Rock Hall of Fame in a Haze Where Deep Purple is Concerned

Deep Purple

The “classic” Deep Purple lineup recorded this 1970 album

(No. 25 in a continuing series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)

By Phill Marder

There is no question Deep Purple belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. At least from this writer’s viewpoint.

“Who is Deep Purple?” is the question.

As far as I can determine, and feel free to send in any corrections if necessary, there have been 14 different members of Deep Purple, including three different lead singers, since the band’s chart debut “Shades Of Deep Purple” in 1968. With some members coming in and out more than once, there have been seven (I think) five-man combinations, all of which have been successful.

Ironically, the only member who appeared in every version is drummer Ian Paice. Ironic because it was Searchers’ drummer Chris Curtis who formulated the original concept for the band with himself as the lead singer, then wound up never being a member. Ironic also because Paice has been the most maligned of the group members, critics often denigrating his drumming prowess. In fact, I remember Paice once being called the worst drummer of any major rock band. That’s just another example of a music critic not knowing which end of the drumstick is up.

As a drummer myself, I can assure you Paice is terrific. As is the rest of the band.

But back to the question. If Deep Purple is inducted into the Hall of Fame, as they should be, just which members should be included?

The first combination of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Nick Simper, organist Jon Lord, Paice and lead singer Rod Evans saw its first albums and singles chart, but, strangely, only in the United States, where the initial album, powered by the No. 4 single “Hush,” reached No. 24. The next two releases didn’t do as well, though, and Evans and Simper left, being replaced by vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover.

Gillan, Blackmore, Glover, Lord and Paice became the band’s classic combination, taking Deep Purple to new heights from 1969 to 1973, coming back from 1984 to 1989, and again from 1992 to 1993.

This was also the conglomeration that broke the band in the United Kingdom market, where it has enjoyed tremendous success since. The first effort, Lord’s “Concerto For Group and Orchestra,” a live effort performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall, didn’t do much in the States, but became the group’s first UK chart effort, hitting No. 26. Then the fun started.

“Deep Purple In Rock” had a weak showing in the US, but bolted to No. 4 in the UK and a single – “Black Night” – just missed being the band’s first chart-topper in their native land, reaching No. 2. Meanwhile, Gillan, playing the lead role, took place in the recording of the album “Jesus Christ Superstar,” earning rave reviews as the two-record set topped the US charts for three weeks.

The next single “Strange Kind Of Woman” reached No. 8 in the UK. Included on the US version of the ensuing “Fireball” LP, it helped bring the group back in the States, the LP hitting No. 32, while becoming the group’s first No. 1 album in the UK.

“Machine Head,” generally considered Deep Purple’s finest hour, appeared in 1972, topping the British charts for three weeks and soaring to No. 7 in the US. But the group’s signature song, the single, “Smoke On The Water” on which Blackmore introduced one of Rock’s most instantly identifiable guitar riffs, didn‘t gain release in the US until a year later, eventually getting to No. 4. Even stranger, the song didn’t hit the British chart until 1977, peaking at No. 21.

And even stranger was the fact that all this was happening after Gillan and Glover had quit the group, though the live “Made In Japan” and the studio “Who Do We Think We Are” had continued their run of success. In fact, by 1977 there was no group.

At the close of 1974, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes had moved in on vocals and bass, respectively, and the next two LPs, “Burn” and “Stormbringer” reached the UK top 10 and did almost as well in the US. But when Tommy Bolin replaced Blackmore in 1975, the band’s fortunes suffered an immediate downturn. By the end of 1976, the band had disintegrated and Bolin was dead from a heroin overdose.

Various releases, compilations and old live recordings, kept Deep Purple alive on the charts, but it wasn’t until 1984 that the group reformed, the classic lineup intact. Two smash albums, “Perfect Strangers” and “The House Of Blue Light” ensued. After the live LP,“Nobody’s Perfect” did ok as 1988 ended, Gillan left again, replaced by Joe Lynn Turner.

With Turner out front, the group had moderate success with 1990‘s “Slaves and Masters“ album. Eventually, Gillan came back again in 1992, Steve Morse joined on guitar in 1994 and Don Airey came in to replace Lord on keyboards in 2002.

All told, Purple’s remarkable career has produced just six hit singles in the UK, but 21 hit albums, including three that topped the charts. In the United States, only three of the group’s singles could be considered hits, but they put 20 LPs on the Top 200, 11 reaching the top 50, with three climbing into the top 10.

The majority of Purple’s success is due to the five members of the classic lineup. Those five must be inducted. But Coverdale and Hughes also should be considered for induction for their contributions to three major albums, though their relatively short stay with the band diminishes their credentials. And certainly Evans and Simper must be taken into consideration for getting Deep Purple off the ground with three hit albums and two hit singles. Morse and Airey also must be considered for helping to keep Purple alive today.

While Deep Purple has remained a still-potent concert attraction, Purple fans also soon may be treated to a new recording as Gillan said just last month, “…we’re going to get together and have a writing session real soon.”

“We’ll see how it goes,” he added. “…we’re getting poked by various connections who would like to see another Deep Purple record. So I think it’s about time.” Blackmore also remains active with “Blackmore’s Night” touring and the “Autumn Sky” LP released last year.

It’s also “about time” the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In the 70s, the Guinness Book of Records called Deep Purple “the world’s loudest band.” That alone should merit induction, but Deep Purple’s credentials speak with just as much volume.

16 thoughts on “Rock Hall of Fame in a Haze Where Deep Purple is Concerned

  1. Without a doubt they should be in . It has been a long time coming and out of most bands that get mentioned this one deserves to be in there. Many many artist that already have been inducted including bands like Metalica have stated that DP was a heavy influence in their being. Most state that Blackmore’s guitar in the early 70’s spurred them on to becoming rock stars.
    One note you mentioned 3 singers but in fact there have been 4. You missing Joe Lynn Turner on Slaves and Masters Album and tour. Also was surprised to see Ian Paice mentioned in the same sentence as worst drummer. Most reviews and mags even in the 70’s herald him as a innovative and excellent drummer.
    Anyway my vote is to put them all members of DP on stage and in the hall of fame. In one way or another they made real contributions to Rock and added a uniqueness that influenced many musicians. Not to many bands can claim that.

  2. I saw that on my second read through the article and wished I could of reworded that one to just point out a slight correction in what was otherwise a spot on and a great article. Which in this very statement says who am I to correct .

  3. Nice article and one of the most overlooked bands as far as the R&R Hall of Shame goes. Ian Paice has never been underrated… underappreciated yes, but not underrated. The guy is a rare combination of great technical chops with immense feel. Unlike most hard rock drummers, he swings like Buddy Rich and his one handed drum roll it pretty cool to see in concert.

    Lead singers, five if you count Glenn Hughes singing 2nd lead to Coverdale in the MK3 lineup.

    13 members that recorded with the band like you said and Chris Curtis was never in Deep Purple, though you did list him as a member. On a side note, Joe Satriani stepped in for a Japanese tour when Blackmore left in 1993 and did a summer tour of Europe with Purple in 1994 before Steve Morse joined permanently.

    I think all of the members should be invited to the R&R HOF, but having everybody on stage together would probably be a train wreck. A train wreck I’d love to see and it may be the only way Blackmore will ever play rock again.

    My 2 cents.

  4. Frank –

    I did say there were 14, not 13, members and I didn’t say Curtis was a member. In paragraph 4 I wrote, “…it was Searchers’ drummer Chris Curtis who formulated the original concept for the band with himself as the lead singer, then wound up never being a member.”

    Satriani I didn’t mention because he never was a permanent member, just a fill-in.

    I appreciate your two cents, though, and hope to hear from you in the future. In today’s economy, every cent counts.

  5. Of course Deep Purple belongs in the R & R Hall of Fame. Not only were they one of the best selling bands of the 70’s but their breakup created two of the best selling bands of the 80’s – Rainbow and Whitesnake!!

  6. My understanding of the Hall of Fame issue is that DP has no interest in being inducted. I recall seeing a quote by Ian Gillan stating that museums and hall’s of fame are for the dead and forgotten and they can put them in after the last member has passed.

    If it doesn’t bother them it doesn’t bother me. I have the music to listen to and don’t expect to ever visit the hall of fame.

  7. I agree with Sean on this, Blackmore,Gillan,Glover,Lord and Paice have no interest in being inducted, if the time does come I pray that they do not show up for the show it’s an insult to induct them now.
    As for Paice, he used to be known as the Buddy Rich of rock.
    Enough said


  8. When When When? Will People Understand That The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame is a some guys personal favorite band list? No Deep Purple, No Grand Funk Railroad, Just those two bands missing should tell the world…”SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE “” !!!

  9. The Bands Know That The Hall of Shame Is A BS Entity, That is why They could care less if they are in it..but ABBA is in it..NOW That IS ROCK !! ABBA …I’m gonna hurl !!

  10. The only thing I can see that keeps Deep Purple out of the R&R HoF (aside from what appears to be ever-increasing disdain for hard rock among the voters) is the numerous lineup changes. They meet just about every other criteria I can think of:

    — Sales (over 100 million worldwide)
    — Influence (can’t even count how many later hard rock and metal bands list Deep Purple as an influence; and how many aspiring guitarists have cut their teeth on that riff from “Smoke on the Water” for crying out loud?)
    — Talent/creativity (hands-down, DP has it)

  11. The Hall of Fame Rock and Roll is too small for a big band like Deep Purple.

  12. this rock n roll hall of shame its a disgrace, I used to be furious of the offensiveness these peacocks inducts whatever their mood is. but now is just makes me laugh. you know these hall never represent rock n roll and it will never represent the people that means that it will always lack of any validity, even if they induct so many names that still missing like deep purple, rush, def leppard, kiss, cheap trick, the cure, etc etc they already f*$%( up

  13. Lol! I can’t believe this is even a discussion . Purple is a musician’s band. Some of the greatest musician’s of our generation cite Purple as a major influence. Ian Paice not a good drummer? I never heard that in fact let’s look at any rock n roll drummer in the 60’s and 70’s and tell which one is better. Paice is noted for his stick control, speed and solid in the pocket playing that few can compete with. He is a legend. True not a rhythmically complex player as blues rock drummer he’s outrageous! Purple is one of the best live bands on the planet. Still today they tear it up. Purple not in the hall of fame didn’t even occur to me until I was watching this weeks events on HBO. I googled it and was mortified that Purple wasn’t in. It’s nonsense and for me takes any legitimacy of that institution away. Who cares. I won’t visit and won’t watch. Purple wrote better music than most and as musicians they are amazing in any incarnation. Shit Come Taste the Band w Tommy Bolin on guitar is still one of the best rock albums ever made! Thats for some Purple’s worst…. That’s a joke … David Coverdale never sounded better. Listen to Paice on that record. Forget it. RRHOF is clueless.

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