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Deep Purple

Obit of the Day: "Key" to Deep Purple’s Success

Featuring a Hammond keyboard as a lead instrument was an unusual for most rock bands, but Deep Purple was not your usual band. The group, once dubbed “the globe’s loudest band” by the Guinness Book of World Records, was formed in 1968 by keyboardist Jon Lord, bassist Nick Simper, guitarist Richie Blackmore, drummer Ian Paice, and lead vocalist Rod Evans. They released their first album in July of that year, Shades of Deep Purple. The album featured a cover of the Joe South’s hit, “Hush,” which is dominated by Lord’s signature keyboard sound. The song hit #4 on the Billboard charts in the U.S.

Deep Purple would continue to expand their sound laying the foundation for what many now considered “hard rock” and “heavy metal.” Ironically, though, their best-known hit “Smoke on the Water” was a traditional rock song, co-written by Jon Lord, and released in 1972. It also reached #4 in the U.S.

After the group broke up in 1976, Lord would have a successful solo career and also perform in several other groups including Asthon, Lord, and Paice and Whitesnake*. Deep Purple would reunite in 1984 and record six more albums, selling over 150 million copies. Lord would finally leave the group for good in 2002 continuing to record solo albums and collaborating with other artists including George Harrison and Anna-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA.

Lord passed away at the age of 71.

(“Hush” is copyright 2005, Rhino/Warner Bros. Entertainment)

* This is the same group that would become a huge 1980s “hair band” releasing several hard rock hits.