- Melody Maker March 1971

Chris Welch talks to Deep Purple's JON LORD

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 drummer."

"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 entertainment."

"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.