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DP & the world 1980

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And Now for Something Totally Bogus!

It's 1980. I'm still living in a Deep Purple vacuum since my favorite band "packed it in" in 1976. Yes, I still had all their albums - and the memories from my sole live experience on Nov. 7th, 1972 - but it now looked as if I were never to see the "Fantastic Five" live on the same stage together, ever again. Like all fans of the band, I lived through the line-up changes in '73 and '75. Although Mark III was missing something, and Mark IV was missing someone, both incarnations served up enough music to keep me happy, for the most part. Cancellations flourished, and I never ended up with anything more than a couple of unused concert tickets and feelings of "Not again!!" since that cold, rainy Tuesday night in 1972. Rainbow on July 20th, 1976 in the St. Denis Theatre, Montreal, wasn't a bad consolation prize, though :-). [The day Nadia Comenici got her 'Perfect 10' and a venue that would ultimately see Deep Purple play 20 years later!]

At the time, there was only one radio station any self-respecting, serious, hard rock aficionado would listen to in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. CHOM-FM (pronounced SHOME). This station broadcast from Greene Street in Montreal, Quebec and was only received in Ottawa via cable (or one big "honker" of an FM antenna). It certainly was staple listening in my household for years.

[As an aside - For those of you that know of him, Daniel Richler used to be a DJ at CHOM in the early 70's, and was actually the person who introduced DP at the Nov. '72 Montreal Forum show. He also did a lengthy TV spot for MTV on the '85 Reunion from NYC.]

I rarely missed "Electric Lunch Hour" and/or "The Drive at Five," as they offered the latest, and most complete band and concert news. CHOM's play list was dynamite - serving up lots of DP - and even featured Mike Harding's "The Sounds of the Seventies," from which I had DP's performance indelibly stamped in my reel-to-reel collection [This later became the second half of In Concert 70/72]. Ottawa stations were still somewhat stodgy, or filling the appetite of the trucker or teeny-bopper. CKCU, a local Carleton University, student-run station was what you'd make do with in your vehicle, but nothing could hold a (Burn) candle to the fine folks at CHOM.

I remember this like it was yesterday!
One night in June '80 - a Thursday, I believe - I was in the rec room of our house on Tweedsmuir Ave. when I heard it!

The show was, "The Drive at Five," which ran till 6 pm. I was casually listening to the show when they said that they had received the line-up for the August "Les Murs des Sons" (The Walls of Sounds) festival in Quebec City. In the middle of a staggering list of bands - most I'd never heard of - DJ Benoit Dufresne (Pronounced, Benwah Doofrain) says to partner Colleen Troy,
"And take a look at this. On August 13th and 14th, at the Capitol Theatre, Corbeau and DeeeEEp Purple!?"
[At which point I nearly choked to death on whatever it was I was having for dinner, and listened intently, somewhat in disbelief!] The banter continued...

Benoit: "Deep Purple? I didn't know that Deep Purple were back together. Isn't Ritchie Blackmore's band, Rainbow still touring?"
Colleen: "Well, I thought it was, but you know, these Deep Purple rumours have been surfacing for years, almost since they split up in 1976, and after the untimely death of Tommy Bolin, there were strong indications that Blackmore was going to rejoin the band, along with Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. I guess it must have happened, but I'm surprised this is the first we've heard of it."
Benoit: "Me too. In any event they will playing at the Capitol Theatre in Quebec City on August 13th and 14th, and tickets go on sale this Saturday at all Ticketron outlets."
Colleen: "So all you Deep Purple fans out there. Best get in line early as these are sure to sell quickly. I might even check this out myself, Ben!"
Benoit: "For sure! Other bands listed for the festival include... Yada, yada."

Running, no, bolting up the stairs, yelling - my poor wife, Line, must have thought that someone had just gotten shot or something - but, I guess I had the face of a kid in a candy store as I told her the news. She was really happy and we wallowed in a purple glow for a few minutes - until reality set in.

First of all, we weren't the richest of folk in those days. A road trip to Quebec City, some 300 miles away was a big event then, plus we had a 2-year-old son that had to be accounted for. Line said, "Well, we'll just take him to the concerts with us." Nice sentiment, but I wasn't so sure that was a good idea. The timing was good, for a change, though. We had to go to Nova Scotia for a family get-together in August and the DP dates fit right in with our planned return to Ottawa. Instead of taking our usual route, via ferry to the US, we'd drive around N.S., up through P.E.I., New Brunswick and hit Quebec City on the way back. Too simple. But we had to get tickets first.

I called my brother Dan, who was traveling down east with us, to see if he wanted to go. He had two choices - go to the concert or baby-sit. He, like Line, and the rest of my buddies, had suffered through 8 years of constant raving from me about how good this band really was live. He assured me he was not going to miss it! I called a couple of other friends that I knew would surely want to go. Of course, there was no hesitation on their part, either. As long as we could get 5 tickets for the shows, and they could make their own way to the venue, we'd be all set. We'd meet them there. The baby-sitting thing would have to be sorted out, somehow, later on.

Along came Saturday, after an excruciating wait. A beautiful, bright, sunny morning. The tix went on sale at 10 am. I picked Dan up and we proceeded to Catherine Street. I don't quite remember whether I didn't have a VISA card, or whether you just couldn't phone in a Ticketron order in those days. Likely the latter. Ticketron was a Montreal-based agency [forerunner to Admission] and the only Ottawa outlet was at the "Voyageur Colonial" bus station. Bass Clef Entertainment outlets looked after the Ontario scene back then.

We got there around 8 a.m.! I couldn't believe it. There was no one there! No line-up. Not a soul! At the very worst, we were first in line. We looked at the concert listings beside the ticket outlet and sure enough, there were two dates listed for Deep Purple in Quebec City. The odd person came and went, purchasing tickets for other events. Not one asked about the DP shows. [Thank you CHOM (for letting me know); thank you Ottawa (for being a stodgy, stick-in-the-mud city); thank you God (for letting us get here)]. Finally, it was 10 a.m. and the nice fellow at the ticket outlet had long been under instruction to punch up 5 tix for both shows on the dot of 10 - which he did. I paid the man, $12.00 per ticket [A fair whack of cash, back then] and off we trod back home with unstoppable grins - looking at the tickets, still disbelieving the name on them.

Some times you get a 6th sense for things about to go wrong. I found it increasingly strange, as time passed, that there wasn't more information coming forth from CHOM, nor anywhere else about Purple. No interviews, no tour reviews. No bus packages to the concert. DP has a huge fan base in Montreal. Always had. Surely, I wasn't the only guy that thought this was BIG news. However, other than the odd day mentioning the concert dates, there was nothing of note being revealed. [Not even a mention of Rainbow's Castle Donnington "Monsters of Rock" appearance that was about to happen the day after the 2nd show. That would have sparked some serious investigation.] I didn't know the size of the venue, but it sounded pretty small for an act like DP. After all, they had no problem filling The Forum in 1972. Also, the fact that the show fell on the 13th was cause for concern, especially knowing Ritchie's past antics. Good thing it wasn't a Friday.

August arrived. We did the Nova Scotia thing. On our return, tent trailer in tow, we stopped for the night in Moncton, N.B. in order that we get a good, early start toward Quebec City in the morning. Anticipation loomed real big now. We arrived at the KOA Campground in Levis, Quebec, [which is directly across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City] about 2 pm on the 13th. I remember it being a very hot day. It was overcast, but deadly humid. We set up camp, and as I usually do, went straight off to find the venue so there would be no problem later that night - and possibly catch the band at sound check. We found the Capitol Theatre. [I'm no longer certain of the address, but I believe it was on Boul. Charest, Est., or close to that] and Deep Purple and Corbeau are on the marquis, along with a large version of the festival flyer we received with our tickets, in the poster window. I thought, "Yes! I guess this really is going to happen!" There was no picture of the band, though (that I saw). And no sound check going on. The doors were locked.

We returned to the trailer and ate. By this time, my buddy Jeff had arrive with his wife, who had come along for the ride and was a country music fan, and really didn't want anything to do with Deep Purple. Great! Baby-sitting problem solved! We went back to the venue around 6 pm. Man, it was hot! For whatever reason, I hadn't brought my camera along, even in the afternoon. It was probably packed away and not easy to get at. [I still regret that to this day - for historical purposes.]

Corbeau was due on at 7:30 or 8 pm and Deep Purple were supposed to hit the stage around 9:15. Once we got inside, I saw the first concrete indication that something was amiss. The drum kit at the rear of the stage was a Rogers kit - not Ludwig, nor silver sparkle - and it was aligned for a right-handed player! Right away that told me that Ian Paice wasn't with them - the man I came to see! You can change brands, but you're not going to change how you play, especially your dominant side! Corbeau was okay from what I remember, but I wasn't there for them. It had been a long day and we were all hot, from waiting in line, and it was extremely warm in the venue. The crowd was pretty antsy. A lot them quenching their thirst with liquids other than water. [This was Quebec, after all, where you could buy beer and wine in the local "dépanneur" and you didn't have the "beer police" like we did (and still do) in Ontario].

There was an extremely long delay between bands. Everything equipment-wise wasn't adding up, right to the placement of microphones. The crowd was getting miffed at the delay and around 11:15 pm, out trod this bunch of guys - who knows who? I didn't even recognize the only guy that could possibly even use the name Deep Purple - Rod Evans. One guy looked like a little Leprechaun. This was a total sham! The guitarist was trying to look like Blackmore, all in black, but it was obvious to Line and I that it wasn't Ritchie - and that's without playing! He looked more like Coverdale than Ritchie, but it didn't take rocket science to figure out it obviously wasn't him either!

No Jon, no Roger, no Ians, no David, no Glenn! Who the Hell are these guys? Then the "music" started amidst a horrendous sound system. There are garage bands that could do a better rendition of "Highway Star" than these blokes were trying to pawn off on us. We were so totally disappointed and let down - not to mention mad! I can't remember whether our tix were Reserved Seating or General Admission [I have one around here still, somewhere], but in any event, we ended up with fantastic seats - 2nd row - and this made us even more disappointed. They tried "Hush" - nothing to write home about! One final, faint recollection is of a feeble attempt at "Might Just Take Your Life." They may have tried to play something else, but I was well past the point of caring by then and the crowd was well up in arms by this time, too. The bottles and God-knows-what started flying all over the place. Right where we were standing, they began to rip the seats out of the floor. That was it! We high-tailed it out of the place. People started leaving in droves, dodging projectiles in the process.

Outside, the crowd was still on a tangent, but nowhere near like inside. Almost like a sad end to the proceedings, it was now even raining as the clouds let loose with the humidity they had gathered during the hot, humid day. We stayed for a bit, but the police showed up to quell the disturbance. I have a vested interest in not being a "found-in" at such things [I wanted to keep my job], so we left hastily. Pick the adjective. You're probably right!

Now here is where I have to offer an apology to readers. There are a few things that don't add up with the physical evidence I have regarding this whole sordid affair. Firstly, all the newspaper articles, with one exception, are dated the 13th of August. I know these were morning editions, so this hints that the first show was actually moved a day ahead. I have no recollection of this, or of having to adjust my vacation schedule to accommodate it - it's a long time ago, but I'm sure I'd remember that. Secondly, I have read reports of a second show being held on the 14th. This may be true, but I know for a fact that the show for the next night was cancelled. This second show would have then been spaced a day apart from the first one in order to clean up the mess. However, I highly doubt it. Les Murs des Sons was taking great heat for this fiasco. [Speaking of abuse, you can imagine all the abuse I took from my buddies after hauling them down to Quebec City for this charade! It still gets brought up whenever they come to visit... What can I say? All in the name of Rock 'n Roll.]

In any event... There was no way that we were going to attend the next night's festivities! In the morning we proceeded back to the venue to try and get our money back. It was cold and still raining, but more like a Scotch mist. By now, all the windows were boarded up and there were barricades and police scene tape ["Do Not Cross" en Français] all over the place. The door was unlocked so I went inside and peeked into the theatre. It looked like a war zone. I found an employee to see how I could go about getting my money back - all of it. She gave me a phone number to call.

Following dozens of phone calls, most of which Line had to accomplish in French, we got an address to go to. A lengthy search, but we finally found a ticket outlet in some small café in Sainte Foy that gave us our money back for all 10 tickets. I was able to keep one for a reminder, thanks to Line and her mastery of "Franglais." We picked up a couple of newspapers to read all about the previous night's happenings. As is with Quebec City, there was nothing available in English. It wasn't until then that we discovered this "New Deep Purple" façade. Neither our tickets, the festival flyer, nor the billboard at the venue mentioned, "The New Deep Purple." It was simply Deep Purple on anything we had, heard or saw. For all of us, a sad end to a rather nice holiday.

Back at home, again following CHOM and the music press, we were somewhat comforted to find that Mr. Evans & Co. had been slapped with a "cease and desist" order and he, himself, paid dearly for the "crime" with his royalties [even more-so today]. Possibly, a lot more humane punishment than the fans in Quebec City were aptly willing to dish out on August 13th. Actually, the newspapers we picked up mentioned the lawsuit, etc. [Another reason why I doubt a second show was a reality]. Too little, too late.

Little did I know that just over 4 years later there would be similar, but guarded euphoria to June 1980. This time it would leave NO doubt that it was happening and that the REAL - not the "New" - Deep Purple had really stood up! Thanks for all the great music and times since!

With today's technology, The Web, and dedicated web editors like those responsible for pages like The Highway Star, it's reassuring to know that an occurrence such as this debacle could never, ever happen again.

Jim Corrigan
April 1st, 2000. (apro po for this story)

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