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Regret never changes anything

A vintage interview with Roger Glover, originally published in an issue of New Musical Express from February 12, 1972. He talks about Gillan’s illness that cancelled the US tour towards the end of the previous year, recording a new album in Switzerland, how it compares to Fireball, financials of the band, and the creative process:

Why write most of your numbers actually in the Studio. Surely it must work out expensive.

“When we make an album we`ve got to be happy and relaxed, and if you`ve got hassles of getting equipment in from a rehearsal room, it doesn`t help. It`s worth the extra money we spend in studio time, just to be able to avoid the hassles.”

Is it always a joint group venture, writing a number?

“Officially it`s a five-way split when we write, but different people contribute different things to different songs. We know who wrote what, but I don`t think it`s apparent to the listener.
“For example, `Fireball` was written mainly by Richie, John and Ian. The basic ideas usually stem from Richie and myself.
“On the new album I got most of my ideas during the four weeks off, just because I was able to take time off and listen to some music and also drive around in my car and relax.
On the lyrics side, sometimes Ian Gillan will do them on his own, or we`ll get together. With one particular track on the new album, `Smoke on the water`, that particular phrase just came to me. My first thought was to write it myself as a folk song.
“I mentioned the idea to Ian, and no more was said until we came to write the lyrics of a song in the studio. So that`s how that number came about.”

Isn`t it annoying, for those of you who contribute more than others`, to still have this five-way-split on the songwriting side?

“Sometimes I feel I`d like more credit for some of the stuff I do, but the decision to split it five ways was made ages ago before “Deep Purple In Rock.”
That`s because our music is basically the result of a jam session. I think it avoids friction this way, though I can`t say it won`t in the future. As soon as money comes into it, people change. Some for the better – some for the worse.”

Read more in My Things – Music history for those who are able to read.

Thanks to Geir Myklebust for transcribing the interview, and to Uwe Hornung for bringing it to your attention.

23 Comments to “Regret never changes anything”:

  1. 1
    Gregster says:

    Good article imo.

    The five-way equal split of income generated is a good one. And playing together so everyone works-out the tune at the same time is also a bonus, as the material develops organically, with no-one playing catch-up.

    A good retrospective look at the albums so-far-made is interesting too, & likely the method realized contributes to why WDWTWA turned out so excellent, regardless of internal trivia that set-in. And it seems that RG indicates that the apples-can-fall-off-the-cart at any moment, regardless.

    Good post !

    Peace !

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Jon Lord:

    “What we irretrievably lost after Mk II was the ability to communicate. Ritchie was the first one to say ‘he who writes gets’ – I thought that a mistake and that is not economic sour grapes. The band just worked better as a unit when we split everything five-ways.”

    Jon was right, especially with a band like Purple where the trademark sound and the virtuoso execution was/is as important as the original song idea. And it’s not like Jon was too lazy to write for DP, his solo albums shows how prolific he was, the Concerto ample evidence how he could knuckle down to it even under great pressure. He just couldn’t write guitar riff oriented music (and there really was no need to, Ritchie had that base covered) plus the willingness of the other Purple guys to play Jon’s stuff was limited in any case. But when he did write for Purple (—> Anthem, —> April —> This Time Around), the results were always rewarding.

    For obvious reasons, Litte Ian couldn’t contribute chords, harmonies or melodies to the songwriting process, but one listen to all Rainbow line-ups (with the exception of the first one that only recorded) and Cozy Powell-era Whitesnake tells you how irreplaceable/hard to get a rock drummer with real Big Band swing is. Or as a drummer once confided to me: “Any drummer can pick out a little from Bonham’s style and replicate it – never as good as the original, but enough to make people recognize it and smile. It’s really difficult to copy Ian Paice in comparison because he is that weird mix of technically ambitious, even show-offy drumming, yet delivered with great musical feel and that uncanny Big Band swing most of us didn’t grow up with anymore.”

    And there the drum sticks must rest.

    PS: Allowances for the usual ensuing catcalls from Herr MacGregor will have to be made of course! This guy can never keep quiet …

  3. 3
    MacGregor says:

    @ 2- ha ha ha, I thought I had been doing quite well recently with the discipline side of things regarding certain posts Uwe. Hmmmmmmm, it seems my reputation does precede me then. And the big worry is what to do about it. Cheers.

  4. 4
    James Gemmell says:

    A prophetic statement by Glover back then about how Ritchie’s greed would end up resulting in the writing credits no longer being split five ways. This Q&A answers the age-old disagreement between Gillan and Glover about which one of them actually came up with the “Smoke on the Water” song title. Gillan often maintained he wrote it while watching the smoke from the casino fire drift across Lake Geneva, whereas Glover said it came to him in a dream when he suddenly woke up, sat up in bed and said, “Smoke on the Water!” This interview shows that Glover had come up with the song title long before the lyrics were written. One last thought: the writer of the article is lazy. Didn’t even take the time to ask Roger for the proper spelling of Jon and Ritchie’s names.

  5. 5
    MacGregor says:

    How I have always interpreted the Smoke song naming is that it came from Roger Glover. I cannot ever recall reading or hearing anything other than that. Gillan wrote the lyrics or most of them, I am not sure about that from my memory. Regarding the songwriting with all band members getting the credit, Black Sabbath did that also with the original 1970’s lineup. But that did change when the Dio incarnation appeared. It is a difficult conundrum for certain musicians from what we hear over the decades, who get’s what & how much. Cheers.

  6. 6
    James Gemmell says:

    My memory was off. There was a slight disagreement, though, between Rog and Ian on WHEN the title was first created. Roger, if you’re reading this, maybe you can clarify. In researching it further (and now it’s coming back to memory better), the discrepancy was whether the song title was written on a napkin as Roger and Ian sat at a restaurant and watched the smoke drift across Lake Geneva – an Ian contends. Or if it wasn’t created when Roger had a dream and it came to him. Here is one article reference.

  7. 7
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    *as Ian contends, I meant to type.

  8. 8
    MacGregor says:

    Yes that link is a good one regarding the origins of Smoke on the Water. The Classic Rock dvd of Machine Head also has the story from my memory. The irony with that song title & lyrics is the initial worry about the possible drug reference. Innocent days indeed? Cheers.

  9. 9
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    Yeah, in those days, everything was feared to be a possible drug reference. “Smoke on the Water” sounded like a bong hit from a hooka. Ha! Was Deep Purple a reference to purple microdot acid, for example? Was ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ a reference to LSD? Of course, the answer to most of these questions was no. But then, by the 1980s with the backward-masking scare, everyone started thinking everything was a satanic reference. For example, did RUSH stand for “Ruled Under satan’s Hand?” Stupid stuff like that.

  10. 10
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Even Elton John’s “Rocket Man” was supposed to have been drug related. Space travel as an allegory for the social alienation of doing smack. Bernie Taupin didn’t mean it that way, he was more inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (Bowie was inflamed when he heard Elton “stealing my idea”), but then there are enough people who deem Space Oddity a thinly veiled drug song too.

    Did anyone say “subliminal messages”? The frivolous lawsuit against Judas Priest?


    After the case was dismissed, Priest’s US record company had the nerve to then advertise their next album (‘Painkiller’) with the risque slogan: “This record kills forwards and backwards!” – never let a good crisis go to waste!

  11. 11
    MacGregor says:

    That Rush name story is hilarious indeed. Fair dinkum, the things some people allude to. Ruled Under Satan’s Hand, ha ha ha, oh dear, a classic that is. Regarding the drug theme song title Black Sabbath didn’t mess about with Sweetleaf or Snowblind, now that is the way to do it. Cheers.

  12. 12
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    I think the all-time kicker was when John Fogerty was sued for, essentially, sounding too much like himself. He won, of course, after being told the tune, “Old Man Down the Road” sounded too much like an old hit, “Run Through the Jungle.”

  13. 13
    Gregster says:


    There was nothing subliminal with Glenn Hughes when you attended a Mk-III or Mk-IV gig…He tells the whole world that he’s coked out-of-his-brain, & “needs” more !

    I guess that’s another huge difference between Mk-II & Mk-III, where they went from a drinking-man’s-band into …

    I suggest a lot, if not all of the music that was listened too back then was interpreted by the listener as having hidden meanings / messages, & probably not the intention of most bands.

    The RUSH innuendo is a new one to me, I never heard that before lol ! ( RIP Neil Peart )

    One of my fave-bands from the 1990’s “Spacehog” actually took delight & revelled in the innuendo, & wrote songs about drug abuse, & societies social issues etc etc, especially on their 3rd gem album “Hogyssey”…

    Great music & lyrics, that have proved timeless ( to me at least ), so give them a listen…


    Peace !

  14. 14
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    Yeah. Ozzy made beaucoup bucks off the bat-biting incident, even though he said he didn’t realize the bat was real. Still, I don’t think I would be putting anything in my mouth thrown from the audience.

  15. 15
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Given early Rush’s gushing fandom for libertarian poster girl/Jeanne D’Arc (and later in her life social security and Medicare recipient; alas!, it’s always bitter when reality bites philosophy) Ms Ayn Rand, I always thought RUSH stands for Rand Universe (against) Socialist Hegemony (insert naked man fending off evil red star here!) or something! 😂

    But then Auntie Rand was always an absolute atheist in her objectivist little world, so the Satan label is probably not too far away for some people either. 😉

  16. 16
    MacGregor says:

    The only thing is that Neil Peart had not yet parachuted into the Rush void at that stage of the beginning of the Rush’ universe. Unless there was a time machine of some sort in play. Cheers.

  17. 17
    Uwe Hornung says:

    But Auntie Rand already received a credit on the 2112 album, having inspired it with her dystopian novella “Anthem”? That was only Rush’s fourth album, Peart had joined them for the second one I believe. That’s what I meant with “early Rush” (Rush without Peart isn’t even really Rush to me). I only even heard about Rand via that album (and then read some of her stuff out of curiosity), her philosophical thinking never caught on in Europe, she’s a fringe figure between the arcane and the obscure here at best. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anybody here who knows what “objectivism”*** is, let alone identify it with her.

    ***In her own words: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

  18. 18
    MacGregor says:

    I knew what you meant, it is just that we were talking about the origins of the RUSH name & what someone said it was, joking or not. As Peart wasn’t there at the beginning, Rand definitely wasn’t in the picture. So yes I was being pedantic however I am well aware of Peart being ‘influenced’ by reading some of her work back then as a youngster, which he stepped away from later in life to a degree. And I agree, that first album I bought way back then but only listened to once & never again. And not because Peart wasn’t there, it is a rather ordinary to poor effort to begin with. They had to start somewhere as everyone does. Geddy’s vocals on some of those early Rush albums are very hard to take, that totally awkward falsetto screaming he over did. There are a few good songs here & there though. A Farewell to Kings is where Rush really kick in for my tastes. Cheers.

  19. 19
    MacGregor says:

    Talking of Rush I have just watched a trailer for Geddy Lee’s new documentary ‘Are Bass Players Human Too?’. Now that is a very interesting question. Cheers.

  20. 20
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Of course we‘re not human, we‘re a superior life form! 👽

    We‘ve been watching this planet for aeons. Interestingly, some of its very early, still formative species have survived in small pockets of stunted development and are often referred to as “drummers”.

  21. 21
    MacGregor says:

    Is that why bass guitarists keep looking at the drummer & nodding or frowning or giving a sign of not knowing what to do etc etc. That also explains why drummers keep getting frustrated with the bass guitarist. And here I was thinking as many drummers have & still do that there was something else at play. Thanks for heads up! Cheers.

  22. 22
    Gregster says:


    RUSH’s self-titled debut album, is among the finest ever delivered by any band, at any time…And the music found therein, contains the very core-essence that has stayed with the band through every album…It kicks major ass.

    Just like In Rock does for DP…

    John Rutsey (RIP) was released from his percussion service since his health declined dramatically whilst touring. He was a diabetic, & the R&R lifestyle would have killed him. He was a fine drummer, & his efforts can be appreciated on RUSH’s debut album, which was a great result, as it documents the 6-odd years of hard work these guys put in to even get a recording done. And it was released on their own record label, “Moon Records” since no one would sign them…

    It was this album that reached a Radio Station in Cleveland, where the 10-minute tune “Working Man” was played often as an excuse for a DJ to go to the bathroom…What wasn’t expected, was the response from the listening audience, & a near 50-year career was born.

    Neil Peart was recruited & the triad perfected. Not only did he become regarded as one of the greatest percussionists in the world, but could deliver great lyrics too, perhaps even surpassing that of Pete Townshend.

    There’s no in-between with RUSH you either love them or hate them. Their music speaks for itself, never a dull moment, & never a dud delivered.

    As for Geddy’s voice, its fine to my ears. There was a popular band known as “Pavlog’s Dog” in the 1970’s who’s singer sounded very, very similar, so any Robert Plant comparisons remain a mystery to me.

    The main thing about RUSH is that there was no line-up changes in their entire career after the debut.


    Peace !

  23. 23
    MacGregor says:

    Pavlov’s Dog is the band that has the operatic lead vocalist in David Surkamp. A superb vocalist indeed, but as you said ‘a love or hate’ relationship can develop & with that band mainly because of the alto tenor & falsetto vocals. Many people I find don’t like the higher vocalists in music, especially rock music. Some do like it a lot. Horse for courses again. I do find Surkamp a much more natural vocalist than Geddy though, Geddy gets the job done & is melodic etc, but not a great singer. Another Ozzy scenario, he is suited to the band & it works. As a youngster I initially despised Pavlov’s Dog, but as we shed the ‘macho’ & it has to heavy rock rubbish from our ego’s, we open up to other genres of music & also with other things in life itself. PD engrossed me as a youngster after initially loathing them & probably were my first progressive rock band in that aspect. A classically trained pianist & violinist, the wonderful songs & vocal melodies & lyrics & a very good guitarist in Steve Scorfina, a blues rocker who could skip time if needed for the progressive element. However a large money in advance record deal & a dodgy manager to boot sunk them big time. One of those what if scenarios. Regarding Rush’ debut album that wasn’t a put down on John Rutsey at all. The songs are not good & other Rush aficionados I know don’t like that debut either, well some do & some don’t. Most bands start of a little shaky, it is the way of things.
    They took a while to nail it but they did ok in the end. Cheers.

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