|Deep Purple was formed in England
in 1968, with an initial line-up that featured guitarist Ritchie Blackmore,
vocalist Rod Evans, bassist Nick Simper, keyboardist Jon Lord, and drummer
Ian Paice. Their debut LP, Shades Of Deep Purple generated a Top Five American
hit with its interpretation of Joe South's "Hush". Two more albums
followed The Book Of Taliesyn and Deep Purple before the end of the initial
With the dismissals of Evans and Simper, the band started fresh, recruiting singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. The revamped Deep Purple's first album, 1970's Concerto For Group And Orchestra, further sought to fuse rock and classical music. When the project, which was recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was poorly received, Blackmore took creative control of the band, steering it towards a heavier, guitar-dominated approach which took full advantage of Gillan's powerful vocals.
The manoeuvre worked; 1970's Deep Purple In Rock heralded the beginning of the group's most creatively and commercially successful period. At home, the album sold over a million copies. 1971's Fireball was also a smash, scoring a hit. Plans to record the follow-up at the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland were derailed after the venue burned down during a live appearance by Frank Zappa, but the experience inspired Deep Purple's most enduring hit "Smoke On The Water." The song, featured on the multi-platinum classic Machine Head, reached the U.S. Top Five in mid-1973 and positioned Deep Purple among rock's elite; the band consolidated its status with the 1973 studio follow-up Who Do We Think We Are.
However, long-simmering creative differences between Blackmore and Gillan pushed the latter out of the group that same year, with Glover soon exiting as well; singer David Coverdale and bassist/singer Glenn Hughes were recruited for 1974's Burn. After completing 1974's Stormbringer, Blackmore left Deep Purple to form Rainbow with vocalist Ronnie James Dio; his replacement was Tommy Bolin, who made his debut on Come Taste The Band. All the changes clearly took their toll and after the following tour the group dissolved in 1976.
The classic line-up of Blackmore, Gillan, Lord, Glover and Paice reunited Deep Purple in 1984 for a new album, the platinum smash Perfect Strangers; The House of Blue Light followed three years later, but as past tensions resurfaced, Gillan again exited in mid-1989.
Onetime Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner was recruited for 1990's Slaves And Masters before Gillan again rejoined to record The Battle Rages On an apt title as Blackmore quit the group midway through the supporting tour, to be temporarily replaced by Joe Satriani. In 1994, Steve Morse took over the guitar slot. And the battle rages on…