The sounds of waves that softly caressed the seashore weren't to be heard. The lean, lanky palms stopped in their sway as the wind took a break from its normal evening routine. Not a soul walked the shores of the fine-grained, silver sands to leave behind footprints. Strangely, the sea remained still. Even the famous beaches of Goa begged a reprieve to take in the music of the Deep Purple.
From Madgaon to Mapusa, Ponda to Panjim, Pepsi posters plastered across Goa asked, "Will you be there?" Oh, yes! They were there all right. Seven thousand plus at the Panjim Gymkhana, rocking, arms swaying, clasping hands, gyrating to music they've heard before and now the 'Rock Gods' were performing for them in flesh and blood.
That evening, 30,000 watts of power carried the best of Deep Purple through every nook and cranny of new, old and ancestral Goa. All hell couldn't break loose. The crowd was in a trance to even think about it. And mesmerized they were as the new line-up Deep Purple belted a fair number of classics which included The Highway Star, Hush, Ted the Mechanic, Aviator, When a Blind Man Cries, Child in Time and the inevitable Smoke on the Water. It was nothing short of explosive as the audience rocked, rocked and rocked. The harder it got the harder they rocked.
Interestingly, the absence of Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord went unnoticed. It didn't matter to this audience. They were already in a tizzy with the musical genius of Steve Morse and Don Airey and their deft handling of the lead guitar and keyboards, respectively. Then again, this was the Deep Purple wasn't it? The music was original, right? Wasn't it all happening before their eyes? And hey, what about the songs, the style, the mood? How about Ian Gillan's voice and acrobatics, Roger Glover's thumping Bass and Ian Paice's frenzied drumming? Wasn't it all there, Man? Agreed. So, what if one or two weren't with the band now? The music was just as great.
Three hours later the show was over, but for those seven thousand plus at the Panjim Gymkhana the music never died. And as they made their way home, wherever they came from, one thing was for sure. They'll re-live that memorable evening for a long, long time to come.
Goa had never seen anything like this before.
Over Thirty and Not Quite Over
The 70s was an era of change. When music turned adventurous, as did lifestyles. When classic music mixed with rock to generate wild sounds that sent audiences delirious. It was an era that saw the rise and fall of many artists and bands. Something new was blowing in the wind. Hard Rock. And with that came a new band on the circuit. Within two years an album called "Deep Purple in Rock" was their springboard to success.
In 1968 they called themselves the "Roundabout". Some disappointments later, they changed their name to The Deep Purple. Their first single, Hush/One More Rainy Day' was an instant hit. They recorded their first album 'Shades of Deep Purple' quickly followed by 'The Book of Taliesyn' and 'Deep Purple'. Each one was extremely successful.
They've rediscovered themselves on numerous occasions. The first line-up comprised of Ritchie Blackmore (guitar); Rod Evans (vocals); Jon Lord (keyboards); Ian Paice (drums) and Nick Simper (bass). But the classic line-up of the Deep Purple ruled the scene between July 1969 and June 1973 when Ian Gillan joined the band as lead singer and Roger Glover on bass guitar. During this period they released four albums - 'Deep Purple in Rock'; 'Fireball'; 'Machine Head' and 'Who Do We Think We Are'. They've recorded great hits that will be heard forever, like Black Knight, Strange Kind Of Woman and the ever popular epic, Smoke On The Water, inspired by a fire breakout in a Montreaux casino when they were performing alongside Frank Zappa in 1971?
When at the peak, chinks in the Deep Purple armour appeared. Ian Gillan left the band briefly and so did Roger Glover. And when they rejoined, Ritchie Blackmore decided he'd leave too. In 1974 the band recorded two albums in 'Burn' (1974) and 'Stormbringer' (1974). These were without Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.
Internal bickering, wading popularity and a wayward Deep Purple clearly sent signals that this was the end of the road for the band. In a sense this was true until 1984, when the classic line-up of Jon Lord, Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover and Ian Paice reunited. They celebrated their return with and album called 'Stangers' and three years came the next one, 'The House of Blue Light'.
Soon, they were at loggerheads once again and Ian left the band halfway through their Japan tour. In 1992 the classic line-up rejoined and gave many scintillating performances and released yet another hit album "The Battles Rages On". But their troubles were far from over. Ritchie Blackmore clearly pissed off with Ian Gillian rejoining the band decided to quit once for all. That brought in Joe Satriani who hung on for just a year and in 1994, Steve Morse took over as lead guitarist. Recently, in February 2001, Jon Lord at 60 years of age decided it was time to leave too.
This World Tour, which included the India leg, is perhaps the longest they've ever undertaken. Will this be their last gig? The fading away of the Deep Purple? Gillan, Glover and Paice have been jamming together for over thirty years and its clear that age can take its toll, though they feel they can carry on longer. They also talk of a new album in the offing, which they expect to release sometime in 2003.
Why speculate? With the Deep Purple one can never tell. They have it in them to make great music. Wait and watch. Maybe, their best is yet to come?
Excerpts from an exclusive interview with Ian Gillan