Guide to British Music of the 1960s


Deep Purple

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Jon Lord - keyboards, Rod Evans - vocals, Nick Simper - bass, Ritchie Blackmore - guitar, Ian Paice - drums

Deep Purple evolved out of Roundabout, a loose group conceived by Chris Curtis, the original Searchers drummer. Nick Simper was invited to join although he had been making good money with The Flowerpot Men. Paice and Evans had both been in Maze, a band that Ritchie Blackmore had seen in Hamburg. Terry Reid had been the original choice for lead vocalist as he had also been for Led Zeppelin.

The band debuted in April 1968 in Denmark as part of a Scandinavian tour. The set consisted primarily of cover versions but the sound evolved from the blues origins towards a more progressive, heavier style. The band signed to Beatles label Parlophone. The first album Shades of Deep Purple again was mostly covers including help and the first single, Joe South's Hush. This is certainly the stand-out track on the album although not that representative of the direction in which Deep Purple was moving. A US release was promoted with a tour supporting Cream although Deep Purple was thrown off the tour after just three gigs - because they were too good.

With the band moving to EMI sister label Harvest work began on the second album, The Book of Taliesyn. Like Shades this was reliant on cover versions including River Deep Mountain High and Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. The band also recorded a version of The Creations' Making Time but this has not been released. Another US tour was followed by a third album, Deep Purple, and the band had recorded its first three albums within a year. This moved towards more original material but there was a Donovan cover version included.

Pressure from the recently-formed Led Zeppelin and the fact that the success of Hush meant many saw them as a pop rather than as a heavy act helped lead to frictions within the group. Evans was more interested in becoming an actor while Simper was sacked for being "not heavy enough". A new singer Ian Gillan and bass player Roger Glover joined from Episode Six with this line-up playing its first gig at the Speakeasy Club in London on 10 July 1069. The "classic" Deep Purple line-up released Hallelujah as its first single.

Keyboard player Jon Lord's classical influences came to the fore when Deep Purple played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969.

Jon Lord died on 16 July 2012.

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?Making Time 1997-2012

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