On The Roundabout With Deep Purple

by Kieron Tyler

Deep Purple were on top of the world in June 1973. Smoke On The Water was climbing the US charts. They were news wherever they went. Dates in Germany were regularly accompanied by rioting audiences, with police and water cannons on stand by. A two-month American tour had just been completed and the band were in Japan topping off an incredibly successful three years. Yet within the band relations were plummeting to an all-time low. "The idea of going to Japan was presented to us at a band meeting,' remembers Purple's bass player, Roger Glover. 'Ritchie Blackmore said 'I'm not going. I didn't say you couldn't go to Japan, I just said I'm not going.' Ritchie didn't care what anyone else thought, he had his own path."

The pressure had already begun taking its toll.
"We were in San Antonio, Texas in 1972, being called down to lobby to go to a gig," recalls Jon Lord. "Ritchie was coming out his room. He walked past me without looking at me, his shoulders were shaking, I thought he was laughing. I walked round in front of him and he was crying his eyes out. He said "I can't do it, I want go home.' It was exhaustion."

That June became Glover and singer Ian Gillan's final month with the band. Frustrated with Blackmore and constant clashes with the band's management, Gillan had handed in his resignation letter the previous October. Glover joined him in leaving because he realised that Blackmore wanted him out. Not that Blackmore had bothered to tell him. "Ritchie only said one thing to me, at the last gig in Osaka," recalls Glover. "I passed him on the stairs leading to the stage. There was no one else around. He said, 'by the way, it's nothing personal, it's just business.'"

It was nothing new. Since the beginning, Deep Purple had ruthlessly hired and fired in their pursuit of the ultimate line up. Whenever it seemed as though the band had settled down, someone else was pushed over the edge, becoming yet-another ex-member of Deep Purple. The pattern had been set right from the start, before the band was called Deep Purple, from when it was Roundabout, an outgrowth of a still-born vehicle for ex-Searchers drummer Chris Curtis. Even in its prehistory, the story of Deep Purple is of business over friendship, at whatever the cost to band-members livelihoods. Roundabout was apt name, for that's what most of the musicians were on.

The hard-rock Deep Purple of In Rock, Fireball, Child In Time and Smoke On The Water was light-years from what the band might have been. What became Deep Purple arose from a series of chance events that had been seized upon by Tony Edwards, a budding entrepreneur with his eyes on the golden prize of Swinging '60s pop success.

Ayshea BroughIn 1966 Edwards was working in London's West End for Alice Edwards Holdings Ltd, his family's clothing company. He'd turned his hand to the pop scene after coming across a singer-turned-model named Ayshea (later familiar to pop fans from compering the '70s tea-time pop show Lift Off).
"I was not particularly happy in the rag trade,' recalls Edwards. 'I was trying to get Ayshea onto Ready Steady Go and became friendly with Vicki Wickham [RSG's editor/producer]. She came to dinner one evening with Chris Curtis in tow. I was quite in awe of him. In my eyes Chris was a John Lennon character with great flights of imagination and fancy."

After the brief encounter with Curtis, Edwards knuckled down to keeping the fashionable customer satisfied. But,
"a year later, from out of the blue, Chris rang me from Liverpool. He said I'd like you to be my manager. I'll teach you everything. Brian Epstein's dead, you can be the next Brian Epstein.' That hooked me."

At the time Curtis was planning his return to pop, Jon Lord was also pondering his future. He had recently left jazzy west London R&B outfit The Artwoods, a band formed around Art Wood, brother of future-Face and Rolling Stone, Ron. Despite being a live draw and having released an album in 1966, The Artwoods were going nowhere. An attention-seeking name change to St Valentine's Massacre, matched by a new gangster-suited image, hadn't clicked with record buyers - except in Denmark. "I'd pushed the boundaries of The Artwoods as far as I could go," says Lord. "I was sticking Bach and Tchaikovsky into my organ solos and I think it rather frightened them."
Lord was making ends meet playing organ in the touring incarnation of The Flowerpot Men, who hit big in summer 1967 the flower-power cash-in Let's Go To San Francisco. As the record was a studio creation, a band of jobbing musicians were cobbled together to promote the hit.

While Lord was marking time with the Flowerpot Men, Chris Curtis had decided how his new band was going to proceed. "He said, 'I've got this band,'" remembers Edwards."I said, 'where is it, can I see them?' He tapped his head, 'that's where they are.'"

Chris CurtisLord first encountered Curtis at a party hosted by the ubiquitous Vicki Wickham:
"He said, 'I've got this concept.' As it was the summer of 67, concepts sounded wonderful. It was to be three people as the core. The third person was a bass player, who I never met. I don't know if he existed. We would engage other people as we felt like it. They would jump on and off the roundabout. But I left that party in a new band, Roundabout."

"A few weeks later Curtis was living in my flat,"continues Lord. "I don't know how it happened. There were limousines picking him up, I was tremendously impressed. He told me that he had met a businessman who was really interested in putting up 'the bread, man'."
That businessman was Tony Edwards. "The invoice from the hire company for the Daimler would end up on my desk the next day. I couldn't really cope with that, but I had a great rapport with Jon Lord, here was somebody sensible, somebody I could communicate with on my level, my very square level."

It was soon clear that Curtis was on a very different level to everyone else around him, not least his flatmate Jon Lord: "I came back from being up north for a few days with The Flowerpot Men, and my entire flat was covered in silver paper. The tables, chairs, the toilet, the toilet seat. The lightbulbs, which blew every time you turned them on. Windows, everything. Chris came out of the loo and said, 'hey man, what do you think? New
concept.' I knew he'd lost it. I was quite naïve, I knew what acid was, but I didn't know what it did. A few days later, he suddenly wasn't there."
"I saw the remains of the silver foil," confirms Edwards. "Chris thought it would give the flat more atmosphere."

Before bailing out, Curtis told Lord that he had a guitarist in mind for Roundabout.
"He told me he had this fantastic guitarist who lived in Hamburg. I thought he was German, but Curtis said 'no, he's English, but he loves it over there. He wouldn't come back for anyone but me.'"

Ritchie Blackmore was already a veteran of both the Joe Meek-produced instrumental band The Outlaws and Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages. His wild solos were the most striking thing about most of Heinz's Meek-produced singles. Blackmore had gone to Germany in 1966 with Neil Christian and the Crusaders, and liked it so much that he stayed there with a band called The Three Musketeers. When they split he tried to form a new combo, Mandrake Root.

Ritchie Blackmore 1968Unbeknownst to Lord, Edwards had already sneaked Blackmore into the UK to check out a Flowerpot Men gig. Edwards recalls Blackmore as "dark, saturnine, brooding, with a great charisma. I can't remember him saying much. He looked around. Searchingly. But Chris disappeared back to Liverpool. Blackmore went back to Germany. The whole concept fell into disarray." That really should have been it for Roundabout. Chris Curtis may have vanished and Ritchie Blackmore had returned to Germany, but Tony Edwards had been bitten by the pop bug.
"I was running for a taxi to catch a plane to Munich for The Flowerpot Men," recalls Lord. "I heard the phone ringing. It rarely rang, and when it did it was usually work. It was Tony Edwards saying 'I don't know what's happened to Chris Curtis, when you get back we must talk.' It was a key moment in my life."

Once again, Tony Edwards got his cheque book out and for a second time brought Blackmore back from Germany, this time for keeps. It was December 1967.
"Ritchie came to the flat, which I de-foiled," recalls Lord. "He appeared at my door in a snowstorm, carrying an acoustic guitar. That night we came up with two of the songs that went on the first [Deep Purple] album, And The Address and Mandrake Root. It was wonderful evening. Right away I felt that he wouldn't suffer fools gladly, but it felt right. Ritchie seemed dark, he always seemed dark."

Bobby Woodman with Vince TaylorEdwards decided that he was in all the way and began committing himself to the nascent band, still named Roundabout. "I financed the concept. All my personal shareholdings in the family business were there as collateral for
financing equipment, subsistence, rents."
With management and backing in place, Lord and Blackmore began filling out the line up. Blackmore was convinced Bobby Woodman was the right drummer. Woodman had been in France since 1962, when had moved there as one of Vince Taylor's Playboys. Having been one of Marty Wilde's Wildcats he was a legend in the pre-Beatles British rock scene.
"Ritchie had seen Woodman with Johnny Hallyday," recalls Lord. "He was most taken with the fact that he used two bass drums."

Woodman was duly summoned from France and the search for more band members continued. Next up was bass player Dave Curtiss, who had led early '60s beat outfit Dave Curtiss and the Tremors and was also currently resident in
France. "Bobby and I were working in Paris, we used to play together with Vince [Taylor]," remembers Curtiss. "Bobby said it might be worth coming over to check this out. It was a question of getting guys together who had a bit of a reputation, to get a kind of supergroup together. I knew of Ritchie. At the time there weren't that many shit-hot guitarists going around. There were a handful, Big Jim Sullivan, Clapton.."

Curtiss, however, had limited time to find out what - if anything - was happening with the new band:
"I was playing bass for [French star] Michel Polnareff and I couldn't hang around indefinitely. I came over for a week and sat down with Ritchie a couple of evenings going over ideas. Jon Lord was just, 'hello etc. We should get together.' There was no musical direction at all. Had we sat down and played at any point something might have come together. But nothing materialised so I said 'thanks guys, but I've got work to do back in Paris."

With Curtiss gone, Lord and Blackmore were back to looking for a bass player. This time around the suggestion came from Lord. "Nick Simper was the next on board because he was also in The Flowerpot Men," remembers Lord. "He had a penchant for frilly shirts. Ritchie thought he looked pretty cool. Ritchie was very much into the way things should appear."
"I knew this was bubbling under," recalls Simper, then a road-hardened veteran of Johnny Kidd's Pirates, as well as The Flowerpot Men. "I didn't take a lot of interest until I heard Bobby Woodman was on drums. I was a little bit in awe of Bobby because of his pedigree and desperately wanted to be in a band with him. Jon said 'I'm getting this new thing together, would you give this up for 25 a week?' We were earning mega money with The Flowerpot Men but, because of Bobby Woodman, I said 'yeah, just watch me.'"

With the line up settled at Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Nick Simper and Bobby Woodman, all Roundabout needed was a singer. The musical direction could come later.
"We weren't quite sure what we wanted to do," explains Simper. "But we knew it was going to be new and different. We had the four of us and no singer. We wanted someone young, youthful looking to front it."
The band began rehearsing at Deeves Hall, a large farmhouse in the south Hertfordshire commuter belt, north of London.

Jon Lord 1968"Occasionally Tony Edwards would come down to see what he had wrought and he would walk away looking very puzzled," says Lord. "Vanilla Fudge were very much an influence. They'd appeared at The Speakeasy, and had amazed me. I had a long chat with [Fudge vocalist and organist] Mark Stein that night. I learnt a couple of tricks that I put to use."
"I don't think I was familiar with the sort of music they were creating," confirms Edwards. "I was rather aghast, but I believed in an artistic integrity and felt they knew better than I did. They did know better than I did."
"We were getting nowhere auditioning singers," says Simper. "We had put out feelers to Terry Reid and the reply came back through the management that he wasn't interested."
Finding a singer wasn't the only problem."It didn't seem like Bobby Woodman was enormously interested in working," recalls Lord. "Ritchie and I began to realise that his time keeping wasn't spot on. So we decided we might have to get another drummer."
"What the three of us wanted to do was not what Bobby wanted to do," says Simper. "t was very difficult, because we got on great with him. Whatever ideas we came up with, Bobby rubbished them all. We'd kick riffs around and Bobby would say 'that's circus music.'"

Rod Evans 1968A double-handed solution to the singer/drummer issue turned up in the form of Rod Evans and Ian Paice, singer and drummer in a band called The Maze. When Rod Evans arranged to audition for Roundabout, he was asked to bring his band's drummer along.
"The Maze was going nowhere," explains Paice. "We had played in Hamburg the year before at The Star Club and Ritchie remembered Rod from that. He was apparently quite impressed with my drumming and said to Rod, 'have you still got the drummer? Get him to come along.'"
It was immediately obvious that Rod Evans was a good prospect. "Rod actually said he had an idea for the Beatles' Help, really slow," remembers Simper. "We thought 'this guy's got ideas'. But Bobby Woodman wasn't interested, he just switched off.'

Although Ian Paice had been waiting in another room during Evans' audition, he was soon called in for a try out. "Ritchie and I and Nick Simper auditioned Paicey on Bobby's kit," recalls Lord. "We did Watermelon Man and he was brilliant. The next day we had to tell Bobby."
"I met Bobby Woodman for about five or ten minutes," recalls Paice. "He was sent off down the shops to get some cigarettes to get him out of the way. It was just down the village store, literally it took about 15 minutes. There's no nice way of doing things. I sat down at his drums, God bless him, and I got the gig. The damage had been done as far he was concerned. In those days a gig was gig, and you did what you did to get it."
Simper: "The casting vote was down to me as to whether Ian Paice got the job and I had to go with the others. The managers came down, we had a meeting and Bobby was summarily fired and given 40."

Simper & Paice. Denmark 1968Roundabout finally had a viable line up: Ritchie Blackmore, Rod Evans, Jon Lord, Ian Paice and Nick Simper. Now all they had to do was sort out the music and the live act.
"We cobbled this stage act together," says Simper. "We weren't sure how people would react. It had to be visually exciting, Ritchie and I used to practise our gyrations in front of mirrors."
"There was an element of show in the way we put the band together." admits Lord. "When we first started playing live I was astonished at Ritchie's antics. He was marvellous, very balletic. Ritchie was very much a showman. He'd come out of the mid-'60s thing, the guitar behind the head, like Joe Brown."
"The idea was that we would look good, we weren't going to be like a California hippy band," continues Lord. "We were going to play loud and hard and dress cool. We were dressed quite early on with Tony Edwards' money, at [boutique] Mr Fish. Their clothes looked great for a good 40 minutes, but then they fell off you. I wanted to look like John Lennon without the glasses. For a while we looked incredibly cool - we thought. A lot of people thought we looked like prats."
"The sound was very confusing," says Ian Paice. "It was down to Jon and Ritchie as to how the band would move forward. The playing was very good, but the band had no idea what it wanted to be. The influence of Vanilla Fudge was to make music that was a little more interesting. That's why the first record had all those long arrangements."

Deep Purple Mk1, 1968Paying close attention to the rehearsals was Derek Lawrence, an independent producer who Blackmore knew from his days with Joe Meek. Lawrence took the band into the studio in late March 1968 to record some demos, amongst which was a cover of Billy Joe Royal's Hush. "Nick Simper and I came up with Hush," recalls Lord. "It was very big in the clubs at that time, The Cromwellian, Blazes."
Simper says it was he and Blackmore came up with the song: "The version Ritchie and I heard was by Kris Ife, in Manchester at a discotheque called the Phonograph. I had a friend in a ballroom band who taught us the song. We created our own version without ever really hearing the record."
Back then, the band had agreed the name Roundabout had to go. "We had a list [of band names] on the wall at Deeves Hall," says Lord. "It was very nearly Orpheus. Concrete God we thought was a bit radical. Sugarlump was on there. One morning Deep Purple was on it. After intense interrogation it turned out that Ritchie had put it up. The reason was that it was his grandmother's favourite song."
Blackmore didn't let anyone know if he was thinking of Nino Tempo and April Steven's 1963 hit cover of Deep Purple, or an earlier version of the 1920's standard.

The quintet got their first chance to play before an audience in April 1968 during a short string of dates in Denmark - familiar territory for Lord, who had made some impact there the previous year with the St Valentine's Day Massacre version of The Artwoods. The major advantage of playing Denmark was that it was out of the spotlight.
Lord: "The rather cynical view was that if we went over and made a balls up, it would be the waste of a good name. So we went over as Roundabout. If it didn't work we could still keep the name Deep Purple."
Nick Simper has a slightly different memory: "Right up to being on the boat to Denmark we didn't have a name. Of course Tony Edwards said Roundabout. On the boat this reporter came over - it was obvious we were a group with the dyed black hair - and asked us what out name was. Ritchie said Deep Purple."
But as far as the Danish public were concerned, they weren't seeing a band called Deep Purple. "The first show was billed as Roundabout, but the poster also said Flowerpot Men and Artwoods," says Simper. The dates themselves were a coup. "We were trying to outdo each other, leap about," continues Simper. "It was an outrageous success."

For Ian Paice, however, it was the band's arrival in Denmark which left a lasting impression: "We took the boat from Harwich to Esbjerg. You needed a work permit and ours wasn't quite in order. I was taken from the docks to the police station in the back of a police-dog van, behind the wire grill. Which was a very auspicious start. When I got out, I was smelling somewhat canine."

Roundabout became Deep Purple and Hush became their first single, released by EMI's Parlophone label in June 1968. It was a stunning debut: driving and hard, funky and melodic. Although Hush didn't trouble the British charts, it reached number 4 in the American national Top 40.
Lord: "Hush was huge in California. We didn't know that there was a very strong, intense type of acid going around California call Deep Purple. Pure coincidence. When we first got the States people we going 'cool band, cool name.' I'm sure it had a lot to do with that first success."
Deep Purple spent much of the next year in America. They had landed on a US label that was prepared to promote the band - hard. Via their producer Derek Lawrence, Deep Purple had signed with a new American label called Tetragrammaton, funded by comedian Bill Cosby. Tetragrammaton "were very showbizzy," says Lord. "Bill Cosby had all these showbiz pals, including Hugh Hefner. On our second night in America we were invited to a party at the penthouse suite of the Playboy Club. During that evening Hefner said 'do you want to be on my TV show? Your guitarist could pretend to teach me how to play guitar.'"

Deep Purple on TV, 1968Another early promotional stunt was even sillier. "We also appeared on The Dating Game," continues Lord. "There had never before been a rock band on the show. One of us had to play the game and I didn't step back quickly enough. Deep Purple didn't mean a great deal to the rather preppy girl. One boy was a college guy from Encino, then there was Jon, a musician from England. One question was, 'if you came round to pick me up and my father appeared at the door and said, get your hair cut. Would you do it for me?' I said 'absolutely not, if he and you couldn't like me for what I am, then I don't belong there.' I was pissed off I wasn't chosen, she was very beautiful."

Back in the UK, EMI didn't seem interested in Deep Purple. Their first album, Shades Of Deep Purple was issued in America in July 1968. In Britain, it was released in September 1968. The disinterest was underlined after the release of The Book Of Taliesyn, the band's second album. Issued Stateside in October 1968, it hit the UK's shops in July 1969. "We were big business in America," says Simper. "EMI did nothing, they were stupid old guys."
Ian Paice is more sanguine about the early American success: "It was the biggest market in the world. If you have America without the rest of the world, you can exist quite nicely. But if you don't have America, it's not that easy."

Deep Purple spent the last three months of 1968 in the States, playing huge venues like Los Angeles' Inglewood Forum (with Cream) and returned to the UK in the New Year to find themselves booked at the likes of Goldsmith's College student's union in south London. It just wasn't the same. Relations in the band weren't quite the same either. "Once we started making money the friendship went out the window," recalls Simper. "Ritchie was particularly incensed because Rod Evans and Jon Lord had got the B-side to Hush and got a few bucks coming in. Ritchie said 'all Rod Evans does is write bloody words.' I said, 'well any idiot can write a guitar riff, you try and write some meaningful lyrics.' He wasn't very pleased."

March, April and May 1969 were spent touring the US. Before returning to America Deep Purple had recorded their third album 'Deep Purple'. As usual, it was released at home months after America. More importantly, by the time the album was issued in the UK, it was out of date in more ways than one. A new Deep Purple had already been created. Rod Evans and Nick Simper were touring America with no idea that their days in Deep Purple were numbered. Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice were secretly plotting their demise.

Rod Evans, US Tour 1968Ian Paice: "The three of us had a discussion in New York [in late May 1969]. We thought that Rod and Nick had gone about as far as they could. Rod had great ballad voice, but the limitations of that were becoming obvious. Nick was a fine bass player, but his loves were in the past not in the future. We decided that if it was going to be a break, it was going to be a substantial one to refocus the band to look forward, to break this feeling of stagnation."
Jon Lord: "Ritchie, Ian and I had come to the conclusion that Rod couldn't take us to where we want to go. We wanted to become harder, to write our own material. Rod was a bit of a cabaret singer. We needed a lyricist. It was a very cold decision. Rod was a really nice guy and didn't deserve to be treated in such a cavalier fashion."
Surprisingly, Nick Simper agrees that Rod Evans only had himself to blame: "Rod was losing interest, he was about to marry a lady whose parents were really wealthy. He had got the Hollywood bug and wanted to become an actor. Rock 'n' roll had become small fry to him. His stage performance was going down and down."

A week after returning from America, in early June, Deep Purple were set to record their next single, Hallelujah. Simper had heard rumours that he was being dumped: "I had been told, but rubbished it and said there's always rumours."
He didn't know that the search for a new singer was already on and would (as a by-product) provide Deep Purple with its new bass player.
"Ritchie had started looking around clubs and pubs," recalls Ian Paice. "He went to see Episode Six and was blown away with this shattering voice of Ian Gillan's"

Episode Six In 1969Episode Six were a pop group making a living slogging around the ballroom and club circuit, but had made no impact on record buyers.
Their bass player, Roger Glover, recalls his first contact with Deep Purple: "Mick Underwood, our drummer in Episode Six, got a call from Ritchie Blackmore. The upshot was they were looking for a singer. Bass player wasn't mentioned. Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore came to a youth club in Woodford. I certainly hadn't heard of Deep Purple, the first I knew of them was when Ian Gillan told me they had a hit in the States. I didn't meet them that night, but I thought they were very nefarious characters. Ritchie got up and had a jam, a blues. I was quite impressed, but my overriding impression was they all wore black. They looked mysterious. They had dyed black hair, and lots of it."

Ian Gillan accepted the invitation to join Deep Purple and invited Glover to meet Jon Lord, who was looking for songs. "Ian had become my songwriting partner," explains Glover. "I went along to meet Jon Lord. In person he wasn't anything like I imagined. He was such a nice man. I was blown away with his geniality. We nervously played our songs, about monkeys and lions - monkeys always appeared in our lyrics those days. But there was nothing that interested him. He played a demo of Hallelujah and said 'what do you think of that? Do you think it's a hit?"

As a result Glover was invited to the recording session for Hallelujah, an off-the-shelf song composed by Tin Pan Alley writers Cook and Greenaway. Nick Simper still had no idea that his replacement was playing with Deep Purple. Roger Glover, however, realised that he was about to join something big.
"I walked into the studio, early evening. The thing that impressed me most was their clothes. They all had new clothes. I didn't buy clothes, I used hand me downs. I used to make my own stage gear. I had no socks on, the bottoms of my jeans were frayed, they were held up by string. There were a couple of Marshall stacks, a Precision bass, it all looked very new. At the end of the session Jon came up and said 'would you like to join our band?' I was floored."

Nick Simper and Rod Evans, however, remained ignorant about their fate.
"Nobody told me," says Simper. "I found out by deduction [about being replaced]. I told Rod Evans. Rod Evans had bent over backwards to get Ian Paice in and was gutted by the lack of support."
"It was pretty difficult [breaking with fellow ex-Maze member Evans]," says Paice. "But it was nowhere near as difficult as leaving my first semi-pro band, because then I knew it was the end of the band. When it's your business, you are looking after yourself."

Deep Purple at Hanwell, 1969If it seems amazing that Deep Purple could record a single without telling the singer and bass player that they had already been replaced, consider this as an insight into the band's people-management skills. After recording the - flop - Hallelujah single, Deep Purple were secretly rehearsing by day at west London's Hanwell Community centre with Gillan and Glover, and playing shows in the evening with the still-in-the-dark Evans and Simper. "It was normal behaviour for Purple," says Glover. "I became aware that the modus operandi for Deep Purple was if there is a problem don't talk about it. Management is what you rely on to sort things out, musicians tend to shed their responsibilities as human beings once they're in a band. You have this cotton-wool surrounding you. I felt very bad about Nicky and Rod and felt they should have been told."

Ian Gillan and Roger Glover had joined a band that was running out of steam in the US and had little identity in the UK. Post-Hush singles had fared less and less well in the American charts. Before Evans and Simper had been given the boot, Jon Lord had put an idea to the band's management that was very attractive, particularly as it had some potential for increasing Deep Purple's media profile.

"Jon Lord said to me at the end of an American tour, that he'd always dreamed of writing a work that could be performed by a rock group and a symphony orchestra," recalls Tony Edwards. "I just said 'how long would it take?' I came home, booked the Albert Hall and he was appalled. Once he'd got over the shock, he thought it was wonderful. And it came to pass." It was to become the Concerto for Group and Orchestra.

Jon Lord, 1969 "I'd had the idea when I was in The Artwoods," explains Lord. "Based on an album I'd heard by Dave Brubeck, called Brubeck Plays Bernstein Plays Brubeck. When Purple began gathering steam I realised I was in the right band to do it. Ritchie was all for it. Just after Ian and Roger joined, Tony said 'were you serious about that? I've booked the Royal Albert Hall and the London Philharmonic Orchestra for September 24th' So I had about three months to write it, and I did. I'd get back from a gig and go to work."

Deep Purple's publishers engaged Oscar-winning composer Malcolm Arnold to oversee the creation of the concerto and conduct the orchestra.
"I didn't know, but had Malcolm said it was crap it would have been dead in the water," continues Lord. "I had it written up to about two minutes in. He said 'this is jolly good, this will work fine.' I had never met a more open, giving musician. I'd send him a few pages, get a letter back saying 'fabulous stuff , keep going lad.' I could not have done it without him."

The band's management found sponsorship from The Daily Express and British Lion Films, who filmed the event. Ian Gillan and Roger Glover had been in Deep Purple for only three months and were expected to play at London's most prestigious concert venue with an orchestra.
"Jon was very kind," says Glover. "None of us read music, so our manuscripts consisted of 'wait for the silly tune, watch Malcolm and count to four.' It was an awe-inspiring event. I'd never so many musicians in one room before. But by this time I was getting used to being surprised. Not only had this band been to America, they slept in king-size beds and had air conditioning. It was a whole new world."
"The possibilities to get our name in all the big papers was very enticing," says Paice. "I was glad I did it, but it's not what I am. When you're a kid, as I was then, you're bullet proof, you think you can do anything. What have you got to lose? Stop and start music is not what a drummer enjoys. But it tended to confuse a lot of people."

Roger Glover. Concerto 1969The Concerto achieved what it set out to do and, when released, became Deep Purple's first UK chart album. But, as Ian Paice says, it confused both the audience and the focus within the band.
"We realised there some confusion about our identity," says Glover. "The aftermath of the Concerto was we got tons of publicity, but in the band it didn't go down very well. Jon was getting all the plaudits for being the leader and this went right up Ritchie's nose. Ian Gillan felt pretty much the same. The split between the musical side of Jon and the harder side of Ritchie came to a head when we started doing gigs after the Concerto. Promoters would go 'where's the orchestra'. There was one gig where the promoter said 'I can't get an orchestra, but I can get a brass band.'"

"The Concerto was a dream, but it didn't mean I wanted the band to be prog rock," explains Lord. "I fully recognised the massive opportunity we were given when Gillan and Glover joined, to realise this harder-edged, more crazy music." That opportunity was fully realised in late 1969 when Deep Purple began recording the classic In Rock album.
"We were in the studio and Ritchie said 'if it's not exciting or dramatic it doesn't belong on this album'," recalls Glover. "That became a byword for what we were doing."

When the band's management decided there was no single on the album, Deep Purple were frog-marched back into the studio to record one. Black Night was the result, and became Deep Purple's first UK chart single and calling card for their future world-wide success. In time, album tracks like In Rock's Child In Time became as familiar as any hit single, blaring out of the bedrooms of teenage boys everywhere. In Rock began a new cycle for Deep Purple. Between its release in June 1970 and Gillan and Glover's departure in June 1973, they released three albums, never stopped working, toured constantly and became the Deep Purple familiar to millions.

Deep Purple, 1972The touring might have almost killed the band off, but any signs of problems-to-come weren't immediately apparent. "We weren't aware of the pressure," says Roger Glover. "We were on tour forever and it became a routine, and routine kills. But we dwell on the negative, because that's what people want to hear. By and large Deep Purple was a happy experience."
"I enjoyed being on the road every day," says Ian Paice. "It never affected me. I've been lucky that way. I was incredibly fit in my youth. The physical demands were never a problem, life was a party. I was a kid on the road with a big rock 'n' roll band, once I'd finished work I was looking for the next party, the next gorgeous-looking woman. I never wanted it to stop."

It didn't stop for Ian Paice and Jon Lord until July 1976 - when Deep Purple split they were the only survivors from the early days. The name Deep Purple was always more than the sum of its parts.

Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillan declined the invitation to be interviewed for this article. Thanks to Samantha Gallop at EMI, Joni Hollar, Simon Robinson of The Deep Purple Appreciation Society (www.deep-purple.net) Mark Stratford and everyone who gave the time to be interviewed. Rod Evans: if you're out there, get in touch.

copyright, Kieron Tyler

dpas note : Kieron Tyler's article was published in Mojo Magazine, Jan 2003 issue. The magazine's editors decided they wanted more on the subsequent history of the band and less on the formation. Kieron thus offered deep-purple.net his original draft.

2002 DPAS/Darker Than Blue.
Not to be replicated, reproduced, stored and/or distributed in any way without prior written permission

front page