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Deep Purple Biography

Home > Music > D > Deep Purple > Biography

Birth Place: Hertford, England, U.K.
Years Active: 1968–1976, 1984–present
Genres: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues-rock, Progressive Rock

Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although some band members believe that their music cannot be categorized as belonging to any one genre. The band incorporated classical music, blues-rock, pop and progressive rock elements. They were once listed by the “Guinness Book of World Records” as "the loudest pop group", and have sold over 100 million albums worldwide.

The band currently consists of vocalist Ian Gillan, guitarist Steve Morse, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice and keyboardist Don Airey. The band originally comprised vocalist Rod Evans, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Nick Simper, drummer Paice and keyboardist Jon Lord. Deep Purple is notable for their history of lineups, each one of which is often referred to by its own "Mark" number, ranging from the inaugural, I, to the current, VIII.

In October 1968, the group had success with a cover of Joe South's "Hush", which reached #4 on the US Billboard chart. The song was taken from their debut album Shades of Deep Purple, which was released in July 1968.

The band's second album, “The Book of Taliesyn” (including a cover of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman"), was released in the United States in 1969 reaching #38 on the billboard chart and #21 on the RPM charts, although it would not be released in their home country until the following year. 1969 saw the release of their third album, “Deep Purple.” Returning to England in early 1969, they recorded a single called "Emmaretta," named for Emmaretta Marks, then a cast member of the musical “Hair,” whom Evans was trying to seduce. This would be the band's last recording before Evans and Simper were fired. Soon after singer Ian Gillan from Episode Six joined the group.

Their first studio album of this period, released in mid-1970, was “In Rock,” which contained the then-concert staples "Speed King," "Into The Fire" and "Child in Time." The band also issued the UK Top Ten single "Black Night." A second album, the creatively progressive “Fireball,” was issued in the summer of 1971. The title track "Fireball" was released as a single, as was "Strange Kind of Woman"

“Machine Head” followed in 1972 and reached #1 in the UK, where it stayed for 20 weeks in the top-40. It also reached #7 in the US, remaining for 118 weeks in the Billboard 200. The single “Smoke on the Water” reached #4 on the Billboard pop singles chart in the United States during the summer of 1973. The album Who Do We Think We Are followed in 1973, featuring the hit single "Woman from Tokyo.” Gillan quit the band after their second tour of Japan in the summer of 1973 over tensions with Blackmore, and Glover being pushed out with him.

David Coverdale an unknown singer from Saltburn in Northeast England joined the group and they released “Burn,” a highly successful release (only the second album, after “Machine Head,” to crack the US Top 10). The late 1974 release “Stormbringer” which along with the title track, had a number of songs that received much radio play, such as "Lady Double Dealer," "The Gypsy" and "Soldier Of Fortune." Blackmore left the band shortly thereafter and was replaced by Tommy Bolin. Their first album with Bolin was 1975’s “Come Taste the Band.” Bolin would die of a drug overdose in late 1976. Prior to that, the band had announced that the band had broken up.

In April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale reunion took place with the "classic" early 1970s line-up of Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice. The reformed band signed a worldwide deal with PolyGram, with Mercury Records releasing their albums in the United States, and Polydor Records in other countries. The album “Perfect Strangers” was released in October 1984. A solid release, it sold extremely well (reaching #5 in the UK and #17 on the Billboard 200 in the US) and included the singles and concert staples "Knockin' At Your Back Door" and "Perfect Strangers." The line-up then released “The House of Blue Light” in 1987. Gillen was brought back to record the album “The Battle Rages On,” released in 1993 and coincided with the band’s 25th Anniversary. Blackmore left, and the band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Blackmore's permanent successor.

Morse's arrival revitalized the band creatively, and in 1996 a new album titled “Purpendicular” was released, showing a wide variety of musical styles.

With a revamped set list to tour, Deep Purple enjoyed success throughout the rest of the 1990s, releasing the harder-sounding “Abandon” in 1998, and touring with renewed enthusiasm. In October 2005, they released their album “Rapture of the Deep.”