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Deep Purple

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Deep Purple
Warner Bros

Deep Purple Chronology:

Formed in 1968, the band has been in existence (except for a hiatus 1976-84) ever since. They are among the first bands to be commercially successful with hard rock and heavy metal music, and once held the Guinness world record for loudest band. They are best known for "Smoke On The Water" from their 1972 Machine Head album. Other popular tracks include "Kentucky Woman," "Hush," "Highway Star" and "River Deep - Mountain High." Their catalog includes 18 studio albums, 35 live albums and 15 live performance DVDs.

Deep Purple Turnover:

Not unexpectedly for a group that has been around this long, Deep Purple has seen a lot of personnel turnover. Since its inception, the band has had:

  • Four lead vocalists: Rod Evans, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Joe Lynn Turner
  • Four lead guitarists: Ritchie Blackmore, Tommy Bolin, Joe Satriani, Steve Morse
  • Three bass players: Nick Simper, Roger Glover, Glenn Hughes
  • Two keyboardists: Jon Lord, Don Airey
  • One drummer: Ian Paice, the only original member still with the band

Deep Purple Mark VIII:

The current lineup – the eighth in the band’s history, aka Mark VIII – consisting of Gillan, Morse, Airey, Glover and Pace has remained constant since 2002. Paice has been with the band since the beginning. Gillan and Glover have bounced in and out of the group off and on since 1969. Morse joined in 1994 and Airey in 2002. As is typical of bands that have had a lot of personnel turnover, DP fans argue over which roster produced the best music, and inevitably each new album invites comparisons to the work of past band lineups, before – or instead of – being judged on its own merits.

The Irony of Longevity:

In spite of the fact that they regularly record and perform new material, the band is dogged by the same curse that attaches to virtually every classic rock band that is still actively performing. The fans who pack their live performances are primarily there to hear the "old" songs for which they are best known and, with varying degrees of tolerance, wait through the new songs to hear the familiar ones. Accordingly, their concert ticket sales are usually far greater than their new album sales. Radio stations that continue to play "Smoke On the Water" and "Highway Star" tend to ignore the band's more recent work.

Deep Purple Music:

First album: Shades Of Deep Purple (1968)
Lineup - Mark I: Rod Evans - lead vocals; Ritchie Blackmore - guitar; Jon Lord - keyboards; Ian Paice - drums; Nick Simper - bass.
Mix of covers and original songs. Peaked at #24 in U.S.

Most recent album: Rapture Of The Deep (2005)
Lineup - Mark VIII (see above)
Read review

Essential album: Machine Head (1972)
Lineup - Mark II: Blackmore, Lord, Paice, Ian Gillan - lead vocals, and Roger Glover - bass.
Recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, where a night club fire inspired "Smoke On The Water" a few days before the album's first recording session.
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