Purple history – America 1976

Posted: January 14, 2016 in Classic Rock, Deep Purple Family

The last Deep Purple tour of the US in the 1970s was a success in numbers but quite a failure in other ways. They still commanded massive crowds but a general feeling of despair had begun to manifest itself – talk of solo careers started to appear in interviews and it is fair to say that the spirit of Deep Purple died on the road Stateside in January-March of 1976. In the end, for some, it became a case of getting through the tour and meet the obligations. For David Coverdale, he could see that it was over and that he was in a very dangerous place. He tried to cancel the UK tour that was coming up after America but was talked into doing it by tour manager Rob Cocksey for business reasons. It was a decision that he would later regret. Coverdale, it would seem, was a depressed soul at this point.

It is no secret today that both Glenn Hughes and Tommy Bolin was unhappy as well and that they would rather have been elsewhere doing their own thing. They both felt trapped and in the case of Tommy, every day spent with Deep Purple on the road meant less time to support his own solo album “Teaser”. The chaps in the band understood this frustration though and gave him an opportunity to play a song from the album every night, so there was an effort there to keep the new boy happy. His bad habits was beginning to manifest in ways that was not acceptable though, on some nights he would disappoint and you can not do that in front of large crowds for long before it hurts the reputation of the group.

A dealer was now pretty much part of the scene, bag in hand and ready. Glenn was out of control, even talking about the drug while on stage (as can be heard on the “Live At Long Beach 1976” album, I will write a post about this release later on). Somewhere on this trek, Glenn also discovered that Jon Lord had nicked his girlfriend. If you want drama, this tour had it spades. To this day, we simply don not know it all, and probably for good reasons.

In New York, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham walked onstage in a drunken stupor to say a few words about “The Song Remains The Same” (the film that Zeppelin had made), and managed to discredit the new Purple and new guitarist Tommy Bolin in particular in the process. He was mortified later, but it was not a pretty sight, and a real embarrassment. News of this did not make it to the press, it was handled well by the publicists. Bonham had “jammed on stage with Purple”. The band also threw a big party in New York, and Zeppelin attended. Robert Plant (it would be known later) reportedly had his eye on Tommys girlfriend. In any case, good publicity. Glenn writes about these nights in New York in his 2011 autobiography.

Jon Lord was going through the motions, drinking to get by. He admitted as much years later. He too, knew deep down that it was over. It is not clear if he ever had talks with Ian Paice about the future during the US tour, but it is clear that the two of them decided to quit after the show in Liverpool in England on March 15, minutes before Coverdale marched in and declared that he was leaving the band.

At the end of the day, Deep Purple was a very unhappy unit in these first months of 1976 and there was no way that they would survive for long now. Too many unresolved issues. At the end of the day, it was not about the money. It was about the integrity.

It is telling that the band did not pose for any group shots during the entire US tour, if they ever did, we certainly still have to see it.

I will add a few additional chapters in this story on the appropriate dates.

* * * * *

Deep Purple played the following cities on the US tour of 1976…

JANUARY – 14. Fort Bragg (North Carolina), 15. Largo (Maryland), 16. Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), 18. Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), 19. Rhode Island (New York), 22. New York (New York), 23. New York (New York), 24. Boston (Maryland), 26. Springfield (Massachusetts), 27. Hershey (Pennsylvania), 28. Rochester (New York), 30. Greensborough (North Carolina), 31. Johnson City (Tennesee).

FEBRUARY – 1. Columbus (Ohio), 3. Atlanta (Georgia), 4. Birmingham (Alabama), 6. Lakeland (Florida), 8. Miami (Florida), 11. Bloomington (Illinois), 12. Detroit (Michigan), 13. Dayton (Ohio), 14. Chicago (Illinois), 15. Madison (Wisconsin), 17. Oklahoma City (Oklahoma), 18. San Antonio (Texas), 19. Abilene (Texas), 21. Fort Worth (Texas), 22. Houston (Texas), 24. El Paso (Texas), 27. Los Angeles (California), 28. San Bernardino (California), 29. Tempe (Arizona).

MARCH – 2. Salt Lake City (Utah), 4. Denver (Colorado).

* * * * *

(Images removed from original post due to EU regulations)

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