After drummer Chris Curtis was able to get financing from a few London businessmen, he searched for musicians for a band that was to be called “Roundabout.” Jon Lord and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore came on board and Curtis soon dropped out. Since Lord and Blackmore still wanted to continue with the project, they proceeded to find members. Bassist Nick Simper, a friend of Lord’s, joined, as did singer Rod Evans and drummer Ian Paice. The newly formed band started gigging and after a tour of Denmark, changed their name to “Deep Purple.”
Released in September of 1968 in the UK, “Shades of Deep Purple,” would be the band’s debut album. The record made it to the #24 spot on the US charts and produced the band’s first hit single, the Joe South cover ,“Hush,” which peaked at #4 on the US charts. The band set off touring and found themselves supporting the now legendary Cream. Wasting absolutely no time, the band got right back to business and their next album, entitled “The Book of Taliesyn,” was released in the US in October of 1968. The record reached #54 on the US charts, and included cover songs from various artists such as “Kentucky Woman,” by Neil Diamond. Allowing fans to digest “…Taliesyn,” the band waited until June of 1969 to release their self-titled album “Deep Purple.”
Certainly needing change at this point, the band replaced singer Rob Evans with Ian Gillan and eventually Roger Glover also relieved bassist Nick Simper. The band finally found their stride with the 1970 release of “In Rock.” The album included the songs “Speed King,” Into the Fire,” and “Child in Time,” among others. The record peaked at #4 on the UK charts and would go on to sell more than 3 million copies in the band’s home country. Thankfully, this would be the start of a series of commercially successful releases. They would next release “Fireball,” in 1971, which would make it all the way to the top of the UK charts. The album included the songs “Fireball” and “The Mule,” which helped it sell more than a million copies in the US. Their 6th studio album in less than 5 years, “Machine Head,” would also become the band’s highest charting in the US, reaching the #7 spot. The album would also produce what is undoubtedly their most recognizable hit, “Smoke On the Water.” The album eventually was certified triple Platinum in the US.
After a successful tour through the US, and then Japan, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover left the band in 1973. Their positions were filled by singer David Coverdale, and bassist/singer Glenn Hughes. The band released “Burn” in 1974 which, despite their new sound, sold quite well, peaking at #6 on the UK charts. They supported the album with a world tour, and released “Stormbringer,” later that year. At this point Blackmore exited the band and was replaced by Tommy Bolin. After the relatively unsuccessful release of the album “Come Taste the Band,” Deep Purple split up in July of 1976. Tragically, Tommy Bolin was found dead on December 4th 1976 due to “Multiple-drug intoxication.” He was just 25.
It wasn’t until April of 1984 that fans would get any good news regarding Deep Purple. Fortunately, the band reunited with a line-up that would now include Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice. The band released “Perfect Strangers,” in October of 1984, which sold very well and helped launch a world tour. This classic line up released one more album before Gillan was fired and replaced by Joe Lynn Turner in 1989. Unfortunately for Turner, the band was interested in bringing Gillan back for their 25th anniversary. Turner got the boot and the band, with Gillan, released “The Battle Rages On” in 1993. It was an appropriate title for the record, because while in the midst of their European tour, Ritchie Blackmore left the band. Steve Morse was brought in to fill Blackmore’s spot and the line-up stayed the same until Don Airey replaced Jon Lord in 2002. Deep Purple is currently still performing around the world.