Deep Purple

Deep Purple is a British rock band formed in Hertford, Hertfordshire, in 1968. Along with the bands Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple is considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although some of its members have tried not to categorize themselves as only one of these genres. The band also incorporated elements of baroque, psychedelia, blues and progressive rock into their sound. They were listed by the Guinness Book of Records “as the band with the loudest live sound in the world”, and have sold over 150 million albums worldwide.

The band went through several lineup changes, as well as an eight-year hiatus (1976-84). The lineups from the 1968-76 period were commonly referred to as Phases I, II, III and IV. Their second, most commercially successful lineup included Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums). This line-up was active from 1969 to 1973, and was reunited from 1984 to 1989, and briefly in 1993, before friction between guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and the other band members became insurmountable. The current lineup consists of Paice, Gillan, Glover, guitarist Steve Morse (member since 1994), and keyboardist Don Airey (who joined in 2002 after Jon Lord’s departure).

The band’s trademark has always been the mix of guitar and keyboard, with simple, strong riffs and vigorous solos. Deep Purple ranked 22nd on the VH1 TV channel’s “Greatest Hard Rock Artists” list, received the title of “Music Legend” at the 2008 World Music Awards, and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

Deep Purple is a British rock band formed in Hertford, Hertfordshire, in 1968. Along with the bands Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple is considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although some of its members have tried not to categorize themselves as only one of these genres. The band also incorporated elements of baroque, psychedelia, blues and progressive rock into their sound. They were listed by the Guinness Book of Records “as the band with the loudest live sound in the world”, and have sold over 150 million albums worldwide.

The first album, Shades of Deep Purple, was released in September 1968. Filled with re-recordings (including progressive versions of the Beatles’ “Help!” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”), the album hit the charts in the United States with a song by Joe South: “Hush”, the band’s first single. In December of that year, when the second album (The Book of Taliesyn) had already been released, they went on their first American tour with Cream. On this tour, in addition to visiting the mansion of Hugh Hefner, creator of Playboy magazine, the group also discovered that another reason for their success in the New World came from the band’s name – the same as a drug then very popular in California. The second album also featured re-recordings, such as “River Deep, Mountain High” (sung by Tina Turner), “We Can Work it Out” (Beatles) and “Kentucky Woman” (Neil Diamond). The composition “Wring That Neck” (called “Hard Road” in the United States, because of the violence of the name) survived, in the group’s setlist, the extinction of the first line-up the following year. It was the vehicle for some of the most inspiring solo exchanges between Blackmore and Lord.

In 1969, Blackmore and Lord were unhappy with the group’s sound. Both wanted to experiment more with volume and electricity but felt that Evans’ voice would not keep up with the changes. The group’s third album, called Deep Purple, reflected the tension of a band that had its feet in the English rock of the 1960s and its head in something that was yet to be created. At the invitation of drummer Mick Underwood, on June 24, Blackmore and Lord went to see a performance by the group Episode Six, whose lead singer (Ian Gillan) Blackmore’s former colleague had spoken highly of. The two Deep Purple members even went on stage for a jam. This was the beginning of the most tense and creatively decisive month in Deep Purple’s entire career.

Blackmore, Lord, and Paice arranged a test session with Ian Gillan. Gillan brought along his friend Roger Glover, also the bassist for Episode Six. Together, the five recorded the single “Hallelujah” on June 7. With both approved, Deep Purple began to have a double life. During the day, the second line-up rehearsed at the Hanwell Community Centre; at night, the first line-up continued performing as if nothing was happening. Evans and Simper didn’t know what was about to happen until the day before the stage debut of Phase II on July 10. The situation was so crazy that on June 10, 1969, Episode Six and Deep Purple performed at Cambridge balls. Deep Purple played eleven performances between the choosing of the new members and the debut of the new phase; Episode Six, eight. But Gillan and Glover played four more shows to fulfil the E6 contract until July 26, interspersed with the first three shows of Phase II.

The projects that had already been taking place, however, continued. The third album had just been released in England when the new line-up, with its bolder sound proposal, debuted. Jon Lord was also finalizing his Concerto for Group & Orchestra, which would be performed at the Royal Albert Hall, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, on September 24. On this day, in addition to showing the new type of composition idealized by Lord (uniting the languages of classical music and rock music), English people from all walks of life got to know “Child in Time,” composed while still at Hanwell. The composition shows everything that the new line-up brought in relation to the previous one: rhythm changes, powerful solos, banshee screams. The new Deep Purple was electric and explosive, and this would be very clear in the first album of the new line-up – In Rock, released in June 1970. The British could get to know track by track of the new album via BBC during the several months leading up to the release. They even saw previously unreleased tracks, such as “Jam Stew”, and a primitive version of “Speed King” called “Kneel and Pray”, with completely different and much more malicious lyrics than those known and sung until today.

The second album of phase II was Fireball, which keeps the electricity but takes a more experimental path. The album even includes a country song (“Anyone’s Daughter”), alongside long instrumentals such as “Fools” and songs closer to those of the previous album, such as “Strange Kind of Woman”. The 1971 tour shows, available only on pirate recordings, show a more mature and bolder band. It is on this tour that Ian Gillan starts to duel his voice with Blackmore’s guitar, for example.

The next step in Deep Purple’s experimentation would be to record a studio album made under the same conditions as a live performance. All together, in the same environment, creating and recording together as in the long instrumental jams they did on stage. They already had some songs almost ready: “Highway Star” began to be created inside a bus, when a journalist asked how they created their songs. Blackmore said: “like this”, and started playing a choppy riff. Gillan joined in the fun and started improvising lyrics: “We’re on the road, we’re on the road, we’re a rock’n’roll ba-and!”. By September, the first version of what would be “Highway Star” was already beginning to be sampled on stage and on the German TV show Beat Club. It is from this performance that the clip for “Highway Star” comes, in which Blackmore wears a witches’ hat and Gillan babbles words about Mickey Mouse and Steve McQueen.

By December 1971 they had found the right place to create and record this album: Montreux, Switzerland, where a famous jazz festival still takes place. The best place to record would be the big casino in the city, where traditionally there were musical performances. The casino was not yet open for Deep Purple when they arrived – there was one last performance by Frank Zappa to close the season. The group then went to see the show. Zappa has always been a rock innovator, and in this particular performance he used a state-of-the-art synthesizer. In the middle of the show, someone sets fire to the casino. The music stops. Zappa shouts: “FIRE! Arthur Brown, in person!” and instructs those present to calmly leave the casino. In interviews, Roger Glover says that everyone really was calm – enough so that he himself could still take a look at the synthesizer before leaving the building. Meanwhile Claude Nobs, who to this day organizes the Montreux Jazz Festival, was running around to get some spectators out of the casino.

The group was moved to the Grande Hotel de Montreux. In the winter it was empty, cold, and all the furniture was put away. They parked the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit outside, pulled some wires, set up their instruments comfortably in the hotel corridors, and began to rehearse. The result is that to this day every Deep Purple concert contains at least four of the seven songs from the 1972 Machine Head album.

The entire story of the recording is told in a nutshell in the song “Smoke on the Water”, the last song to be recorded on the album. Blackmore had created an unused riff, dubbed “durrh-durrh”. There were no lyrics. Then came the idea to write about what had happened on the record. Gillan says that they were in a bar when Roger Glover wrote the title of the song on a napkin (which meant “smoke over water,” a good description of the photograph that a newspaper published the day after the fire). Glover says that the phrase came to him in a dream, and that Gillan replied, “it’s not gonna roll; it sounds like a drug song name, but we’re a drinking band.” Neither of them bet that they would spend more than thirty years playing “durrh-durrh” every night, such was the success the song achieved. Although it was recorded in December, it did not enter the setlist until March 9, at a concert on the BBC. This first performance is included in In Concert 1970-1972.

1972 was a very busy year, and Deep Purple arrived for the first time in Japan, where their most famous live album, Made in Japan, was recorded. In Italy, the group was also preparing the recording of Who Do We Think We Are. The band’s work rhythm, however, cost them dearly. Several times, members of the group fell ill. Guitarist Randy California replaced Blackmore in one show, and Roger Glover replaced Gillan in another. The relationships among the members, and especially between Gillan and Blackmore, were not going well either. In December, Gillan handed in his resignation, advising that he would leave the group at the end of June 1973, giving his management and colleagues six months to decide what to do with the group.

Time for change
On June 29, 1973, during the group’s second trip to Japan and after an impeccable show, in which Jon Lord included “Happy Birthday” to Paice in his keyboard solo (it was the drummer’s birthday), Ian Gillan returned to the stage and announced that it would be Deep Purple’s last show with that line-up. During the show, there were no other signs of attrition. In retrospect, Gillan’s silence when singing the line “no matter what we get out of this” in “Smoke on the Water” could indicate that everything he could get out of this was already over. Glover also left the group, and moved into the artistic department of Purple Records – the group’s record label – to work in production.

The first new member recruited to Deep Purple, right after the end of phase II, was bassist Glenn Hughes, who sang and played bass in the group Trapeze. The dual ability excited Blackmore and Lord, but he would not be left alone on vocals. Deep Purple’s plan was to seek the voice of Paul Rodgers (ex-Free, ex-Bad Company). After a first contact, he asked for some time to think about it and decided to continue with his band at the time, the then Free. While the search for a new vocalist continued, Blackmore and Hughes got to know each other and played together. What would become the blues “Mistreated”, without the lyrics, was composed at this time.

The hypothesis of playing the group with only four members was considered, but the idea of having two vocalists spoke louder. With this idea on the streets, Deep Purple’s managers kept receiving tapes from new artists. One of them was sent by a twenty-one year old boy who had been singing since he was fifteen: David Coverdale. His band and Deep Purple had already crossed paths in November 1969, at a concert at Bradford University, when Gillan and Glover had just joined Deep Purple. Coverdale’s audition took place in August 1973. For six hours, they played Deep Purple material and better-known songs, such as “Long Tall Sally” and “Yesterday”. When Coverdale went home, the rest of Deep Purple went out for a drink and decided: he was the chubby one (in the following months, the band’s managers would give him some drugs to thin his appearance).

On September 9, the new group locked themselves in Clearwell Castle for two weeks to compose. Very excited, Coverdale – whose stage experience was only with recording demos – wrote four different lyrics for the song that would be “Burn”. One of them was called “The Road”. On the 23rd, one day after Coverdale’s 22nd birthday, phase III was presented to the British press. In November, the album Burn was recorded, again in Montreux, with the same Rolling Stones mobile unit with which Machine Head was recorded. The new team would make its stage debut on December 8 in Denmark. It was the debut of Deep Purple’s phase III. The album would only be released in 1974.

The sound of the new line-up was marked by Blackmore’s greater speed and technique on the guitar and by the tension between the two singers. In the studio, the duets were perfect. On stage, Hughes put all the power of his lungs to work whenever he could, often intimidating Coverdale. The bassist and singer also added to Deep Purple’s recipe a good pinch of soul and funk spice – which Blackmore initially accepted begrudgingly, because he understood that although this style was in the charts at the time, it wasn’t part of the constitutive elements of Deep Purple’s sound.

On April 6, 1974, the group performed in California, USA, to an audience of two hundred thousand people – it was the California Jam festival, which lasted twelve hours and was led by Deep Purple. The concert, and particularly Blackmore’s bad mood about having to start playing before dark with cameras on the stage, was famous for being explosive: the guitarist destroyed a working camera with his guitar and, not content with this, blew up an amplifier. The silhouette of the guitarist in front of the flames of the amplifier is one of the most powerful scenes in all rock iconography. Thirty years later, Josh White, the director of filming the event, recalled how he may have induced it:

“I talked to him the night before. Deep Purple did a technical rehearsal, and I asked him if he was going to break his guitar. And Richie said, ‘Yeah, maybe. I don’t know, what the fuck. He was kind of pissed off about a lot of things that had nothing to do with me. And I said, ‘Look, if you’re going to break the guitar, favor the camera. I’m going to do a great shot and it’s going to look great. And he favored the camera well, generating $8,000 of damage.”

Deep Purple’s third lineup would end a year after California Jam, on April 7, 1975, a week before Blackmore’s thirtieth birthday. It was the Stormbringer album release tour in Europe. With even more soul/funk swing, the album displeased Blackmore greatly. He already had some ideas in his head, and when he left[10] he already had a new band formed: Rainbow. The dilemma for the group was whether to continue without Blackmore – the creator of all the riffs that made Deep Purple famous – or to move on, taking advantage of the fact that the group was one of the most profitable in the history of rock music.

They decided to continue, inviting guitarist Tommy Bolin, the first American to join the group. With this formation (phase IV), they record the album Come Taste the Band, even more swinging. The tour is complicated, due to Bolin and Hughes’ drug problems. In several shows, such as the one recorded in Last Concert in Japan, Bolin could not play because his arm was numb from drugs. Talented young men in their twenties, when entering a money-making machine in the entertainment industry, run the serious risk of losing their sense of proportion. This is what happened at the time.

Bolin had two aggravating factors: insecurity and low self-esteem. All this despite having recorded beautiful solo albums, being considered a guitar genius, and having played with jazz wizards such as drummer Billy Cobham. Bolin couldn’t stand being compared by his fans to his charismatic predecessors in the big rock groups. Deep Purple was the second time he had replaced a great guitarist – previously he had played in the James Gang. In Deep Purple he even argued with the audience a few times during performances.

The end
At the end of the March 15, 1976 concert in Liverpool, David Coverdale gets it off his chest with Lord: there was no more Deep Purple to go on with. Lord gets back to him: there wasn’t a Deep Purple to go on anymore. This is how the band, created eight years before, and which was even included in the Guinness World Records as the loudest band in the world, ended, in a confiding atmosphere. Eight months later, Bolin would die of a drug overdose at the Resort Hotel in Miami, after a performance. And for eight years Deep Purple would remain offline.

During this period, the band members would make their own careers and plant the foundation for Deep Purple’s future developments. In order of departure:

Ian Gillan – After a brief period of seclusion in which he sold motorcycles and tried to own a hotel, he was rescued to the stage by Roger Glover and felt excited enough to create his own band, the Ian Gillan Band. In a kind of jazz-rock style, it continued until the early 1980s. In 1982 he dissolved the band, and the following year he recorded an album with Black Sabbath: Born Again.
Roger Glover – Initially, he stayed close to Purple Records and was the one who had the most contact with all branches of Deep Purple’s gigantic family tree. Two years later, he managed to gather on the same stage the best musicians in England (many of them members or ex-members of Deep Purple, or their colleagues in other bands), in the musical Butterfly Ball. It was Ian Gillan’s first public appearance after the end of Deep Purple, replacing Ronnie James Dio (who sang in Blackmore’s Rainbow and later in Black Sabbath). He produced other bands, recorded two solo albums, and returned to play bass in Blackmore’s Rainbow.
Ritchie Blackmore – With Rainbow, he had one of the most successful hard rock bands of the late 70’s and early 80’s, shining the spotlight on musicians such as Joe Lynn Turner and Don Airey, who years later would join Deep Purple. Roger Glover even played with him.
David Coverdale – After two solo albums, he formed Whitesnake and broke into the FM charts in the 80s. In the band, he played with Jon Lord and Ian Paice. From time to time, he reunites Whitesnake for tours.
Jon Lord – Had an interesting solo career, mixing his various musical influences (classical, rock and jazz). He composed movie soundtracks with Tony Ashton and the two joined Paice for the Paice, Ashton and Lord project. He later joined Coverdale in Whitesnake. After battling cancer, Lord came to pass away on July 16, 2012.
Ian Paice – Played with several musicians, including Gary Moore, in addition to Paice, Ashton and Lord and Whitesnake.
Glenn Hughes – Reunited Trapeze, recorded several solo albums, played with Gary Moore and Pat Thrall, struggled with himself to rid himself of drugs, sang in Black Sabbath, and most recently recorded two albums with also ex-Deep Purple Joe Lynn Turner: the Hughes-Turner Project (HTP).

In 1984, it is announced the return of Deep Purple with its most successful lineup (phase II), with Gillan, Blackmore, Paice, Glover and Lord. The first unreleased album since 1975, Perfect Strangers, is released, followed by 1987’s The House of Blue Light. From the tours of these two albums comes the live Nobody’s Perfect, released in 1988. In 1989, Gillan decides to leave the band again, and in his place comes vocalist Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow). With this new line-up, the band went on a successful tour that was very well praised by the fans. Although the new album with Turner, Slaves and Masters, was commercially weak, their tour was not. The shows were marked by impeccable performances by the band and the excellent stage presence of lead singer Joe Lynn Turner. It is worth remembering that on this tour Deep Purple came to Brazil for the first time. The set-list contained classics from Coverdale’s time, and many that the band hadn’t played for some time.

The band finished the tour at the end of 1991, and in April 1992, started recording what would become the album The Battle Rages On…. This album was initially recorded and written with Joe Lynn Turner still in the band, but in the middle of September 1992, Joe is fired from the group and in his place comes Ian Gillan again, who finishes what’s left of The Battle Rages On…, re-recording it with his voice. The album was released in 1993.

In December 1993, after Ritchie Blackmore’s departure due to constant conflicts about the musical style to be followed, guitar-hero Joe Satriani was invited to join the band and joined Purple to take part in the international tour through Japan. With the success of the shows, Satriani was invited by the other members to remain as a full member, but he declined, more concerned about his solo career and the contract for an album signed with Sony. Before this, however, he still participated in the European tour as the band’s guitarist in 1994, playing his last concert with the band in July, in Austria. After this concert, Satriani left Purple and gave way to guitarist Steve Morse, who had previously played with the bands Dixie Dregs and Kansas. Steve Morse is Deep Purple’s guitarist to this day.

The band revitalizes itself and returns with 1996’s Purpendicular, bringing new elements, but valuing the challenges between guitars and organ that made the musical basis of Deep Purple’s style. The reasonable Abandon follows in 1998. In 2002, keyboardist Jon Lord decides to leave the road, and Don Airey takes his place. He is a keyboardist who has played in several hard rock bands, including Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, David Coverdale’s Whitesnake, and Ozzy Osbourne. With Airey, Gillan, Morse, Glover and Paice the albums Bananas, in 2003, and Rapture of the Deep, in 2005, are released.

In 2012, Deep Purple announced that they are going into the process of producing a new studio album, their first since 2005.

On July 16, 2012, keyboardist Jon Lord passed away. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for almost a year. Several renowned musicians expressed their sadness about the event, such as Geezer Butler, David Coverdale, Lars Ulrich, Tony Iommi, Mike Portnoy, Axl Rose, Slash, Bill Ward, Jordan Rudess, and his former band Deep Purple.

The best riff in rock history
In April 2008, the students of the London Tech Music School, one of the most respected music schools in Great Britain and from where the members of bands such as Radiohead, The Kinks and The Cure came out, elected the classic “Smoke on the Water”, one of the biggest hits of the band, as the greatest riff of all time in the history of rock, ahead of other classics such as “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin, “My Generation” by The Who, “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf and “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath.