One of the longest serving bands in the history of rock music, Deep Purple continue to record and play live four decades after they were formed in Hertford, England in 1968. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, vocalist Rod Evans, bassist Nick Simper, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice were the founding members. Success was on their feet right from their debut album "Shades Of Deep Purple" released in 1968 and especially with the hit song "Hush". After extensive touring in the States and a couple of more albums, "The Book Of Taliesyn" (1968) and "Deep Purple" (1969), the band's classic lineup was completed with the inclusion of vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. The new lineup's first recording was what is now regarded as the first successful collaboration of a rock band with an orchestra, 1969's "Concerto For Group And Orchestra".
At this point Blackmore took creative control of the band and steered it to much heavier sounds to take advantage of Gillan's powerful vocals. The result was Deep Purple's perhaps four most classic albums, "Deep Purple In Rock" (1970), "Fireball" (1971), "Machine Head" (1972) and "Who Do We Think We Are" (1973). The standout tracks from these albums were "Black Night", "Child In Time", "Strange Kind Of Woman", "Highway Star", "Woman From Tokyo" and "Smoke On The Water". The former was inspired by their plans to record at the Casino in Montreux - Switzerland being derailed when the venue burned down during a performance by American musician Frank Zappa!
Tensions And Disbanding
Despite Deep Purple's commercial success long-standing creative differences between Blackmore and Gillan led to the latter leaving the band with Glover soon exiting as well. They were replaced by singer David Coverdale and bassist Glen Hughes. The two added an element of R&B/soul to 1974's "Burn" and "Stormbringer" albums for which Blackmore was unhappy. He subsequently departed to leave behind him one of rock's biggest vacancies and to form together with rarely talented vocalist Ronnie James Dio the classic rock band Rainbow. The guitar spot was filled with Tommy Bolin who in turn only lasted for 1975's "Come Taste The Band". Due to the hostility of some die-hard fans he fall into drug abuse and died from heroin overdose. As a result Deep Purple disintegrated and band members went on to have considerable success with bands like Rainbow, Gillan and Whitesnake.
In April 1984 it was announced that Deep Purple was reforming with the classic line-up of Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice. The same year they released the highly praised "Perfect Strangers", followed by 1987's "The House Of Blue Light". However, old problems between Blackmore and Gillan resurfaced and as a result Gillan once again quit the band in 1989. His replacement was former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner who in turn only lasted for 1990's "Slaves And Masters". Lord and Paice pushed for Gillan's return and with the classic line-up's reformation they recorded "The Battle Rages On" (1993). The final act of the Blackmore/Gillan saga took place during the support tour in 1994 when Blackmore left never to return again. Joe Satriani was recruited to finish-off the tour but declined the full time job which was eventually given to American guitarist Steve Morse.
Deep Purple's new lineup released 1996's "Purpedicular" and 1998's "Abandon" and did extensive touring throughout the world. In 2002 founding member Jon Lord decided after 34 years to work on personal projects and was replaced with former Rainbow/Whitesnake keyboardist Don Airey with whom the band released yet another successful album with 2003's "Bananas". Worldwide touring continues relentlessly nearly 40 years after the band's formation.
"If you're leaving close the door, I'm not expecting people anymore, Hear me grieving, I'm lying on the floor, Whether I'm drunk or dead I really ain't too sure..."
Deep Purple - 1972