About Deep Purple
Deep Purple emerged from the psychedelic ’60s to help build the hard-rock temple from the ground up, paving the way for heavy metal in the process. They formed in Hertfordshire, England, in 1968, with a style far removed from the sound that would make them famous. Guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord, singer Rod Evans, bassist Nick Simper, and drummer Ian Paice crafted a heady psych sound with proto-prog touches on their 1968 debut album, Shades of Deep Purple, and the two LPs that followed, scoring a big U.S. hit with a cover of the Joe South-penned “Hush.” But 1970 brought fateful changes. Ian Gillan and Roger Glover replaced Evans and Simper, respectively, and Deep Purple moved toward streamlined hard rock showcasing Gillan’s wailing vocals, Blackmore’s indelible riffs, and Lord’s roiling, distorted organ tones. Over the next few years, they turned out milestones such as “Black Knight,” “Woman from Tokyo,” “Highway Star,” and, most famously, every guitar student’s first riff, “Smoke On the Water”—classic-rock staples that would ensure the band’s immortality and inspire generations of musicians. Defections in the mid ’70s brought new vocalist (and future Whitesnake singer) David Coverdale, bassist Glenn Hughes, guitarist Tommy Bolin, and a bluesier feel before the band split in ’76. A reunion of the classic lineup created a Purple renaissance in 1984 with the Perfect Strangers album and remained mostly intact through the early ’90s. Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morse became a mainstay after Blackmore’s next departure, and Lord’s 2012 passing brought Don Airey aboard, the band chugging on into the 2020s still full of fire.