Purple history – Tempe 1976

Posted: February 29, 2016 in Classic Rock, Deep Purple Family

DP_Tempe76

40 years ago today (on February 29 1976), the Deep Purple juggernaut rolled into Phoenix, Arizona for a show at the Sun Diablo Stadium in Tempe, situated between two mountains in the area. Although it was the final tour of the 1970s for Deep Purple, with the fourth linup in a very illustrious eight year history, stadiums like this was still the hunting ground for this unique outfit. Photographer Neil Preston got to work on the day and by the looks of it he had full access to move around the stage, resulting in many interesting angles (many shots were taken with the huge crowd seen behind the guys). It is a fact that Preston´s MK4 material from this day remains as some of the best that was ever taken.

I remember seeing a shot of the band with one of these mountains as a backdrop and thinking it was a very cool place to have played. So I was always a little bit curious as to where it might have been. I mean it was obvious that it was Stateside and in a desert area, but you had to be Columbo to figure out the details in the pre-computor age. Then I had a chance to ask Glenn Hughes about it and I remember him looking at a picture in a magazine article thinking back and commenting that it was “Probably Phoenix”. One of these shots eventually appeared on the “Taste It Downunder” bootleg (Melbourne, Australia) and so many thought that these images was from the early part of the tour. You can be forgiven for thinking that the desert like invironment did point to Australia, but I always knew it had been somewhere in the US (you could see it on their clothes, they never performed looking like this until the American trek). Got to love Tommy Bolin´s “The Ultimate” t-shirt.

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One of Preston´s shots of Tommy Bolin ended up on the cover of a 1976 issue of the Japanese guitar magazine Player (see top image). The one you can see here popped up in 1983 in a Japanese photo book. Some wonderful shots appeared recently in the limited edition Jon Lord book as well (one of the most iconic shots show Lord smiling, a possible indication that this was one of the good days on this tour). The more you see the more you wish that the photographer published a book on his own from this day. People would be ecstatic if he did.

There is no indication when I write this that this show was filmed or recorded in some way (by radio or by some fans). There´s always a chance that a local television news crew did something. After all, it was a major event. If anybody that experienced this has information on this, please get in touch.

At this point in the tour, only Salt Lake City and Denver remained Stateside before the band headed back to England where things finally fell apart. One of the biggest bands in the world was on its last legs when they performed in Tempe.

To be continued…

Interesting facts:

The Sun Devil Stadium was built in 1958 for 30,000 people and was updated to take in 57,000 in 1976. It is unclear if the new stadium was ready when Deep Purple performed there.

Nazareth and Montrose opened up for Deep Purple on this day (Nazareth had done the entire US tour, for Montrose it was a one-off).

Will Ferrel shot the 2010 film “Everything Must Go” very close to this place, if you´re a bit of a trainspotter you´ll recognise one of these hills when it pops up in the background. I spotted in no time at all, how about that?

The classic television western series The High Chaparral was filmed on location just outside Phoenix. That´s a very, very cool fact.

(Top image of the arena was not taken on the day that Deep Purple performed there).

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Comments
  1. […] THE MK 4 WORLD TOUR SERIES – Purple history coming up – Hawaii 1975 – New Zealand 1975 – Australia 1975 – Jakarta 1975 – Japan 1975 – America 1976 – New York 1976 – Rochester 1976 – Miami 1976 – Oklahoma City 1976 – Long Beach 1976 – Tempe 1976. […]

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