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The history of Deep Purple

Last update: October 24, 2002

This section contains historical information about the band itself -- there's a separate section for details about individual members.

What's the state of the band right now? What are they up to?

Deep Purple currently consists of: Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Don Airey (keyboards), Smon McBride (guitar), and Ian Paice (drums). They are currently touring and working on a new album.

Can you give me a short biography of Deep Purple?

There's 30 years of history that still needs to be summarized here (Deep Purple formed in 1968, after all), but let's start with the current version of the band.

By the end of 1993, the rancor among the band members had reached the point where it had became impossible to work together, and Ritchie Blackmore brought matters to a head by serving notice that he was leaving at the end of the European leg of the tour.

The story of DP would have ended there, except that they had contractual agreements to do a final leg of the tour in Japan. Rather than default on their contract, they followed up on a suggestion of the Japanese promoter's and recruited Joe Satriani to handle the guitar chores. To their pleasant surprise, the gigs were nothing short of cathartic, and they rediscovered the joy of playing. As a result, instead of disbanding at the end of the Japanese shows they decided to hire Joe for a short summer tour of the European festivals, and look for a permanent replacement.

Steve Morse (whose resume includes Dixie Dregs, Kansas, and The Steve Morse Band) joined in November of 1994. When Roger Glover was asked if they considered anyone else than Morse for the job he said: "No. Well, we asked Hank Marvin, but he declined." 1995 was spent doing some shakedown concerts and then recording the "Purpendicular" album, released in February 1996. In support of this record, Deep Purple embarked on a world tour that wound up visiting most of the world including Europe, Japan and the Americas over the course of the year and into the next. A live album, "Live At The Olympia '96", recorded in Paris during this tour, was released on EMI Records in June 1997.

After a brief hiatus following the tour, the band once again went to Orlando and Greg Rike Studios in the summer of 1997 to start work on their follow-up album. They took a couple of months off during December and January to do a mini-tour of the House of Blues clubs around North America (notable events included two Web broadcasts, and the onstage marriage of Steve Morse!). They then returned to the studios in Florida to finish the record, "Abandon", which was released in the spring of 1998. Another worldwide tour (the A.Band.On.Tour, as it was dubbed by the band) then followed, with North America getting a month of dates sandwiched between two lengthy European sweeps. After pausing for the Christmas holidays, in early 1999 the A.Band.On.Tour picked up where it had left off, heading first for South America and then on to Australia, where one of the Australian concerts was recorded for the "Total Abandon" CD and DVD. After that, the tour returned to Europe for the summer season.

In the fall of 1999, Deep Purple did two charity concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra and a host of guests including Ronnie James Dio. The program for these two nights was various selections from the body of work the individual members had done outside Deep Purple, some DP songs with an orchestral accompaniment, and the centrepiece of the occasion, a revival of Jon Lord's 1969 opus, "Concerto For Group And Orchestra". The second night was recorded for the "Live at the Royal Albert Hall" CD and DVD.

In late-March/early-April of 2000, the A.Band.On.Tour was resumed with a short swing through Japan, Russia, Greece, and a couple of European dates. After a summer rest (apart from an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival), the A.Band.On.Tour was put on hold and instead, partly due to the enthusiastic reception afforded the Royal Albert Hall concerts, Deep Purple decided to take the Concerto concert on tour, using a local orchestra for each country, and bringing Ronnie James Dio, Miller Anderson, and Paul Mann along (the first two as guest singers, and the latter to conduct the orchestra). This tour visited South America and Europe during the fall of 2000 (as well as two Japanese dates in early 2001, during the A.Band.On.Tour swing)

In March 2001 the A.Band.On.Tour was then revived and visited Australia, Japan, a couple of Asian dates, and one in India. Several of these concerts were recorded and presented unedited in the Australian box set, "The Soundboard Series". Another quick break to regroup, and it was off to co-headline with Lynyrd Skynrd for a tour of the US during June/July of 2001, preceded by an appearance at Luciano Pavarotti's charity concert in Modena on May 29. After the summer tour, Jon Lord needed knee surgery and so Don Airey was recruited to fill in for him during a month of European concerts through August and early-September. The band members then took a few months off to attend to their own pursuits, Steve Morse and Roger Glover putting the finishing touches on solo records (two, in Morse's case), and Ian Paice pairing with Peter York in a series of drumming clinics and concerts. There were some group song-writing sessions in mid-November in preparation for a new recording, and Steve Morse undertook a short tour of the US with the Dixie Dregs that carried over into 2002.

February 2002 saw the start of a tour of the UK, but unfortunately illness swept through the ranks and ultimately made it impossible for Ian Gillan to sing; as a result the tour had to be cancelled midway through after the first London show, to be rescheduled for September. The UK tour had been planned to be Jon Lord's farewell shows with the band, and so on the eve of the Russian tour Jon's departure was revealed to the public. March found the band performing concerts throughout Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. From there it was a few Asian dates in April followed by a short break before the summer tour began.

In June 2002, Deep Purple joined Dio and co-headliners The Scorpions in Las Vegas for the start of two months of concerts in a tour that would work its way across the southern US, up the Eastern seaboard, and then back again to finish up in Los Angeles in early August. With only a brief pause to catch their breath, they then undertook a short tour of Germany at the end of August leading directly into the rescheduled UK tour over the month of September. This tour was to be Jon Lord's belated farewell party, whereby he took over the keyboard spot for the second half of the set, and then both he and Don Airey sharing the keyboard riser during the encores. Adding to the specialness of the tour were several guest appearances including members of Iron Maiden in London, Dan McCafferty from Nazareth in Glasgow, and Bernie Marsden in Bristol. Following the last concert in Ipswich, the band did a final few concerts without Jon in Switzerland, Greece, and Dubai before breaking to recharge prior to entering the studio to record the long-awaited followup to "Abandon". Ian Paice's idea of a rest was to undertake a series of drum clinic concerts through Central Europe and Italy, one of which Don Airey joined him for.

Who's actually been in the band, and when? And what does "Mark 2" mean?

The "Marks" refer to certain specific lineups of Deep Purple. These are

  • Deep Purple Mark I (April 1968 - June 1969)
    1. Ritchie Blackmore (guitar)
    2. Rod Evans (vocals)
    3. Jon Lord (keyboards + backing vocals)
    4. Ian Paice (drums)
    5. Nick Simper (bass + backing vocals)

  • Deep Purple Mark IIa (June 1969 - 30 June 1973)
    1. Ritchie Blackmore (guitar)
    2. Ian Gillan (vocals)
    3. Roger Glover (bass)
    4. Jon Lord (keyboards)
    5. Ian Paice (drums)

  • Deep Purple Mark III (October 1973 - 5 April 1975)
    1. Ritchie Blackmore (guitar)
    2. David Coverdale (vocals)
    3. Glenn Hughes (bass + vocals)
    4. Jon Lord (keyboards)
    5. Ian Paice (drums)

  • Deep Purple Mark IV (1975 - July 1976 (last gig was March 15 1976))
    1. Tommy Bolin (guitar + vocals)
    2. David Coverdale (vocals)
    3. Glenn Hughes (bass + vocals)
    4. Jon Lord (keyboards)
    5. Ian Paice (drums)

  • Deep Purple Mark IIb (reunion) (April 1984 - April 1989)
    1. Same lineup as Mk II above. This lineup was often referred to as Mk V at the time, as fans didn't think they quite stood up to the past.

  • Deep Purple Mark V (Autumn 1989 - Autumn 1992) ("Mk. Turner" )
    1. Ritchie Blackmore (guitar)
    2. Roger Glover (bass)
    3. Jon Lord (keyboards)
    4. Ian Paice (drums)
    5. Joe Lynn Turner (vocals)

  • Deep Purple Mark IIc (re-reunion?) (Autumn 1992 - 17 November 1993)
    1. Same lineup as Mk II above.

  • Deep Purple Mark VI (2. December 1993 - July 1994)
    1. Ian Gillan (vocals)
    2. Roger Glover (bass)
    3. Jon Lord (keyboards)
    4. Ian Paice (drums)
    5. Joe Satriani (guitar)

    This lineup was originally just for the Japanese tour, that had been announced before Blackmore quit in November. Due to the success of those shows, they also did a European tour in the summer of 1994. This is the only non-recording lineup so far.

  • Deep Purple Mark VII (November 1994 - February 2002)
    1. Ian Gillan (vocals)
    2. Roger Glover (bass and backing vocals)
    3. Jon Lord (keyboards)
    4. Ian Paice (drums)
    5. Steve Morse (guitar and backing vocals)

  • Deep Purple Mark VIII (March 2002 - September 2022)
    1. Ian Gillan (vocals)
    2. Roger Glover (bass and backing vocals)
    3. Don Airey (keyboards)
    4. Ian Paice (drums)
    5. Steve Morse (guitar and backing vocals)

  • Deep Purple Mark IX (September 2022 - ???)
    1. Ian Gillan (vocals)
    2. Roger Glover (bass and backing vocals)
    3. Don Airey (keyboards)
    4. Ian Paice (drums)
    5. Simon McBride

Note that there is another numbering system sometimes used, in which each line-up, including the reunions, is given its own number, so the line-ups run from I - IX. This used to be the system used in the alt.music.deep-purple newsgroup and older versions of the FAQ. Recent versions of the FAQ have used the I-IV-IIb-V-IIc-VII system, as it is the same as the one used by the Deep Purple Appreciation Society (DPAS).

You may ask, "backing vocals"? Yes, Roger and Steve have been seen (and heard in some places) doing back-up vocals to two of the songs from "Purpendicular" at live shows.

Have there been other configurations of the band?

Eccentric lineups include a 1971 Mark II date that Gillan missed due to hepatitis, with Roger Glover trying to fill in on the vocals ("I hope there's no bootleg of this", he says!), a quick fill-in for Roger Glover on another by Chas Hodges ("Deep Purple bass player Roger Glover collapsed from flu during the group's performance at Aberdeen Music Hall last week. Chas Hodges, from Heads, Hands and Feet, took over for the group's remaining numbers." - Melody Maker, March 1971), and during the 1972 USA tour when Blackmore was taken ill and replaced, first by Al Kooper (of Dylan, Blood Sweat & Tears, etc.), and then by the late Randy California (of Spirit) on guitar - they dropped the tour after one show, April 6 in Quebec City. Even though he mis-remembers the venue of the show, here's how Kooper tells it:

Subj: Re:Al Kooper involvement in DP
Date: 96-03-21 16:42:29 EST
From: AlFonts

This is an excerpt from my next book which will answer your question:

Three weeks after I got out of the hospital, my agent called me. "You have got to help me out of a jam, " he pleaded. " I have a million dollar tour booked for Deep Purple starting in two weeks and Richie Blackmore (lead guitarist) just went in the hospital with mononucleosis. Can you go down and audition with them tomorrow afternoon ?" I was dumbfounded. First of all, I was a keyboard player, a fair one at that, who dabbled on guitar. Richie Blackmore was a master of the genre he participated in - light years from where I would ever end up on guitar. Secondly, I barely knew any of their songs and most of all, I had just finished a tour that had put me in the hospital.

There was no way I was gonna do this. I told him so and he begged me to go to the audition anyway just to buy him some time to secure someone who really was capable.

I pack up my trusty Epiphone Wilshire guitar and go to the rehearsal studio where they are practicing. I know some of these guys from the circuit and we exchange happy hellos. They start playing something pretty simple and I join in. Having spent many years as a studio musician, I am able to learn things extremely quickly. Everyone's smiling and frankly, I'm amazed. They play a song next that is REALLY fast and I wave off the guitar solo. It was simply too fast for me to play a solo. "That's OK, Al." Ian Gillan, the lead singer says to me "We'll just have a longer organ solo there. Not to worry. " These guys really think I'm gonna do this. Incredible. I finish playing with them and everybody is smiles. The road manager walks me to the door. "That was great, Al. You passed the ultimate test. The roadie's all loved it. And in that first song, you even started the solo on the same note Richie does. See ya tomorrow."

On the cab ride home, I actually considered it for five minutes, but common sense prevailed before I arrived home. I called the agent and threatened him. I had fulfilled my end of the bargain and he had to tell them I really couldn't do it. He was actually in tears on the phone. "What am I gonna do? Who can I get to do this ? Please at least suggest someone!" I pulled out the name of one of my favorite guitarists - Randy California from the group Spirit. He thanked me profusely and that was the last I heard of it for a month. Then a third party told me that Randy had rehearsed with them and that it was magnificent.

The first date of the tour was in Hawaii. The night of the show, I'm told, Randy barricaded himself in his hotel room and refused to play. The tour was cancelled. Which reminds me of a Grace Slick lyric: "The human dream doesn't mean shit to a tree".

Also there was the infamous bogus Deep Purple in 1980, when Rod Evans was lured into "reforming" Deep Purple by a US manager specializing in reforming old bands with a minimum of original members. They played a handful of dates in the US (where reportedly most audiences left the halls during the shows, after bottling the stage) before the outfit were taken to court by the old management team (Tony Edwards and John Colleta). As a result, Rod Evans lost the rights to royalties for his work with Deep Purple. Here's more details from the Musician's Business & Legal Guide (by Mark Halloran) (thanks to Deborah Sztajnberg for the quote):

"The case of Deep Purple - an example of the issues involved when a group disbands but its product still sells involved the group "Deep Purple", which had not been performing as a band for many years. Its records, however, still sold. One of the original members of that band formed a new group. None of the other members of that new group had been members of the original "Deep Purple". This new group began to perform under the name "Deep Purple". The corporation, owned by the original members of "Deep Purple" and their management, still owned the rights to the name "Deep Purple". They sued the new "Deep Purple" to stop them from performing under the name and were awarded damages of $ 672,000; compensatory damages (actual damages suffered by the corporation) were $168,000 and $504,000 was for punitive damages."

On the 1996 tour, the band played a gig in Paris, France, with a backing horn section on some tracks, comprised of three French musicians: Vincent Chavagnac, Eric Mula and Christian Fourquet. This gig has been preserved for your listening pleasure in the DP release, "Live At The Olympia '96". During the Concerto For Group And Orchestra tour, there was (obviously) an orchestra onstage with them, as well as guest musicians (notably Ronnie James Dio and Miller Anderson). And during the 2001 Australian/Asian tour, there were once again backing singers and a small horn section for most of the concerts. During the tour of Europe in the summer of 2001, Don Airey deputized for Jon Lord while the latter was recovering from knee surgery; although Don later replaced Jon in the band, at the time it was strictly a temporary position.

Finally, although not strictly-speaking "alternative lineups", there have been a number of one-off guest appearances through the years, including George Harrison, Leslie West, and Jimmy Barnes. although Don later replaced Jon in the band, at the time it was strictly a temporary position.

Finally, although not strictly-speaking "alternative lineups", there have been a number of one-off guest appearances through the years, including George Harrison, Leslie West, and Jimmy Barnes.

Donor Section

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