Purple history – Long Beach 1976

Posted: February 27, 2016 in Classic Rock, Deep Purple Family


Deep Purple performed at the Long Beach Arena in Los Angeles on February 27 1976, and in retrospect you could argue that this was their most important show as MK4, simply because it was a good night and it was in fact recorded by a radio station for later airing Stateside as part of the King Biscuit Flower Hour series. There had been an earlier attempt to catch a full show as early as January 26 in Springfield, but there had been problems with Tommy Bolin´s equipment. Since the tour was to go on for some time yet it was eventually decided to have another go and Long Beach was picked.

Now this is interesting because Los Angeles was home turf in some way, certainly for the American operation. Jon Lord and Ian Paice owned a house there, Glenn Hughes lived there, everybody was based in the Los Angeles area for tax reasons and for easy access to the all important US market. It was in Los Angeles that the band had picked up the pieces in the previous year and it was here that they first met Tommy Bolin and started to work with him. Ritchie Blackmore also used Los Angeles as his headquarters at this time and when the new version of Deep Purple landed in town for the Long Beach show he was in fact in the process of getting the “Rising” version of Rainbow together, and they were all invited to see Purple on this night. Blackmore has been quiet about this, perhaps he didn´t want to talk endlessly about the fact that he actually did see Deep Purple with Tommy Bolin perform, but it has been confirmed by other members of Rainbow that they were there on the night (and Blackmore actually did confirm that he had seen Purple in an interview he made in Australia in 1976). It was still very much a family kind of thing. We also know from interviews made in 1974 and 1975, prior to Blackmore leaving Purple, that he liked Bolin.

For some reason or another, and we will never know why, this turned out to be one of these brilliant nights when everything worked for the band. On top of this, the radio recording turned out great but the band did not get further involved since they were soon to head over to Britain and as we all know that was the end of not only this tour but of the band itself. I don´t have the exact date for when this aired on US radio, or exactly how much of it, but it must have been in 1976, and most likely way after the split.

A bootleg titled “Deep Purple – On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat” did pop up in 1977 with a few tracks (“Burn”, “Smoke On The Water”, “This Time Around/”Owed To G”, “Highway Star/”Not Fade Away”), and this alerted fans all over the world to the fact that a good source existed. People started to work in various ways to locate it since it was clearly lost. I gave a tape of the “Foxbat” bootleg to David Coverdale in 1981 in the hope for a reaction but nothing came out of that. I also wrote a letter to Glenn Hughes (still have a copy) in 1988. When the tapes were finally located it was Simon Robinson of the UK Deep Purple Appreciation Society that finally got permission from the old management (Deep Purple Overseas) to release it on the Connoisseur label. This was in 1995 so it was released as a double CD, and not in LP format (everybody thought vinyl was dead back then). It was quite a moment for me (I was credited, which was nice). At this point, most diehards knew about the “Foxbat” bootleg so the title was used on the 1995 release – “On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat – Live In California – Long Beach Arena 1976”. The “Foxbat” bootleg had sported a photograph of some Chinese soldiers on the cover (printed in pinkish red), which seemed a bit strange back in the day. But the picture was actually ripped from a 1976 ad for Deep Purple, so the connection was there.

To me this show proves that Deep Purple MK4 was every bit as good as any other version of the band, they just never managed to keep the standard on this level and that was it. The hedonistic side fucked up the music and when that happens you´re in trouble.

There has been a few versions of this concert on CD since 1995, the best so far being the 2009 “Live At Long Beach 1976” (and I think it is wise to drop the “Foxbat” thing now since many will not understand what that comes from) on Purple Records. It has never been officially released in LP format which is a bit of a shame, but I think it´s highly likely that we´ll see such a release at some point. It is also well deserved since it is – in my humble opinion – the best live album from Purple alongside “Made In Japan” and “Made In Europe”. Imagine a super box with all three?

Full track listing of the 1995 and 2009 releases: “Burn”, “Lady Luck”, “Getting Tighter”, “Love Child”, “Smoke On The Water”, “Lazy”, “Homeward Strut” (Bolin track from his “Teaser” album), “This Time Around”, “Owed To G”, Guitar solo, “Stormbringer”, “Highway Star”. Bonus tracks from Springfield: “Smoke On The Water”, “Going Down”, “Highway Star” (one has to wonder exactly what survived from that show?).

An American version of the 1995 release did go out under the King Biscuit Flower Hour banner sporting a pretty decent cover shot (there´s a couple of versions of this out now). BMG released a low budget affair titled “Extended Versions” (back in 2000) with no information whatsoever about sources etc and this has a MK4 group shot on the cover. You may want to avoid this one (it´s not a full show, so…).

When all has been said and done, most people will have to admit that Deep Purple still rocked back in 1976 when they hear recordings such as this. The fans that will not accept this are firmly placed in the Blackmore camp and perhaps even the very narrow Blackmore/Gillan camp, in which Coverdale and Hughes are ignored as well. At the end of the day it doesn´t matter. It happened and it was highly interesting. Hell, it was great!

But back in 1976 as the British gigs loomed, it was all about to crash and burn within a couple of weeks. But the band still conqured on American soil and the gig in Tempe, Arizona on February 29 was to be another highlight in the history of Deep Purple.

To be continued…

  1. […] – New York 1976 – Rochester 1976 – Miami 1976 – Oklahoma City 1976 – Long Beach 1976 – Tempe […]

  2. Anders says:

    Agree on all points, except that Davi Coverdale’s voice was pretty shot that night (or he had a cold) so he wasn’t able to sing to his normal ability (just compare with the Miami show, where he’s in top form).

  3. Timinox says:

    A long standing error that emerged from the liner notes of the 1995 edition of ‘Foxbat’ is that the Springfield show contained ‘Comin’ Home’ – this is not the case, it’s actually Drifter, but the person who logged what’s left of the show got their titles mixed up – Comin Home was NEVER performed live by Mk4. I have heard the (almost) complete Springfield recording and it has some overdubbing done by both Glenn and David (On Burn, ladyluck and This time around) – at what point they did the overdubs is anybody’s guess – I can’t imagine that they’d have been arsed with it AFTER the (UK) liverpool gig, so it must have been slotted in between Jan 26th and the final date on the US tour… It would have been really difficult to match up the vocals afterwards, especially with a relatively poor recording for radio (as opposed to a properly done recording like Made in Japan with good instrument separation) From DC’s comments I assume the gig was spoiled due to it raining heavily – so this amy also have been an outdoor gig – Tommy has several guitar problems – fading out of the mix sometimes and the clearly audible string break at the start of ‘Smoke’. Still fabulous to hear a clear recording of this line up though – I’d give my left nut for a soundboard from the Miami show – Tommy was on fire at that one…

    • Thank you for your interesting feedback. And yes, Miami would be nice to have in the old collection. We will probably see more MK4 stuff coming out, so who knows what the future holds. MIKE

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