"Deep Purple is the best thing that's happened to me in my life," says Ian Gillan, "and not a few music lovers around the world can join this statement for themselves. Deep Purple was created fifty years ago. For eclipsed, this special anniversary is one of the most important groups in the development of hard rock and in this and the next five issues the phenomenon Deep Purple will be highlighted from different angles. Half a century of lively rock history has written the formation once led by Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore. Beside great music the English produced, at least as long as Blackmore was part of the band, headlines concerning internal disputes. Where there's planing, chips fall.
The development history of the band, which started Hardrock and made it socially acceptable, is a very interesting one. In fact, it did not always stand for the testosterone-pregnated broadside. Especially in their early years, Deep Purple showed great interest in experimenting, allowed for progressive influences and, thanks to Jon Lord, took classical music seriously. This restriction to the rock hard blues rock dominated by organ and guitar came from the outside, for example from the jury of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who for a long time did not recognize the pioneering work of the group and reviled it as a one-hit wonder.
"Before I sing again for this band, I'd rather slit my neck", Ian Gillan dictated to many journalists in the blocks in 1989. Shortly before, "this band" had fired him for the second time. That it came differently, and that he meanwhile expresses himself completely conciliatory to Purple, is only one of the many stories that entwine themselves around the most successful hard rock band in Germany.
Fifty years ago began not only the success story of Deep Purple, but also that of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, who together form the trinity of English hard rock. While Sabbath are considered the inventors of heavy metal, Led Zeppelin developed into the prototype of a rock band, especially in the USA. But while Zeppelin have long been history and Sabbath have written their last chapter in 2017, Deep Purple are still on tour. And this is perhaps also one of Purple's biggest differentiators in relation to the other two mega bands: Deep Purple are first and foremost a live act.
Made In Japan
In their history, which includes a break from 1976 to 1984, Deep Purple have basically always been on tour. When Bob Ezrin, the producer of the last studio albums "Now What?!" (2013) and "Infinite" (2017) wanted to get an idea of the nature of the band, he did not visit them in the rehearsal room. "To understand Purple, you must see her on stage. There they develop their strengths, and night after night with a tremendous joy of playing they create a magic that is unparalleled"
It's no accident that the live album "Made In Japan" (1972) best represents the band. And this despite the fact that she has written rock history with studio works such as the groundbreaking "Deep Purple In Rock" (1970), the classic rock treasure trove "Machine Head" (1972), the furious redefinition "Burn" (1974) or the grandiose reunion work "Perfect Strangers" (1984), and has been extremely successful both artistically and commercially.
We Can Work It Out
Blackmore has always been a great friend of cover versions. "But in later Purple years there were always big discussions when I talked about covering one or the other song. The later Rainbow tracks 'Black Sheep Of The Family' [by Quatermass] and 'Still I'm Sad' by the Yardbirds I would have liked to do with Deep Purple, too, but a look at their faces told me that they would have done it only reluctantly."
In the two first years the whole thing was completely different. The first three albums were peppered with unusual cover versions, because Blackmore, Lord and Co. didn't play these songs one to one, but rearranged some of the songs completely. Numbers like "Help!" and "We Can Work It Out" by The Beatles, "Lalena" by Donovan, "Hey Joe", "River Deep - Mountain High" and of course Joe South's "Hush" served the newly assembled band as a model for the experimental flight of fancy. Also Deep Purple, despite some aggressive Blackmore riffs, could not yet be called a hardrock band. In the phase of the Mk. I they were a psychedelic-progressive rock formation, which was also not afraid of pop melodies and with which Lord always brought in his weakness for classical music as an important sound element.