MY SWEET LORD
- Melody Maker March 1971
Chris Welch talks to Deep Purple's
DEEP PURPLE, are a strange band,
according to my Great Scroll Of The Groups. This is a yellowing parchment upon wich is
charted the fortunes of Rock and Roll musicians.
And never has a band changed its
fortunes as much as the aggregation comprising Jon Lord, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Ritchie
Blackmore and Roger Glover.
At this instant in time they are escalating
their chart position with yet another hit single "Strange Kinda Woman." Yet on
consulting the Great Scroll, this time last year, they were inscribed as
"progressive, with classical proclivities."
"We're becoming a regular teenybop
attraction," agreed Jon Lord, Hammond juggler and gentleman this week.
But on scattering old bones, ashes and
hydra's teeth, they foretell that Deep Purple are destined to be unified and positive in
their approach. According to Jon, their mildmannered super organist, the group's first few
albums are to be discarded. Deep Purple today are a powerfull force in the firmament or
rock, bent on entertaining, while yet employing their undoubted musicianship.
Gillan is an unusual lead vocalist, and
Jon, Ritchie and Ian are exeptional soloist. They have resolved inner conflicts as style
and approach which so previously confused the aforementioned Scroll, avaiable for private
viewing daily, Bank Holidays and Rogation Sunday excepted. Jon talked with Purple passion
about the band's progress and present position. He also revealed details of his own
exciting solo project.
"I notice we are getting a younger
element coming to see us now," he said, sounding not entirely displeased. "It
seems that today a progressive band can get into the chart without detriment to 'live'
appeal as seemed t happen to Free.
"If you like your music liberally
laced with showmanship, you will be a Deep Purple fan - I think. And if you like it not so
heavy - but with showmanship, then you will like Elon John. And I notice audiences are
quite prepared to wear different (metaphorical) hats for different bands." One
suggested to Jon that the early career of Purple had been puzzling to pundits.
"It was puzzling to me and the others!
There was just a lack of direction. The first three albums were pleasant, but
directionless. Nobody knew quite what on earth the group was doing."
"Then we made a conscious effort to
stop and think about writing material we all understood. And the result was 'Deep Purple
In Rock,' which was really our stage act. That was the turning point. And the point is -
we do believe in what we are doing together."
"We are not too much interested in
educating our audiences. We are more intersted in entertaining. That's what it's all
about." How about Jon's own playing? He began as a jazz inclined swinger with the old
Artwoods and like his friend Keith Emerson, began to explore the artistry of Bach.
"I think I've come to understand the
meaning of the word funk. I used to be a very clinical organist. Technically competent but
with little feeling. I've learnt a lot from Ritchie our guitarist and little Ian the
"I've had to learn to throw the book
out of the window." Altough Purple began in February 1968, Jon feels the band realy
started much later with the arrival of Ian and Roger. "There was a tremendous upswing
and renaissance when they joined."
Shortly after their arrival Jon took the
group into its classical adventure, cumulating with a concert with the Royal Phil at the
Royal Albert Hall.
"I stil think the fusion of a group
and orchestra has validity, if only for entertainment. And in fact I am working on a solo
project this week with the London Symphony Orchestra. We are recording my 'Gemini Suite'
at the EMI Studios in London."
Although this will be a strictly Jon Lord
production, among the musicians involved will be Roger Glover, and Ian Paice from Purple
as well as Tony Ashton, Albert Lee and Yvonne Elliman.
"It's all my own work!" smiled
Jon. "And I've asked Keith Emerson to come and play as well, if he has time. "It
should be frightening, working with the orchestra. I'm scared already. There is a point
where I have asked the orchestra to improvise, which should be fun. If it comes off I'll
have proved a point. With a bit of application and inspiration, it should prove valid for
"With the group's present succes, now
is the time for individual members of the group to indulge in various projects. I think
Ritchie wants to make his own album as well. Complacency is our biggest enemy."
Published with kind permission
from the friendly Highway Star.