Deep Purple survived a seemingly endless series of lineup
changes and a dramatic mid-career shift from grandiose progressive rock
to ear-shattering heavy metal
to emerge as a true institution of the British hard rock
community; once credited in the Guinness Book of World Record's
as the globe's loudest band, their revolving-door roster launched the careers of performers including Ritchie Blackmore
, David Coverdale
and Ian Gillan
The band was formed in Hertford, England in 1968 by guitarist Blackmore, vocalist Rod Evans, bassist Nick Semper, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice; initially dubbed Roundabout, the group was first assembled as a session band for ex-Seekers drummer Chris Curtis but quickly went their own way, touring Scandinavia before beginning work on their debut LP, Shades of Deep Purple.
The most pop-oriented release of their career, the album generated a Top Five American hit with its reading of Joe South's "Hush," but otherwise went unnoticed at home.
The Book of Taliesyn followed in 1969, again cracking the U.S. Top 40 with a cover of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman"; with their self-titled third LP, Deep Purple's ambitions grew, however, with the songs reflecting a new complexity and density as Lord's classically-influenced keyboards assumed a much greater focus. Soon after the album's release, however, their American label Tetragrammaton folded, and with the dismissals of Evans and Simper, the band started fresh, recruiting singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover from the ranks of the pop group Episode Six.
The revamped Deep Purple's first album, 1970's Concerto for Group and Orchestra, further sought to fuse rock and classical music, and was recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; when the project was poorly received, however, Blackmore took creative control of the band, steering towards a heavier, guitar-dominated approach which took full advantage of Gillan's powerful vocals.
The gambit worked — 1970's Deep Purple in Rock heralded the beginning of the group's most creatively and commercially successful period; at home, the album sold over a million copies, with the subsequent single "Black Night" falling just shy of topping the UK pop charts. 1971's Fireball, was also a smash, scoring a hit with "Strange Kind of Woman"; plans to record the follow-up at the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland were derailed after the venue burned down during a live appearance by Frank Zappa, although the experience inspired Deep Purple's most enduring hit, the AOR staple "Smoke on the Water." The song, featured on the multi-platinum Machine Head, reached the U.S. Top Five in mid-1973, and positioned Deep Purple among rock's elite. However, long-simmering creative differences between Blackmore and Gillan pushed the latter out of the group that same year, with Glover soon exiting as well; singer David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes were recruited for 1974's Burn.
After completing 1974's Stormbringer, Blackmore left Deep Purple to form Rainbow; his replacement was ex-James Gang guitarist Tommy Bolin, who made his debut on Come Taste the Band; all the changes clearly took their toll, however, and following a farewell tour the group dissolved in 1976, with Coverdale going on to form Whitesnake. The classic lineup of Blackmore, Gillan, Lord, Glover and Paice reunited Deep Purple in 1984 for a new album, the platinum smash Perfect Strangers; The House of Blue Light followed three years later, but as past tensions resurfaced, Gillan again exited in mid-1979. Onetime Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner was recruited for 1990's Slaves and Masters before Gillan again rejoined to record The Battle Rages On... — an apt title, that, as both Blackmore and Gillan again quit the group soon after. The lineup changes continue — guitarists Joe Satriani and Steve Morse subsequently passed through the ranks as well — but in one form or another, Deep Purple forges on.
Published before on allmusic.com. Placed with permission.