Ritchie Blackmore – circa 1968
“Smoke on the water / And fire in the sky” – ‘Smoke On The Water’ (Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord)
The flames burn hungrily. The crack and pop of the blaze can be heard through the night. From time to time, charred pieces of the building collapse inward. It is 3 December 1971 and the Montreux Casino in Switzerland is on fire. Amongst the crowd helplessly watching are the members of the British rock band Deep Purple. It is particularly dispiriting for them as they planned to record at the venue. Those plans are now, literally, going up in smoke. The Casino overlooked Lake Geneva and, while the flames climb upward, dirty clouds of ash and soot drift across the lake’s waters. For most this would be a disaster. Deep Purple turns the incident into the basis for their greatest song. This is a group that will learn from both the heat of inspiration and the danger of combustion built in to their musical interrelationships.
The story of Deep Purple begins with Ritchie Blackmore, their guitarist. Richard Hugh Blackmore is born 11 April 1945 in Weston-Super-Mare, in south-west England. The family moves to Heston when he is 2. “My father bought me this guitar,” recalls Ritchie. Aware of his 11 year old son’s habit of not seeing things through, Blackmore The Elder threatens to break the instrument over the boy’s head if he doesn’t learn to play. Perhaps it is this harsh lesson that helps Ritchie Blackmore become more than merely competent. He begins his musical career with a band called The Outlaws (October 1962 – April 1964). In 1963 Ritchie Blackmore is a session musician on recordings for other artists.
Ritchie Blackmore marries his first wife, Margit Volkmar, in May 1964. They have a son, Jurgen (born 1964). It’s a short-lived marriage, lasting less than five years.
Musically, Ritchie Blackmore moves on to working with Screaming Lord Sutch. This white British eccentric borrows much of his act from the African-American singer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. The latter is probably best known for his 1956 hit ‘I Put A Spell On You’ which he acts out on stage with voodoo trappings. Screaming Lord Sutch aspires to similar semi-supernatural tomfoolery. “We had this coffin onstage,” Blackmore says disbelievingly. His conclusion? “This guy is nuts!” Screaming Lord Sutch is backed by The Savages, but Blackmore is actually part of their successors, The Roman Empire (December 1966 – April 1967).
The guitarist quickly passes through the ranks of two more bands, Neil Christian And The Crusaders (April 1967 – May 1967) and Mandrake Root (September 1967 – November 1967).
Chris Curtis, the former drummer for The Searchers (a British group who enjoy some mid-1960s hits with their neat harmonies and jangling guitars) is Ritchie Blackmore’s next employer. Stepping up to become lead vocalist, Chris Curtis puts together a band called Roundabout (February 1968 – March 1968). Despite its brevity, this is a more significant outfit because it brings Blackmore together with Jon Lord and Nick Simper.
Jon Lord (9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012) is born in Leicester, England. His early background is in classical music, but he begins playing keyboards in a British rhythm and blues outfit called The Artwoods (1963 – mid-1967). The band’s name is taken from their vocalist, Art Wood, the elder brother of Ron Wood. Ron plays guitar with The Rolling Stones for decades.
Bass player Nick Simper (born 3 November 1945) puts in stints with Buddy Britten And The Regents (November 1964 – April 1966) and the final version of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates (May 1966 – October 1966). He and Jon Lord first meet up in the embarrassingly named Flowerpot Men (October 1967 – February 1968). From here, both men move on to Roundabout with Ritchie Blackmore.
Roundabout dissolves and Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Nick Simper begin a new group. Joining them are two members of another recently dissolved band, The Maze (1967 – May 1968). They are vocalist Rod Evans (born 19 January 1947) and drummer Ian Paice (born 29 June 1948). This aggregation takes the name Deep Purple. The name is derived from the 1933 song ‘Deep Purple’ by pianist Peter De Rose. Many cover versions of the song have subsequently been recorded by singers such as Dinah Shore. The song is a favourite of Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother. As he plays in various small-time rock bands through the 1960s, she repeatedly asks him if his latest group will be performing ‘Deep Purple’. Of course, they wouldn’t be caught dead playing such a thing. However, almost as a joke, Ritchie Blackmore decides to name his latest enterprise Deep Purple.
Deep Purple is formed in Hertford, England in March 1968 with the line-up of Rod Evans (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Nick Simper (bass) and Ian Paice (drums). They are sometimes said to have been formed in Germany because they first begin performing in continental Europe. Actually their concert debut takes place in Tastrup, Denmark on 20 April 1968. They go on tour, playing concerts in Scandinavia before beginning work on their first album.
In the same manner that Screaming Lord Sutch based his act on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the new-born Deep Purple look to the U.S.A. for a model. Their inspiration is a New York based band called Vanilla Fudge. In 1967 Vanilla Fudge transformed The Supremes’ 1967 hit ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ (original running time 2.41) into a seven-minute, half-paced monster with ‘neo-classical organ melodramatics and pseudo-Indian guitar licks.’ Their self-titled debut album in 1967 offered similarly bombastic cover versions of songs like The Beatles’ ‘Ticket To Ride’ and The Impressions’ ‘People Get Ready’.
‘Shades Of Deep Purple’ (1968) (US no. 24) is recorded in eighteen hours and is released in July. This is the first of three albums produced for the group by Derek Lawrence. It offers similar fare to Vanilla Fudge. Perhaps the most successful of these is a reworking of Joe South’s ‘Hush’ (US no. 4). Originally, Billy Joe Royal recorded ‘Hush’ (US no. 52) in 1967, but Deep Purple’s version is more popular and successful, making it, perhaps, the definitive reading. Deep Purple are also the first act to execute a slowed-down version of the 1965 Beatles hit ‘Help’, emphasising the sadness of the lyric which always seemed at odds with the joyful musical clatter of The Beatles own version of the song. Later, Henry Gross (in 1976) and Australia’s John Farnham (in 1980) would also record slow versions of ‘Help’. The album also offers Deep Purple’s version of ‘Hey Joe’. This song was first set down by U.S. garage rock band The Leaves in 1966 but is better known in the incarnation recorded by Jimi Hendrix in 1967, a guitarist who was certainly on Ritchie Blackmore’s radar.
Deep Purple’s initial success is in the U.S.A. rather than their British homeland. For this reason, their second album, ‘The Book Of Taliesyn’ (1968) (US no. 54) is released in the U.S. on 11 December 1968, a full six months before its July 1969 U.K. launch. This album is most notable for its version of pop singer Neil Diamond’s 1967 hit ‘Kentucky Woman’ (US no. 38) and a ten-minute rendition of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ (US no. 53), a song first recorded by Ike And Tina Turner in 1966.
The self-titled ‘Deep Purple’ (1969) (US no. 162), released in June, is more ambitious, ‘the songs reflecting a new complexity and density as [Jon] Lord’s classically-influenced keyboards assume a much greater focus.’
In July 1969 vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nick Simper exit Deep Purple. “He was an average bass player,” sniffs Ritchie Blackmore, “[and] Rod wanted to go to America.
“I met Robert Plant,” recounts Ritchie Blackmore. The vocalist for pioneering British heavy metal band Led Zeppelin inspires Blackmore to rethink his own group’s direction. “[We needed] someone who could scream like he could.”
That ‘someone’ turns out to be Ian Gillan (born 19 August 1945). Ian Gillan (the surname is pronounced with a hard ‘g’ as in ‘gate’ rather than a soft ‘g’ as in ‘gentle’) is born in London, England. In 1969 he hooks up with his long-time girlfriend, Zoe Dean. Ian Gillan has been working with a band called Episode Six (October 1963 – July 1969). The bass player in Episode Six is Roger Glover (born 30 November 1945), who hails from the Welsh town of Brecon. “Ian Gillan and I were in a band together,” Glover confirms. “We became a songwriting partnership.”
On being offered the position of vocalist in Deep Purple, Ian Gillan is ecstatic. “I thought this is it, what I’ve been waiting for.” Roger Glover is with Gillan when the offer is made and tags along with his friend. Ritchie Blackmore claims, “We weren’t originally gonna take him but Paicey [drummer Ian Paice] said ‘He’s a good bass player, let’s take him.’” Ian Paice proclaims, “Everyone was very happy.”
The second version of Deep Purple is the definitive edition. The line-up is: Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Paice (drums). The times are changing and where once Deep Purple were psychedelic dandies, they are now a heavy metal band shrouded in curtains of long, dark hair.
The epic cover versions are gone to be replaced by more original works. Roger Glover says, “Right from the start we said ‘Let’s all share the publishing.’ So all those early songs were written by the five of us.” Ian Gillan expands on this: “We’ve never written a song outside of the sessions ever in the history of the band. We always start from scratch, absolutely.” “Blackmore, Lord and Paice were masters of their instruments,” Glover continues. “So I think there was a great combination there, with their musical ability and our very much street value simplicity. And it was a combination that worked from the get go.” The bass player also notes that “Despite the fact that Ritchie was a far better player than I was, I could still come up with riffs that he’d play. He was interested in simple riffs. He was wise enough to know that you can’t be too musical because people wouldn’t understand it.”
“Purple, I mean, the music and the influence and the subliminal touches range from orchestral conversation to jazz to blues and soul and God knows what,” exclaims Ian Gillan. While he’s right, such a description paints a more complicated picture than is immediately apparent. Roger Glover may be closer to the mark when he points out “Deep Purple were always fairly simple…honest.” The Mark 2 Deep Purple connects in a visceral way. They may be great musos, but it’s a workingman’s sound. It’s hard and heavy for sure, but also quite accessible.
Ian Gillan’s throat-shredding ululations make him the human equivalent of an air-raid siren. Yet though Ritchie Blackmore may have sought him out on the basis of his ability to ‘scream’, Gillan is too smart to limit himself. The highest pitch of his vocal range is only strategically deployed. The default setting is a gruffly masculine tone. As a frontman, Ian Gillan projects a bluff, all-business manner. In comparison to his peers, he is less inclined to play rampant love-god in the fashion of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, and is not as theatrical as Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osborne. Gillan’s manner keeps the focus on the band as an ensemble.
Ritchie Blackmore is, in Ian Gillan’s words, a “stunning player, fabulous sound.” Jon Lord offers “Ritchie is invaluable. Always has been and always will be. He is the spark that lights Deep Purple…He sketches out the bold strokes and I do the colouring in.” Blackmore’s favoured model of guitar is a white Fender Stratocaster. Beyond his instrumental prowess, Roger Glover observes that Ritchie “came across as quite a mysterious person.” Jon Lord refers to the guitarist’s obstinacy, saying “until he’s proven wrong, he won’t budge.” Blackmore himself allows that “I’d rather just go off and sulk [than fight].”
One of the things that distinguish Deep Purple from other heavy metal bands is Jon Lord’s keyboards. The guitar is virtually all-powerful in heavy metal, but Deep Purple is always easily spotted as the band with the keyboards. Partially, this is just because Ritchie Blackmore can’t tolerate having another guitarist in the group. But the interplay between Blackmore and Lord is quite remarkable. Although Lord can perform all the standard parts expected of a keyboardist, one of his greatest (and subtlest) tricks is shadowing Blackmore’s guitar, creating a thicker, fuzzier sound. It is not always immediately apparent that it is a keyboard; it just sounds like a more distorted, louder guitar tone. “I play a [Hammond] C-3,” Jon Lord explains. “There’s a certain warm attack and a ‘living’ quality that doesn’t exist on other organs.”
Roger Glover quickly demonstrates that Ian Paice’s assessment of him as ‘a good bass player’ is accurate. Perhaps more importantly, Glover’s songwriting ability spans the gap between his bandmates, particularly the poles of Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore. The bassist also acquires considerable skills in the control booth of the recording studio, talents that serve Deep Purple well as they take on self-production duties.
Departed bassist Nick Simper observed that drummer Ian Paice “never said boo to a goose. He just wanted to play his drums.” In other words, the emotional fireworks tend to pass over Paicey’s head. With his bespectacled, cuddly appearance, Ian Paice resembles a moonlighting biology teacher, but this belies a ferocious ability to anchor Deep Purple’s colourfully disparate musical personalities while still finding gaps in which to display his own percussive prowess.
“Deep Purple is a damn good band and we’ve made a niche in rock ‘n’ roll history,” sums up Jon Lord. Roger Glover points out, “We’re a band that’s not interested in fame and success; we’re interested in the music.”
In September 1969 Ritchie Blackmore marries his second wife, Barbel, a German dancer. It’s a union that is as short-lived as his first marriage, this pairing coming unstuck in the early 1970s. Jon Lord also marries in 1969. He and his wife, Judith Feldman, go on to have a daughter named Sara.
Ian Gillan and Roger Glover make their recording bows with Deep Purple on 15 September 1969 in the unlikely forum of London’s Royal Albert Hall. It is there that Deep Purple perform Jon Lord’s composition with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra that is released as ‘Concerto For Group And Orchestra’ (1970) (UK no. 26, US no. 149). Deep Purple is not the first band to record with an orchestra. The pioneers in that field are The Moody Blues who use the London Festival Orchestra on ‘Days Of Future Past’ (1968). ‘Concerto’ begins the band’s era of acting as producers of their own records. Roger Glover notes, “When Jon Lord did the ‘Concerto’ and all the press went ‘Jon Lord’s the main composer and leader of Deep Purple’, Ritchie didn’t like that much.” Indeed, the departed Nick Simper says “Ritchie didn’t want to do classical stuff.”
So it is that ‘Deep Purple In Rock’ (1970) (UK no. 4, US no. 143) in June is ‘a rowdy, borderline anarchic affair.’ Deep Purple takes the plunge and are now a full-blooded heavy metal band. Roger Glover says “The first song we wrote [as a group] was ‘Speed King’.” On this track, Ian Gillan squeals “I’m a speed king, you go to hear me sing / I’m a speed king, see me fly.” “We’ve never been great lyricists,” apologises Jon Lord. ‘Speed King’ makes references to ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, ‘Tutti Frutti’, ‘Lucille’ and ‘Rip It Up’, all songs recorded by 1950s rocker Little Richard whose tonsil-rattling shrieks can be seen as Ian Gillan’s vocal ancestors. The album’s other outstanding cuts include ‘Bloodsucker’, in which Gillan urges listeners to “Take a lesson from a hard-lovin’ man.” At the chorus he wails “Ahhh-no-no-no” and Ritchie Blackmore’s descending guitar riff kicks in again. ‘Into The Fire’ has a ponderous sound like crushing tank-treads. “I defy anyone to come up with the licks to [a song like] ‘Into The Fire’…on a grand piano,” says Jon Lord, despairing of the necessary reliance on guitar players.
Not included on ‘Deep Purple In Rock’ but released around the same time is the stand-alone single ‘Black Night’ (UK no. 2, US no. 66). A thunderous introduction sets the stage for a pounding, recurring riff. “Black night is not right / I don’t feel so bright,” offers Ian Gillan. This queasiness leads to the declaration “Black night is a / Long way from ho-oh-ome.”
‘Fireball’ (1971) (UK no. 1, US no. 32) continues the new direction for Deep Purple. The title track, ‘Fireball’ (UK no. 15), gives Ian Paice a chance to show off his chops as his furious drums lead the band into a sprinting riff. “You’re racing like a fireball, dancing like a ghost / You’re Gemini and I don’t know which one I like the most,” sings Ian Gillan. He breaks from the staccato rhythm at the chorus to croon “Oh my love, it’s a long way.” ‘Demon’s Eye’ is a bit more surreal with the head-scratching image “Slide, slide…like a demon’s eye.” The song displays a nicely arrogant tone though, as Gillan dismissively sings “I don’t mind / Just what you say / I never heard you, baby / Never heard you anyway.” The song also displays a slightly wider musical palette with ripples of synthesiser, a funky rhythm and some tasty drum fills.
Like the previous release, this album is also accompanied by a single that doesn’t appear on the disc (though it is included as a bonus track on later reissues). The dramatic and funky ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ (UK no. 8) struts across the speakers as Ian Gillan breathes (heavily) “I want you / I need you / I gotta / Be near you / Ooh, got a strange kind of woman.” For a bit of variation he coos through creamy contrasting passages.
The next episode in the story of Deep Purple becomes the basis for the lyrics of the song ‘Smoke On The Water’. Since that track has some of the group’s strongest narrative, quotes from the song are used in this recounting. “We all came out to Montreux,” specifically the Montreux Casino in Switzerland. This building overlooks Lake Geneva. Deep Purple plans to record their next album at this locale. On 3 December 1971 they are the support act to “Frank Zappa And The Mothers / Were at the best place around.” During the set by the American eccentric and his group, The Mothers Of Invention, “Some stupid with a flare gun / Burned the place to the ground.” That is, a fan sets off a flare at the bamboo roof, fire breaks out and the casino is engulfed in an inferno. Lake Geneva reflects the “Smoke on the water / And fire in the sky.” Deep Purple relocate to another hotel and the album is eventually laid down on a mobile recording studio belonging to British band The Rolling Stones. Three days after the fire, Roger Glover has a dream about the experience and, from this, ‘Smoke On The Water’ (UK no. 21, US no. 4) comes into existence. The lyrics are only half the story though. “Ritchie [Blackmore] came in with the riff,” Roger Glover admits. “We started jamming.” The slow, ominous riff is one of the first tunes played by many aspiring young guitarists, since its slow pace and comparative simplicity make it extremely attractive to beginners. ’Smoke On The Water’ is not only Deep Purple’s best song, it is ‘the only song ever to seriously compete with [Led Zeppelin’s] ‘Stairway To Heaven’’ for the title of the greatest heavy metal anthem.
‘Smoke On The Water’ is included on ‘Machine Head’ (1972) (UK no. 1, US no. 7), released in March. This set is also home to ‘Space Truckin’’, a sci-fi / metal hybrid. “We had a lot of luck on Venus / We always had a ball on Mars,” sings Ian Gillan. “We’ve got music in our solar system,” he rejoices. The hard-travellin’ ‘Highway Star’ claims a place on this record. ‘Machine Head’ is Deep Purple’s finest album.
Jon Lord begs to differ. He states that his favourite Deep Purple album is ‘Made In Japan’ (1972) (UK no. 16, US no. 6): “That double album was the epitome of what we stood for in those days.” Roger Glover weighs in too: “I should think probably the most influential album is ‘Made In Japan’.” As the title implies, this is a live recording of a Deep Purple concert in Japan. It ‘is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest live albums of all time…The band members are all well known for their high level of instrumental and improvisational prowess, and this album showcases them at what is, at the time, the top of their game.’ The Guinness Book of World Records certifies Deep Purple ‘as 1972’s loudest band on Earth.’
‘Who Do We Think We Are?’ (1973) (UK no. 4, US no. 15), released in January, features the organ-heavy ‘Woman From Tokyo’. Over a striding guitar riff, the narrator finds himself “flying to the rising sun” and “dancing in an Eastern dream.” Unfortunately, this album also ‘seems to crystallise the personal tensions that are festering between Blackmore and Gillan.’ “The little things got to be big things,” murmurs Ian Paice. “Ritchie began behaving as if no one else in the band existed,” claims Roger Glover. The end result is that the Deep Purple concert on 29 June 1973 is the last with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. Officially, ‘both cite exhaustion as their reason for leaving the group.’
The departing duo are replaced by vocalist David Coverdale (born 22 September 1951) and bassist Glenn Hughes (born 21 August 1951). They debut on ‘Burn’ (1974) (UK no. 3, US no. 9), which is actually seen as ‘something of a return to form.’
Ritchie Blackmore spends most of 1974 living together in a romantic relationship with an opera singer named Shoshana. Perhaps this prepares him for the drama to come.
Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale discover that ‘they loathe each other.’ Hughes introduces a more pronounced funk influence to Deep Purple with his bass style and most of the band is willing to embrace this. The exception is Ritchie Blackmore. He is unhappy with ‘Stormbringer’ (1974) (UK no. 6, US no. 20), released in November, and quits the band on 7 April 1975.
Once again, Deep Purple regroups, adding American guitarist Tommy Bolin (1 August 1951 – 4 December 1976). Attempting to fill Ritchie Blackmore’s shoes is a daunting proposition, but Bolin is well-regarded as a guitarist and his debut with Deep Purple, ‘Come Taste The Band’ (1975) (UK no. 19, US no. 43) in October, is said to be ‘the strongest album they have made in some time.’ However, disaster looms. ‘Bolin and Hughes had been secretly nursing drug and alcohol problems’ and Deep Purple collapses completely in March 1976.
Jon Lord: “We had some great years in the early seventies, then Ian and Roger left, and I didn’t enjoy the period with David and Glenn and…Tommy Bolin. To me, it wasn’t Deep Purple.”
From 1976 to 1983 Deep Purple does not exist. However the members of the group keep busy and, in some cases, cross paths.
On leaving Deep Purple, Ian Gillan forms The Ian Gillan Band (September 1975 – June 1978). In 1978, his ten year relationship with Zoe Dean comes to an end. A revised line-up of musicians becomes the outfit known simply as Gillan (August 1978 – November 1982). In an extraordinary move, Ian Gillan then replaces Ozzy Osborne as vocalist in Deep Purple’s heavy metal peers, Black Sabbath.
When Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple he found a New York band called Elf and recast them as his new group, Rainbow (May 1975 – 1984). As is his wont, Blackmore fires and hires a number of musicians as he fine tunes Rainbow. “A lot of people have gone through Rainbow, Purple,” he admits, “but if the music’s not right I have to let them go.” Perhaps the most surprising musician to be found in Rainbow’s ranks is Blackmore’s old colleague from Deep Purple, Roger Glover (who is in Rainbow from November 1978 – 1984). Other names to watch from Rainbow’s ranks are keyboardist Don Airey (born 21 June 1948) (in Rainbow from November 1978 – 1984) and vocalist Joe Lynn Turner (born 2 August 1951) (in Rainbow from November 1980 – 1984). Blackmore meets Amy Rothman in 1978 and she becomes his wife from 1981 to 1983.
Ian Price and Jon Lord join vocalist / keyboardist Tony Ashton (along with a couple of other musicians) in Paice, Ashton & Lord (August 1976 – September 1977).
David Coverdale’s new band is Whitesnake (formed January 1978). After the demise of the Paice, Ashton & Lord project, Ian Paice and Jon Lord both join Whitesnake (August 1978), but Ian Paice drops out in March 1982. Lord remains with the act until 1984. Jon Lord’s marriage to Judith Feldman ends in 1981. He marries Vickie Gibbs, who is the twin sister of Ian Paice’s wife, Jackie. Jon and Vicki have one daughter, Amy. Ian and Jackie have three children: James, Emmy, and Calli.
Glenn Hughes reactivates Trapeze, the act he was in before joining Deep Purple. The new Trapeze soldiers on until 1979.
Glenn Hughes goes on to form Black Country Communion (2009-2013, 2016 and on). This act consists of Glenn Hughes (vocals, bass), Joe Bonamassa (vocals, guitar), Derek Shernian (keyboards) and Jason Bonham (drums). This band releases the albums ‘Black Country Communion’ (2010) (UK no. 13, US no. 54), ‘Black Country Communion 2’ (2011) (UK no. 23, US no. 71), ‘Afterglow’ (2012) (UK no. 29, US no. 48) and ‘BCCIV’ (2017) (UK no. 7, US no. 102).
Tommy Bolin starts a solo career but this comes to a tragic end when he dies from an overdose of ‘heroin, cocaine and other substances’ on 4 December 1976.
In 1984 Ian Gillan marries a woman named Bron, who is a dancer. They have a daughter named Grace and another child. Ultimately, they also have three grandchildren.
Also in 1984 Ritchie Blackmore romances Tammi Williams, a hotel employee.
The classic Deep Purple line-up – Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Roger Glover and Ian Paice – reconvene in 1984, releasing a new album, ‘Perfect Strangers’ (1984) (UK no. 5, US no. 17). This is followed by ‘House Of Blue Light’ (1987) (UK no. 10, US no. 34). However, ‘Gillan and…Blackmore have not managed to overcome their long-standing, unbridled hatred for each other.’ So Ian Gillan departs and Joe Lynn Turner, formerly of Rainbow, provides the vocals for ‘Slaves And Masters’ (1990) (UK no. 45, US no. 87). Gillan returns for the appropriately titled ‘The Battle Rages On’ (1993) (UK no. 21, US no. 192). This time, it is Ritchie Blackmore who quits midway through the supporting tour for the album. Guitar hero Joe Satriani (born 15 July 1956) fills in from December 1993 to July 1994, but it was always unlikely he would stay. It is Steve Morse (born 28 July 1954) who becomes the new guitarist in Deep Purple. Morse is an American who served in U.S. rock band Kansas, best known for late 1970s songs like ‘Point Of No Return’ and ‘Dust In The Wind’. ‘Purpendicular’ (1996) (UK no. 58) is the first Deep Purple album to feature Steve Morse. After another album, ‘Abandon’ (1998) (UK no. 76), Jon Lord elects to step down on his sixtieth birthday, leaving Ian Paice as the only original member still in the group. Lord’s replacement is Don Airey, who played keyboards in Rainbow (November 1978 – 1984) and also in a latter day incarnation of David Coverdale’s band, Whitesnake (1987 – 1989). This line-up records the albums ‘Bananas’ (2003) (UK no. 85) and ‘Rapture Of The Deep’ (2005) (UK no. 81).
Jon Lord contracts pancreatic cancer, which leads to a pulmonary embolism, respiratory failure, and his death on 16 July 2012.
Deep Purple carries on with ‘Now What?’ (2013) (UK no. 19, US no. 110). By this time, Roger Glover is living in Switzerland with his partner, Myriam, and their daughter, Lucinda (born 27 June 2009). Glover has been married twice before. One of his ex-wives is Judi Glover. The more recent of his two marriages ended in 2011. He has a daughter, Gillian (born 1976) from his first marriage.
Deep Purple releases the album ‘Infinite’ (2017) (UK no. 6, US no. 105, AUS no. 20). The band promotes this album with ‘The Long Goodbye Tour’ (15 May 2017-15 December 2017). The tour kicks off in Bucharest, Romania, and concludes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Drummer Ian Paice admits this “may be the last big tour…[I] don’t know…We haven’t made any hard fast plans.”
But what about Ritchie Blackmore? After leaving Deep Purple for the second and final time in 1995, he reactivates Rainbow – albeit with a new line-up yet again. Back in 1969, a meeting with a famous singer, Robert Plant, caused Blackmore to reassess his musical direction. The same thing happens again when Blackmore meets Frank Sinatra, the legendary American jazz and pop singer. The baffled Sinatra is totally oblivious to Ritchie Blackmore’s ‘fame’. The guitarist disbands Rainbow and reconsiders his options. Ritchie Blackmore meets Candice Night in 1991 and, together, they form ‘a medieval folk music ensemble’ called Blackmore’s Night. After a fifteen-year engagement, Ritchie Blackmore marries Candice Night in 2008. They have two children: a daughter named Autumn (born 2010) and a son named Rory (born 2012). As to Ritchie’s musical ambitions, “I just want to live in a musical roundabout,” he claims, perhaps unconsciously recalling the group, Roundabout, from which Deep Purple was born.
Deep Purple was one of the greatest heavy metal bands. Their early (1968 -1969) psychedelic albums were interesting, but their reputation rests on the following classic period (1969 – 1973). Fiery personality clashes marked their next phase (1974 – 1975). After an interregnum (1976 – 1983), Deep Purple returned for another incarnation. It was unfortunate the classic unit could not continue to work together but, at least for some fans, it was better to have a functional, relatively amiable outfit than no Deep Purple at all. For those who disagree, there are always the great early 1970s recordings to revisit. The Purple gang’s best work was forged in the fires of inspiration, and if those flames posed certain interpersonal hazards, that was the price of their achievements. ‘Deep Purple firmly established themselves as kings of heavy metal in the early 1970s.’ They were ‘among the more interesting musically of the heavy brigade. They were a considerable influence on 1970s rock.’
- ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 20, 143, 162, 193, 215, 241, 263
- ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 88, 128
- songfacts.com as at 15 July 2013
- wikipedia.org as at 3 June 2013, 2 January 2018
- ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 32, 236
- You Tube Channel – ‘Ritchie Blackmore Short Documentary’ (14 October 2012)
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 58, 59, 103, 120, 206, 209, 236
- allmusic.com, ‘Deep Purple’ by Jason Ankeny, Greg Prato as at 15 July 2013
- You Tube Channel – ‘Ritchie Blackmore Guitar God – Pt. 1 of 5’ – Video documentary (1 December 2011)
- ‘Billboard’ magazine – for the year in which The Leaves released ‘Hey Joe’. Quoted in ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘Protopunk: The Garage Bands’ (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 361
- ‘The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal’ by Daniel Bukszpan (Sterling Publishing Co. Inc. 2003) p. 54, 55, 56, 199, 201
- Notable names database – nndb.com as at 15 July 2013
- thequietus.com – Roger Glover interview conducted by Dr Rock (20 January 2011)
- ultimateclassicrock.com – Ian Gillan interview conducted by Matt Wardlaw (15 April 2013)
- mydubaimycity.com – ‘Deep Purple interview, Roger Glover Pt. 1’ – interview conducted by Gabriela (21 February 2013)
- ‘Modern Keyboard’ magazine – Jon Lord interview conducted by Joe Lalaina (January 1989) reproduced on thehighwaystar.com
- ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p. 134
- ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘The Emergence of Art Rock’ by John Rockwell (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 493
- lyricsfreak.com as at 15 July 2013
- whosdatedwho.com as at 16 August 2013
- guitarworld.com – Roger Glover interview conducted by Tony Grassi (9 December 2011)
- ‘The Most Of Deep Purple’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (EMI Music Australasia, 1992) p. 3
Song lyrics copyright EMI Music Publishing
Last revised 7 January 2018