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David, there’s no band to leave

Ultimate Classic Rock has a decent writeup on the demise of Deep Purple Mk.4 that happened 45 years ago. It is not very likely that any of our regulars will learn anything new from there, but it’s well sourced and well written.

Pieces started falling off long before Deep Purple finally came crashing down in the ’70s.

First Ian Gillan and Roger Glover split, replaced by the more R&B-leaning David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes in 1973. Then the ill-fated guitarist Tommy Bolin took over for Ritchie Blackmore, and Deep Purple descended into malaise and addiction. Coverdale finally grew weary of it all and quit in 1976, only to be told that the group had already broken up. “A lot of drugs and alcohol were rearing their ugly heads,” Coverdale said in 2015’s Sail Away: Whitesnake’s Fantastic Voyage, “and there was a great deal of disrespect for the legacy of Deep Purple, which I still maintain.”

Coverdale had been plucked from obscurity by Blackmore, who immediately paired him with a more experienced second voice in the bass-playing Hughes. In fact, Coverdale’s first time in a studio was with Deep Purple, in sessions for 1974’s Burn.

“I got this opportunity and was literally, no pun intended, being thrown in the deep end,” Coverdale told Jeb Wright in 2015. “Thank God I swam, but it was with the help of those guys. The five ego maniacs fighting for a spotlight came later.”

Continue reading in Ultimate Classic Rock.

Thanks to Gary Poronovich for the heads up.

11 Comments to “David, there’s no band to leave”:

  1. 1
    Adel Faragalla says:

    The band was finished live as the guitarist and the bass/singer were on drugs. Ian, Jon and David were supurb and firing on all cylinders. The set list was so rich and diverse so musically the band was great and the crowds were Turing up in thousands.
    I blame the drugs full stop.

  2. 2
    John M. says:

    The writing was on the wall after Bolin’s heroin problem surfaced in Japan, which was just over a week after bodyguard Patsy Collins’ death in Indonesia. The antics on the US tour pretty much finished the band off and the only reason they did the UK tour was that the contracts were already signed off. The proposed European tour beginning in Germany was abandoned until the split then became official in July.

  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    I remember reading the NME interview with Coverdale in 1976, drugs weren’t mentioned of course, but there were accusations of Tommy and Glenn “sending up Purple’s music on stage”, whatever that meant. Compared to dark and moody, macho Ritchie, Tommy was effeminate on stage, but that was just his personality, I don’t think he was actually trying to mock anyone. And the live versions I know of Getting Tighter sound anything but uninspired, 20 minutes of improvisation, albeit perhaps closer to what the Red Hot Chilli Peppers did decades later than to the early 70ies improvisation orgies of Mk II.

    I have doubts whether DP would have survived the late 70ies even if you take drugs and the Ritchie-Tommy succession out of the equation. There had been a seismic change, the music of the dawning 80ies would have a less virtuoso focus (always a Purple strength) and put more emphasis on shorter songs with snappy choruses – neither of which were really Purple’s forte. Purple’s audience would have continued to dwindle, and I don’t believe they would have accepted that, they were commercially spoiled after all.

    And it is telling that neither Rainbow, nor Gillan nor pre-1987 Whitesnake ever came close to Purple’s public or commercial recognition in the aftermath. If Purple would have left a commercial void in 1976, you would have thought that any one of those bands would have picked up the torch, but that didn’t happen. Rainbow, Gillan and Whitesnake all struggled in the late 70ies to early 80ies to even approximate DP’s early 70ies impact. For better or worse, Purple’s style and concept of music making was very much rooted in the late 60ies and early 70ies and they weren’t David Bowie who would shed his skin every few years and absorb new musical and cultural influences to stay current and relevant.

    But I wouldn’t want DP any different! A dinosaur they are, but one with longevity. : – )

  4. 4
    MacGregor says:

    Many rock music artists most inspiring work seems to emanate from their first 5 years or so. DP were no exception & Blackmore was well positioned in 1974 for that transition to the next phase of his musical life. DP, Sabbath, King Crimson, Yes, ELP, The Moody Blues, Tull, Zeppelin & Floyd produced their most creative music in that first earlier period of their existence. There are many more I could mention. Sure some kicked on after a break, Tull were majestic mid to late 70’s, Yes sort of enjoyed a nice return 1977/78, Sabbath hung around too long, ELP ‘Love Beach’ no thanks. Robert Fripp had the insight to disband Crimson in 1974 because he could see & hear what was happening no doubt. David Bowie indeed & the ever changing door was always spinning & why not? Purple as Jon Lord said, should have pulled the pin when Blackmore left, it was a sign if ever there was one. Cheers.

  5. 5
    stoffer says:

    @1,2,3 & 4 all excellent points/facts/reads/opinions
    I filled the 1976 void with mostly Rainbow but enjoyed PAL, Whitesnake, IGB and although CTTB was never my favorite I was looking forward to seeing Bolin in St Louis (backing up Styx I think? not sure) before his passing. I found his solo work much more inspiring! But thank goodness for ‘The Reunion’ in ’85 and DP for adding Joe Satriani, Steve Morse and Don Airey in helping keep the legend alive and now VERY relevant again! As for the RRHOF it was a once in a lifetime opportunity lost, at least management could have let DC and Glenn have a cameo on Smoke?!

  6. 6
    al says:

    @ 5

    not to open that can of worms about RRHOF but that was a big fuck up from the Current Deep Purple Management. Gillan said that Blackmore was invited but I don’t believe a word he says. this is like” you can come but we don’t want you”.Trying to pin on Ritchie’s difficult character and all. cmon.

    I don’t matter anymore as everybody has moved on

  7. 7
    Tommy H. says:


    I don’t buy that the management is to blame for what happened. If the band (or Gillan for that matter) really wanted Ritchie to join them on stage then why should the management intervene?! The same goes for Glenn and David who weren’t invited to go on stage with DP either. Still, the interviews given afterwards by the lads themselves are at least to some degree revealing. Anyway, who cares at this time around …


    Spot on.

  8. 8
    Eitablepanties says:

    Deep Purple should have keep Rod Evans. They would most likely be bigger then Neil Diamond.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    The problem with Rod Evans was that he actually WAS a bit like Neil Diamond!!! This with all due respect to both of them, I’m a Neil Diamond fan, but he wasn’t cut out to front Deep Purple. ; – )

    And Rod was neither musically


    nor visually too far away from Herr Diamond:


    I like Rod’s voice, but he was a crooner, not a rock singer.

  10. 10
    Henrik Henriksen says:

    -It would be great, if new stuff from the classic period 1968-1976 wad released!

  11. 11
    Mark sherratt says:

    I still listen to all the Mk.2 Purple and Rainbow. It has lasted. When will Gillan retire? Sorry but he can’t sing any more. Regards Mark

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