Deep Purple

Deep Purple is a rock band from England formed in 1968 who went on to be pioneers in the hard rock and heavy metal movement in the early 1970’s and one of the most influential bands of all time.

Planned to be a supergroup of musicians who could come and go as they please, Chris Curtis used networking to find musicians who were willing to be apart of this. Curtis, formerly of The Searchers, recruited Jon Lord, Nick Simper, Carlo Little, and most notably Ritchie Blackmore. Blackmore was known for his studio work with other groups, such as the southern rock act The Outlaws. The Group would switch out musicians until early 1968 when Ian Price and Rod Evans joined the group solidifying the lineup and removing Curtis. The line up would consist of Jon Lord on the organ, Ian Price on drums, Rod Evans on vocals, Nick Simper on bass, and Ritchie Blackmore on guitar.

The band’s’ debut album was recorded in three days after two months of practice which set a layout for the band’s first few albums, a few covers, and a few original songs. Their debut album Shades of Deep Purple would gain momentum in North America with the groups cover of the song Hush by Billy Joe Royal. This success would give them great support on their first few US tours but in Britain, the album received little attention.

The bands sophomore release, The Book of Taliesyn, would be more of the same and have a smaller impact on the charts than their debut. This also goes for their least successful of their first few albums, however, it showed the growth within the various sounds the band accumulated and each artist’s technicality on their respective instruments. This growth would continue onto Lords Concerto for Group and Orchestra which showcased the band performing with an orchestra. This album would clump the charts in the UK, making it their first project to chart in their homeland.

 

After the release of Lords project, the group began an insane recording schedule that would align with their touring. In Rock was the band’s first breakthrough release that spawned the singles Speed King and Child in Time which would become staples in their live performances. Along with this, a single titled Black Night was also released around this time that put the group into the top ten in the UK for the first time. In Rock became one of the first albums to be considered hard rock and heavy metal with the chemistry flourishing and placing them next to other acts like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. This album reached the top 10 in both the US and the UK, with the band making a name for itself with its improvisational skills that both Blackmore and Lord illustrated in their live performances.

Fireball was the groups follow-up album that achieved great success again, with Strange Kind of Woman hitting the top ten in the UK. This was the first album where the band started to realize the possibilities they had when it came to making music. It was also influential in the heavy metal scene, inspiring many later musicians to get into this genre.

The band’s sixth studio album Machine Head would be their best selling and one of the most influential albums of all time. Planned to be recorded in Montreux Casino a day after Frank Zappa would perform, the band would be left looking for a new place to record since the Casino burned down the night of Zappas performance. Someone at his show shot a flare into the air and burned the place down, inspiring one of the most well-known songs of all time, Smoke on the Water. The band then would record at another hotel within the city. Machine Head included another song titled Highway Star which was a response to a question the band received, how does the band go about writing songs? Smoke on the Water would go on to be one of the most memorable songs, greatest riffs, and overall greatest songs of all time. This album would be a worldwide success, topping the charts in numerous countries and making Deep Purple become apart of the unholy trinity of British hard rock and heavy metal.

Who Do We Think We Are is the follow-up album and the last album with vocalist Ian Gillan and Bassist Roger Glover until later on when they would join back in. The album spawned the single Woman from Tokyo which was a success in America and other countries, however, the band was having internal issues leading to the departure of some members along with management problems.

Burn is the eighth studio album released in 1974 with the new singer David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes. The album placed on the top 10 in the UK and US, topping the charts in a handful of other European countries as well. The title track was the opener and animated an inclusion of soul music, arguably the best intro to any Deep Purple album. The song also showcased every artist at their full potential, establishing a standard for piano/keyboard in rock music and proving that these instruments can be included in any genre.

The group would release two more albums before splitting up for several years. Arguably, the group split due to the illnesses they picked up through constant recording and performing. The two albums released were mildly successful and mediocre, however, the impact the band made led to many compilations and fan led support for a reunion. Many of the artists went on to make solo careers, most notably is Ritchie Blackmore’s band Rainbow, a well known hard rock and heavy metal band. Ian Gillan would continue on to form Hair Metal band Whitesnake.

In the 1980’s Deep purple would reunite to perform concerts and create more music, in the early 80’s they sold well but became irrelevant towards the late 80’s. Although the band’s music started to fail with sales, the groups live performances were very successful. Perfect Strangers, both the song and album, were successful and became the group’s second best selling album.

The group would continue to release music and perform live with other noteworthy musicians such as Joe Satriani, however, the group would never receive the success they had again. In the 21st century, multiple documentaries have been made about the group and their members, in addition, the group has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Prominent member Jon Lord also passed away in the early 2010’s as well with many re-released music in honor of the band.

The group took influence from many artists since the group was originally planned to be a supergroup. Many of the influences come from early blues music and classical music since Lord’s and Blackmore’s skills are very compositional heavy. The group is pioneers in hard rock, heavy, and to an extent progressive rock. The band influenced Metallica, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Queen, Rush, and a majority of other Metal and rock acts formed afterwards. In addition, the group can be cited as an influence in death metal, progressive metal, and other subgenres with bands like Children of Bodom in the late 90’s and early 2000’s incorporating a lot synthesizer-heavy and compositional elements like Deep Purple.

Music Critic and Historian.

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