The Rapture of Deep Purple

I hesitate to use Beethoven in the same breath as Deep Purple but Beethoven's Fifth [Symphony] took two notes – well, three notes but two of them are the same – and it's so instantly recognizable but it couldn't be simpler. That's the key, to be that simple AND that recognizable and original. "Smoke" actually comes up to that. To me, "Smoke" is every bit as good as what Beethoven wrote in those notes.

-Roger Glover


What did you think of the guitar gathering in Kansas City this past June where they used "Smoke On The Water" for the largest gathering of guitarists in one place?

Roger Glover
We don't take it that seriously but it's certainly an honor to be associated with a riff that famous. Ritchie did come up with a real gem there. I've tried to analyze what it is about that riff that makes it so good, because I think it's the riff more than the song. The song is a very specific story about something that happened to us and didn't happen to anyone else. Usually when you write songs they're about love or redemption or another universal theme people can identify with. With "Smoke On The Water" who can identify with that story that happened to us? Yet, they do. But to be honest, it's probably more the riff than the lyrics. I'll give Ritchie his due.

The Zappa reference hasn't hurt its cult either.

It's brilliant because [pauses], I hesitate to use Beethoven in the same breath as Deep Purple but Beethoven's Fifth [Symphony] took two notes – well, three notes but two of them are the same – and it's so instantly recognizable but it couldn't be simpler. That's the key, to be that simple AND that recognizable and original. "Smoke" actually comes up to that. To me, "Smoke" is every bit as good as what Beethoven wrote in those notes.

That sort of inspired simplicity is right there in the band's name, which I've always thought was a perfect rock & roll name. It gets right to it but it's not a specific image. Are you still happy with that name? What does it mean to you now?

It's become a sound. But thank God it is that [name]. One of the original suggestions before I joined was Concrete God. Can you imagine us still talking about Concrete God [laughs]. Deep Purple is a good name because it's amorphous. Years ago in the early '60s I heard this band with this semi-hit, which I thought was really great. I really liked it and I saw their photograph in the music papers but I thought, "They'll never make it with a stupid name like that." The Beatles. And I actually thought that. What I learned from that was [a group's name] becomes a sound and you don't think of it anymore.

Their name transcended the insect culturally. My first experience with Deep Purple was as a kid discovering Machine Head in my uncle's record collection. In the midst of all the soft rock my family was listening to I felt this was really manly music. There's something sort of hirsute...

...and robust (laughs)!

I think that's something you've maintained over the years, too.

Deep Purple
My memories of it actually come from not many years before that. In 1968, at the sort of end of Flower Power when Jimi Hendrix and Creem were reaching their peak, the buzzword amongst musicians and fans was "heavy." Like, "That's heavy, man." It wasn't a genre so much as it was heavy. I remember an episode where we tried to be "heavy" by buying new, bigger amplifiers and turning them up. Turns out we were playing the same posh we were playing before just louder. It was really quite an exercise, a horrible noise, really. Then a couple things happened, one of which was I heard Zeppelin for the first time and I realized that "heavy" was not loudness, it was attitude. Within a week or so of hearing Led Zeppelin I met Deep Purple and was jamming with them. Then came the offer to join them. All of the sudden I was in a "heavy" band, without masses of gear. There was a feeling that [said], "We aren't a commercial band. The BBC don't play the kind of music we write, so why don't we do what we really want to do?" I picked this up from the other musicians. I was the new boy in the band going along for the ride, in a way. When we got into the studio and tried to capture what went on onstage, where things were pretty wild, we'd rehearse but nothing seemed to be anything like the concerts. People would just stop in the middle of songs and go off on a solo tangent then come thundering back in. It was chaotic and crazy and very exciting. One thing I'll always remember about trying to capture that in the studio was the VU meters were always in the red. There was a feeling of trying to play your instrument to its utmost limits. That was my overriding impression of those first few albums – how can I push this guitar this much further. I think that's what gives them that robust feeling.

Does it still have that feeling for you?

Yes it does. It's a magic thing. When I was 15, I went to a talent contest and didn't win. The people who won it were a four-piece band called The Men of Mystery. It was at a British Legion hall and the stage was small. I was by the side of the stage while they did their piece, and my overriding memory of it was that they wore Cuban heel boots and the stage was dusty. I was right next to the bass player's boot, and I could sync up his boot to the drummer's bass drum pedal. So, when the bass drum pedal went down his boot went down. They were together, and it was just such a wonderful sound! It was something that I would aspire to afterwards. That's one of those little snapshots that stays in my memory, and more than occasionally onstage I'll be playing away – and you might go to all different places when you're playing – and I'll think back to that. And I'll listen to Paicey's bass drum and I'll listen to me and we'll be bangin' it the same way. That same excitement is still there. It's definitely a passion that's not gone away.

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[Published on: 12/6/07]

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nathanjrod Fri 12/7/2007 07:53AM
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Great job, DC...

But DP comparing "Smoke on the Water" to Beethoven's 5th is...hilarious.

Tim9 starstarstar Fri 12/7/2007 09:03AM
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"There's such a fine line between stupid and clever."

mike_c Fri 12/7/2007 09:31AM
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"Smoke On The Water and Cat Scratch Fever are the same f'ing song, but Smoke On The Water is a BETTER song!"


‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/7/2007 09:49AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

steve morse is a bad ass.

snappy Fri 12/7/2007 10:48AM
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I think Glover was only talking about the opening bit of Beethoven's Fifth not the whole symphony (i.e. the "hook" of it's day), and in that respect "Smoke" gives it a run for its money.

Jamshyd Fri 12/7/2007 11:24AM
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Heres the rapture on Deep Purple: They are WAAAAAAAAAAAAY over-rated. Especially their guitar players. Roger Glover I can stand, but Steve Morse and especially Ritchie Blackmore. He was once quoted to saying "Jimi Hendrix often hit wrong notes, but nobody could notice because of all the noise he was making." Who does he think he is? All of them for that fact. For this type of rock, progressive if you will, I would much rather prefer Yes or King Crimson. To put it simply Deep Purple road the coattails of an incredible catchy song and stuck with it. Can you honestly mark any changes in their career? No, because its all been one big overblown catchy, easy, and now just like them: annoying.

And yes comparing "Smoke On the Water" to a SYMPHONY by mother-fucking BEETOVEN?!?!?!?!? You must either be so far up Ritchie Blackmore's ass, not no anything about music, or both to make that kind of statement. I'd rather pay money to visit Beetoven's grave then get paid money to go to a Deep Purple show.

crawf Fri 12/7/2007 11:47AM
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I hate to start rumors but I've heard thru gravepine that led zep and these guys will be touring in 08 together.

All Loving Liberal White Guy starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/7/2007 12:37PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

Awesome job, Dennis. Love me some Deep Purple. While the album "Machinehead" is a classic, I love that album "Deep Purple in Rock". Probably one of the best roadtrip albums ever.

Ha, anybody ever see that episode of the Sopranos where Tony is driving in his Chevy Suburban and rocking out to "Smoke on the Water" and then the cd begins skipping and then Tony gets all pissed and starts cussing and bashing in his head unit and then has a panic attack and crashes? Good times.

daveapaug starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/7/2007 03:42PM
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Sorry folks, but Smoke on the Water is a great song. Unfortunately you've heard it about 85 million times more than you should have. The Purple put on a great show recently at the Warfield. Jamshyd, how can you compare the purple to yes or king crimson? Deep purple are a blues band. Yes and KC are Prog Rockers, totally different. Deep Purple sound more like Zeppelin than anyone else.

p.s. Roger Glover plays Bass

p.p.s. check out guitar player magazine: Steve Morse voted Guitarist of the year 5 years straight, and then they had to make him no longer eligible so others could get some play.

Jamshyd Fri 12/7/2007 10:51PM
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P.S. - I know Roger plays bass, bass guitar that is.

P.P.S. - Deep Purple sound LIKE Zeppelin. Zeppelin is a blues band. There also a rock band, also considered one of the first metal bands. DP are none of these.

P.P.P.S. - If I cared what guitar magazine said about "Guitarist of the Year" I would gather that at least 20 others could take that honor way over him. Like John Frucantie, Dereck Trucks, hell even John Mayer

All Loving Liberal White Guy Fri 12/7/2007 11:55PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

Jamshyd, what a crock of crap that is. To say that Deep Pujrple isn't a metal band is like saying that Russian people don't like vodka.

Deep Purple remains among the main triad of bands (the other two being Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath) that are the forefathers of heavy metal. Without DP (ha ha.....DP) heavy metal wouldn't have been what it is today. I'm nor saying that without DP there wouldn't have been any metal bjut thier influence has had a profound impact on all the tunes that people bang thier heads to.

yemmw Sat 12/8/2007 08:02AM
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Steve Morse . . . wishes he were JIMMY HERRING!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHH!! zing

bulgingminiscus starstarstarstar Mon 12/10/2007 01:09PM
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how uninformed.youre big on zep and sabbath who for the most part play short concise songs the same way show after show. dp is truly ground breaking hybrid of jam band / hard rock band. check out extended improv of songs like "wring that neck" "lazy" "mandrake root" "space truckin"

guitardave starstarstar Tue 12/11/2007 01:01PM
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This guy sounds like something out of Spinal Tap with his Beethoven references. "Dozens of people spontaneously combust every year, its just not widely reported".

Our 2nd drummer died in a bizarre gardening accident, the authorities thought it was best left unsolved." Our gig in Boston was cancelled, don't worry its not a big college town".

P.S: steve morse and the dixie dregs were a HUGE influence on Mr. Herring.

Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple are Hard Rock not Heavy Metal, the distinction being that Metal is mostly crap, with the exception of Sabbath, Priest and Maiden.

blower starstarstar Tue 12/11/2007 05:00PM
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Thanks Guitar Dave for infusing reality. People dissing on Steve Morse?

Steve Morse and Jimmy Herring have both played with T. Lavitz as their primary keyboardist for christs sake. They probably have played together.

mackadocious Wed 12/12/2007 07:44AM
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I'd love to see Deep Purple just because of Morse. The man is ridiculously good. John Frusiante, John Mayer, who the hell are these guys again?

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Fri 12/14/2007 07:45AM
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Good posts GuitarDave & Mackadocious. Deep Purple is kind of enigma when it comes to really trying to define where they were in relation to Sabbath and Zeppelin... one thing is for sure, they were HUGE in Japan :)

I was a fan once of DP along with Zeppelin. I realize Sabbath was amazing, I just enjoyed the music of the heavy blues influence from Zep and DP. I too wouldn't mind finding myself at a DP show.... probably to only ask myself, "what am I doing here?" within 20 minutes.

guitardave starstarstar Thu 12/27/2007 12:05PM
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"Smell The Glove" has risen to #4 in Japan.

DaKracken starstarstarstar Sun 12/30/2007 10:25PM
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I enjoyed the article and find comfort in reading Roger Glover finds inspiration in a long forgotten garage band from a talent show and still trys to capture the feeling he felt watching a dusty boot sync with the bass drum. After all his experiences and success that is an incredibly humble statement. Speaking of humble let me tell ya about Steve Morse. Steve is as good a guitar player as any that has ever walked earth, period. I remember seeing him with the Dregs and being blown away at his ability to switch tempos on a dime and wail in a variety of different styles. I saw Steve do a solo show 20 years ago where he looped his guitars and sounded like a frickin orchestra-no drum machines,synth loops or backing tracks-just guitar and it was joyous. I was sick as a dog but made myself go to the show and 2 hours later I swear I was WELL. I told Steve he was the cure for the common cold after the show and he got embarrassed but said he was happy to have made me feel better. No rock star bullshit just a nice dude who is immensely talented but still likes talking about guitar gear with fans. Constant references to Smoke on the water is like being being compared to your popular brother when you start high school-it is your legacy so just roll with it and be glad you are associated with something postive. Deep Purple is heavy band who's catalog and legacy is often overlooked-thanks for the article