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Deep Purple Biography

Deep Purple evolved in 1968 following sessions to form a band around former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis (Christopher Crummey, 26 August 1941, Oldham, Lancashire, England). Jon Lord (b. 9 June 1941, Leicester, Leicestershire, England; keyboards) and Nick Simper (b. 3 November 1945, Norwood Green, Southall, Middlesex, England; bass), veterans, respectively, of the Artwoods and Johnny Kidd And The Pirates, joined guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (b. Richard Hugh Blackmore, 14 April 1945, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, England) in rehearsals for this new act, initially dubbed Roundabout. Curtis dropped out within days, and when Dave Curtis (bass) and Bobby Woodman (drums) also proved incompatible, two members of Maze, Rod Evans (b. 19 January 1947, Slough, Berkshire, England; vocals) and Ian Paice (b. 29 June 1948, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England; drums), replaced them.

Having adopted the Deep Purple name following a brief Scandinavian tour, the quintet began recording their debut album, which they patterned on US band Vanilla Fudge. Shades Of Deep Purple included dramatic rearrangements of well-known songs, including ‘Hey Joe’ and ‘Hush’, the latter becoming a Top 5 US hit when issued as a single. Lengthy tours ensued as the band, all but ignored at home, steadfastly courted the burgeoning American concert circuit. The Book Of Taliesyn and Deep Purple also featured several excellent reworkings, notably ‘Kentucky Woman’ (Neil Diamond) and ‘River Deep - Mountain High’ (Ike And Tina Turner), but the unit also drew acclaim for its original material and the dramatic interplay between Lord and Blackmore.

In July 1969, both Evans and Simper were axed from the line-up, which was then buoyed by the arrival of Ian Gillan (b. 19 August 1945, Hounslow, Middlesex, England; vocals) and Roger Glover (b. 30 November 1945, Brecon, Wales; bass) from the pop band Episode Six. Acknowledged by aficionados as the ‘classic’ Deep Purple line-up, the reshaped quintet made its album debut on the grandiose Concerto For Group And Orchestra, scored by Lord and recorded with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (reprised in October 1999 at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra). Its orthodox successor, In Rock, established the band as a leading heavy metal attraction and introduced such enduring favourites as ‘Speed King’ and ‘Child In Time’. Gillan’s powerful intonation brought a third dimension to their sound and this new-found popularity in the UK was enhanced when an attendant single, ‘Black Night’, reached number 2. ‘Strange Kind Of Woman’ followed it into the Top 10, while Fireball and Machine Head topped the album chart. The latter included the riff-laden ‘Smoke On The Water’, now lauded as a seminal example of the hard rock oeuvre and a Top 5 hit in America. The album was also the first release on the band’s own Purple label.

Although the platinum-selling Made In Japan captured Deep Purple’s live prowess, relations within the band grew increasingly strained, and Who Do We Think We Are! marked the end of this highly successful line-up. The departures of Gillan and Glover robbed Deep Purple of an expressive frontman and imaginative arranger, although David Coverdale (b. 22 September 1951, Saltburn-By-The Sea, North Yorkshire, England; vocals) and Glenn Hughes (b. 21 August 1952, Cannock, Staffordshire, England; bass, ex-Trapeze) brought a new impetus to the act. Burn and Stormbringer both reached the Top 10, but Blackmore grew increasingly dissatisfied with the band’s direction and in May 1975 left to form Rainbow. US guitarist Tommy Bolin (b. Thomas Richard Bolin, 1 August 1951, Sioux City, Iowa, USA, d. 4 December 1976, Miami, Florida, USA), formerly of the James Gang, joined Deep Purple for Come Taste The Band, but his jazz soul style was incompatible with the band’s heavy metal sound, and a now-tiring act folded in 1976 following a farewell UK tour.

Coverdale formed Whitesnake, Paice and Lord joined Tony Ashton in Paice, Ashton And Lord, while Bolin died of a heroin overdose within months of Purple’s demise. Judicious archive and ‘best of’ releases kept the band in the public eye, as did the high profile enjoyed by its several ex-members. Pressure for a reunion bore fruit in 1984 when Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover and Paice completed Perfect Strangers. A second set, The House Of Blue Light, ensued, but recurring animosity between Gillan and Blackmore resulted in the singer’s departure following the in-concert Nobody’s Perfect. Former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner (b. Joseph Linquito, 2 August 1951, Hackensack, New Jersey, USA) was brought into the line-up for 1990’s Slaves And Masters as the band steadfastly maintained their revitalized career. Gillan rejoined in 1993 only to quit, yet again, shortly afterwards, while his old sparring partner, Blackmore, also bailed out the following year, to be replaced briefly by Joe Satriani (b. 15 July 1956). The line-up that recorded the credible Purpendicular and Abandon in the late 90s comprised Steve Morse (b. 28 July 1954, Hamilton, Ohio, USA) on guitar, with Lord, Gillan, Glover and Paice. At the start of the new millennium, Lord announced his retirement and was replaced in the line-up by rock veteran Don Airey. He was featured on the band’s 2003 studio album, Bananas.

Time and time again Deep Purple is cited as the band that crafted heavy rock to a fine art. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath they remain the genre’s undisputed leaders.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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