When Ian Gillan and Roger Glover left Deep Purple in
From page 47 of Classic Rock Magazine December 2002
1973 at the height of their popularity, it looked like the end of the band. Enter an ex-boutique salesman, an obscure bassist and a brand new direction. Classic Rock speaks to David Coverdale and Glenn
Hughes about Deep Purple Mk. III.
Getting mistreated: Jerry Ewing
N 1973 DEEP PURPLE WERE IN A MESS. VOCALIST IAN GILLAN HAD resigned and worked out his notice on the 'Who Do We Think We Are' tour, and bassist Roger Glover had been given his marching orders at the insistence of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. The band had rocketed to the forefront of the rock world with the stunning 'In Rock' and 'Machine Head' albums, then stumbled creatively with the lacklustre 'Who Do We Think We Are'. Things were looking bleak... But that was all about to change — and some might say not for the better.
One thing guaranteed to split Deep Purple fans is to weigh up the pros and cons of each of the various line-ups. Music history books will show that the Mk II lineup of Blackmore, Gillan, Glover keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice is widely regarded as the `classic' one, and it certainly set the band up as the rock giants they are viewed as today. But if your ear favours a more bluesy and even funky vibe from your rock music over the heavy metal roar of the Gillan era, then what happened next in the Purple story may just be for you — sacrilege as that may be to some Deep Purple fans, considering the fact that what followed initially saw the end of one of the greatest bands in rock.
"There was a very strong suggestion from my part to call it a day, and a confusion from Paicey about what was going to happen," recalls Jon Lord today, of the period when Purple were a trio and considering packing it all in. "I think had it not continued as Purple, Ritchie would have grabbed one or the both of us and done something else. He'd already experimented with Phil Lynott and Paicey as a trio —which I still think he should do, by the way— but I don't know why that didn't go ahead.
"The letter [informing the rest of the band he was quitting] from Ian Gillan was a dreadful shame. He felt something wasn't right, and I personally would have been happier if he'd stayed and fought from within. It was really just beginning to take off in the States in a big way, which is what we'd been working so hard for. Maybe if we'd taken some time off it might have been a different story.
"I guess I've been a bit of a wimp over the years. I should have actually stuck to my guns, I think. And I certainly should have stuck to my guns when Tommy was put in the band, but I gave in."
The benefit of hindsight clearly allows Jon Lord to now view (which he does) the ensuing combative yet musically fruitful years with some regret. But back in 1973 it was a different matter. With the band deciding they would continue, the search was on for two new members, and with Glover having been asked to leave, the remaining members had thoughts about who they wanted to replace him. That man was Glenn Hughes, Trapeze's bassist and vocalist.
"Paicey and I had been put in the position of auditioning by Ritchie, and we'd heard about this guy Glenn Hughes who was a great singer and bass player and a great-looking guy," Lord remembers. "We went to see him play at the Marquee with Trapeze and were very impressed. He was very strong, and hadn't yet fallen into the faux Stevie Wonder thing he would a year later. We went to him and he said: 'Great, I've always wanted to be the singer in Deep Purple.' We told him we were looking at him more as a bassist, and he was like: 'I don't know if I want to sing second to anyone.' So we were already making a rod for our own back! But he accepted, and then we held auditions for a singer."
Hughes, as one might expect, remembers his step up onto rock's massive stage somewhat differently: "Early in 1973 we [Trapeze] played The Whiskey the
famous story where Lordy, Paicey and Blackmore were in the audience every night — and I'm going: 'What's going on here?'. Then the word came down from Blackmore, and they flew me up to New York and asked me to be the bass player.
At the time they wanted Paul Rodgers to be the singer. I'm a big Paul Rodgers fan but wasn't that much of a Deep Purple fan, so I said: 'Let me think about it, but I really want to sing.
The next step was to find a replacement for Ian Gillan. Given the singer's impressive track record with Purple, it was not the easiest of tasks.
"We got boxes and boxes of tapes and didn't hear anything we liked," says Lord.
"We heard lots of terrible stuff. One guy introduced himself with the line: 'My
mum thinks I'm terrific!' bless his heart. It was utterly hilarious.
"Paul Rodgers was Ritchie's idea, and as much as I think he's got a stunning voice I don't think we could agree on him. I've always thought that the voice of Deep Purple was Ian Gillan. It encapsulates everything about Deep Purple that I liked. But I think Ritchie agreed to David Coverdale because of his similarity to Paul Rodgers. I think even David wished he was Paul Rodgers at one point. But I'm not putting down his pipes, he's got a great set. I just wish he wouldn't try and be Robert Plant every now and then. He's got a stunning blues voice. Coverdale sent in a version of Nilsson's 'Everybody's Talking', and he'd done something different with it which attracted us and it was fabulous. We played it to Ritchie and got
Although the voice on the tape had impressed Lord, Paice and Blackmore, what they saw at the audition was less appealing.
"He was slightly overweight, let's put it that way," Lord chuckles. "He was wearing disastrous flares — loon pants, I think they used to call them — and it was a dreadful sight. And he had this wandering eye, which we had fixed quite quickly, and he grew his hair, because he had this strange bouffant style that didn't suit him. He also had this slightly transparent caterpillar on his top lip. I asked him what it was and he said [adopts perfect Redcar accent] 'It's a moustache, man!' I
said: 'There's only one fucking moustache in this band, and it's mine!'
Moustache duly shaved off, David Coverdale was the new singer in Deep Purple, even if he was a singer who had to share vocals with the pushy Hughes. "I thought it was a great thing when David Coverdale joined and he had this great tone, that they had this two singer kind of thing," Hughes says. But I really had to push for it. Lord and Paice wanted me to sing but Blackmore held out because he
wanted a bluesy kind of singer."
Despite the stunning combination of Coverdale's bluesy baritone and Hughes's higher pitched soulfulness, Lord today believes that this set-up was perhaps the
instigator of friction that would later prove extremely damaging for the band.
"I saw it more as an extension of what Ian Gillan had done, not as the funky bluesy thing that David and Glenn ended up with. I didn't see the clash of egos that happened within weeks. Glenn was very strong-willed, even before the drugs took hold. He would foist himself on David, who hadn't been taken on with the
knowledge he was going to have to split the vocal duties.
"For a while it was fine. I don't think the first cracks appeared until we got in the studio. The first crack I saw was Glenn's insistence that he sing. I don't know what went on between him and David. David has said they'd go off and work things out together, but I think David was terribly disappointed he wasn't trusted as the main
voice. Glenn was very much a pro by the time he joined us, but David had just been a loon pant salesman and part-time singer."
Unsurprisingly, Hughes sees it differently: "We pitched ideas to each other about who would sing what, and he was very accomodating," he insists. "But no other band in rock has had two great singers per se."
Still, line-up refreshed, the band headed to Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire to begin work on their new album. And with two new members it was inevitable
that the band's sound would change significantly. When 'Burn' was eventually
released in February 1974, it presented a bluesier Deep Purple.
"I recall that as a very good time," says Lord. "It's a very good album, as good as
either of the two famous Mk II ones. I like the material on it, but I do remember
immediately this slight schism between what Ritchie, Paicey and myself B.+
B.+ would have felt exceedingly comfortable with and what we got, which was this sudden awareness that Glenn had a slightly different road to hoe than the rest of us. To me it shows up on 'Sail Away'. Glenn sings beautifully, but it's not Deep Purple, where as David's singing is Deep Purple. I'm just slightly ill at ease with Glenn's input."
"Burn is definitely my favourite album," Coverdale adds. "I was like a kid in a candy store, working with such talent. I was a huge fan of Ritchie's — and still am — and to be standing with somebody like that was simply breathtaking. I enjoyed all of those albums."
'Burn' is indeed one of Purple's finest albums. From it's fiery title track to the epic, bluesy 'Mistreated' it was evidence of a different side to the band. 'Might Just Take Your Life' and 'You Fool No One' also showed that, despite Lord's reservations, the combination of Hughes and Coverdale's vocals worked a treat.
"It went straight into the top five in America," Hughes says proudly of the record (which also hit No.3 in the UK chart). "We did very well over there. Everyone knew it was a new line-up, and I guess word of mouth had been very good. It was bizarre, because most bands that come out with two new guys... well, it'd be over. But it was accepted very well."
"I'm very proud of it," Lord says. "I think the reason for its direction was that Ritchie, for the first time, had a singer he could bully — though in a good way. 'Mistreated' couldn't have come out of Mk II in any shape or form. But it was the direction Ritchie wanted to go, kind of hard rock blues. The great thing about the band in any guise is that the people in it are quite strong-willed, so there's never been one man taking the band by the scruff of the neck, despite what's been written otherwise. Of course, by the time we got to the next album David had very much made his mind up about what he wanted to be." they'd always excelled, their power documented on 1973's legendary 'Made In Japan' album. And playing live was where Hughes got his first real glimpse of the enigma that is Ritchie Blackmore.
"It was either Shepperton or Pinewood that we rehearsed at," he recalls. "It was all big and huge, but playing in front of people was the acid test. I felt
comfortable with that, especially as there was a main singer up there in front of me. In all our time I never wanted to out-sing David on stage, we just sang our bits.
I did notice, though, when we started playing, that there was Ritchie's side of the stage and Glenn's side of the stage. And he did say to me: 'Don't you ever come this side of the stage or I'll hit you with my guitar.' One night I had to do it, and he took off that guitar and came running at me. Nobody was allowed on his side of stage, it was his sacred bit. I did go over there a couple of times, and he'd grab my bass
and start playing it. He was one of those over-the-top characters of the 70s.
"He's a softly spoken, intelligent, funny bloke. Super-sensitive. He likes to play tricks on people. I met the full Ritchie Blackmore. He's got this mystique, and he loves to live in that. He lives in that street and he's really
comfortable with it."
11 EI HINGS WERE GOING WELL FOR THE NEW-LOOK BAND. AND though they peaked with their performance at the California Jam in 1974, typically things didn't quite go to plan.
"They asked us to headline and we said we didn't want to close the show, as we wanted to go on at sunset, and we agreed that ELP would go on after us," Hughes explains. "Of course, it was the first festival in history that was running early. Ritchie locked himself in his trailer and he tried everything he could not to go on. He was so angry but he played brilliantly though. 250,000 tickets were sold, but more than 350,00 were there. It was mind-blowing looking out into an audience like that. I was really into it, not nervous at all. I just wanted to get out there and get stuck in. And none of us knew about the explosions at the end — apart from Ritchie and the road crew, of course. Paicey's glasses were blown off, but it was a real moment. And we took that moment."
With Coverdale and Hughes established in the band, Deep Purple entered the studio in August 1974 to begin work on the follow-up to 'Burn'. It was to be a pivotal session in the band's career.
"We went straight into doing 'Stormbringer'," says Hughes. 'And guess what, the two new guys were human and had some input. Ritchie didn't like that, though."
'Stormbringer' is a great rock record, but it features influences that would have seemed alien to the Mk II line-up. Bluesier than its predecessor, Hughes's evident love of funk was also really making its presence felt. The title track is a serious rocker, as is the epic 'Lady Double Dealer', but 'Holy Man' and 'You Can't Do It Right (With The One You Love)' would have raised more than a few eyebrows certainly Blackmore's.
"Ritchie didn't like the funk element at all," Lord states. "What would piss him off was he'd come up with a chord sequence and we'd work it towards the way we wanted, and he'd come in a few days later and find
vocals all over it that had nothing to do with what he had in mind. He didn't see it as the funky loose shuffle it became. He wanted it a lot harder. And to be honest with you rd have preferred it harder, but I couldn't get that across to Glenn and David. I guess I was beginning to lose strength in my own beliefs. Maybe if I'd have stepped across the road into Ritchie's camp things might have been a little different. But I think he'd already begun to think about forming Rainbow."
"Ritchie felt he was losing his grip," Hughes reckons. "At that point David and I had grown and we were coming up with ideas. Ritchie wasn't as well-prepared in pre-production as David and I were. We came in with 'Holy Man' and things. If he'd have said we were going to do this and this we'd probably have done more rock songs.
"I think he'd made the Rainbow decision at Clearwell Castle on the writing of 'Stormbringer'. David and Jon Lord and I spent a lot of time writing but Ritchie wasn't around that much. Looking back, regardless of whether we love or hate him, Ritchie was a huge part of Deep Purple. I love the way he plays on 'Stormbringer', but I know he doesn't particularly care for that record. I totally get that. But if Ritchie had wanted to take that record in a harder direction he could have done. Maybe he was starting to lose the plot a little bit, maybe he was tired. He was meandering a little bit, maybe he just wanted to do something new."
Blackmore wasn't the only one unimpressed with the funkier edge to the band. Stormbringer' was the first Deep Purple album for years that failed to achieve gold status in the US, although the ensuing tour was a sell-out.
"I think 'Stormbringer' was the first case of a rather large collective 'Huh?' from the core fans," Lord admits. "But on stage it didn't seem to make that much difference. We were still selling out, which maybe sheltered us from what was happening. I'm not certain it was the right album. I seem to remember a feeling of unease.
"It was very obvious that Ritchie was not happy at all. And I think the basis of that was with Glenn Hughes. He told me in later years that although he 33.-1. B-• didn't like David very much he thought he had a great set of pipes. But it was not the happiest of times. And then Ritchie decided to call it a day."
Blackmore duly informed the other members of the band halfway through the 'Stormbringer' tour that he was quitting after the final date.
"Oh, it was going off big-time," Hughes remembers . "We played Birmingham Odeon, and were presented with discs and stuff, and my parents were there. In a moment of madness Ritchie sent his roadie down to moon at my parents. He was doing stuff like playing in the wings, which I'd never seen before, or not playing the encore and leaving the building. Ritchie Blackmore is a real piece of work, I've got to say. He is, in rock'n'roll standards, the king of over-the-top-isms. Ritchie Blackmore is Ritchie Blackmore!
"Jon Lord was mortified. I think I was too involved with my own dabblings to take too much notice. David was still trying to figure out what was going on. I think it affected Jon and Ian the most. Ritchie never went totally AWOL. He never had anything against David. I think he was more freaked about my shoeshine approach, but he should have known that from Trapeze. But I look back and I was growing as a songwriter and wrote appropriately for `Stormbringer'. It's still better than 'Who Do We Think We Are'. But I believe that Ritchie Blackmore, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes are better songwriters than Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan and Roger Glover."
It was around this period that Hughes's 'dabblings', as he puts it, were becoming increasingly evident to his
fellow band members. They were dabblings that would ultimately destroy the group.
"I'd say it was quite well-hidden for a long time," Lord says of Hughes's increasing fondness for drink and drugs. "By the time we got into the studio for 'Stormbringer' it was fairly alarming, but during 'Burn' it wasn't that bad. At that point the whole world and his mother was doing charlie. Paicey never did and Blackmore never did. I had a little flirt with it. But I don't think anyone saw Glenn as a huge charlie-crazed threat initially. But he drank a lot, tooted a lot, and on stage he
could be insecure."
"The first time we did the Astrodome in Houston on the 'Burn' tour, some cowboy geezer
came backstage and showed me what
cocaine was," the now clean Hughes says, of the beginning of problems that would not only blight Purple, but also Hughes's own career for many years to come. "And I basically had him travel with the entourage,
which wasn't particularly
appropriate. I kind of got hooked on it through the back door, as it were. It wasn't really talked about, but everyone who was in the know was doing it. But I didn't realise I was becoming an addict and I didn't realise I was offending the other
guys in the band."
With Blackmore off to form Rainbow with Ronnie James Dio, Deep Purples future was once more shrouded in uncertainty. Lord and Paice both thought the band was gone for good, but David Coverdale had other ideas. Namely a guy
called Tommy Bolin.
"We were all living in LA," Lord explains. "I remember thinking with Paicey that it was all over. And then David came to me and said: 'You can't quit.' He B4 B.+ said he'd heard this great guitarist, and asked me to listen to Billy Cobham's 'Spectrum' album, and I seem to remember thinking 'Wow!' David kept on at me, and I agreed to jam with Tommy Bolin. It was a stunning jam, absolutely
remarkable. We played rock'n'roll pretty much and it felt damn good. And I thought
what the heck, let's give this a whirl. Paicey was well up for it. I'm not certain we
should have called ourselves Deep Purple, but the record companyinsisted."
"We didn't want a clone of Ritchie," says Hughes, of the choice of the ex-James Gang guitarist. "Ian was in love with Billy Cobham at the time, and I suppose we all kind of lost vision of where Deep Purple were supposed to go. Could Tommy
Bolin write heavy metal riffs? The answer was not really."
Even Coverdale admits that his choice, which would inevitably cause a furore among Purple fans who hero-worshipped Blackmore, was not quite right: "He was totally fresh, but I did make quite an error," he smiles. "I'd heard 'Spectrum' and Alphonse Mouzon's 'Mind Transplant' [both of which Bolin appears on], and a lot of the stuff I thought was Tommy was actually Jan Hammer. We're standing at a party and I'm going: 'Oh I love this lick.' And he says: 'That's Jan.' But it was very hard for Tommy coming in and replacing Ritchie. It's a legacy that nobody
can compete with."
S TILL, WITH BOLIN ON BOARD, THE BAND SET ABOUT MAKING NEW music, heading to Germany for the sessions that would result in 'Come Taste The Band'. But trouble was brewing, and it wasn't long before Glenn Hughes totally lost the plot.
"Things never got really nasty until 'Come Taste The Band'," Hughes recalls.
"On the 'Burn' tour I was young enough to scrape through, but two years down the road in 1975 is when it got me good and proper. I was out of my fucking head, and I got sent home in Germany, and they passed it off as laryngitis. I was on the 27th floor of the Arabella House and I'd unhinged the door and thrown it out the window. The police were called and I hit one of the crew members. The band said I should take a break. And that was me trying to get myself off drugs. But I wasn't rehabilitated properly because there were no treatment centres then. I knew I had
a problem but I couldn't stop."
"Glenn had to be sent home from the sessions to a psychiatric hospital because he was in a dreadful state," Lord remembers, with evident distaste.
"Whimpering outside your bedroom door at four in the morning begging for drugs. I just didn't want to be there. The memories are only really made bearable by the fact that we managed to re-form the band and have such a good time later
on, for two years at least.
"I remember Glenn once being met at the steps of the airplane by a guy with a gun, demanding his money. Glenn came back on the plane — and we'd just got our per diems — and Glenn's asking for three thousand dollars. He was in tears and trembling and nearly pissing his pants, as you would be. So I gave him the money."
Somehow the band finished 'Come Taste The Band' and released the record in November 1975. And it's a very good record, and shows Bolin to be a fine guitarist. But it is not, as Lord points out, very representative of the Deep Purple
that strode above the rock world like a collosus.
"I liked what I played on it, but it's not a Deep Purple album," the keyboard player says ruefully. "It's a Tommy Bolin and Glenn Hughes album, with the rest of us along for the ride. There's some great tracks on it, but I felt like a hired gun — and I was the guy who'd started the band. My only song was 'This Time Around', which I'm very pleased with. I remember tinkling around on the piano with it, and Glenn made the words up there and then — stoned out of his mind,
as he was most of the time then."
"I thought Tommy did a great job on 'Come Taste The Band'," Coverdale says in support of the album. "It's interesting working on my website and getting direct response from people who've been fans for years. Prior to that it was audience response, which was always good because of the band's reputation, regardless of whether it was a good show. Other than that the only feedback was press, which was never positive. But to find out what those albums meant to the people who
bought them has been a real treat and a pleasant surprise."
But regardless of what the album was like, with Bolin's increasing dependence on heroin and with Hughes hardly cleaned up after the Munich debacle, the
ensuing tour to promote it had disaster written all over it.
"One day we were on a plane and Tommy was asleep, and he was sweating and scratching and I realised that he was on heroin," says Hughes. "It was the only time I ever knew he was on it. There was also the Jakarta incident where he'd scored some morphine from the promoter and fell asleep on his arm, which went all limp and then he couldn't play at the concert in Japan. He could barely hold his
pick. He was always looking for heroin or morphine. I wasn't privvy to the heroin stuff. He'd talk to me a lot, but back then heroin was a no-no.
"Tommy and I were sealed at the hip, doing coke and drinkirig every night. And there was that horrible gig in Japan. Looking back on that time being affected by chemicals, everyone who's on drugs thinks they're great, and they're not. I just happened to wash my clothes in public. I acted very inappropriately but I never meant to become an addict.
"That tour started okay. We went to Australia and it was great, but it all fell apart in Jakarta. We lost Patsy Collins, our head of security, after a party in my room, and I got thrown in jail and a load of shit went down. Two months before, Ron Quinton, Blackmore's roadie, had died in a car crash. So I'd lost two close friends. And I started drinking big time.
"We ended the first half of the tour in Japan, and we were all very drunk on stage and I'm puking up on stage, and it was just a joke. But somehow we managed to pull it together for the New Year and a tour in America."
writing was THE writing was THE s one E w T aH UR H_ in very RE ve large gAH ve large gAH e REACHED THE UK, HOWEVER, THE s.
"David came into the dressing room in Liverpool and said he wanted to quit, and me and Paicey told him we'd already decided to leave," is how Lord remembers the ending of one of the greatest rock bands of the 70s. "I remember Glenn talking to an audience of faithful Scousers in an American accent, apologising for us not being good and saymg we were tired and had just got off the plane from America. Obviously he'd forgotten we'd been on tour in the UK for a week and a half: I was in tears backstage afterwards, and I knew I should have called it quits when Blackmore left. A pretty nasty time."
"To be frank with you, for the five dates we did in the UK I never slept,' Hughes admits. "I was just out of my mind. It wasn't helping Tommy on the British tour with people shouting out for Ritchie. He hated it, wouldn't accept it and gave them the finger. He played very badly, and we came to a grinding halt at the Liverpool Empire. I blacked out, I was not feeling good, and it was a horrible moment for me personally. I think David was the first one to say he'd had enough. Jon and Ian hadn't said anything but they were thinking it. I was actually done before we'd even got Tommy in the band, if truth be told."
And so the curtain fell on Deep Purple Mk IV in 1976, Hughes admitting that at that point they didn't even have a another record in them: "It couldn't have happened," he sighs. "I was writing for 'Play Me Out' and fully into the soul thing — Philadelphia, not Birmingham. I think we were all tired of rock music. Without getting too graphic, sex, drugs and rock'n'roll were the downfall of Mk IV. And you also can't have a Deep Purple without Ritchie Blackmore. He had a vision, and we lost the plot."
Equally, and despite Purple reuniting in 1984 and continuing to this day despite the usual and expected personnel upheavals, the idea of a reunion of the Mk III line-up has never been mooted. And given Lord's comments, it's unlikely to ever happen.
Hughes, on the other hand, would be well up for it: "I think that the classic Mk III line-up should do another tour. For me, that was the best line-up, even though Mk II had huge success. I'd never thought about it until recently, though, because if you have expectations it'll never happen. There's a lot of water under the bridge. It could happen, and it would be a moment in history. There's never been any conversations between any of us about it, though."
After Purple disintegrated, Ian Paice and Jon Lord formed Paice, Ashton, Lord with singer Tony Ashton, before hooking up with David Coverdale in Whitesnake. Glenn Hughes recorded 'Play Me Out', his funk
Blackmo e quits Purple
EEP r D PURPLE'S RitchieBlackrnore h. quit the band to concentrate s the re
album, in 1976, and staggered through the remainder of the 70s and 80s forging an appalling reputation, before getting his act together in the 90s. Tommy Bolin recorded his second solo album, 'Private Eyes', before tragically dying of a drug overdose in December 1976. Hardly a fitting epitaph for such a prodigious talent, yet somehow seemingly summing up the mess Purple ended in.
"I think the really bad decision was to continue with Tommy," Lord admits, his voice tinged with regret. "It's enormously sad. As a cautionary tale what you learn is this: don't chase the buck, chase the music." •