Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford, Hertfordshire in 1968. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although some band members have tried not to categorise themselves as any one genre. The band also incorporated classical music, blues-rock, pop and progressive rock elements. They were once listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's loudest band, and have sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Deep Purple were ranked #22 on VH1's Greatest Artists of Hard Rock programme.
The band have gone through many line-up changes and an eight-year hiatus (1976-84). The 1968-76 line-ups are commonly labeled Mark I, II, III and IV. Their second and most commercially successful line-up featured Ian Gillan (vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitar), Jon Lord (keyboards), Roger Glover (bass guitar) and Ian Paice (drums). This line-up was active 1969-73 and was revived from 1984-89 and again in 1993 before the rift between Blackmore and other members became unbridgeable. The current line-up including guitarist Steve Morse has been much more stable, though Lord's retirement in 2002 has left Paice as the only original member.
In October 1968, the group had success with a cover of Joe South's "Hush", which reached #4 on the US Billboard chart and #2 on the Canadian RPM charts. The song was taken from their debut album Shades of Deep Purple, and they were booked to support Cream on their Goodbye tour.
The band's second album, The Book of Taliesyn (including a cover of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman"), was released in the United States to coincide with this tour, reaching #38 on the billboard chart and #21 on the RPM charts, although it would not be released in their home country until the following year. 1969 saw the release of their third album, Deep Purple, which contained strings and woodwind on one track ("April"). Several influences were in evidence, notably Vanilla Fudge and Lord's classical antecedents such as Bach and Rimsky-Korsakov.
After these three albums and extensive touring in the United States, their American record company, Tetragrammaton, went out of business, leaving the band with no money and an uncertain future. (Tetragrammaton's assets were assumed by Warner Bros. Records, who would release Deep Purple's records in the US throughout the 1970s.) Returning to England in early 1969, they recorded a single called "Emmaretta", named for Emmaretta Marks, then a cast member of the musical Hair, whom Evans was trying to seduce, before Evans and Simper were fired.
In search of a replacement vocalist, Blackmore set his sights on 19 year old singer Terry Reid, who only a year earlier declined a similar opportunity to front the newly forming Led Zeppelin. Though he found the offer "flattering" Reid was still bound by the exclusive recording contract with his producer Mickie Most and more interested in his solo career. Blackmore had no other choice but to look elsewhere.
The band hunted down singer Ian Gillan from Episode Six, a band that had released several singles in the UK without achieving their big break for commercial success. Six's drummer Mick Underwood—an old comrade of Blackmore's from his Savages days—made the introductions, and bassist Roger Glover tagged along for the initial sessions. Deep Purple persuaded Glover to join full-time, an act that effectively killed Episode Six and gave Underwood a guilt complex that lasted nearly a decade—until Gillan recruited him for his new post-Purple band in the late 1970s.
This created the quintessential Deep Purple Mark II line-up, whose first, inauspicious release was a Greenaway-Cook tune titled "Hallelujah", which flopped.
The band gained some much-needed publicity with the Concerto for Group and Orchestra, a three-movement epic composed by Lord as a solo project and performed by the band at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Arnold. Together with Five Bridges by The Nice, it was one of the first collaborations between a rock band and an orchestra, although at the time, certain members of Deep Purple (Blackmore and Gillan especially) were less than happy at the group being tagged as "a group who played with orchestras" when actually what they had in mind was to develop the band into a much tighter, hard-rocking style. Despite this, Lord wrote and the band recorded the Gemini Suite, another orchestra/group collaboration in the same vein, in late 1970.
The end came on tour in Britain in March 1976 at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. Coverdale reportedly walked off in tears and handed in his resignation, to which he was allegedly told there was no band left to quit. The decision to disband Deep Purple had been made some time before the last show by Lord and Paice (the last remaining original members), who hadn't told anyone else. The break-up was finally made public in July 1976.
Later, Bolin had just finished recording his second solo album, Private Eyes, when, on December 4, 1976, tragedy struck. In Miami, during a tour supporting Jeff Beck, Bolin was found unconscious by his girlfriend. Unable to wake him, she hurriedly called paramedics, but it was too late. The official cause of death: multiple-drug intoxication. He was 25 years old.
After the break-up most of the past and present members of Deep Purple went on to have considerable success in a number of other bands, including Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath and Gillan. There were, however, a number of promoter-led attempts to get the band to reform, especially with the revival of the hard rock market in the late 1970s/early 1980s. By 1980, an unauthorised version of the band surfaced with Evans as the only member who had ever been in Deep Purple, eventually ending in successful legal action from the legitimate Deep Purple camp over unauthorised use of the name. Evans was ordered to pay damages of $672,000 (US) for using the band name without permission.[
In April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale (and legal) reunion took place with the "classic" early 1970s line-up of Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice. The album Perfect Strangers was released in October 1984. A solid release, it sold extremely well and included the singles and concert staples "Knockin' At Your Back Door" and "Perfect Strangers". The reunion tour followed, starting in Australia and winding its way across the world to North America, then into Europe by the following summer. Financially, the tour was also a tremendous success. The UK homecoming proved limited, as they elected to play just a single festival show at Knebworth (with main support from the Scorpions; also on the bill were UFO, Bernie Marsden's Alaska, Mama's Boys, Blackfoot, Mountain and Meat Loaf). The weather was bad (torrential rain and 6" of mud), but 80,000 fans turned up anyway. The gig was called the "Return Of The Knebworth Fayre".
The line-up then released The House of Blue Light in 1987, which was followed by a world tour (interrupted after Blackmore broke a finger on stage) and another live album Nobody's Perfect (1988) which was culled from several shows on this tour, but still largely based around the by-now familiar Made in Japan set-list. In the UK a new version of "Hush" was released to mark 20 years of the band. In 1989, Gillan was fired as his relations with Blackmore had again soured and their musical differences had widened too far. His replacement was former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner. This line-up recorded just one album, Slaves & Masters (1990) and toured in support. It is one of Blackmore's favourite Deep Purple albums, though some fans derided it as little more than a so-called "Deep Rainbow" album.
With the tour complete, Turner was forced out, as Lord, Paice and Glover (and the record company) wanted Gillan back in the fold for the 25th anniversary. Blackmore grudgingly relented, after requesting and eventually receiving 250,000 dollars in his bank account  and the classic line-up recorded The Battle Rages On, but tensions between Gillan and Blackmore came to a head yet again during an otherwise stunningly successful European tour. Blackmore walked out in November 1993, never to return. Joe Satriani was drafted in to complete the Japanese dates in December and stayed on for a European Summer tour in 1994. He was asked to join permanently, but his record contract commitments prevented this. The band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Blackmore's permanent successor.
A driving, pounding musical style, studded leather clothes, and twin lead guitars have earned English heavy metal band Judas Priest the title of "Metal Gods." As pioneers of metal throughout the 80s, Judas Priest has released five platinum albums and performed brutal, sold-out tour dates around the world. While the band continues to record, they are currently finishing up 2011 tour dates on their farewell, Epitaph World Tour, leaving fans precious little time to catch Judas Priest's final international concerts.
Originally a blues band, Judas Priest gained popularity in its early days for pounding live performances. The band achieved fame with the release of Screaming for Vengeance, which featured the hit single, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'." This was followed by the hit albums Defenders of the Faith and Turbo, as well as an acclaimed tour date at Live Aid. Judas Priest continued to release applauded albums up through their most recent record, Nostradamus. The concept album has been praised by fans and features a much larger, symphonic sound that shows that Judas Priest is still innovating.
Even though the ongoing Epitaph World Tour may be their last, Judas Priest is ensuring that these 2011 tour dates will live in the minds of their fans for a lifetime. As of mid-July, Judas Priest is traveling through the UK, Spain, and Germany. On September 10, they will begin their South American/Mexican tour dates before heading to the US on October 12. Judas Priest's final tour date of 2011 will be on December 3, leaving US residents plenty of time to buy tickets.