Bruce Springsteen. The UK homecoming saw the band perform a concert at Knebworth on 22 June 1985 (with main support from the Scorpions; also on the bill were UFO and Meat Loaf), where the weather was bad (torrential rain and 6 inches (15 cm) of mud) in front of 80,000 fans. The gig was called the “Return of the Knebworth Fayre”.
The Mark II line-up continued, releasing The House of Blue Light in 1987, which was followed by a world tour (interrupted after Blackmore broke a finger on stage while trying to catch his guitar after throwing it in the air) and another live album Nobody’s Perfect (1988) which was culled from several shows on this tour, but still largely based on the by-now familiar Made in Japan set-list. In the UK a new version of “Hush” (with Gillan on lead vocals) was released to mark 20 years of the band.
In 1989 Gillan was fired as his relations with Blackmore had again soured and their musical differences had diverged too far. Originally, the band intended to recruit Survivor frontman Jimi Jamison as Gillan’s replacement, but this fell through due to complications with Jamison’s record label. Eventually, after auditioning several high-profile candidates, including Brian Howe (White Spirit, Ted Nugent, Bad Company), Doug Pinnick (King’s X), Australians Jimmy Barnes (Cold Chisel) and John Farnham (Little River Band), Terry Brock (Strangeways, Giant) and Norman “Kal” Swan (Tytan, Lion, Bad Moon Rising), former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner was recruited into the band. This Mark V line-up recorded just one album, Slaves and Masters (1990), and toured in support. It achieved modest success, reaching number 45 in the UK and number 87 in the US Billboard charts, but some fans criticised it as little more than a so-called “generic Foreigner wannabe” album.
–Guitarist Joe Satriani on his brief period with Deep Purple.
With the tour complete, Turner was forced out, as Lord, Paice and Glover (and the record company) wanted Gillan back in the fold for the 25th anniversary. Blackmore grudgingly relented, after requesting and eventually receiving 250,000 dollars in his bank account and the classic line-up recorded The Battle Rages On… in 1993. However, Gillan reworked much of the existing material which had been written with Turner for the album. As a result, Blackmore became infuriated at what he considered non-melodic elements. During an otherwise successful European tour, Blackmore walked out in 1993, for good, after a show on 17 November in Helsinki, Finland.Joe Satriani was drafted to complete the Japanese dates in December and stayed on for a European Summer tour in 1994. He was asked to join permanently, but his commitments to his contract with Epic Records prevented this. The band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Satriani’s successor.
Revival with Steve Morse and longer tours (1994–present)
Morse’s arrival revitalised the band creatively, and in 1996 a new album titled Purpendicular was released, showing a wide variety of musical styles, though it never made chart success on the Billboard 200 in the US. The Mark VII line-up then released a new live album Live at The Olympia ’96 in 1997. With a revamped set list to tour, Deep Purple enjoyed successful tours throughout the rest of the 1990s, releasing the harder-sounding Abandon in 1998, and touring with renewed enthusiasm. (Note the distinction between this, the studio album, and Total Abandon: Australia ’99, the live tour album.)
In 1999, Lord, with the help of a Dutch fan, who was also a musicologist and composer, Marco de Goeij, 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 included 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.
2001 saw the release of the box set The Soundboard Series, containing concerts from the 2001 Australian Tour plus two from Tokyo, Japan. Much of the next few years was spent on the road touring. The group continued forward until 2002, when founding member Lord (who, along with 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). Lord left his Hammond organ to his replacement, rock keyboard veteran Don Airey, who had helped Deep Purple out when Lord’s knee was injured in 2001.
In 2003 Deep Purple released their first studio album in five years (Bananas) and began touring in support of the album. EMI Records refused a contract extension with Deep Purple, possibly because of lower than expected sales. Actually In Concert with The London Symphony Orchestra sold more than Bananas.
In July 2005 the band played at the Live 8 concert in Park Place (Barrie, Ontario) and, in October released their next album, Rapture of the Deep, which was followed by the Rapture of the Deep tour. This Mark VIII line-up’s two studio albums were produced by Michael Bradford. In February 2007 Gillan asked fans not to buy a live album Come Hell or High Water being released by Sony BMG. This was a recording of their 1993 appearance at the NEC in Birmingham, England. Recordings of this show have previously been released without assistance from Gillan or any other members of the band, but he said: “It was one of the lowest points of my life – all of our lives, actually”. In 2009 Ian Gillan said, “Record sales have been steadily declining, but people are prepared to pay a lot for concert tickets.” In addition, Gillan stated “I don’t think happiness comes with money.”
In 2011 Deep Purple did concert tours in 48 countries. The Songs That Built Rock Tour used a 38-piece orchestra, and included a performance at London’s O2 Arena. Until May 2011, the band members had disagreed about whether to make a new studio album, because it would not really make money any more. Roger Glover stated that Deep Purple should make a new studio album “even if it costs us money.” In early 2011, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes told VH1 they would like to reunite with former Deep Purple Mark III line-up for the right opportunity, such as a benefit concert. The current band’s chief sound engineer on nine years of tours, Moray McMillin, died in September 2011, aged 57.After a lot of songwriting sessions in Europe, Deep Purple decided to record through the summer of 2012, and the band announced they would release their new studio album in 2013. Steve Morse announced to French magazine Rock Hard that the new studio album would be produced by the highly respected Bob Ezrin, who is known for his works with Alice Cooper, Kiss, and Pink Floyd.
On 16 July 2012 the band’s co-founding member and former organ player, Jon Lord, died in London, aged 71. In December 2012 Roger Glover stated that the band have completed work on 14 songs for a new studio album, with 11 or 12 tracks set to appear on the final album to be released in 2013. On 26 February 2013 the title of the band’s nineteenth studio album was announced as Now What?!, which was recorded and mixed in Nashville, Tennessee, and released on 26 April 2013. The album contains the track “Vincent Price”, named after the horror actor who had worked with both Gillan and Glover earlier in their careers.
On 25 November 2016 Deep Purple announced Infinite as the title of their twentieth studio album, which was released on 7 April 2017. In support for the album, Deep Purple embarked on 13 May 2017 in Bucharest, Romania on The Long Goodbye Tour. At the time of the tour’s announcement in December 2016, Paice told the Heavyworlds website it “may be the last big tour”, adding that the band “don’t know”. He described the tour as being long in duration, and said: “We haven’t made any hard, fast plans, but it becomes obvious that you cannot tour the same way you did when you were 21. It becomes more and more difficult. People have other things in their lives, which take time. But never say never.” On 3 February 2017, Deep Purple released a video version of “Time for Bedlam”, the first track taken from the new album and the first new Deep Purple track for almost four years.
- Deep Purple – The Illustrated Biography, Chris Charlesworth, Omnibus Press, 1983, ISBN 0-7119-0174-0
- Smoke on the Water: The Deep Purple Story, Dave Thompson, ECW Press, 2004, ISBN 1-55022-618-5
- The Complete Deep Purple, Michael Heatley, Reynolds & Hearn, 2005, ISBN 1-903111-99-4
- Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story, Greg Prato, Createspace, 2008, ISBN 0-5780031-7-1.
- The official Deep Purple website for promoters, press and fans
- Deep Purple – The official website with fan community
- The Highway Star – The original Deep Purple Fan site
- Deep Purple at Curlie