Doctor Who’s 1972 pop single on Deep Purple’s label
09:54 am

Jon Pertwee starred in the reruns of Doctor Who my local PBS affiliate started airing in the Eighties; perhaps the station decided to start with the color episodes. Ever since, when someone else is playing Doctor Who, even Tom Baker, I miss Pertwee’s lisp and Edwardian dress, his dandyish manner, the wild look in his eyes.

Doctor Who novelty records were born in 1964 on “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek” by the (Newcastle) Go-Go’s. They intersected with punk on the Art Attacks’ 1978 debut “I Am a Dalek” (“EXTERMINATE! KI-I-I-ILL!”) and reached their creative peak in 1988, when the Timelords’ “Doctorin’ the TARDIS” attained the unsurpassable zenith of excellence in the genre.

Pertwee, who had a long and colorful career as a recording artist, was the first Doctor to release his own single. On 1972’s “Who Is the Doctor,” recorded for Deep Purple’s label, producer Rupert Hine added rock drums to Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme, and Pertwee intoned some cosmic verse about how to love your Time Lord, or something:

Is your faith before your mind?
Know me
Am I the Doctor?


The 1985 Safari Records issue of “Who Is the Doctor”
Neil Priddey’s Purple Records discography explains Pertwee’s connection to the label and notes that one of the artists on Brian Eno’s Obscure label took part in the session:

Jon Pertwee was a personal friend of [Deep Purple manager] Tony Edwards, so he asked Rupert Hine and David MacIver to write and produce this project. They tried to get the BBC involved, but (according to MacIver) they were given the cold shoulder.

MacIver wrote the lyrics in 20 minutes and Hine produced the session. Simon Jeffes [of Penguin Cafe Orchestra], a good friend of theirs, also played on the tracks with Rupert playing his ARP 2600 synthesizer.

Time is a wondrous thing. MacIver’s 20 minutes of labor paid off again in ‘82, when BBC Records reissued the single with a different B-side, and in ‘85, when the synth-pop label Safari Records repackaged it with Blood Donor’s “Dr . . . ?” Hear its total extratemporal majesty below.

Posted by Oliver Hall
09:54 am
‘Some stupid with a flare gun’: Frank Zappa & the true story of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’

Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” amirite?

Although it is among the most popular guitar riffs in history (if not the #1 most popular riff of all time, because virtually anyone, including your mom, can probably play it) and certainly a song that will never, ever fall out of the classic rock canon, the meaning of the song’s lyrics—once well-known—are becoming increasingly cryptic. It would just be confusing to most people hearing it for the first time playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band:

We all came out to Montreux
On the Lake Geneva shoreline
To make records with a mobile
We didn’t have much time
Frank Zappa and the Mothers
Were at the best place around
But some stupid with a flare gun
Burned the place to the ground

On December 4, 1971 Deep Purple were in Montreux, Switzerland. The plan was to record their next album—what would become their 1972 classic, Machine Head—in the theater of the cavernous Montreux Casino, which was closing down for renovations after a matinee show by the Mothers of Invention.

As the members of Deep Purple watched, the rockin’ teen combo led by Frank Zappa laid into their concert showstopper of the time “King Kong,” when an idiot in the audience fired a flare gun (or more likely a bottle rocket) into the venue’s rattan-covered ceiling during Don Preston’s MiniMoog solo. Although no one was badly injured, the huge casino, along with its theater, restaurants and other entertainment facilities was burned to the ground and the Mothers’ gear was toast. There was an apparently easy and orderly exit for the crowd as the fire was slow at first, but as Deep Purple’s bass guitarist Roger Glover later said “when it caught, it went up like a fireworks display.” Two of Zappa’s roadies, the last to leave, were blown out of a window, but sustained only minor injuries.

A postcard of the fire

They burned down the gambling house
It died with an awful sound
Funky Claude was running in and out
Pulling kids out the ground

Even if you don’t know what it means, it sounds good, right?

“Funky Claude” who was “running in and out” refers to Claude Nobs, the casino’s owner and the director of the Montreux Jazz Festival—and as luck would have it, a volunteer fireman—who helped some of the audience members escape to safety and to whom Machine Head was dedicated. He later told

Frank Zappa took his guitar–a Gibson, a very strong one–and he smashed the big window down with his guitar. Then a lot of people could go out through there. The people went out through that exit, and within about five minutes, the 2,000 kids were out. And the people were watching the fire thinking, “Oh, you know, Frank Zappa is just doing an incredible ending to his show.”

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger
04:55 pm
Machine Heads: Deep Purple burn New York City down, 1973

Deep Purple, topless
There was a point back in the 1970s that whenever you went into a guitar store there was always some dude flicking his locks and playing the familiar plodding riff from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” Well, either that or “Stairway to Heaven” depending on the taste of who was playing. These guys were either shop staff or some kid dreaming of a future rock career. When I bought my first and only guitar the assistant did in fact strum out a few blasts of “Smoke on the Water” to show me just how it was done. That kinda ruined it for me, I have to admit. I was more the Bonzo-Django-Benny Hill kinda player, which might explain my taste in music but doesn’t excuse my lack of any musical talent whatsoever. Least played, soonest mended. I eventually traded my guitar for a portable typewriter from a Bowie fan who had slavishly typed “I Love David” all over its ribbon.

If you hung around long enough listening to that dude riff on “Smoke on the Water” he would also probably tell you why Deep Purple were better than Led Zeppelin—because they were “proper” musicians who had performed “your actual” Concerto for Group and Orchestra with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hal, London in 1969. And why the recent incarnation of the band was better than the first—because (again) they were “proper” musicians not just pop stars, musicians who had honed themselves to the pursuit of musical excellence. Or something like that.
He would also undoubtedly tell you how “Smoke on the Water” was based on a very real fire at the Montreux Casino during a Frank Zappa concert in 1971, where the venue was burnt to the ground. Depending on which version you heard, the fire was caused by either a flaregun fired by a member of the audience, or possibly a firework, or possibly by a “boy throwing lighted matches in the air, and one of them got stuck on the very low ceiling.” Whichever, the fire started and quickly engulfed the building.

Founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Claude Nobs was at the venue that fateful night and helped rescue quite a few of the audience from death. He was also key in persuading Deep Purple not to “scrap” “Smoke on the Water” from inclusion on their mighty album Machine Head. As Nobs recalled:

Deep Purple were watching the whole fire from their hotel window, and they said, “Oh my God, look what happened. Poor Claude and there’s no casino anymore!” They were supposed to do a live gig [at the Casino] and record the new album there. Finally I found a place in a little abandoned hotel next to my house and we made a temporary studio for them.

One day they were coming up for dinner at my house and they said, “Claude we did a little surprise for you, but it’s not going to be on the album. It’s a tune called ‘Smoke On The Water.’” So I listened to it. I said, “You’re crazy. It’s going to be a huge thing.” Now there’s no guitar player in the world who doesn’t know [he hums the riff]. They said, “Oh if you believe so we’ll put it on the album.”

It’s actually the very precise description of the fire in the casino, of Frank Zappa getting the kids out of the casino, and every detail in the song is true. It’s what really happened. In the middle of the song, it says “Funky Claude was getting people out of the building,” and actually when I meet a lot of rock musicians, they still say, “Oh here comes Funky Claude.”

Deep Purple were originally called Roundabout—when the band was just a concept conjured up by Searchers drummer Chris Curtis in 1967. Curtis shared a low rent apartment with young musician Jon Lord, who was earning his spurs playing with many different bands—including a tour with the Flowerpot Men (best known for the song “Let’s Go to San Francisco”). Curtis explained his idea of the Roundabout being a group of three people—Curtis, Lord and a guitarist named Ritchie Blackmore—around which other band members would hop on and off when required. Not much happened. Lord toured. And Blackmore never turned up for a meeting about this “concept band.” That is, until Curtis took way too many drugs, covered the apartment in aluminum foil—reasoning it stopped all the good vibes escaping, and upped and left Lord with rent due, no band, and not much of a future.

That very day, the fabled Ritchie Blackmore turned up at the door to discuss Roundabout with Curtis. Instead, he and Lord discussed forming their own band, which eventually became Deep Purple. The name came from the song “Deep Purple”—a favorite of Blackmore’s aunt. Other possible band names were Concrete God, Orpheus and Zephyr.
More after the jump, plus Deep Purple live in New York…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
10:42 am
Heavy metal prog-rock overload: Deep Purple’s legendary ‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’
05:13 pm

Although the 1975 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records listed heavy metal pioneers Deep Purple as the world’s “loudest band,” they’ve gone through quite a number of different phases during their long career, including doing Neil Diamond and Beatles covers and a prog-rock phase as a sort of heavier Moody Blues. Even so, Concerto for Group and Orchestra composed by Jon Lord with lyrics by Ian Gillan still stands out in their catalog.

The Concerto was first performed by Deep Purple and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Arnold on September 24, 1969 at the Royal Albert Hall. It is perhaps the most elaborate thing ever to have been mounted by a rock group at that time and one of the first collaborations between a rock band and an orchestra—The Nice’s heavily orchestral Five Bridges and Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed are the only similar things from the era that come easily to mind. It was also the first outing of Deep Purple’s “Mark II” lineup (Ritchie Blackmore – guitar; Jon Lord – keyboards; Ian Paice – drums; Ian Gillan – lead vocals, harmonica; Roger Glover – bass).

One minute they were paling around with the classical players of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the next they were recording the mighty Deep Purple In Rock? Go figure.

The set that evening began with a nearly half-hour composition by conductor Malcolm Arnold followed by Deep Purple playing their hit cover of Joe South’s “Hush,” plus “Wring That Neck” (with a fine extended display of Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar pyrotechnics) and “Child in Time” before the Concerto began.

The concert was videotaped and part of it—the actual Concerto part—was telecast by the BBC as Best of Both Worlds: Concerto for Group and Orchestra and released on LP in December of 1969 as simply Concerto for Group and Orchestra. In the video you can see some of the priggish classical musicians deliberately making sniffy expressions. It’s kind of funny. They may have thought it was shit when it was being performed, but looking at it from today’s vantage point, it ain’t too bad. In fact, it’s pretty great. (I admit to having a fondness for this album.)

Gillan and Blackmore were apparently not happy with being thought of as “the group with the orchestra.” Their next outing, Deep Purple In Rock, which came out just half a year later, would feature heavy metal ravers like “Speed King” and “Child in Time” with nary an oboe, clarinet or string section to be heard.

Posted by Richard Metzger
05:13 pm
Machine Head: Deep Purple in concert, 1972
12:54 pm

Admittedly Deep Purple are a bit of a (slightly) guilty pleasure for me, and one I indulge in from time to time (several times a year). They’re basically a deeply unhip band, of course—I blame David Coverdale—but no matter, I’ll always take Machine Head and a good greatest hits with me on each and every road trip, thank you very much.

In this 94-minute set shot in Denmark in 1972, the proceedings start off right with an amazingly ferocious version of “Highway Star” that sounds exactly the way you want it to. A true barnstormer of a concert in support of the then new Machine Head album (oddly no “Smoke on the Water” performed here). Featuring the classic “Mark II” incarnation of the band—Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Ian Gillan (vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Jon Lord (keyboards), Ian Paice (drums).

I listened to this in the background three times yesterday. It’s the tits, seriously, one of the best live Deep Purple sets you’ll ever hear (notice I wrote “hear” as the camerawork is not great). Available as part of the Deep Purple Live in Concert 72/73 DVD.

I can’t embed the full concert, but you can watch it here.

Posted by Richard Metzger
12:54 pm
Deep Purple’s Jon Lord dead at 71

One time Deep Purple keyboardist, Jon Lord has died in London at the age of 71. In a band with such a continuously flucuating line-up, Lord was one of the heavy group’s few constant members, co-writing hits like “Smoke on the Water,” “Strange Kind of Woman” and “Black Night.” Lord played keyboards in Deep Purple from the band’s formation in 1968 through their first split in 1976 and when they reformed in 1984 until he retired from music in 2002.

The statement from his website reads:

It is with deep sadness we announce the passing of Jon Lord, who suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism today, Monday 16th July at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Jon was surrounded by his loving family.

Jon Lord, the legendary keyboard player with Deep Purple co-wrote many of the bands legendary songs including Smoke On The Water and played with many bands and musicians throughout his career.

Best known for his Orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra first performed at Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by the renowned Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple.

Jon’s solo work was universally acclaimed when he eventually retired from Deep Purple in 2002.

Jon passes from Darkness to Light.

Born in Leicester, June 9, 1941, Lord was a classically trained pianist, who originally planned a career as an actor. He attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, while keyboards (piano, Hammond organ) with various Jazz combos.

In 1960, he joined the jazz band the Bill Ashton Combo. He also worked a as session musician playing keyboards on The Kinks first hit “You Really Got Me”. During the mid-1960s, Lord formed and played with a variety of bands (including one with Ronnie Wood) before forming Deep Purple with Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice in 1968.

Deep Purple, along with Black Sabbath, pioneered Heavy Metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Purple had the edge through the Blackmore’s brilliant guitar-playing and Lord’s mastery of the keyboards (primarily the Hammond organ). Together they made Deep Purple one of the most exciting bands on the planet. Of particular merit was their ability to perform a classical album Concerto for Group and Orchestra, mainly under Lord’s influence, and one of Rock’s greatest albums Machine Head, mainly under Blackmore’s influence. It was this ability to try out each other’s musical ideas that made the band so successful. Or as Lord said in 1973:

‘We’re as valid as anything by Beethoven.’

After he left Deep Purple in 1976, Lord released a solo album Sarabande and then went on to join Whitesnake, remaining an integral part of the band until 1984.

Lord was a brilliant musician, whose talents went beyond his work in Rock and Heavy Metal. He wrote and released several classical music albums including The Gemini Suite , Windows and To Notice Such Things. He also had a fruitful collaboration with the singer Sam Brown on the albums, Before I Forget, the concept album, Picture Within and Beyond the Notes.

Jon Lord 9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012.

Bonus: Deep Purple in concert from New York, 1973, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
03:21 pm
Bilzen Festival 1969: 2 Hour Concert with The Bonzos, Deep Purple, Shocking Blue and more

Not going out tonight? Then stay in and enjoy over 2 hours worth of compilation footage of the Blizen Jazz Festival, from 1969. The concert includes performances by Deep Purple, The Move, Humble Pie, Shocking Blue, The Moody Blues, Soft Machine, Marsha Hunt, leading up to a joyous set by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Here’s the listing as posted on YouTube in no particular order:

Shocking Blue - August 22, 1969
“Venus” + interview

Deep Purple - August 22 1969
“Wring That Neck” 
“Mandrake Root”

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - August 22, 1969
“Big Shot”
“You Done My Brain In”
“Hello Mabel”
“Urban Spaceman”
“Quiet Talks And Summer Walks”
“I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
“Canyons Of Your Mind”
“Trouser Press”

Taste - August 22, 1969
“Blister On The Moon”
“Sugar Mama”

Moody Blues - August 22, 1969
“Tuesday Afternoon”
“Have You Heard” (Part 1)
“The Voyage”
“Have You Heard” (Part 2)

Soft Machine - August 22, 1969
“Moon In June” + interview

Marsha Hunt & White Trash - August 22, 1969
“My World Is Empty Without You Babe”

Brian Auger & The Trinity - August 22, 1969
“I Just Got Some”

Steve Shorter & Tilly Set - August 22 1969
“Move On Up”

Humble Pie - August 24 1969
“The Sad Bag Of Shaky Jake” /” I Walk On Gilded Splinters”

Life - August 24 1969
“Baby Please Don’t Go”

Blossom Toes - August 24 1969

The Move - August 24 1968
“Sunshine Help Me”

Roland and The Bluesworkshop - August 23 1968
Belgian TV - BRT

Various clips from this concert have appeared on the web over the years, but when placed altogether like this, it is a fab 2 hours. Enjoy!


Posted by Paul Gallagher
06:32 pm