The self-proclaimed "World's Loudest Band" (later confirmed by Guinness Book Of World Records) has an illustrious career denoted by different phases attributed to different line-ups denoted as Mark I, II, etc. The band’s logo goes through many more iterations.
Drummer Curtis, formerly of Searchers, was instrumental in bringing the band together as Roundabout – another suggested monicker was The Light - in London of 1968 and, while line-up changes were numerous, Lord and Paice had been constants in the band’s recorded history until the former’s death. The ‘Deep Purple’ monicker was suggested by Ritchie Blackmore who remembered his grandmother playing the song by the same name on the piano. This song was originally written around 1922 by pianist Peter DeRose and covered dozens of time since. Curtis who had played with some of the members introduced Blackmore and Lord to one another, but was eventually discarded for being too eccentric. One of the first British drummers to play double bass, Bobby Woodman, was invited to join. Curtis would die in 2005. Blackmore was enticed back from Hamburg, Germany were he was living with a German stripper/girlfriend, while being married back in England. In fact, Blackmore was enticed back from Germany a second time having rejected the idea of the band the first time. The idea of the band was to get the members to play what they wanted, as opposed to being backing musicians to others. Simper and Lord were impressed by Vanilla Fudge. Blackmore was more into Hendrix. By this time, Blackmore had played numerous shows and recorded for plenty of artists like Bob Dylan and more. Businessmen Ron Hire (soon bought out for receiving stolen goods), Tony Edwards and John Coletta and a third partner had become the investors and managers of the band. The group played a show to 500 people in Denmark as Roundabout. The new name was decided upon by the time the act was back in the UK. The band lived together in a house for a short while. It was at this house that the band threw names around and wrote suggestions on the wall. Suggested monicker on the wall were Concrete God, Sugar Lump and Orpheus among others. The band had studio time booked and wrote a few songs, like Love help Me, to record. The band was commercially successful from the start – especially in the USA - with its cover of Joe South’s Hush (backed by One More Rainy Day) charting immediately. Deep Purple performed the early hit Hush at the Playboy Mansion in October 1968 for the program Playboy After Dark. While the band was signed to Parlophone initially in Europe, the US releases were taken over by comedian Bill Cosby of all people.
The band was no joke, however, and through a mixture of heavy metal and hard rock Deep Purple achieved great feats in every corner of the world. First, however, were the poppy first two albums. Deep Purple was given the chance to tour the USA and Canada very early and was welcomed, but noticed that the headliners Cream were not hospitable and incommunicative. Ironically, Blackmore would later own Cream guitarist Eric Clapton’s second hand guitar. Ritchie Blackmore was a fan of Classical music, but wanted the band to be “rock and roll” and did not appreciate the idea of Concerto For Group And Orchestra as much as the classically trained Lord did. This album was recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was not an original idea, but more bands begun to record with an orchestra thereafter. Deep Purple recorded Hush, Wring The Neck and Child In Time at the Royal Albert Hall with Malcolm Arnold as the conductor. To this day, debate rages whether In Rock (formally ‘Deep Purple In Rock’) or Machine Head remains the band's pinnacle. Songs like Smoke On The Water and Highway Star are staples of heavy metal. The latter song was created so the band can have a furious opening cut for its shows. It replaced Speed King as show openers. The former has become the world’s most hummable song and riffed guitar chords. Ironically, Smoke On The Water was going to be left off the album. The band wrote the song after watching Geneva’s Montreux Casino burn to rubble from its hotel in 1971 after a Frank Zappa concert attendee accidentally set the place ablaze with a flare launched at the ceiling. Attendees had to escape through one door and the windows. The band was in Geneva to play a show and record its own album. The recordings had to be moved elsewhere in town with the hall burnt down. “Funky Claude” refers to Claude Nobs the organizer of the Montreux Jazz Festival who also procured new premises for Deep Purple to record.
The band travelled to Japan and played three shows in Tokyo and Osaka. Warner Japan had asked for a live recording to commemorate the occasion, but the result was so impressive that the record was issued worldwide. Gillan had come down with Hepatitis in 1972 and had to lay off shows. The year after it was Blackmore’s turn and while the group attempted to play with Randy California of Spirit on guitar – and playing Flint in the USA as a quarter - the one show in Quebec City, Canada convinced them to cancel touring. The group was America’s biggest selling band in 1973. Still, Gillan and Welshman Glover quit in June of 1973 after falling out with Blackmore and feeling the pressures of success. Gillan and Blackmore had not gotten along for some time and in fact not spoken for six months. The lyrics to Smooth Dancer illustrate Gillan’s feelings for Blackmore. Glover handed in his resignation and committed to finishing all planned touring. A show in The Netherlands in January 1973 became a riot owing to overcrowding and lack of electrical power. Blackmore was reportedly considering forming a new band with Phil Lynott. Free’s Paul Rodgers was invited to be the band’s singer and had turned the band down. 1974’s Burn had the band refurnished with singer David Coverdale following much infighting. Immediately after the album’s release the band took its new singer and bassist/singer (Glenn Hughes) to America to headline at The California Jam at the Ontario Motor Speedway. Also on the bill were co-headliners Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Earth, Wind & Fire, Black Sabbath and others. It is said that 168,000 people bought tickets and many others crashed the gates. The show was filmed for ABC television, which was all the more interesting when Blackmore angered by the promoters and ABC proceeded to vent his anger on the cameraman and end the show with more than a rehearsed smashing of his guitars. The guitarist was setting fire to his amplifiers and more. The band had to flee the police.
Two years later Blackmore's replacement Tommy Bolin overdoses on heroin and the band ceases activity. Brilliant offshoot bands are formed with names like Gillan, Rainbow – named after Rainbow Bar & Grill in California - and Whitesnake each achieving great successes in their own right. Paice and Lord ended up in Whitesnake with David Coverdale. Nonetheless rumours swirled and as early as 1981 Lord confirmed to the press that Deep Purple is not reforming. Rod Evans attempted a reformation of his own version of Deep Purple in 1980 and even went as far as booking Mexican and US dates. Lawyers soon got involved. A 1980 compilation called Deepest Purple hit the top position in the UK charts despite the band not being active. The band reformed after 9 years in 1984 and to the surprise of many produced a convincing comeback album. Ritchie Blackmore stated in all frankness that cash had a lot to do with the reformation. The unconfirmed cash advance for Deep Purple’s reformation was $10 million. The return since then has been patchy though, partly because of a lack of inspiration by former virtuoso Blackmore whose dislike for rock music meant often early exits at live shows and an eventual departure (again) from the fold. The House Of Blue Light sold well, but did not match its predecessor. The live album that followed disappointed many. Joe Lynn Turner became the singer and wanted a more contemporary sound for the act. Others disagreed and he was out/ Mike DiMeo of Riot was brought in and recorded with the band, but Lord thought he is too young. Apparently, a royalty dispute and legal action ensued and Ritchie Blackmore’s image was removed from certain items like Machine Head T-shirts. The band continued and saw the departure and retirement of founding member Jon Lord in March of 2002. His replacement was Don Airey formerly of Ozzy Osbourne, Rainbow and others.
The band's Bananas album was released in summer of 2003. Deep Purple played the entire Machine Head album live during the 2004 tour of North America with Thin Lizzy. A DVD called Live Encounters was issued in 2004. The band left EMI Records in 2005.
Deep Purple made an appearance at the Barrie, Canada edition of Live 8 concert. Later they signed with Edel Records for the world outside the USA. The band chose Rapture Of The Deep as the title for its 2005 studio album. Producer Michael Bradford replaced regular guitarist Steve Morse for Deep Purple's European TV appearances in the autumn of 2005. Steve Morse was unavailable to appear due to personal reasons. Sony BMG withdrew the re-issue of the band’s live 1993 album following a complaint by the band regarding the quality of the music on the album. The same music had previously been available on both CD and DVD formats however. Eagle Rock Entertainment released They All Came Down To Montreux: Deep Purple Live At Montreux 2006 as a two-DVD set and a separate CD in June 2007. Close-up was the name of a solo album expected in 2008 from Deep Purple’s Roger Glover. Former keyboardist Jon Lord was to join the band on the stage for 2008’s Sun Flower Jam in London’s Porchester Hall in London. The charity benefits medical technicians and was set up by Ian Paice’s wife, Jackie. The group was joined on stage by its former keyboardist Jon Lord for five songs at Sunflower Jam 2008 on September 25th at the Porchester Halls in London, England. With singer Ian Gillan suffering from a cold, the band played several instrumental tracks. Also performing with the band for the songs Smoke On The Water, Lucille and even Black Night was Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. According to a report in UK’s Classic Rock magazine in early 2009 singer David Coverdale, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Glenn Hughes and keyboardist Jon Lord were thinking about reforming Deep Purple MKIII. Incredibly this would constitute Blackmore’s return to hard rock and imply two Deep Purples would simultaneously be on the road. Drummer Ian Paice was, of course, in Mark II. A new DVD called Deep Purple Live 1974 (TV Recordings) was being issued in February of 2009. It featured material trusted to the tape for German television in 1974. The anticipated Deep Purple Mark III line-up reunion featuring Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale was unlikely to happen according to Glenn Hughes. The bassist and singer claimed a lack of coordination and time had come in the way, although other factors had seemingly contributed to the stallment.
Poland's Metal Mind Productions released the recording of Deep Purple's show in Katowice, Poland in 1996 as a live album called, Live Encounters. Deep Purple/former Black Sabbath singer Ian Gillan and Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell guitarist player Tony Iommi initiated a project band named Who Cares in 2010 for raising funds for reestablishment of music schools in Armenia. In 1989, within the framework of Rock Aid Armenia, the British rock stars recorded Deep Purple's classic Smoke On The Water and also released a disc called Rock Aid Armenia. Not to be outdone, Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse teamed up with singer/songwriter Sarah Spencer to release Angelfire, an album of acoustic songs. The two met when Spencer was 16. Roger Glover’s new solo album was due for a June, 2011 release. The album was titled If Life Was Easy. Deep Purple was touring North America and being accompanied on stage with a symphony orchestra in each city - except San Francisco. Eagle Rock released Deep Purple's Phoenix Rising, which was a two-hour documentary including 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage from Japan that was filmed on the stage. It was released on DVD, Blu-ray and in a special two-disc DVD/CD package. Jon Lord, formerly of Deep Purple, was stricken with cancer in the summer of 2011 and thus ceased live activities. Eagle Rock Entertainment was giving a US release to Total Abandon: Australia '99 on CD on April 24th, 2012. Recorded on April 20th, 1999 at Melbourne Park the set had only been available as a DVD in the 2008 Around The World Live package. Flying Colors, featuring drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) and guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple), scheduled shows in the USA and Europe for September of 2012. In July of 2012, Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord died due to pancreatic cancer at the age of 71. Deep Purple would release a studio album, called Now What?!, through earMUSIC in late March, 2013. Strangely, Roadrunner had earlier issued a split vinyl of the band with Type O Negative both playing Highway Star. Now What?! Album entered the Austrian and German Media Control chart at the Number 1 position. Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers Live DVD was out October 14th, 2013 through Eagle Vision. The video captured the band in 1984. To commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the California Jam festival, Eagle Rock Entertainment would re-release Deep Purple Live In California 74 on April 1, 2014. Previously unreleased as a package, Graz 1975 a Deep Purple show near the Austrian city of the same name, would be released on September 23rd through earMUSIC/Eagle Rock Entertainment. It was one of guitarist Blackmore’ last shows with the act before his initial departure. Roger Glover, who wrote the classic Smoke On The Water, was made a Honourary Fellow of the University of South Wales for his contribution to music in late 2014. Whitesnake’s 2015 album would be out in May through Frontiers Music. The Purple Album featured reworked songs from Whitesnake main man’s Deep Purple era. Following 2015 musings by former Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner that he and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore may reunite in 2016 for a string of Rainbow shows, the former Rainbow and Deep Purple guitarist confirmed his inclination to play rock music again. In an interview with Le Parisien, the current guitarist for Blackmore’s Night qualified the plans as tentative, however, and added the personnel involved are unclear and may exclude Turner. In other news, HEC Enterprises and Deep Purple (Overseas) were being sued by Blackmore who was alleging the royalty and publishing companies have underpaid him due royalties for his Deep Purple work. The other former Deep Purple members had won damages a decade earlier. Ritchie Blackmore was playing several shows in the summer of 2015 of Rainbow and Deep Purple songs. This was Blackmore’s first foray into hard rock since 1997. The guitarist had recruited an unnamed vocalist. The shows announced were Monsters Of Rock festival on Friday, June 17th at Freilichtbühne in Loreley and on June 18th at Festplatz am Viadukt in Bietigheim-Bissingen. Deep Purple would be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame of USA on April 8th of 2016 at a ceremony at Brooklyn, New York's Barclays Centre. Also in this hall were Blondie, Abba and others. Universal Music Catalogue announced January 2016 as the release month for the group’s The Vinyl Collection. This 7-LP collection featured the groups’ albums spanning the period 1972-1987. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich introduced Deep Purple to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on April 8th 2006. Eagle Rock Entertainment released Deep Purple: Live At The NEC, which was recorded at the venue in Birmingham, UK. The DVD featured the band’s farewell to keyboardist Jon Lord who is on stage alongside replacement key man Don Airey. The show was previously available as a part of the Around The World Live package. Deep Purple picked Infinite as the title for its 2017 album, which was due in April through earMUSIC. Bob Ezrin produced it. Deep Purple filed a lawsuit against its accountant of two decades in 2017, accusing him of removing up to £4 million (over $5.5 million) in band money from the company’s accounts. Singer Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice were suing Dipak Shanker Rao. Former guitarist Ritchie Blackmore had done the same in, but at that time had indicated the rest of Deep Purple had been ahead of him in taking action. The band, Alice Cooper and The Edgar Winter Band were touring North America that summer. In an interview with The Guardian Ritchie Blackmore reported that he no longer disdained his former band-mates and asserted he would play with his former band-mates were he invited. Deep Purple, which was touring North America with Alice Cooper, had three anthologies called A Fire In The Sky available through Rhino in November of 2017. The discs were also available as one package. Ritchie Blackmore signalled through his wife who was interviewed by a radio station in late 2017 that the guitarist "would be willing to go on stage" and play "a couple of concerts" with Deep Purple. This was not the first time that Blackmore had made similar suggestions. Ian Gillan reunited with his ‘60s band The Javelins and recorded an album called Ian Gillan & The Javelins, which would be out in August of 2018. The songs stemmed from the ‘60s. earMUSIC would release Live In Rome 2013 on December 6th. Elsewhere, Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord's Concerto For Group And Orchestra fiftieth anniversary was commemorated in Quebec City, Canada with a concert featuring the local orchestra. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson appeared. Deep Purple would release a new album, entitled Whoosh!, through earMUSIC in June 2020. Bob Ezrin was producing it. The release date of Whoosh! was postponed to August from the June 12th. earMUSIC was responding to market conditions and a lack of business activity. Upon released it reached number 4 in the UK charts. Deep Purple rescheduled its U.K. tour for October of 2022. It was most recently due in October of 2021 and previously 2020.
DEEP PURPLE - IN ROCK - WARNER
Deep Purple's Deep Purple In Rock kicks off with a bang. A howling guitar solo by virtuoso Ritchie Blackmore, drenched in feedback, tears up the speakers for a full minute before it gives way to an organ, building tension until the explosion into the song, Speed King. In 1970, when this was released, it was clear - no more fucking around with psychedelic stuff and poppy harmonies. Aggressive, fast, groovy, and filled to the brim with raging guitar solos, organ riffs, and Ian Gillian's howl, Deep Purple's In Rock was one of the first pillars of the beginning of heavy metal.
Let's be clear. Deep Purple In Rock is one of the most severely underrated albums in the beginning of metal. Many people just think "Black Sabbath started it, then there was basically no one until Judas Priest in '76", or, worse, just ignore it all and start with Iron Maiden. But Deep Purple were right there at the start too, and no self-respecting metalhead should pass this up if they care about learning their roots.
Speed King is probably the most aggressive song on the album; it truly rips, and it's a great way to start the album. What especially stands out is Ritchie Blackmore's guitar heroics. Iommi was a masterful riffer, but his solos (as much as I love them) left a bit to be desired on many occasions. Blackmore's performance on this album is truly inspired - listen to his badass solos on Bloodsucker, Hard Lovin' Man, and really the whole album. The riffs are as awesome, too. Every song delivers jackhammer riffs, truly great stuff that is very memorable. It's stuff like Into The Fire, where Blackmore just spits out these heavy-ass riffs, really influential stuff that drives the song forward for Ian Gillian to scream over, as Jon Lord pounds out his neoclassical organ riffs with the rhythm section in the background. I'll go even further. Blackmore was the first great metal lead player - Page isn't really metal, Iommi was inferior to him in leads, and nothing touched this stuff until Sad Wings Of Destiny.
Speaking of Jon Lord, his organ plays a big part here, and anyone who doesn't respect the awesomeness of the Hammond organ will after hearing this. Keeping the rhythm in many parts, he also takes sweet solos in several songs (Flight Of The Rat and Speed King among them), that are truly just organ-tastic. And elsewhere, he makes his presence felt in the recurring "whoosh" sound in Living Wreck and the lines in Child In Time.
I've been waiting to bring up Child In Time, because it's the most-loved song on the album and is something of an anthem among Deep Purple fans. Elsewhere on the Internet you can read odes to its greatness, thousand-word essays on how truly amazing it is, and people who say it's the best thing since sliced Bach. I personally find it to be overrated, but I will say that it is a fantastic song - a ten-minute anti-war epic, with slowly escalating tension and a quite amazing performance by our own Ian Gillian. It even manages to stay together, something most heavy metal epics in the '70s failed at. And it proves that Deep Purple was more than a one-dimensional band, because they could do pretty sweet ballad-ish stuff like this. You'll have to listen to it for yourself.
Child In Time is a good example of the variety to be had here, too. There's that ballad-y epic stuff, several rip-your-face-off rockers (Bloodsucker and Speed King among them), stuff with more hard rock tinges (Living Wreck, Into The Fire), and a hell of a lot of jamming. In Rock keeps your interest the whole time.
Honestly, if there's any flaws, it's the length of some parts. Flight Of The Rat goes on a bit too long - it has a catchy hook and I like the solos, but I defy anyone to tell me that none of that middle section where the organ and the guitar are jamming around could be cut. Child In Time is great and all, but I rarely listen to it just like for fun ("Hey, let's listen to a ten-minute, organ filled, psuedo-prog anti-war epic!"), and Hard Lovin' Man (by the way, this is the first heavy metal song I can find with the Iron Maiden gallop) also could probably use a trim. By today's standards, it isn't particularly heavy, too. People being raised on In Flames and Behemoth will find this not to be intense enough (and call it hard rock instead of heavy metal), especially because of the lighter tinges on stuff like Living Wreck.
But other then that, Deep Purple In Rock is simply a great album. If you have an interest in early heavy metal, you should check this out. And look for the super-ass remastered retooled megaexpandedfuck version, which has like two other CDs of outtakes and interviews and things (plus "Black Night", one of their highest-charting singles, which you deserve to check out). - Max V.
DEEP PURPLE - PERFECT STRANGERS - POLYDOR
The 1984 album Perfect Strangers was the first with Ian Gillan at vocals since 1973. The opener Knocking At Your Back Door begins with arabesque keyboards and has cryptic lyrics, much like the rest of the songs. The title could be some kind of slang or euphemism for anal sex, especially if you look at some lines from the song (“It’s not against the law”). Under The Gun is an anti-war song with several references to soldiers and driven by Jon Lord’s organ. Nobody’s Home has a bluesy touch and most likely deals with family affairs (“The children have grown”). These metaphors could stand for relationships within the band as well. Mean Streak talks about a mean girl. Somehow the girls from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies come to mind: “Black Mamba” was mentioned in the song long before the movies were made. The title track has a famous organ intro and a fantastic, hypnotic middle part, again with that characteristic arabesque touch. The lyrics could be about people we meet in our lifetime, but never get to know because they disappear too fast. Thus, we must remain Perfect Strangers. A Gypsy’s Kiss features western images, but also Chinese expressions and a reference to another Purple song: “Space Truckers” refers to Space Truckin’. The song itself is fast and well-written. Wasted Sunsets is the album’s only ballad and has a touch of Whitesnake. Again, images of cowboy movies come to mind. Hungry Daze could be a pun on hungry days, as the lyrics reflect on the band’s early years. Funny is the passage “We all came out to Montreux, but that’s another song”. It is the first line from Smoke On The Water (“We all came out to Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline”). Not Responsible is another bluesy tune with rough, dirty vocals. The CD features the 10-minute long instrumental Son Of Alerik, which was the B-side of the Perfect Strangers single, as a bonustrack. All in all, Perfect Strangers is a classic in many ways - be it the lyrics, the music or the overall concept. There sure is a concept that somehow deals with the band’s past. We are talking about the last must-have album by Deep Purple. - Andreas Herzog
DEEP PURPLE - PURPENDICULAR - BMG / RCA
Purpendicular from 1996 was the debut for guitarist Steve Morse, formerly with the Dixie Dregs and his own band. He replaced the increasingly unpredictable and unreliable Ritchie Blackmore and brought a whole new sound to the band. Morse is known as a speed picker with excellent sweep technique, and it can be heard several times on the album. Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic starts the album with a staccato intro and a sleazy (or should I say greasy?) atmosphere. Loosen My Strings is soft and melodic and features great bass lines similar to the song Perfect Strangers. Soon Forgotten has an organ intro and harmonics all over the place. It is a bit out of sync with the rest of the songs. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming is one of the highlights and begins similar to Loosen My Strings, but it has much more power later and a great chorus. Cascades: I’m Not Your Lover is the album’s second killer song. After a melodic beginning, it simply rocks like hell! Steve Morse has an excellent solo in this one. The Aviator sounds like Joe Satriani’s Rubina’s Blue Sky Happiness and is about the wish to break out of the daily routine at work. Rosa’s Cantina is a relatively weak blues song. A Castle Full Of Rascals has an epic intro, but then turns into a kinda funky tune. A Touch Away is another guitar-based melodic song, while Hey Cisco is faster. Somebody Stole My Guitar features a variation of the riff from Burn, but it is a great rock song. The Purpendicular Waltz begins with a blues harp and is in ¾ measure, as the title suggests. All songs taken together, Purpendicular is clearly the best Deep Purple album with Steve Morse and the most accessible one as well. - Andreas Herzog