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Get away with and get paid for it

Louder Sound reprints an old Classic Rock feature on the formation of Mark 2, from Chris Curtis to Fireball. This was originally penned by late Pete Makowski for the Re-Machined: A Tribute To Deep Purple special issue.

It all began when Chris Curtis, the former drummer/singer with Merseybeat band The Searchers, approached London businessman Tony Edwards in the spring of 1967 and told him, “You could be the next Brian Epstein. You should be my manager!” It makes no sense, but this invitation to handle these legendary, yet in truth fading, beat boomers led to Edwards, a clothier with rock biz aspirations, becoming involved with one of the most successful yet self-destructive bands in the history of heavy metal.

Chris Curtis was a legendary character, but pharmaceutically challenged by the excesses of the 60s, to the point where his Scouse mate George Harrison dubbed him, “Mad Harry”. Curtis quit The Searchers and intended to put together a trio called Roundabout. He envisaged a constantly changing line-up revolving around himself and two other musicians, fiery guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and classically trained organist Jon Lord.

Continue reading in Louder Sound.

12 Comments to “Get away with and get paid for it”:

  1. 1
    Georgivs says:

    And now it has dawned on me, finally. I’ve been working for large organizations for 25+ years and I’ve noticed that if they got something in their DNA at the very moment of establishment, then those genes are impossible to change. People come and go, strategic plans are being developed and redeveloped, top management announces one change of course after another, but certain ways and customs just stay there.

    Now on to DP and why there has been so many lineups: for one simple reason – back in 1967, Chris Curtis “envisaged a constantly changing line-up revolving around himself and two other musicians”. And God saw that it was good. And the Scripture was written.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Little DP had a birth defect – those never go away. 😂

  3. 3
    Wiktor says:

    Make no mistake…I love Blackmore, Lord and Paice… but I never let my “love” stand in the way of how I feel a good human behavier should be. The way they treated Simper and Evans was a disgrace..and the same happend again with MK II when Lord first supported Glover to stay in the band even if Gillan left..and then after preassure from Blackmore supported the idea tof sacking Glover. At the time Glover was very bitter that while he was still in the band playing B L P already was looking for a new bass player. Some people say that time heals all wounds.. for Glover that must be the case cos he said thank you to join the man who once sacked him..

  4. 4
    Uwe Hornung says:

    All’s fair in love and war – and during line-up changes! It brings out the worst in us.

  5. 5
    Gregster says:


    @3 said…

    qt.”The way they treated Simper and Evans was a disgrace…”

    +1 here…

    And according to Nick, once the new line-up was known by himself & Rod, they went to Mr.Coletta’s house after a gig & confronted him about the circumstance, only to then have a call made to Jon Lord where he said, “Come over for dinner, & we’ll discuss what’s going on”…And Nick is still waiting for that dinner engagement…

    Certainly a very-poor way to treat anyone…And Mk-I was a great band, of its time.

    Peace !

  6. 6
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Jon was a diplomat, but liked to avoid conflict – that was just his nature. And he had a tendency to go with the flow – and that flow was determined for the most part of his career by Ritchie and (in Whitesnake) by DC.

    I’m not aware that he ever took a stand

    – for Roger and Big Ian in 1973,

    – for his friend Little Ian as well as Marsden and Murray (both musicians he very much rated) in 1982 when DC purged WS,

    – for Colin Hodgkinson in late 1983 even though he himself had recommended him for Whitesnake (after having toured with him in Pete York’s Olympic Rock & Blues Circus in Germany) OR for Micky Moody around the same time (to be fair, by that time Jon had already technically handed in his papers too and had to be convinced by DC to still do the 1984 tour with WS as his last scaly hooray before rejoining Mk II),

    – for Big Ian in 1989 when Ritchie once again rowed him out, even though Jon had doubts about Joe Lynn Turner (or any American for that matter) fitting in,

    That’s not knocking Jon who was a wonderful person (and once described himself aptly as the requisite oil to Ritchie’s vinegar), he perhaps wasn’t simply cut out for taking tough decisions and leading palace revolutions.

    I think it is fair to say though that very often Jon and Little Ian were happy to stay out of the limelight of Ritchie’s more harsh and cruel decisions, yet trusted his instinct and generally musical nous enough to follow him. That seems especially true for the change from Mk I to Mk II, which was Ritchie’s visionary step of making DP roadworthy for the dawning 70ies.

  7. 7
    George in Ohio says:

    Uwe, I think your comments on Jon in #6 are dead on. I’ve seen enough YouTube interviews to believe that nobody was tougher on Jon than Jon himself for not being more upfront with the guys who were being axed. And, if he had it to do all over again, he would have handled it differently. My opinion of Jon as a musician and as a person could not be higher. But that doesn’t mean I condone how Jon’s apparent aversion to conflict influenced how he handled those situations. It simply reflects the human imperfections he had, just like we all have. Moreover, it’s just as you said : he and Little Ian “were happy to stay out of the limelight of Ritchie’s more harsh and cruel decisions, yet trusted his instinct and generally music nous enough to follow him.” That absolutely rings true. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  8. 8
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Firing people is one of the shittiest feelings imaginable, especially if they have done nothing wrong, but “just don’t fit anymore” for whatever corporate reasons. The couple of times I had to do it in my career, I felt bad about it every time. And I would procrastinate endlessly over it so I can understand that no one jumped up to volunteer to say to Rod “we don’t think your baritone voice fits where we want to go and perhaps a more androgynous-looking front man would make us look more contemporary …” OR to Nick “music is changing, we don’t believe that Johnny Kidd & The Pirates should be our role model for the future …”.

    But of course that is something both Rod and Nick would have deserved to hear from Ritchie, Jon and Little Ian directly. That said, checking out other people and rehearsing with them in secret before conducting the really difficult conversations is hardly unusual in music circles and about as common as adultery in personal relationships. Sin’s a good man’s brother.

  9. 9
    George in Ohio says:

    Uwe, I know how you feel about firing people – in my business career, I had to do it maybe 15 times, and it is indeed a crappy thing to have to do (or be on the receiving end). I also would invariably try to talk myself out of doing it, but eventually learned that perpetuating a bad situation usually was not good for myself, my organization, and especially for the person being let go. Actually had one person thank me for forcing the issue – said they wouldn’t have had courage to quit on a situation that wasn’t going to work. That was the exception! My musical experiences with terminations were much more as you suggest: less formal, certainly less legally charged, but (to me) ultimately harder. Telling someone you don’t “appreciate” their innate musical talents is much more personal than telling them you don’t “appreciate” their acquired business skills. I certainly can understand why Jon and Little Ian were reluctant to do it face to face – it stinks.

  10. 10
    Rev. Harry Longfallis says:

    Uwe #8, Excellent song! I wonder if anyone else here is old enough to remember it.

  11. 11
    Georgivs says:

    Not that Ritchie liked firing people, even as he did it a few times. In one of the interviews, Roger related this Rainbow story from the DTE time: “We started recording, and we didn’t have a singer. Actually, we did have a singer, but the very first day we were in the recording studio, Ritchie and I had a talk. He said, “What do you think of it?” I said, “Oh, he’s okay, but you need better than that. He said, “Well, okay, sack him then.” I said, “You want me . . .?” He said, “Well, you’re the producer. Sack him.” I had the unfortunate job of telling tell this poor guy it wasn’t going to work out.”

    Quite ironic, isn’t it?

  12. 12
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Which song, esteemed Reverend @10? You mean this here?


    Always liked that number, it was made popular in Germany a few years later by The Lords:


    The Guess Who played it too:


    And most people probably know the version by The Who:


    I always dug the rockabilly, spooky B movie horror film vibe of it. Nick Simper wasn’t on the original from 1960 though, he played with a later incarnation of The Pirates responsible for this in 1966:


    But Nick had been a huge Johnny Kidd fan and while his tenure in the band was tragically cut short by Kidd’s car crash death in 1966, his time with Kidd is to this day viewed by him as the highlight of his career – even above Deep Purple or Warhorse.

    In 1960, when the first wave of rock’n’roll had already waned and there was a general conservative musical backlash to it by radio, record companies and producers, Kidd’s song (he wrote it too) with it’s Voodoo atmosphere and tense sexual innuendo was really something and a lifesign that all was not yet lost.

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