Deep Purple has registered yet another accolade in their storied career – entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The announcement confirmed Dec. 17 by the Hall of Fame demonstrates the staying power of the band who have played in front of millions of people around the world since their beginning in 1968 in England.
Their music and its popularity has been proven time and again through decades of steady airplay on radio worldwide, video views on YouTube, but even moreso by the dedicated fans who continue to come out in force to hear the band in their favourite playpen — the live setting. It’s the juice from the stage that fuels Deep Purple to create the kind of live vibe that has kept the band going strong, and the fandom continuing to follow, for over four decades.
Deep Purple has grabbed the limelight many times through several unique events, showing their continuing influence on the rock world all these years later.
They gained much notoriety from the British media when they performed Concerto for Group and Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969 in what was deemed one of the first marriages of classical music to rock and roll to be released publicy on a recording. That format has since been copied many times over by many rock bands over the years.
And an unintended consequence of being monitored on stage for volume one night back in 1972 landed them headlines, at that time, as the world’s loudest band documented by The Guinness Book of World Records.
Never concerned about appearances or opinion, the band added another notable footnote in 2001 when they played a couple of songs with famed opera singer Luciano Pavarotti at a charity show.
Then in 2004, they became one of the first Western bands to play in China, continuing their trek of going where few bands have played before.
Throughout their journey, Deep Purple has always wanted to stay fresh, putting out new material when the time was right. With an enormous catalogue of popular material to draw on, a Deep Purple setlist can always stir the pot among fans.
The band has transcended fads, or what may seem popular, to stick to what simply feels good in the recording studio at that moment. Their most recent success came in 2013 with Now What?! — an album that was lauded by fans and critics, charting high, and to No. 1 in some European markets. And the band is preparing to record another studio album in early 2016.
When it comes to that phrase “all-time best band, album, song, live performance . . .” the list goes on, Deep Purple has won or shared in the glory many times via magazine or fan polls, not to mention the hundreds of magazine covers they have been on.
The band’s ascent into the rock world, where people truly took notice in large numbers, was the pounding In Rock album in 1970. It remains to this day one of the classic “turn it up” hard rock albums of all time, a trendsetting force that was to influence many future musicians who were still finding their way onto an instrument.
Then, the band stretched the boundaries even more on Fireball in 1971, still emitting power, but including subtler tones on some tracks.
That lead to what many fans, Purple or other rock fans alike, regard as the tour de force studio recording by the band, Machine Head, in 1972. In typical band fashion, they serendipitously stumbled upon what they thought was an average track into, well, a staple that will survive any all-time top track song list, Smoke On The Water.
With the aforementioned three studio albums selling bucket loads of albums, came an ever-increasing demand and hunger to tour – the world. And did the world ever respond with heaps of praise from the record-buying public as Deep Purple became hailed as one of the world’s top bands, documented by photos showing the band holding their armful of record awards every year with each release.
Just to solidify the output, the band was talked into (again, another “it wasn’t planned factor”) releasing a live album in Japan only, but the sonic boom coming from the grooves was too much to overlook. This particular recording deserved a wider audience, the sense from those who heard it back then among the band’s inner circle that there was a gem of a live recording on hand from the August, 1972 recordings. Welcome to Made In Japan. For the uninitiated, Made In Japan has been, is, and will be considered one of the best live albums recorded by a rock band. Along with Machine Head, it seemed every rock fan who had some edge in their music collection owned these two albums.
For Deep Purple, the legend tag was already upon them come late 1973 and into 1974. They had conquered the world, they had No. 1 status affixed to them on many fronts. But like so many bands that made it to the top, Deep Purple had a comedown period, eventually resulting in the exit of the band as a unit of musicians in the 1976 to 1983 period. The band were gone for awhile, but the music sure wasn’t.
With the planets aligned, minds thinking alike, the band reformed in 1984 and bang, Deep Purple were a crushing force again – worldwide. They had the second highest grossing tour in North America during the Perfect Strangers tour of 1984-85, and with fan and critical acclaim for the album in abundance, it was another golden and platinum period for the band.
Now, at the 20-year mark since the band began in ’68, Deep Purple had their resolve tested, but working under the band umbrella was still a powerful force with the right chemistry. Proving they could still rock and produce music that garnered attention around the world, Purpendicular, released in 1996, was the beginning of another uplifting chapter in the band’s history. World tours followed, with a string of studio albums that kept the band at the forefront of the hard rock world because one element Deep Purple have always had going for them was their reputation as a group of “musicans’ musicians.” The playing was A-class, always seeming to have the “this is how it’s done” element shining through from the stage, being echoed from admirers who saw the incredible synchronization and jamming ability of the group at any moment.
Along with millions of fans across the globe, well-known people in power circles have saluted the band as their favourite group, notably former British prime minister Tony Blair and former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, who is currently the prime minister of Russia. Not to mention 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash and a lineup of musicians who point to Deep Purple as “the” band of influence.
Whether recording in an old house in the English countryside, a studio in Nashville, and yes, that “hotel” in Montreaux Switzerland, Deep Purple are a most worthy entrant into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The best news yet is, they aren’t finished.
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