Where To Start With... Deep Purple
Considering their legacy as one of the most important and influential bands in the hard rock arena, it almost beggars belief that it was as recently as 2016 – and after a long public campaign, at that – before Deep Purple were finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their omission was considered so egregious that some of their supporters began to question the Hall of Fame's very existence, with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich summing up the opinions of their fans in his speech at the band's induction: “With almost no exceptions, every hard rock band in the last 40 years, including mine, traces its lineage directly back to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.”
Originally formed by former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis under the name Roundabout, who recruited keyboardist/organist Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore before eventually leaving the project, Deep Purple's early line-up was completed by original vocalist Rod Evans, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Nick Simper. Thanks to Blackmore's music industry connections, having toured with Screaming Lord Sutch (later of the Monster Raving Loony Party) and worked as a session player for legendary producer Joe Meek, the band quickly secured a deal with Tetragrammaton Records to record and release their debut album Shades of Deep Purple.
The band scored an early hit with their version of 'Hush' in America, where the song reached the Top 5 of the Billboard charts, but for the most part they toiled in obscurity back home in the UK, with all three of their first trio of albums failing to chart.
All of that changed in 1970 with the release of their fourth studio album Deep Purple in Rock. By now, the band had settled into what would become their most successful line-up, with Evans replaced by singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover taking the place of Simper. Although they'd have to wait until the following year for their first chart-topping album in the UK, In Rock helped establish their place as one of the band's at the vanguard of a rapidly evolving rock scene.
Three more successful albums followed before the increasingly turbulent relationship between band members – particularly Gillan and Blackmore - eventually led the former to leave, along with Glover, after the recording of the band's seventh studio album Who Do We Think We Are. Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale replaced them for three more albums, but after marking their 10th album release with 1975's Come Taste the Band, the band went their separate ways for what would become a nine-year hiatus.
Returning in 1984 with comeback album Perfect Strangers, and with Gillan and Glover restored to their roles, the band have continued to record and release albums on a pretty consistent basis ever since, not to mention furthering their reputation for being one of the hardest working bands in the history of the music business when it comes to touring.
The line-ups have shifted over those years and, sadly, Blackmore eventually left the group in 1993, with Joe Satriani filling in before a long-term replacement was eventually found in Steve Morse, who has been with them since 1994. Don Airy replaced the late Jon Lord after his retirement in 2002 and continues to crank out those trademark Hammond organ sounds for the band to this day.
Their last outing came in 2017 with the release of their 20th studio album Infinite and this week they're back once more with another full-length helping of their very own brand of very loud and very heavy rock. Whoosh! Makes its landing stores today and to celebrate its arrival we've picked out five of the band's most important hits from their extensive back catalogue. Are you ready to rock?
The band's first single, subsequently included on on their 1968 debut album Shades of Deep Purple, was originally written by Grammy-winning songwriter Joe South for American singer Billy Joe Royal, who scored a minor hit with the song on its release in 1967. Deep Purple's cover version suffered a similar fate in the UK, where it failed to break into the Top 40, but their version became a huge hit in America, peaking at No.4 on the Billboard chart and immediately introducing the band to a huge new audience.
The song was also a hit for Kula Shaker in the late 90s, but for our money it's Deep Purple's rendition that remains the definitive one.
Despite early success with 'Hush', the band remained largely ignored in the UK until the release of their fourth album Deep Purple In Rock in 1970, which reached No. 4 in the UK Album Chart. A large part of the album's success was the single 'Black Night', which reached No. 2 in the UK after receiving a huge amount of radio airplay. Even now, it's a regular fixture in live sets and remains one of their most enduring hits.
'Child in Time'
With a hefty runtime of over 10 minutes, Deep Purple in Rock's other real highlight was never going to enjoy as much airplay as something like 'Black Night', but the song remains one of their most epic workouts and it's easy to see why Deep Purple are regarded by their fans as one of the 'holy trinity' of hard rock bands, along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, sounding every bit their equal on this sprawling opus of a song.
'Smoke on the Water'
For kids who grew up learning to play guitar in the 1990s it was usually either Nirvana's 'Come As You Are' or Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' they mastered first. But for many, many years before that, it was the sound of budding guitarists wrestling with Ritchie Blackmore's devilishly simple riff for 'Smoke on the Water' that could be heard drifting out of bedroom windows from London to Los Angeles. The word 'iconic' barely even covers it.
If you only know one Deep Purple song, it's definitely this, and if you think you don't know any Deep Purple songs, you definitely do.
If there's any part of Deep Purple's trademark sound that has consistently played as big a part as Ritchie Blackmore's infectious guitar riffs or Ian Gillan's towering vocals, then it's surely Jon Lord's heavily distorted, swirling Hammond organ which has featured on so many of their songs right from their debut single to the present day. There are numerous examples we could pick but the opening bars of 'Perfect Strangers', taken from the band's 1984 comeback album of the same name, are about as good as it gets.
Whoosh! Is available in hmv stores and online now - you can also find it here in our online store.