Purple history – UK Tour 1976

Posted: March 11, 2016 in Classic Rock, Deep Purple Family

DP_uktour76

When Deep Purple did their five shows back in Britain between March 11 and March 15 1976 it was actually a pretty big homecoming. UK publication Sounds sported a big feature on the band with a fairly positive report from the US Tour by Geoff Barton that week and the shows were sold out. They played Leicester (11), London (12-13), Glasgow (14) and Liverpool (15). It was, however, the tour that finished Deep Purple in the 70s.

It could be argued that the spirit of the band had taken a severe blow much earlier and we do know that David Coverdale initially wanted to cancel the UK Tour. So when the band played the UK it was severly wounded, not least by drugs and alcohol, but also, perhaps, by a lack of faith. Glenn Hughes has stated that he did not sleep at all during this tour and that he could barely get through these shows. The press was out in force in London on the first night at the Wembley Empire, and they pretty much slaughtered the band. One headline read “Shocking Purple” and it was pointed out that Tommy Bolin had reputedly been carried on stage. NME wrote “Even backstage, an aura of discontent is evident before the gig. There´s no feeling of an event about to happen, which a Wembley gig certainly should be. And the obvious joviality between Lord, Coverdale, Paice and Bolin (Hughes isn´t around) is only superficial. To me the spirit of the band seems drained”.

According to reports, the band did a better show the next night at the Wembley Empire, but the damage had been done. Tapes exists of some of these shows and I think the band is pretty good, but there were flaws. First of all, the set excluded David Coverdale to a certain extent. The long version of “Getting Tighter” (sang by Glenn Hughes, as was “This Time Around” naturally), the individual solo spots by Ian Paice, Jon Lord and Tommy Bolin and the Bolin track they featured every night left David out in the cold for a good chunk of the set. Yes, they had a working formula, but they could have sharpened it up a little bit and added a song or two. Also, Tommy had a tendency to freeze up, his spot did invite calls for Ritchie Blackmore and in the UK it was bad. Johnnie Bolin, Tommy´s brother, told me in 2012 that it was pretty much over after the UK Tour as far as Tommy was concerned.

Still, if you looked at some reports, the press was still in favour of Deep Purple. Case in point, Bravo over in Germany reported that it was just as good as in the old days. Bravo had always supported Deep Purple in Germany and at the time upcoming gigs over there was probably talked about still. The band was supposed to take a break after the UK Tour, but a second leg to support “Come Taste The Band” had been in the cards (at least, early on).

A young Doogie White (Rainbow singer in the 90s) saw the band in Glasgow with a good friend. He had just been turned on to all things Purple and for him it was a good night. This is what he had to say on the subject when I met him in Stockholm 1995…

– “The first Purple album I ever heard was “Come Taste The Band”. Coverdale´s voice just blew me to bits. I was like, “Oh, just listen to this guy”. My little friend said “You should maybe listen to this”, and it was “Burn”, and I thought “That is amazing!”. It was the singer that got me at first, Coverdale´s voice, and then on “Burn” it was the guitar playing. Then he said “You have got to listen to this” – it was “Made In Japan”. You know, this was all in – it seemed like years – but it was all in the space of about three weeks. Then I went right through the catalogue from beginning to end, every single little note or word. Then I saw the Deep Purple gig in Glasgow, and I was blown away. Because I didn´t know the history of what was going on, I just bought the albums”.

After the show in Liverpool on March 15, David Coverdale walked up to Jon Lord and Ian Paice backstage and declared that he was leaving the band. In an interview I did with David in 2000 he had the following to say…

– “Some people started to compromise with the whole thing. In Liverpool I turned around and saw Ian Paice and Jon Lord play with their heads hanging down, and Purple had always been a very proud band. An arrogant, proud band. I never wanted to take it to England, that was a favour I did to our manager Rob Cocksey. I liked him and I had been one of the guys that had given him a kick upstairs. I had been given this great opportunity, so why shouldn´t he? So he went from having been in charge of the crew to the job of tour manager. Unfortunately he made a number of mistakes so he came up to me and said “Please, can you do the UK tour, we can´t cancel it now”. So I did and it was a huge mistake. It´s my job to get the crowd on its feet and I could see them thinking “This isn´t Deep Purple”, and of course they were right, it wasn´t Deep Purple anymore”.

The split was made official in July, David explained what happened there when I asked if they still wanted him to carry on. Why the wait?

– “No, what happened was that after Liverpool I went down to stay with my mother in London, she had this pub and thank God she just left me alone. My nerves were shot to hell. I was completely drained by the whole experience. I just sat there and stared into the fireplace and my mother just gave me sandwiches and she never asked me what was wrong, which would have been her normal reaction. Then I wrote a resignation letter that was seven-eight-nine pages long and handed it over to the management and then I flew to Munich were my wife Julia was living. I just couldn´t go on. I told them that I didn´t want to drag the good reputation of Deep Purple through the mud and they said “We understand and respect your opinion but can you please keep this quiet until the original members have decided what they want to do?”, so I did. We talked about me doing PAL, or Coverdale, Lord, Ashton, Paice, which would have been CLAP (laughs), so I did spend some time just thinking about the future at that point”.

There had in fact been some pressure on Jon Lord and Ian Paice to salvage the ship, but they too had decided after the show in Liverpool to quit. Jon Lord had this to say when I met him in Stockholm back in 1981…

– “Yes, actually they did. But we said “Look, we have given this everything that we can, we have given you eight years of sweat and hard work”, and that was it. But we never said “Never again”, we just put it to the side. “Let Deep Purple rest for a while”…”.

Glenn Hughes and Tommy Bolin were never told by the management of Deep Purple that it was over. Glenn found out when he attended the wedding of Ian Paice a few weeks later, and it was Coverdale that had to tell him the news. Over in the States, Bolin felt slighted about the silence, but carried on with his own thing. He did meet Jon Lord and Ian Paice again before he died when the the two of them visitied Los Angeles at the time of the release of his second solo album “Private Eyes”. Tommy and his brother Johnnie spent a night with them at their house playing Tommy´s album over and over again, and they had a good time.

Later, when the news broke that Tommy had died in Miami on December 4 1976, Jon heard it on the radio over dinner at a restaurant and broke down in tears. Over in Germany, David got the news from his wife Julia. It was the sad end of it all. When I asked him if he cried he said…

– “I sat in my bed writing some lyrics and my wife came in and said “Tommy is dead”. She and Tommy had been close so her face was swollen with tears. And it was strange, I just sat there… No I didn´t because sadly it didn´t come as a surprise. He was hard on his body. For some people getting a job in Deep Purple is the same as getting the keys to the bank but for Tommy it was like he got the keys to… You know, Tommy was an incredibly talented young man, but in this business you can start to believe in your own press, and you can think that you are immortal. But we´re all the same and if you constantly abuse your body it will eventually catch up with you. I don´t know if he lacked self confidence or if he felt that he had to compromise too much. All I know is that he was a talented person that, even in the short time that I knew him, were killing himself slowly. And you can´t do anything, there´s an arrogance in people that are doing drugs”.

Over in Japan, Ritchie Blackmore heard the news of Tommy´s death as Rainbow did their first tour over there and he told Ronnie James Dio to dedicate “Mistreated” in his memory. Then he proceeded to play that song like never before. That guitar screamed in pain.

 

Mike Eriksson (Trinkelbonker)

(Top image shows 1976 SOUNDS article)

 

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Comments
  1. […] Read more details about the tour & split in the previous post – Purple history – UK Tour 1976. […]

  2. […] Eriksson recalls in his blog Trinkelbonker the end of the first run of Deep Purple — which reached its lowest […]

  3. purple4dirk says:

    Thanks for your article.

    Wherever Deep Purple is because not missing Yvonne …

  4. […] Mehr Informationen über die letzten Konzerte gibt es auf Trinkelbonker. […]

  5. Sjarel Klak says:

    Crazy, how, after all these decades, this story still passionates. Thank you for the insight. It makes the protagonists more human, less star. It’s simply a great history about people growing and working together, growing apart, evolving, ‘burning & looting’ their resources, some getting wise, doin’ more than simply survive, like Jon Lord, Ian Paice,… and a story about more than one individual, growing above the own sholders, becoming giant, at least for a brief moment, like Huges (Play me out), Simper (Slipstreaming), Tommy (Teaser, though I prefer the feelin’ when he played with Zephyr/Candy),… but above all, Purple was a masterclass for musicians, a lab for musicians to make truely great music, to grow to full potential. Paice and love is all Glover are rarely mentioned when Purple is discussed, what shows how they truely were indispensible, the backbone, the pumping heart of the band.

  6. Alan Perry says:

    For those of you that haven’t seen them before, here are my photos of the Liverpool gig

  7. […] the video here. Read more about this period here (includes many […]

  8. […] Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story” (check it out here). Also, read details on his time with Purple here. Listen to his second and final solo album “Private Eyes” […]

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