Deep Purple performed on this day in 1969 at the Speakeasy Club in London.
The Mark II lineup had been fairly busy in the month or so since Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore discovered Ian Gillan and Roger Glover. They had already recorded a song together. They’d even begun rehearsing for a future album. What they hadn’t done up to this point, however, was perform in public. Up to six days prior to this show, Mark I had still been performing live, with Rod Evans and Nick Simper unaware in this of what would come. However, they had now been dealt with, and the stage had been set for the Mark II lineup to hit the circuit.
The nitty-gritty of what was performed has not survived to the present day. Ian Gillan does make reference in his autobiography to “Mandrake Root”, a number from the first Purple album, and nothing else. Other surviving concerts from around that time include such numbers as “Wring that Neck”, “Paint it Black”, and “Child in Time” along with “Mandrake Root”, so it’s possible one of those three were included in some form.
The clearest reaction to this concert comes not from anyone in the audience, but from Ian Gillan, who was quite overwhelmed to the point of tears on that night. Finally, according to his telling, he had found the band with which he was ready to really take flight.
Gillan and Glover would stay with Deep Purple for about four years before exiting in June 1973, one by choice and the other unceremoniously ejected. They would return to Purple together in 1984 for four more years together before tensions flared up and Gillan was fired for bad behavior. He would return for one last round at some point in 1992, and the band remained together until November of 1993. In all, Mark II’s intermittent formations were peppered across twenty-four years of music history. They would be together for eight of those years, making them the second-longest lineup of Deep Purple; they have only been surpassed in longevity by the current lineup.
Fifty-one years after Gillan stood onstage with Purple and wept at what was to come, he and the rest of the band are still releasing music. Their single “Nothing at All”, a number from their twenty-first album Whoosh!, also came into public circulation today in 2020.
There is sadly no known recording of this monumental concert.
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- Gillan, Ian. Highway Star: The Autobiography of Deep Purple’s Lead Singer.