On This Day (April 20)…Say Hello to Deep Purple—Err, Roundabout

The band Roundabout played their first live gig on this day in 1968 at Vestpoppen Parkskolen Club in Taastrup, Denmark. The group is better known today by the name they would adopt during this debut tour, Deep Purple.

Photo of the group accompanying an announcement in the paper. From left to right: Ritchie Blackmore, Rod Evans, Ian Paice, Nick Simper, and Jon Lord. Retrieved from here.

The name ‘Roundabout’ originated as an idea by drummer Chris Curtis, who envisioned a project centered on an instrumental core around which temporary members would come and go, thus the name ‘Roundabout’. By this first gig, Curtis was long gone, and the group’s lineup had been finalized with Flowerpot Men alumni Jon Lord and Nick Simper, ex-axeman for Screaming Lord Sutch Ritchie Blackmore, and MI6/Maze recruits Rod Evans and Ian Paice. Lord, the oldest and most musically experienced member of the group, was the de facto leader of the band at this point, setting the group’s tone as psychedelic with deep ties to the classical and neoclassical worlds he himself consistently drew on throughout his career, whether with Deep Purple or alone.

The reason behind the choice to tour under the name of Roundabout is disputed. According to Lord’s later recollections, it was a purely cynical one; if the band failed to make waves in Denmark, then they could switch to the name Deep Purple without the attached stigma of an unsuccessful debut. Nick Simper, meanwhile, remembered that the band simply had no name, with ‘Roundabout’ tacked on by manager Tony Edwards. According to his account, Ritchie Blackmore simply blurted out the name ‘Deep Purple’ when reporters asked. Others remember the suggestion of the name coming from a more private event, so the truth is somewhere in the middle of all these stories.

There was one last major hurdle for the band to jump over before they reached the stage. A missing work permit meant that the group was taken straight to the police station upon their landing in Denmark! Thankfully, the issue seems to have been sorted out quickly, and the band quickly got on with what they did best: making music.

Photo taken reportedly at this concert. From left to right: Jon Lord’s shoulder, Nick Simper, Rod Evans, Ian Paice’s hair, and Ritchie Blackmore. Retrieved from here.

We were trying to outdo each other, leap about…It was an outrageous success.

Nick Simper about early Deep Purple gigs. Retrieved from here.

The concert itself seems to have been reasonably successful, based on the large crowd in the above photo. There isn’t a ton of specific information to be found, however. According to an unverified setlist, the group basically performed what would become their first album: covers of “Hush”, “I’m So Glad”, “Hey Joe”, “Help!”, and several original songs. I don’t put too much stock into the setlist, since I have been unable to verify it independently. This concert was followed by a series of tour dates throughout the Scandinavian region, primarily in Denmark.

The youngest member of the lineup, Ian Paice, was only nineteen years old at this debut concert. Fifty-four years later, he is still a member of the group, the only person to have been at every Deep Purple gig. The inciting concept behind the group of a core membership led by a drummer with revolving members around him may not have come to fruition as Christ Curtis planned, but it still is closer to the contours Deep Purple has taken throughout the years than anyone on the stage at the Vestpoppen Parkskolen Club could have known it would.

There is sadly no known recording of this concert. If one were to surface, that would be an incredible piece of history indeed.

Sadly, I have been unable to find any information on the venue, Vestpoppen Parkskolen Club, independent of this concert. Setlist.fm gives it a single entry, nor is there any statistics about its capacity, year of opening, whether it still stands in Taastrup, or anything else. Its story has been entirely subsumed into the legend of Deep Purple.

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Post Sources

Venue Source

  • Edit on 2020-06-01: Fixed URL for photos.
  • Edit on 2020-09-19: Optimized for new site. Added tentative identification for stage photo.
  • Edit on 2022-04-20: Updated Ian Paice’s length of time with the band.

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