Deep Purple has had a total of eight lineups over the years of its existence. While this project focuses on the debut of the eighth and final lineup, seven such debuts occurred prior.
Below, I share the story of some of the live debuts of each of the other members of Deep Purple, organized by lineup.
Mark I: Denmark, Meet Deep Purple
The first concert ever undertaken by the band, and thus the debut for all five members of Deep Purple Mark I, occurred in Denmark at the Vestpoppen Parkskolen Club in Taastrup. At the time, they were not even known as “Deep Purple”, but rather as Roundabout!
This concert began the group’s proud but probably unintentional tradition of debuting their new lineups in countries other than their own home country. Of these eight lineup debuts, three, including this first ever concert, took place in Denmark.
This concert also saw the youngest person at the time of his first gig with the band; this would be Ian Paice, only nineteen years old during the concert. Though several members of the band were born after Paice, they were all older at the time of their debut.
I talk more about this debut gig here.
Mark II: Two Debuts
Ian Gillan and Roger Glover began performing with the band a mere six days after the last gig with Rod Evans and Nick Simper. They had already recorded with the group by this point. The July 10 gig at the Speakeasy in London still would have been the first time most people met the lineup which would become the favored lineup among fans. Its short turnaround time marked the shortest period between the ending of one lineup and the beginning of another.
This was, as alluded to above, the only lineup to debut in England despite the band being a British institution. Of all the lineups, Mark II lasted longer than all but one, with three separate periods amounting to nine years in total. It is also the only lineup to reform after having split up, which it did twice.
I talk more about this concert here.
Mark III–Back to Denmark and the Drawing Board
I walk onstage for the first time – where it came from, I don’t know, but I still do it – ‘Are you ready?’ I screamed into the microphone, and I’ve got a very powerful voice…So, like, everybody goes, ‘Oh my God!’ and there’s this roar from I don’t know how many thousands of people. And it was great.”David Coverdale recalling his first gig. Retrieved from here.
New members David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes debuted together in December of 1973 at K.B. Hallen in Denmark, the second Danish debut of a lineup of the band.
David Coverdale was one of the most inexperienced people to ever have been brought into Deep Purple. This made his choice to replace Ian Gillan, who was at that point quite well-known, unexpected. Perhaps even more unexpectedly, he has gone on to become quite famous in his own right.
This was the first debut gig known to have been recorded by an audience member. Amazingly enough, Super8 footage exists as well as audio.
I talk more about that debut gig here.
Mark IV—The American Invasion
[W]hen Bolin was on top of his game, they were very special too.Neil Jeffries reviewing a Mark IV live album. Retrieved from here.
Tommy Bolin, only the second guitarist to ever be in the band and the first American member ever, stepped up to the axe on November 8, 1975 at the International Center Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. Fittingly as the first debut of an American band member, this was the first and only time a lineup of the band officially introduced themselves to the world from an American stage.
Mark IV was one of the more troubled lineups of Deep Purple. Some of this relates to Bolin and Glenn Hughes’ out-of-control drug use. Other issues were external, notably the band’s disastrous concerts in Indonesia. All these things considered, it’s not at all surprising that this lineup had the shortest time between their first and last performances. The final concert took place in England a mere four months after the first.
Interestingly, of Bolin and all the following new recruits, all but one are from the United States! In that way, Bolin is a major trailblazer in the band despite his short tenure.
Mark V–Split Debuts
Joe Lynn Turner’s tenure with Deep Purple actually has two points that can be looked at as stage debuts. Formally, the group first performed as a full unit in February 1991 at the Palac Kultury a Sportu in Ostrava, Czech Republic. The concert received a great deal of media attention. It was even recorded for Czech TV!
However, a more informal debut also happened far earlier in December of 1989 at the Red Fox in In Vinhall, Vermont, where Turner played three songs with three other members of the band (Jon Lord was at the time absent). This is often counted more as a rehearsal session than an actual stage debut, however. This thus makes Joe Lynn Turner the group member with the longest duration between his recruitment and his official stage debut.
Turner is the only non-Brit to sing for Purple. All other American members of the group have been guitarists.
Mark VI–Satch Swoops In
Joe Satriani’s actual membership in Deep Purple is a topic of hot debate among fans due to his short tenure and lack of studio time. I choose to follow the band and count him as a full member in my work; by their own statements, he was instrumental in saving the group. His entrance into the group after Ritchie Blackmore left the band for the second and last time in the middle of a tour with only a small amount of notice, leaving his bandmates with a spate of concerts still left to perform, was the first “snap replacement” of a group member, and until Airey’s debut was the one with the least amount of notice that he’d be stepping in.
Satriani was apparently the suggestion of a Japanese promoter, solicited by the band to satisfy their upcoming Japanese audiences who would be faced with a Blackmore-less Deep Purple. With just two weeks’ notice and a very stressed-out band to deal with, Satriani had a very difficult role to play. From the first concerts he undertook in Japan in December of 1993 when he first debuted with the group, however, he played that role brilliantly. The band has stated that without Satriani’s involvement, they might not have survived to the present day.
Satriani, incidentally, is the youngest member of the group by overall age. By the time he was born in 1956, Jon Lord, the oldest member of the group overall, was already fifteen years old!
Mark VII–Steve Morse brings Harmony On and Offstage
We lost one big thing when Steve joined and that’s STRESS! Thank God!!!Ian Paice regarding Steve Morse’s joining the band. Retrieved from here.
Before Airey’s joining in 2001, Steve Morse was the last new member of Deep Purple. He had been courted starting the summer prior to the his debut with the band, but both he and the remainder of Deep Purple had been a bit unsure about how well he would fit with the group. They thus committed to a few gigs in Mexico to try things out.
Morse’s story holds a parallel to Airey’s in that he had a similarly short turnaround time between his first rehearsal and first concert with the band, though they’d known about him for longer than the above Satriani. As it turned out from the rehearsal and first few concerts, he was a perfect fit for the group. He has since gone on to be the longest-serving guitarist and is tied with Jon Lord as the fourth-longest serving member overall after Ian Paice, Roger Glover, and Ian Gillan.
I give the full story of this concert here.