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Top 100 Hard Rock Groups

#3 Deep Purple

By James West,

Richie Etsy.jpg

"Come On... Come On... Come On... Let's Go Space Truckin'!!! " yells The Rocker Chic as I forward through the tracks of a "Best Of Deep Purple" CD until I get to the track containing the chant she can't get out of her head!

It's the same chant you have heard at the 1,000's of Purple concerts since the track first found its way to the airwaves back in 1972.  The same, of course, can be said at any guitar store when you hear the "Dum Dum Dum, Dum Dum Da Dum..." of Smoke On The Water from any Guitar "Dummy" learning how to play for the first time! You can include me in this group of people for the past 40 years or so! Ha!

Deep Purple - The Peak Of Perfection!

Deep Purple are the third band that make up my "Trifecta" of Supergroups and rank only behind Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath for the Greatest Hard Rock Band in history.  With all the Mysticism of Zeppelin and the Doom of Sabbath, the Purple may have struggled to find their true identity in the late sixties.  But ask any musician or music aficionado from that time and they will say the same thing- "Perfection".


Deep Purple's members were all perfect in their music abilities.  The brilliance of Ritchie Blackmore ranks second to only Hendrix in my opinion, and there's no touching The Lord of the Keys Jon Lord!  Ian Paice is often cited as the best technical drummer of the era as well.  Throw in the awesome Roger Glover on bass and the greatest vocal range of any singer in Ian Gillan and this "Perfect" combination of power and ability definitely held their own against any band of the time.

My first exposure to Deep Purple was an 8-track of "Machine Head" like most everybody else.  I had heard "Hush" before that but to me it was a totally different band I thought.  Hush was the 60's to me, and Machine Head was definitely the 70's in every way. 

For some reason I was real hung up over an organ player being in a band! Ha!  I always thought a "True" Rock band had a singer, guitar player, bass player, and drummer, and that was it.  Keyboards were not allowed in my little "Rock Band Club", however, Jon Lord's organ kinda sounded like a guitar so I let it slide.  Was I the only kid who thought this?  


Anyway, I continued to get into the organ-guitar thing until that 8-track started to get that damn "squeak" and the carbon started coming off the tape and it clogged up the pads.  Do you remember that? Ha!  The time came to find another Machine Head, but I wanted to check out what else the band had to offer.  But all I could find in my little Arkansas hometown record store, appropriately titled "The Electric Moo" was, yes, another Machine Head. 

Machine Head here, Machine Head there, everywhere a Machine Head!  I guess Deep Purple didn't make it to the "Deep South" very much.

I eventually found Purple Heaven when I got stationed overseas in Japan, and the CD stores there had every Deep Purple album known to exist.  All you had to do was shift through every Kanji-titled CD in the place until you found them!


I first went back to "In Rock" and then worked my way forward through "Stormbringer".  What I loved most was the true versatility of the band.  With Purple, you got elements of jazz, swing, blues, rock, and even gospel all delivered in what could be described as a metal format.  They really could deliver anything they set their mind to.

Which Purple Do You Pick?

Out of the Tri-fecta of Top Hard Rock Bands, Deep Purple has the most versions of the band to choose from.  The earliest conception of the band had Rod Evans on vocals, but the only song I enjoyed from this Mark I version of the band was their breakout hit Hush. The Mark II version will always be the Purple I pick most to put in the CD player.  They were absolutely at their peak with Gillan and Blackmore together.  Mark III with David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes had their moments, but I found Glenn's voice a bit too annoying for my taste at the time!  To tell you the truth, after Ritchie Blackmore left the band after Stormbringer I didn't even listen to Come Taste The Band with Tommy Bolin in the short-lived Mark IV.




I was actually a big fan of Slaves and Masters with Joe Lynn Turner on vocals though.  I wish this Mark V version would have put out more material!   Deep Purple Mark VI with Steve Morse on guitar is still recording and touring, and I did pick up a copy of Perpendicular when it came out.  The album does have its moments, but to put it simply-- Blackmore is Deep Purple to me!

There will always be Zep Clones and Sabbath clones, but there will never be another band to harness the Power of the Purple with Blackmore steering the ship.  The closest you'll get is from dummies like myself doing the dum dum dum, dum dum da dum at your local music shop!

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