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Deep Purple Trivia

Last update: Feb 7, 2002

This where we collect all the various snippets of information that don't readily fit into any of the other categories.

Where did the name "Deep Purple" come from?

When Deep Purple went on their first tour, to Denmark in 1968, they were still named Roundabout. This was the name suggested by Chris Curtis, former drummer for The Searchers, who actually started the whole process of putting the band together. His concept was of a "roundabout" where people get on and off easily, allowing different line-ups. He was rather quickly put aside, and the actual band (Mk I) wasn't too pleased with the name.

On the boat between England and Denmark, Ritchie Blackmore and bassist Nick Simper were interviewed about the new band. It seemed that it actually was during this interview that the band changed its name to Deep Purple - named after an old song that was a favourite of Ritchie's granny, or something like that. According to an interview with Nick Simper in an old issue of Darker Than Blue, the journalist asked them what the name of the band was. Ritchie looked at Nick with a grin, and said "It's Deep Purple". Nick smiled back, and that was it.

These are the lyrics to the original song, "Deep Purple"

When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls and the stars begin to flicker in the sky thru the mist of a memory you wander back to me breathing my name with a sigh. In the still of the night once again I hold you tight. Tho' you're gone your love lives on when moonlight beams and as long as my heart will beat, lover, we'll always meet here in my deep purple dreams.

Is Ritchie practicing his cello on the solo in "Fools"?

No. The special sound on this solo is created by the volume knob on his Fender. Basically, he picks the string while his right hand's pinky is on the volume knob, with the volume turned off, and then turns the volume up while the string is still vibrating. This use of the volume control is a commonly used technique - Steve Morse uses it frequently, mostly in quieter songs.

This particular solo was created before they made "Fools" for the 1971 album "Fireball" - it can, for instance, be heard on the recordings from Stockholm in November 1970 on "Scandinavian Nights" (aka "Live and Rare"), during "Mandrake Root", and was later played during "Space Truckin'" (check out "Made in Japan" or the 1972 disc on "Deep Purple in Concert", and the Copenhagen 1972 video.) It's also featured on the studio jamming called "Guitar Job" on Ritchie Blackmore: "Rock Profile Vol. 1". This was recorded during rehearsals for "Fireball".

Other examples of Ritchie using volume control feature the live endings to "Child in Time", and the end of the Guitar Movement on "Gemini Suite Live".

Behind The Music: Smoke on the Water

What's "Smoke on the Water" about?

There is indeed a story behind this, undoubtedly Deep Purple's most well-known song. The lyrics actually tell the story of the recording of Machine Head. Deep Purple were originally all set to record the album at the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland. They were just awaiting a Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention concert to be held before the recording could begin. But the Casino burnt down during the concert, after some stupid person had fired a flare into the Casino's ceiling. (Purple were in the audience. The actual Zappa concert has turned up on one of the Beat the Boots discs, I think). Here's Frank Zappa's account:

In the middle of Don Preston's synthesizer solo on "King Kong", the place suddenly caught fire. Somebody in the audience had a bottle rocket or a Roman candle and fired it into the ceiling, at which point the rattan covering started to burn (other versions of the story claim the blaze was a result of faulty wiring). There were between 2500 and 3000 kids packed into the room -- well over capacity.

Since more kids were outside, trying to get in, the organizers had cleverly chained the exit doors shut. Whe the fire began, the audience was left with two ways out: through the front door, which was pretty small, or through a plate-glass window off to the side of the stage."

I made an announcement -- something like: 'Please be calm. We have to leave here. There is a fire and why don't we get out?' You'd be surprised how well people who speak only French can understand you when it's a matter of life or death. They began filing out through the front door."

As the room was filling with smoke, one of our roadies took an equipment case and smashed the big window. The crew then began helping people to escape through it into some kind of garden place below. The band escaped through an underground tunnel that led from behind the stage through the parking garage."

A few minutes later the heating system in the building exploded, and some people were blown through the window. Fortunately, nobody was killed and there were only a few minor injuries -- however, the entire building, about 13,000,000 dollars worth, burned to the ground, and we lost all our equipment."

"The Real Frank Zappa Book", pp.112-113

They ended up at the Grand Hotel, closed for the winter season, where the recording eventually commenced during December 1971. They recorded the album with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, also mentioned in the lyrics.

The song itself was created more or less spontaneously; Roger Glover had the picture of the smoke spreading over the Lake Geneva in his head, and the line Smoke on the Water eventually stuck. He suggested to Ian Gillan that they should use it as a song title, but Ian shrugged it off, saying people would believe it was a drug song. Then Ritchie suddenly came up with the later hierostratically famous (and notorious!) riff, and things fell into place.

Here's Ian Gillan's story:

We all came out to Montreux, to make an album; because the guys were keen to get a different sound. The Rolling Stones had a state of the art mobile recording studio built into a truck; so we rented it and had it set up alongside the Casino, which was a beautiful old wooden building.

(Funky) Claude Nobs; who was (and still is, as I write nearly thirty years later) the driving force behind entertainment in Montreux (records, films, the jazz festival and so on), had arranged for us to use the concert hall in the Casino to make our record, and we duly arrived and watched the last show of the season, the day before the Casino (and the town) closed down for the winter of '72.

Frank Zappa and the 'Mothers of Invention' were onstage and I was sitting in the audience marvelling at the Man and his music. I remember the exquisite harmonies of Flo and Eddie (Turtles) drifting away, as there was a disturbance. I didn't seem much at the time as some guy shot a flare gun from over my right shoulder. I saw two blobs of fire loop across the hall into the top corner.

Very quickly, the room caught fire and there was a danger of pandemonium as people started to panic. Frank stopped the band and took over, controlling the situation and talking almost everyone out safely.

A few kids had run back through the kitchen door and down a flight to nowhere. Claude Nobs, heroically, found the party and led them to safety.

No lives were lost; thanks to Frank and Claude and no thanks at all to the dickhead who started it.

We sat in the restaurant of the hotel 'Eden au Lac' and watched the flames racing into the sky, fed by the downdraught of the wind from the mountains. Later, as the inferno waned, we looked out across Lake Geneva and saw that it was covered with a layer of smoke.

Most of us who were there will agree on this version. However, like anything, it depends upon where you were standing at the time.

Roger Glover and I have been writing partners since '65. He came up with the title. I thought he wrote it on a napkin that very moment but he says it was later on. Roger's memory being what it is, I'd say ..it doesn't really matter. What does matter though is the phrase: 'Smoke on the Water'. Seems obvious doesn't it? But that's what you do as a writer; and Roger has never failed to be able to put pictures into words.

So, Claude helped us to make fresh arrangements and after one abortive attempt at another hotel we ended up at the Grand, and time was getting short.

We were also short of material. However, there was one track we hadn't worked on.

A brilliantly simple riff that Ritchie Blackmore had come up with.

Roger's title fitted well over the chorus and we wrote the narrative lyric, which tells the story (as much as you can in so many words) of the making of Machine Head (the album title was also Ritchie's idea btw).

Trivia: writers' credits are alphabetical.

"Wordography 17", www.gillan.com

Here's the story according to Roger Glover:

The only deviation to the story that IG has sometimes claimed is that it was written on a napkin as the fire burned. Actually it came to me in a sort of dream 1 or 2 mornings after the fire: I was alone in my bed (in the Eurotel, not the Eden Au Lac as IG insists although it's a better sounding name for the story) in that mystical time between deep sleep and awakening, when I heard my own voice say those words out loud. I woke up then and asked myself if I actually did say them out loud, and I came to the conclusion that I did. I pondered upon it and realised that it was a potential song title.

This is how I characterized it later to IG but we both came to the conclusion that it sounded like a drug song and it was promptly filed away under "drug songs - not to be used." (what clean living boys we were!)

Only later did it suggest itself as the vehicle by which we could tell the story of the fire. Even now, I've no idea where it came from but it's difficult not to start believing in some divine providence when one considers the subsequent history of the song.

All I know is that I have always listened to my random thoughts ever since.

Roger Glover email, 20 Aug 1996

Deep Purple themselves didn't seem to notice that the song had any potential, as they hardly played it live early in 1972, Never Before was chosen as the first single from the album in the UK. and an edited version of Lazy was chosen for the US. It wasn't until the following year, when a 1973 single consisting of two edits of Smoke on the Water (the studio version on side A and the Made in Japan version on the b-side) was released in the USA, that the song became the rock anthem it now is, vaulting Deep Purple among the world's biggest selling artists.

The events behind Smoke on the Water are also detailed in Ian Gillan's autobiography, "Child in Time:The Life of the Singer of Deep Purple".

Who's "Funky Claude"?

"Funky Claude" in the lyrics is Claude Nobs, who figured quite prominently in the events surrounding the song Smoke On The Water.

During the fire at the Casino, he rescued some concertgoers; as Ian Gillan writes in his autobiography, apparently a few kids had found an underground cellar to hide in what they thought would be safety. Unfortunately, smoke being heavier than air, they wound up being trapped there until Claude found them and led them out, hence the lyric "pulling kids out the ground".

Claude was also the man who found the Grand Hotel for them, and helped them throughout the making of Machine Head. There's a picture of him on the inner sleeve of the original gatefold LP release of the album, as well as in the 25th Anniversary CD reissue.

He's still involved with the Montreux Jazz Festival, and is considered to be one of the most important figures in the music business of the Swiss town.

Why does Ian say "Break a leg, Frank!"?

A week after the fiasco in Montreux, having had to cancel several shows while they scrounged up new gear, The Mothers Of Invention returned to the stage at the Rainbow in London for two nights of 2 shows each. However, at the end of the opening concert, a drunken fan knocked Zappa off the stage, and he broke his leg when he fell into the orchestra pit. Here's his account of the event:

At the end of the first show we went offstage and came back to do an encore. I think we played "I Want To Hold Your Hand". All I remember after that is waking up in the orchestra pit in pain. [..] The band thought i was dead. I had fallen 15 feet into a concrete-floored orchestra pit, my head was over on my shoulder, and my neck was bent like it was broken. I had a gash in my chin, a hole in the back of my head,a broken rib and a fractured leg. One arm was paralyzed.

In those days, I didn't carry a bodyguard; 'security' was supplied by the local promoters. [..] During the encore, they were off smoking reefer someplace. In their absence, a guy by the name of Trevor Howell had run up onto the stage, punched me and knocked me over into the pit.

He gave two stories to the press. One of them was that I had been 'making eyes at his girlfriend'. That wasn't true, since the orchestra pit was not only 15 feet deep but twice as wide, and the spotlight was in my face. I can't even see the audience in those situations -- it's like looking into a black hole. I never even saw the guy coming at me. He told another newspaper that he was pissed off because he felt we hadn't given him 'value for his money'. Choose your favorite story.

"The Real Frank Zappa Book", p.114

This unfortunate incident led to Ian Gillan dropping the comment "Break a leg, Frank!" near the ending of Smoke on the Water at a March 1972 concert recorded for the BBC, available on the EMI 2CD set Deep Purple in Concert. You can also hear him say it on the remastered version from "Machine Head - 25th Anniversary".

What's "Mary Long" about?

"Mary Long" refers to Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford. She was very active back in the late 60s/early 70s campaigning against sex, porn, drugs, and just about everything else. He was an advocate of leniency for prisoners, and became the target of much mockery for being "the prisoner's friend". Mary Whitehouse, in particular, is a household name in the UK synonymous with complaining about there being too much sex on television.

Who was Taliesyn?

The Book of Taliesyn was Deep Purple's second album, released in the USA in 1968. Many have wondered what or who Taliesyn was... Thanks to Colin Irwin, here's the scoop:

Probably the best known bard today is the sixth-century Welsh Taliesin, a contemporary of King Arthur


According to his legend the witch Ceridwen prepared a potion in her cauldron which had to simmer for a year, at the end of which time it would have boiled down to 3 drops which would convey the power of discerning the past, the present and the future on anyone who tasted them. To the witches dismay, these powerful drops bubbled out of her cauldron and landed on the finger of the lad whose job it was to tend the fire. Instinctively he put his finger into is mouth to ease his pain.

Realising what he had done and perceiving Ceridwens fury, the boy ran away, changing himself first into a hare, then into a fish, then into a bird and finally into a grain of wheat in an endeavour to put her off the track. In turn, she chased him in the forms of a greyhound, an otter and a hawk. Foiled in these guises, she became a hen and in that form she swallowed the grain of wheat. Thus she became pregnant with the spirit of the lad who had swallowed the 3 prophetic drops, and in time gave birth to him in the form of the poet, Taliesin.

His poems, collected in the medieval 'Book Of Taliesin' affirm him as a timeless being who has existed from the beginning and will live until Domesday.

"The Celtic Year", Shirley Toulson

Well, this sure ties in well with both the cover of the album, as well as the lyrics to the opening track Listen, Learn, Read On.

Another frequently asked question regarding this album while we're at it:

Did Jon Lord draw the cover for "The Book of Taliesyn"?

The album cover is NOT drawn by Jon Lord of Deep Purple; it's drawn by John Vernon Lord, who's a Professor of Arts at a British university. He says he probably got chosen because of the name. He's also illustrated several children's books. "Our" Jon's full name is Jon Douglas Lord.

Who is Alerik?

We haven't found out. Roger said it was Blackmore's song name, so that he didn't know; he seemed to remember a king Alerik from English history, but was uncertain. Another possible source is the Michael Moorcook-books, as I seem to have read a suggestion about Elric (the one with the sword named Stormbringer, y'know)'s father being called Alerik, i.e. the Son of Alerik is Elric himself. But this is highly unverified.

Whose voice do we hear talking at the beginning of "Cascades: I'm Not Your Lover"?

Jon Lord's. alt.music.deep-purple-contributor James Strange asked Roger Glover via e-mail, and got the following answer: "It is Jon. His lines are brilliant. They are total nonsense." And on amdp, Roger added "he's playing a drunken priest performing a wedding ceremony".

Why is "Don't Make Me Happy" in mono?

Here's Roger's explanation:

A fair question. Many have asked. Here is the reason:

These days we record onto digital tape (usually via analogue tape), then we mix down into a computer. Some time later, after having lived with the mixes and/or not listened to them in some time, we go into the mastering studio to do the final job - mastering, using the computer files (indulge me as I have a brief bout of nostalgia for tape; and, btw, had we had tapes we would not have been faced with this dilemma). This is the last point at which one has any control over anything.

We use the gifted Greg Calbi, an old friend who has worked with practically everyone in the business, and whose time is tight so the only day in which we have to do this is a precious one. Sometimes you have to wait months just to get a date with him. Our date arrived, we met in the Manhattan Masterdisc studio. All was going well until Don't Make Me Happy. The version that we needed to use (some have varying degrees of vocal levels, solos, bass, drums, keys etc.) had a horrible problem; one side was delayed to the other side. Thinking that this was a computer malfunction we manipulated the data so that it was back in sync, no easy task. However, it was now in mono, not stereo.

We could have rectified the problem by remixing the track from the original multi tracks but that would have meant delaying the album by about two months, thereby postponing the tour by at least the same amount of time. Or we could release in mono. Having made the decision to release it in mono, I had wanted to release future batches with the stereo mix but that would have created a false market in which hard core fans would not hesitate to buy two copies - the mono version and the stereo one. That would not have been fair so it was decided that since mono it has become - mono it shall stay. Maybe in 25 years we'll put out the stereo version."

A lesson learned. Good to know that I'm not too old to learn.

Is it true that Jimi Hendrix played with Deep Purple?

No. It is true, however, that Jon Lord played with Jimi. Here's the story as told by Jon:

Yes, it is true that I had a "Jam Session" with the divine Jim in or about the Spring of 1970 at a club in New York City called "Steve Paul's Scene Club." Jimi used to go there almost nightly as a matter of course when he was at home in NYC and one night I was sitting having a drink, when he came over and re-introduced himself - we had first met in 1968 in Los Angeles after the Cream/Deep Purple concert in Inglewood - and asked if I would play organ for a bit of a jam. It was with Stephen Stills on bass and Buddy Miles on drums and Dave Mason on sax. Afterwards he asked if I'd be there the next night, and if so would I like to do it again. I did, and it was equally enjoyable - two great and memorable (for me at least) nights. I said goodnight and "see ya" to him after that second night, but sadly I never saw him again.

Who publishes Ian's autobiography?

Ian Gillan's Autobiography Nobody, unfortunately -- it's out of print. Is the book worth tracking down? Well, if you're a Deep Purple fan, and a fan of the Mark 2 lineup, this book is well worth the effort! Thoroughly enjoyable, lots of good stories, fun to read. It also sheds a lot of light on the "inside" life in Deep Purple. The sections from his Black Sabbath days are also highly amusing!

Where is Rosas Cantina?

Well, there have been several candidates proposed over the years; for instance, there's a Mexican restaurant on Strøget in Copenhagen that used to be called "Rosas Cantina" (but now just is called "Mama Rosas"), or the Rosa's Cantina in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where they make fishbowl-size margaritas. However, the inspiration for the song is actually a cafe on the Algarve coast in Portugal, Ian Gillan's second home.

Is the score for Jon Lord's Concerto For Group And Orchestra available?

For the longest time, the answer to this question was no -- soon after the inaugural performances of the piece (the premiere at London's Royal Albert Hall, and a followup concert at Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl), the score was lost. It wasn't until nearly 30 years later that an enterprising Dutch music student, Marco de Goeij, who had spent two years armed with the recording and video appeared with a reconstituted score and presented it to Jon Lord for comment and corrections. Together with Paul Mann, the three of them tinkered and prodded until the Concerto score was deemed ready for public consumption again. This occurred nearly 30 years to the day in the same venue, the Royal Albert Hall, as part of two concerts put on for the Nordoff Robbins charities. Numerous performances on the subsequent tour helped point out minor revisons that were needed, resulting in the score we have today. Although it isn't yet published in folio form, Paul Mann has told us that

All the material for the concerto is currently in Australia in preparation for performances there [in Februrary]. After we get back from those performances, it will be revised one final time, and then published. We hope then to be able to make it available for the many other orchestras who have expressed an interest in playing it. At that point, access to the material will be controlled through a publisher. We'll make those details available when we know who that will be.

Anyone who would like to perform the work or simply study the score should contact me at PaulMann6@aol.com. I will keep a list of people to contact as soon as it becomes generally available.

Paul Mann email, 24 Jan 2002

You can read Paul Mann's account of the Concerto restoration and subsequent tour on The Highway Star.

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