[% META title = 'Roger Glover, Interviews' %]

Roger Glover -

Deep Purple Dossier

Deep Purple: the band of the clashing egos. From the very beginning of their career Deep Purple was tormented by loud and publicly fought arguments and the resulting line-up changes. Last year the legendary Mark II line-up was scraped together again, not for the first time. However, the CD "The Battle Rages on..." as well as the following tour were artistically disappointing. After the gig in Ahoy Rotterdam, last October, I sincerely hoped that the men would keep their fate in their own hand and quit. But no, Deep Purple turns out to be a beast with many lives. Late last year, founder guitarist Ritchie Blackmore left and was succeeded by the much younger Joe Satriani. In an exclusive interview for Aardschok, bass player Roger Glover (48) explains that this change of guard fanned the holy fire to old heights.

It's one hour before the concert in Den Bosch, when I get to meet Glover face to face. We're sitting at a table in the backstage area, while in the distance Uriah Heep are working their way through their 'greatest hits' set. Although the place is teeming with roadies Glover personally strides through the enormous room to retrieve some drinks. He is kindness personified and - as would become apparent during the interview- very frank about his countless painful experiences. He speaks with the calm of a man who has seen and lived through it all -and he probably has- and fills his story with understatements like only an Englishman can.

As a gift and a warm-up to the interview, I give him the "Fireball" EP by US thrashers Wargasm. Not only is it a perfectly executed cover version, the guys have done a great job at copying the sleave of the legendary Deep Purple album. Glover laughs spontaneously.

"This looks good! I'm really interested to hear what they've made of it. I hope their version is better than ours, because that one could have been a lot better. If you see those guys again, thank them for me!"

The ice has been broken. I remind Glover of the Rotterdam performance. Especially during the encore messrs. Blackmore and Gillan were practically at each other's throats. An exceptionally embarrassing scene, particularly in the case of such a living legend.

"I remember the performance well" Glover confirms. "Indeed it wasn't very good. [I have to say that not only wasn't mr. Haagsma at the same concert I went to, but neither, apparently, was mr. Glover:-) --RD]. We've recorded a number of shows, among which was the one in Rotterdam. We've also video- taped a show in Birmingham. That was the worst of the entire tour...we'd originally decided to piece together a live album. I don't think we'll see that one."

The problems lay especially in the relationship between Gillan and Blackmore...

"Those two have not been very partial to one another for years, everyone knows that. It was purely a marriage of convenience, but even that one didn't last. The result wa that Ritchie started pestering, particularly Ian, and especially in front of the audiences. You know every musician makes mistakes during a gig. That's not a problem, it happens to the best of us. What's important is that as colleagues you cover for each other so that the songs don't go to pieces. Because of the stress Ian occasionally tended to forget a few words. Noone would notice, normally, but Ritchie refused to cover for him, causing painful holes to appear in the songs. Very childish! It was a thoroughly painful experience for us all.

With some bitterness Glover relates how Blackmore disappeared from sight.

"It didn't take us long to find out last year that Ritchie was looking for an excuse to scarper. I called him in Rotterdam and asked: `Ritchie, after the european tour we have to go to Japan. Will you still be with us?' And he just said: `No!' I explained to him that we would be sued by our Japanese tourpromotor. Naturally! Because the man would lose a fortune. We would have to get that back from Ritchie, also through the court. I put this nightmare scenario to him: how a band like Deep Purple would go down in lawsuits. To my regret he could not be argued with. One of the last times we saw him, he tore up his Japanese visa before our eyes and single-handedly sacked all the roadies."

Roger Glover is calm as he tells this, but his voice and his face betray how difficult this still is for him. He doesn't know the answer to my `how-and-why', even though he has known Blackmore in Deep Purple and Rainbow.

"I don't know, I don't know", he sighs, shaking his head. "Let me make it clear that I don't want to make light of his reputation as a guitar virtuoso. He is one of the best in the world and will remain one. But Ritchie is a troubled man. His life is ruined by something and I don't think anyone quite knows what. Maybe he doesn't, either. The result is that he constantly doubts the purpose to the things he's involved in, as was the case last year with Deep Purple.

Besides, he's got some difficult traits. He always wants to have his way, and has grown accustomed through the years to getting it. That's difficult in a band. You often have to compromise, and if your personality cannot cope with that, you've got a major problem."

Communication, Glover continues, was the main problem.

"He's built up a wall around himself. Especially towards us. He only communicated through his managers and roadies. Although...communicating... usually he put us before an accomplished fact and uttered threats if he didn't seem to be getting his way. It's a very strange feeling. I've worked with him for 25 years, in Deep Purple as well as in Rainbow. And not only as a bassist, but also as a producer. And yet I feel as if I don't know him at all.

"Well, at the moment Ritchie tore his visa into very small pieces, we had a major problem, obviously. We contacted that Japanese promotor and put the whole affair to him. His response was: `Listen, I only want the band around here if you bring in a world class guitarist.' He gave us two names that would satisfy him: Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani. I then called Jeff," -he smiles- "who politely but decidedly said `thanks for the honour but no.' I'd seen Satriani play a while befor in England. I called him and said: `listen, I've seen you and you know what I think? You need an good band!'"

Roger looks at me with a broad grin, takes a large sip of Vodka and continues:

"I went on with: `and you know what? We need a good guitarist now!' I think this approach went down well with Joe. In any case he had to laugh and let me know that he was well disposed to it. I sent him a live tape and made an appointment to rehearse with the band. We then booked a studio in Japan. I first spent half a day in a pub with Satriani. Of course I didn't have the faintest idea what kind of guy he was. Everything went smoothly after that. He is simply very friendly and exceptionally professional. After that I introduced him to the other musicians. Initially there was this really polite athmosphere, a bit distant really. Then I just put the cat among the pigeons and suggested to run through the entire live set. Naturally we began with 'Highway Star' and immediately our ears practically fell off our heads! My Goodness! This bloke played with a precision that I hadn't heard in years. Not from Ritchie at least. He always departed from the solos that were on the albums, and usually the change wasn't an improvement. This Satriani had simply returned to basics, and that was a joy to hear. Now that he's been in the band for a while he's given a bit more of his own twist to them, that's obvious. We intended to rehearse for a day or three, four. After this introduction we could have just walked onto the stage... honest! We've used the time to rehearse a few new songs, so that we can change the set on a regular basis."

Which brings the tale back to Blackmore's domineering.

"Ritchie decided what we'd play. With the exception of the new material this meant that the setlist had hardly changed. He stuck to that with an iron hand!"

The arrival of Joe Satriani reanimated the faltering legend.

"We're all very enthusiastic. I walk onto the stage with great pleasure every day to do a gig. It is wonderful to be a member of this band again. We get along excellently with each other and concentrate fully on the music. It is great to see smiling faces around me when we're playing live again. Including when I look over my left shoulder. Previously I would be looking at Ritchie's long face, and now I see Joe's broad grin. Phantastic! At one time I asked Joe: `Hey, would you mind if during a gig I walked onto your side of the stage?' Joe was gobsmacked: `Yeah, of course!' Imagine how you can get conditioned through the years. I was never allowed on Ritchie's half of the stage!"

The obvious question is of course whether this team of musicians will go into the studio. Roger is very reticent when I put this question to him:

"There's nothing I'd rather do. I've spent a few weeks in Spain with Ian Gillan recently. Those were very productive days, because it resulted in a large pile of new songs. Before we put that on record there will be some legal matters to settle. The most important matter is that Joe is under contract with Sony as a solo artist. That company wants to be able to release a record in its time. All this has to be worked out. But to me there's no doubt there will be a new album in due course, preferably with Satriani!"

Glover no longer has any contact with ex-colleague Blackmore.

"I know he's putting a band together and holding auditions. I don't know any details. I wish him all the best. Honest!"

Glover was not only known as the bass player in Deep Purple and Rainbow, but also showed his merit as a producer. And not only of the above-mentioned bands but also of groups like Elf and The Pretty Maids. Wasn't the call of this distinguished profession the reason for his departure from Purple in 1973?

"Oh well, that's how it ended up in the books and magazines," says Roger with a bitter-sweet smile, "but I was simply kicked out of the group by Blackmore. He thought the band needed some fresh blood. He fired me for that reason and added that I shouldn't take it personally. Well, that's Ritchie. We had just got a period behind us when we were enormously popular. I then fell into a really deep hole. To get through the depression I started working like a madman, on things like my first solo album ('The Butterfly Ball' from 1974 -RH). Years later, Ritchie asked me to produce his Rainbow albums. That was, as I interpreted it, his way to communicate to me that he'd taken a wrong decision. This idea was even emphasised when he asked me to join Rainbow." With a wry smile: "I recently realised that Ritchie is involved in every change in my life. Over every milestone, his shadow looms large."

In the troublesome nineties Deep Purple released two CDs: "Slaves and Masters" (1990) and "The Battle Rages on". I asked Roger to comment briefly on those releases.

"Slaves and Masters" has its moments, but the collaboration with Joe Lynn Turner was no success. The record came into being with quite a few problems and I don't have very fond memories of the tour that followed. Eventually, further collaboration with him was impossible. I like "The Battle Rages On" better. This album did not get made without its problems either, but there are some very good songs on it. I feel most critics have been too harsh in their judgement!"

Speaking of harsh critics: in 1988, Roger Glover released a CD with Ian Gillan under the title "Accidentally on Purpose". The reviewers dipped their pens in vinegar to put their harsh judgements on the poppy album to paper. Glover, naturally, begs to differ:

"It's a very spontaneous record which we had a great deal of pleasure making. Those were very troubled times as well and this job was like a kind of holiday. Of course it differs greatly from the Deep Purple sound, but there is a lot of quality on it. Unfortunately the CD didn't sell very well. Neither did "Mask" (1984-RH), a solo album about which the critics *were* very enthusiastic. I don't worry about it at all. I do projects like that for fun and not for commercial success!"

As I mentioned at the start of this 'dossier' Deep Purple's career hasn't been a bed of roses. At the end of the conversation I asked Roger whether he never felt that the credibility of the band had been messed around with. He gives an honest answer:

"You know what's the problem? We're only five mere mortals. But the five of us form Deep Purple; a phenomenon far greater than the sum of us as persons. That makes things extra difficult, because you keep grappling with the notion of 'credibility'. Sure, when we fired Gillan and hired Joe Lynn Turner we knew that the critics would be at our throats. Not unjustifiably. Then Gillan told everyone who wanted to know that he would rather slit his throat than return to Deep Purple. And then to top it all he is dragged back in. And now Blackmore being replaced by Satriani....you know, the only thing that counts for me is the quality of the music. I think you can mess with a lot, but in the end you will be judged on the basis of your music. And it's precisely in that respect that the band is stronger than ever. That's why I'm confident about the future. We've been through a lot, why not go on with this as well?"

During the last minutes of the interview the bass roadie, Rogers bass in hands, scuttles impatiently around our table. Uriah Heep havee now left the stage and it's Deep Purple's turn now. With a sincere "Enjoy the show!" Glover hurries to the hall accompanied by his colleagues . The show is typified by a sincere enjoyment of making music, and the set contained a few surprises. During the entire interview Glover emphasised that he is so content with the new situation. He could not have illustrated this better than with this performancein the Brabanthallen!

Robert Haagsma

From: Aardschok, 8/9 1994

Interview translated by s0499528@let.rug.nl (Reinder Dijkhuis).