Taking their name from a ’30s swingtime-era pop hit, there was nothing breathy or sentimental about the British quintet Deep Purple, first organized in 1967, around a core of phenomenally brilliant musicians. Classically trained, former child prodigy Jon Lord (194 –2012) was responsible for the towering wall of organ sound that formed the band’s bedrock. Lord found an ally for his classical ideas in ace session guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. (In fact, Deep Purple was among the first to stage an orchestral concerto, a concept attempted with varying degrees of success by other bands through the years.) Rod Evans joined next, with the powerful vocal template that was introduced on 1968’s “Hush” (a Joe South song) and “Kentucky Woman” (Neil Diamond). Evans brought along his former band’s thundering drummer, Ian Paice, but Evans was eventually replaced by longtime frontman Ian Gillan; multi-instrumental Welsh bassist Roger Glover completed the first definitive lineup. Their onslaught of sound along with such contemporaries as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, led rock critics to coin a new musical genre: heavy metal. The original lineup reached an early peak on the landmark albums Machine Head and Who Do We Think We Are, whose epic chart singles “Smoke On The Water” and “Woman From Tokyo” sold Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster guitars in numbers that stagger the imagination. Deep Purple lineups have ebbed and flowed over the decades, counting among their members such formidable rockers as singer David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes. Touring around the world now for more than four decades, still led by Gillan, Glover and Paice, the legend of Deep Purple will endure forever.
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