Deep Purple have had several line-up changes and an eight-year hiatus (1976–1984). The 1968–1976 line-ups are commonly labelled Mark I, II, III and IV. Their second and most commercially successful line-up consisted of Ian Gillan (vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards, backing vocals), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Paice (drums), and Ritchie Blackmore (guitar). This line-up was active from 1969 to 1973, and was revived from 1984 to 1989, and again from 1992 to 1993. The band achieved more modest success in the intervening periods between 1968 and 1969 with the line-up including Rod Evans (lead vocals) and Nick Simper (bass, backing vocals), between 1974 and 1976 with the line-up including David Coverdale (lead vocals) and Glenn Hughes (bass, vocals) (and Tommy Bolin replacing Blackmore in 1975), and between 1989 and 1992 with the line-up including Joe Lynn Turner (vocals). The band's line-up (currently including Ian Gillan, and guitarist Steve Morse from 1994) has been much more stable in recent years, although keyboardist Jon Lord's retirement from the band in 2002 (being succeeded by Don Airey) left Ian Paice as the only original Deep Purple member still in the band.
Deep Purple were ranked number 22 on VH1's Greatest Artists of Hard Rock programme and a poll on British radio station Planet Rock ranked them 5th among the "most influential bands ever". The band received the Legend Award at the 2008 World Music Awards. Deep Purple (specifically Blackmore, Lord, Paice, Gillan, Glover, Coverdale, Evans and Hughes) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.
In 1967, former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis contacted London businessman Tony Edwards, in the hope that he would manage a new group he was putting together, to be called Roundabout. Curtis' vision was a "supergroup" where the band members would get on and off, like a musical roundabout. Impressed with the plan, Edwards agreed to finance the venture with his two business partners John Coletta and Ron Hire, who comprised Hire-Edwards-Coletta Enterprises (HEC).
The first recruit to the band was the classically trained Hammond organ player Jon Lord, Curtis' flatmate who had most notably played with the Artwoods (led by Art Wood, brother of future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, and including Keef Hartley). Lord was then performing in a backing band for the vocal group The Flower Pot Men (formerly known as the Ivy League), along with bassist Nick Simper and drummer Carlo Little. Simper had previously been in Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and survived the 1966 car crash that killed Kidd. Lord put the two on alert that he'd been recruited for the Roundabout project, after which Simper and Little suggested guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, whom Lord had never met. Simper had known Blackmore since the early 1960s when his first band, the Renegades, debuted around the same time as one of Blackmore's early bands, the Dominators.
HEC persuaded Blackmore to return from Hamburg to audition for the new group. Blackmore was making a name for himself as a studio session guitarist, and had also been a member of the Outlaws, Screaming Lord Sutch, and Neil Christian. Curtis' erratic behaviour and lifestyle, fuelled by LSD use, caused a sudden disinterest in the project he had started, forcing HEC to dismiss him from Roundabout. But HEC was now intrigued with the possibilities Lord and Blackmore brought, while Lord and Blackmore were also keen to continue. The two carried on, recruiting additional members and keeping Tony Edwards as their manager. Lord convinced Simper to join for good, but left Carlo Little behind in favour of drummer Bobby Woodman. Bobby Woodman (as Bobbie Clarke) was the former drummer for Vince Taylor's Play-Boys.
In March 1968, Lord, Blackmore, Simper and Woodman moved into Deeves Hall, a country house in South Mimms, Hertfordshire. The band would live, write and rehearse at Deeves Hall, which was fully kitted out with the latest Marshall amplification and, at Lord's request, a Hammond C3 organ. According to Simper, "dozens" of singers were auditioned (including Rod Stewart and Woodman's friend Dave Curtiss) until the group heard Rod Evans of the club band The Maze, and thought his voice fit their style well. Tagging along with Evans was his band's drummer, Ian Paice. Blackmore had seen an 18-year-old Paice on tour with The Maze in Germany in 1966, and had been impressed by his drumming. The band hastily arranged an audition for Paice, given that Woodman was vocally unhappy with the direction of the band's music. Both Paice and Evans won their respective jobs, and the line-up was complete.
During a brief tour of Denmark and Sweden in April, in which they were still billed as Roundabout, Blackmore suggested a new name: "Deep Purple", named after his grandmother's favourite song. The group had resolved to choose a name after everyone had posted one on a board in rehearsal. Second to Deep Purple was "Concrete God", which the band thought was too harsh to take on.
Early years (1968–1970)
Deep Purple in 1968. Standing from left to right: Simper, Paice and Evans. Seated: Blackmore and Lord
In May 1968, the band moved into Pye Studios in London's Marble Arch to record their debut album, Shades of Deep Purple, which was released in July by American label Tetragammaton, and in September by UK label EMI. The group had success in North America with a cover of Joe South's "Hush", and by September 1968, the song had reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and number 2 in the Canadian RPM charts, pushing the Shades LP up to No. 24 on Billboard's pop album charts. The following month, Deep Purple was booked to support Cream on their Goodbye tour.
The band's second album, The Book of Taliesyn, was quickly recorded, then released in North America in October 1968 to coincide with the tour. The album included a cover of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman", which cracked the Top 40 in both the US (No. 38 on the Billboard charts) and Canada (No. 21 on the RPM charts), though sales for the album were not as strong (No. 54 in US, No. 48 in Canada).The Book of Taliesyn would not be released in the band's home country until the following year and, like its predecessor, it failed to have much impact in the UK charts.
Early in 1969, the band recorded a single called "Emmaretta", named after Emmaretta Marks, then a cast member of the musical Hair, whom Evans was trying to seduce. By March of that year, the band had completed recording for their third album, Deep Purple. The album contained strings and woodwind on one track ("April"), showcasing Lord's classical antecedents such as Bach and Rimsky-Korsakov, and several other influences were in evidence, notably Vanilla Fudge. (Lord and Blackmore had even claimed the group wanted to be a "Vanilla Fudge clone".) This would be the last recording by the original line-up.
Deep Purple's troubled North American record label, Tetragrammaton, delayed production of the Deep Purple album until after the band's 1969 American tour ended. This, as well as lackluster promotion by the nearly broke label, caused the album to sell poorly, finishing well out of the Billboard Top 100. Soon after the third album's eventual release, 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.)
During the 1969 American tour, Lord and Blackmore met with Paice to discuss their desire to take the band in a heavier direction. Feeling that Evans and Simper would not fit well with a heavy rock style, both were replaced that summer. Paice stated, "A change had to come. If they hadn't left, the band would have totally disintegrated." Both Simper and Blackmore noted that Rod Evans already had one foot out the door. Simper said that Evans had met a girl in Hollywood and had eyes on being an actor, while Blackmore explained, "Rod just wanted to go to America and live in America."
In search of a replacement vocalist, Blackmore set his own sights on 19-year-old singer Terry Reid. 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. Gillan had at one time been approached by Nick Simper when Deep Purple was first forming, but Gillan had reportedly told Simper that the Roundabout project would not go anywhere, while he felt Episode Six was poised to make it big. Six's drummer Mick Underwood – an old comrade of Blackmore's from his days in the Outlaws – introduced the band to Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. This 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. According to Blackmore, Deep Purple was only interested in Gillan and not Glover, but Roger was retained on the advice of Ian Paice.
"He turned up for the session...he was their [Episode Six's] bass player. We weren't originally going to take him until Paicey said, 'he's a good bass player, let's keep him.' So I said okay."
— Ritchie Blackmore on the hiring of Roger Glover.
This created the Deep Purple Mark II line-up, whose first release was a Greenaway-Cook tune titled "Hallelujah". At the time of its recording, Nick Simper still thought he was in the band, and had called John Coletta to inquire about the recording dates for the song. He then found that the song had already been recorded with Glover on bass. The remaining original members of Deep Purple then instructed management to inform Simper that he had been officially replaced.
Despite television appearances to promote the "Hallelujah" single in the UK, the song flopped. Blackmore had told the British weekly music newspaper Record Mirror they "need to have a commercial record in Britain", and described the song as "an in-between sort of thing"—a median between what the band would normally make but with an added commercial motive.
The band gained some much-needed publicity in September 1969 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 in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Arnold. Together with Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues and Five Bridges by the Nice, it was one of the first collaborations between a rock band and an orchestra. This live album became their first release with any kind of chart success in the UK. Gillan and Blackmore were less than happy at the band being tagged as "a group who played with orchestras", both feeling that the Concerto was a distraction that would get in the way of developing their desired hard-rocking style. Lord acknowledged that while the band members were not keen on the project going in, at the end of the performance "you could put the five smiles together, and it would have spanned the Thames." Lord would also write the Gemini Suite, another orchestra/group collaboration in the same vein, for the band in late 1970. In 1975, Blackmore stated that he thought the Concerto for Group and Orchestra wasn't bad but the Gemini Suite was horrible and very disjointed. Roger Glover later claimed Jon Lord had appeared to be the leader of the band in the early years.
Breakthrough success (1970–1973)
The classic Deep Purple line up, 1971. From left to right: Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice
Shortly after the orchestral release, Deep Purple began a hectic touring and recording schedule that was to see little respite for the next three years. Their first studio album of this period, released in mid-1970, was In Rock (a name supported by the album's Mount Rushmore-inspired cover), which contained the then-concert staples "Speed King", "Into The Fire" and "Child in Time". The non-album single "Black Night", released around the same time, finally put Deep Purple into the UK Top Ten. The interplay between Blackmore's guitar and Lord's distorted organ, coupled with Gillan's powerful, wide-ranging vocals and the rhythm section of Glover and Paice, now started to take on a unique identity that separated the band from its earlier albums. Along with Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin II and Sabbath's Paranoid, In Rock codified the budding heavy metal genre.
On the album's development, Blackmore stated: "I got fed up with playing with classical orchestras, and thought, 'well, this is my turn.' Jon was into more classical. I said, 'well you've done that, I'll do rock, and whatever turns out best we'll carry on with.' And I said, 'If this fails, this record, I'll play with orchestras the rest of my life.'"In Rock performed well, especially in the UK where it reached number 4, while the "Black Night" single reached number 2 on the UK Singles Chart, and the band performed the song live on the BBC's Top of the Pops. In addition to increasing sales in the UK, the band was making a name for itself as a live act, particularly surrounding the sheer volume of their shows and the improvisational skills of Blackmore and Lord. Said Lord, "We took from jazz, we took from old fashioned rock and roll, we took from the classics. Ritchie and myself...used to swap musical jokes and attacks. He would play something, and I'd have to see if I could match it. That provided a sense of humour, a sense of tension to the band, a sense of, 'what the hell's going to happen next?' The audience didn't know, and nine times out of ten, neither did we!"
A second album, the creatively progressive Fireball, was issued in the summer of 1971, reaching number 1 on the UK Albums Chart. The title track "Fireball" was released as a single, as was "Strange Kind of Woman", not from the album but recorded during the same sessions (although it replaced "Demon's Eye" on the US version of the album). "Strange Kind of Woman" became their second UK Top 10 single, reaching number 8.
Within weeks of Fireball's release, the band were already performing songs planned for the next album. One song (which later became "Highway Star") was performed at the first gig of the Fireball tour, having been written on the bus to a show in Portsmouth, in answer to a journalist's question: "How do you go about writing songs?"
On 24 October 1971 during the US leg of the Fireball tour, the band was set to play the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago when Ian Gillan took ill with hepatitis, forcing the band to play without him, with bassist Glover singing the set. After this, the rest of the US dates were canceled and the band flew home.
Continuing from where both previous albums left off, Machine Head was released in late March 1972 and would be recognized as one of the band's most famous releases. It became the band's second number 1 in the UK, while re-establishing Deep Purple in North America, hitting number 7 in the US and number 1 in Canada. It included tracks that became live classics, such as "Highway Star", "Space Truckin'", "Lazy" and "Smoke on the Water", for which Deep Purple is most famous. Deep Purple continued to tour and record at a rate that would be rare thirty years on; when Machine Head was recorded, the group had only been together three and a half years, yet the album was their sixth.
"When I was nine years old it was all about Deep Purple. My all time favourite [album] is still Made in Japan"
In January 1972 the band returned to tour the US once again, then headed over to play Europe before resuming US dates in March. This time it was Blackmore's turn to come down with hepatitis. The band attempted one show in Flint, Michigan on 31 March without a guitarist before attempting to acquire the services of Al Kooper, who rehearsed with the band before bowing out, suggesting Spirit guitarist Randy California instead. California played one gig with the group, in Quebec City, Quebec on 6 April, but the rest of this tour was canceled as well.
The band returned to the US in late May 1972 to undertake their third North America tour (of four total that year). A Japan tour in August of that year led to a double-vinyl live release, Made in Japan. Originally intended as a Japan-only record, its worldwide release saw the double LP become an instant hit. It remains one of rock music's most popular and highest selling live-concert recordings.
The classic Deep Purple Mark II line-up continued to work, and released the album Who Do We Think We Are in 1973. Spawning the hit single "Woman from Tokyo", the album hit number 4 in the UK charts and number 15 in the US charts while achieving gold record status faster than any Deep Purple album released up to that time. But internal tensions and exhaustion were more noticeable than ever. Following the successes of Machine Head and Made in Japan, the addition of Who Do We Think We Are made Deep Purple the top-selling artists of 1973 in the US. In Japan alone, Machine Head and Made in Japan would go on to sell well over 1 million copies combined on the back of multiple reissues.
New line-up, successes and struggles (1973–1976)
Gillan admitted in 1984 that the band was pushed by management to complete the Who Do We Think We Are album on time and go on tour, although they badly needed a break. The bad feelings, including tensions with Blackmore, culminated in Gillan quitting the band after their second tour of Japan in the summer of 1973, followed by the dismissal of Glover, at Blackmore's insistence. In interviews later, Lord called the departures of Gillan and Glover while the band was at its peak "the biggest shame in rock and roll; God knows what we would have become over the next three or four years."
David Coverdale was the band's vocalist between August 1973 and March 1976
The band hired Midlands bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, formerly of Trapeze. According to Paice, Glover told him and Lord a few months before his official termination that he wanted to leave the band, so they had started to drop in on Trapeze shows. After acquiring Hughes, they debated continuing as a four-piece, with Hughes as bassist and lead vocalist. According to Hughes, he was persuaded because the band would be bringing in Paul Rodgers of Free as a co-lead vocalist, but by that time Rodgers had just started Bad Company. "They did ask," Rodgers recalled, "and I spoke to all of them at length about the possibility. Purple had toured Australia with Free's final lineup. I didn't do it because I was very much into the idea of forming Bad Company." Instead, auditions were held for lead vocal replacements. They settled on David Coverdale, an unknown singer from Saltburn in Northeast England, primarily because Blackmore liked his masculine, blues-tinged voice.
This new lineup continued into 1974, and their spring tour included shows at Madison Square Garden, New York on 13 March, and Nassau Coliseum four days later. The band coheadlined the famous California Jam festival with Emerson, Lake & Palmer at Ontario Motor Speedway located in Southern California on 6 April 1974. Attracting over 250,000 fans, the festival also included 1970s rock giants Black Sabbath, Eagles, Earth, Wind & Fire, Seals and Crofts, Rare Earth, and also Black Oak Arkansas. Portions of the show were telecast on ABC Television in the US, exposing the band to a wider audience. This lineup's first album, titled Burn, was highly successful, reaching No. 3 in the UK and No. 9 in the US, and was followed by another world tour. The title track, which opens the album and would open most concerts during the Mark III era, was a conscious effort by the band to embrace the progressive rock movement that was popularised at the time by bands such as Yes, ELP, Genesis, Gentle Giant, etc. "Burn" was a complex arrangement that showcased all the members' virtuosity and particularly Blackmore's classically influenced guitar prowess, while Hughes and Coverdale provided vocal harmonies and elements of funk and blues, respectively, to the music, a sound that was even more apparent on the late 1974 release Stormbringer. Besides the title track, the Stormbringer album had a number of songs that received much radio play, such as "Lady Double Dealer", "The Gypsy" and "Soldier of Fortune", and the album reached No. 6 in the UK and No. 20 on the US Billboard charts. However, Blackmore publicly disliked the album and the funky soul elements, even calling it "shoeshine music". As a result, he left the band on 21 June 1975 to form his own band with Ronnie James Dio of Elf, called Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, shortened to Rainbow after the first album.
Glenn Hughes, bassist and co-lead vocalist with Coverdale, 1973 to 1976
With Blackmore's departure, Purple had to fill one of the biggest vacancies in rock music. In spite of this, the band refused to stop, and announced a replacement: American Tommy Bolin. Before Bolin was recruited, Clem Clempson (Colosseum, Humble Pie), Zal Cleminson (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band), Mick Ronson (David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars) and Rory Gallagher were considered.
There are at least two versions of the Bolin recruitment story: Coverdale claims to have been the one who suggested auditioning Bolin. "He walked in, thin as a rake, his hair coloured green, yellow and blue with feathers in it. Slinking along beside him was this stunning Hawaiian girl in a crochet dress with nothing on underneath. He plugged into four Marshall 100-watt stacks and...the job was his." But in an interview published by Melody Maker in June 1975, Bolin claimed that he came to the audition following a recommendation from Blackmore. Bolin had been a member of many now-forgotten late-1960s bands – Denny & The Triumphs, American Standard, and Zephyr, which released three albums from 1969 to 1972. Before Deep Purple, Bolin's best-known recordings were made as a session musician on Billy Cobham's 1973 jazz fusion album Spectrum, and as lead guitarist on two post-Joe WalshJames Gang albums: Bang (1973) and Miami (1974). He had also jammed with such luminaries as Dr. John, Albert King, the Good Rats, Moxy and Alphonse Mouzon, and was busy working on his first solo album, Teaser, when he accepted the invitation to join Deep Purple.
The resulting album, Come Taste the Band, was released in October 1975, one month before Bolin's Teaser album. Despite mixed reviews and middling sales (#19 in the UK and #43 in the US), the collection revitalised the band once again, bringing a new, extreme funk edge to their hard rock sound. Bolin's influence was crucial, and with encouragement from Hughes and Coverdale, the guitarist developed much of the album's material. Despite Bolin's talents, his personal problems with hard drugs began to manifest themselves. During the Come Taste the Band tour, many fans openly booed Tommy's inability to play solos like Ritchie Blackmore, not realising that Bolin was physically hampered by his addiction. At this same time, as he would admit in interviews years later, Hughes was suffering from a cocaine addiction. After several below-par concert performances, the band was in danger.
At one point during the show, Glenn said to the audience, "I'm sorry we're not playing very well, but we're very tired and jet-lagged." And I remember spluttering to myself, "Speak for yourself." I was working like a Trojan to try and make this work ... Paicey was playing like a madman just to keep it all together ... Coverdale was singing his socks off. So to hear this guy who was extremely high on various substances telling the audience, "I'm sorry, We aren't playing well" kind of rankled me a bit. I came off stage and went straight to my dressing room, which I was sharing with Ian Paice, and I said, "Ian ... that's it, isn't it? That's absolutely the end of this band as far as I'm concerned. Why are we doing this to ourselves?" So he and I shook hands and said, "It's over. Thank God." About ten minutes later, Coverdale came in, big blustery guy that he is, and he said, "I'm leaving the band!" And we said, "David, there's no band to leave."
The break-up was finally made public in July 1976, with then-manager Rob Cooksey issuing the simple statement: "the band will not record or perform together as Deep Purple again". Later in the year, Bolin had just finished recording his second solo album, Private Eyes, when, on 4 December 1976, tragedy struck. In a Miami hotel room, during a tour supporting Jeff Beck, Bolin was found unconscious by his girlfriend and bandmates. Unable to wake him, she hurriedly called paramedics, but it was too late. The official cause of death was multiple-drug intoxication. Bolin 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 Gillan, Whitesnake and Rainbow. The now-defunct Deep Purple began to gain a type of mystical status, with fan-driven compilations, reissues and live records being released through the remainder of 1970s. This fueled 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 and early 1980s. In 1980, a touring version of the band surfaced with Rod 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 US$672,000 for using the band name without permission.
Reformation, reunions and turmoil (1984–1994)
In April 1984, eight years after the demise of Deep Purple, a full-scale (and legal) reunion took place with the "classic" Mark II line-up from the early 1970s: Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover and Paice. The reformed band signed a worldwide deal with PolyGram, with Mercury Records releasing their albums in the US, and Polydor Records in the UK and other countries. The album Perfect Strangers was recorded in Vermont and released in October 1984. The album was commercially successful, reaching number 5 in the UK Albums Chart and number 12 on the Billboard 200 in the US. The album included the singles and concert staples "Knockin' At Your Back Door" and "Perfect Strangers".Perfect Strangers became the second Deep Purple studio album to go platinum in the US, following Machine Head.
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. In the US, the 1985 tour out-grossed every other artist except Bruce Springsteen. The UK homecoming saw the band perform a concert at Knebworth on 22 June 1985 (with main support from the Scorpions; also on the bill were UFO and Meat Loaf), where the weather was bad (torrential rain and 6 inches (15 cm) of mud) in front of 80,000 fans. The gig was called the "Return of the Knebworth Fayre".
Deep Purple at the Cow Palace, Glover, Gillan, Paice, and Blackmore (San Francisco, California. January 1985)
The Mark II line-up continued, releasing The House of Blue Light in 1987, which was followed by a world tour (interrupted after Blackmore broke a finger on stage while trying to catch his guitar after throwing it in the air) and another live album Nobody's Perfect (1988) which was culled from several shows on this tour, but still largely based on the by-now familiar Made in Japan set-list. In the UK a new version of "Hush" (with Gillan on lead vocals) was released to mark 20 years of the band.
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... in 1993. However, Gillan reworked much of the existing material which had been written with Turner for the album. As a result, Blackmore became infuriated at what he considered non-melodic elements. During an otherwise successful European tour, Blackmore walked out in 1993, for good, after a show on 17 November in Helsinki, Finland.Joe Satriani was drafted 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 commitments to his contract with Epic Records prevented this. The band unanimously chose Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse to become Satriani's successor.
Revival with Steve Morse and longer tours (1994–present)
Deep Purple was approaching death in 1993. Audiences were falling off, we were playing 4,000-seaters with barely 1200, 1500 people in them. ... Then, fortunately, Ritchie walked out, the sun shone again and we all said: "OK, we'll give it one more shot." So, yes, we are grateful for that chance.
Morse's arrival revitalised the band creatively, and in 1996 a new album titled Purpendicular was released, showing a wide variety of musical styles, though it never made chart success on the Billboard 200 in the US. The Mark VII line-up then released a new live album Live at The Olympia '96 in 1997. With a revamped set list to tour, Deep Purple enjoyed successful tours throughout the rest of the 1990s, releasing the harder-sounding Abandon in 1998, and touring with renewed enthusiasm.
Much of the next few years was spent on the road touring. Most of the songs played in their live concerts consisted of classic 1970s material. The group continued forward until 2002, when founding member Lord (who, along with Paice, was the only member to be in all incarnations of the band) announced his amicable retirement from the band to pursue personal projects (especially orchestral work). Lord left his Hammond organ to his replacement, rock keyboard veteran Don Airey (Colosseum II, Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake), who had helped Deep Purple out when Lord's knee was injured in 2001.
In 2003 Deep Purple released their first studio album in five years (Bananas) and began touring in support of the album. EMI Records refused a contract extension with Deep Purple, possibly because of lower than expected sales. Actually In Concert with The London Symphony Orchestra sold more than Bananas.
In February 2007 Gillan asked fans not to buy a live album Come Hell or High Water being released by Sony BMG. This was a recording of their 1993 appearance at the NEC in Birmingham, England. Recordings of this show have previously been released without assistance from Gillan or any other members of the band, but he said: "It was one of the lowest points of my life – all of our lives, actually".
In 2009 Ian Gillan said, "Record sales have been steadily declining, but people are prepared to pay a lot for concert tickets." In addition, Gillan stated "I don't think happiness comes with money."
In 2011 Deep Purple did concert tours in 48 countries.The Songs That Built Rock Tour used a 38-piece orchestra, and included a performance at London's O2 Arena. Until May 2011, the band members had disagreed about whether to make a new studio album, because it would not really make money any more. Roger Glover stated that Deep Purple should make a new studio album "even if it costs us money."
Glover and Morse in 2013 in Spain.
In early 2011, David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes told VH1 they would like to reunite with former Deep Purple Mark III line-up for the right opportunity, such as a benefit concert. The current band's chief sound engineer on nine years of tours, Moray McMillin, died in September 2011, aged 57.
After a lot of songwriting sessions in Europe, Deep Purple decided to record through the summer of 2012, and the band announced they would release their new studio album in 2013. Steve Morse announced to French magazine Rock Hard that the new studio album would be produced by the highly respected Bob Ezrin, who is known for his works with Alice Cooper, Kiss, and Pink Floyd.
On 16 July 2012 the band's co-founding member and former organ player, Jon Lord, died in London, aged 71. In December 2012 Roger Glover stated that the band have completed work on 14 songs for a new studio album, with 11 or 12 tracks set to appear on the final album to be released in 2013. On 26 February 2013 the title of the band's nineteenth studio album was announced as Now What?!, which was recorded and mixed in Nashville, Tennessee, and released on 26 April 2013.
On 25 November 2016 Deep Purple announced Infinite as the title of their twentieth studio album, which was released on 7 April 2017. In support for the album, Deep Purple embarked on 13 May 2017 in Bucharest, Romania on The Long Goodbye Tour. At the time of the tour's announcement in December 2016, Paice told the Heavyworlds website it "may be the last big tour", adding that the band "don't know". He described the tour as being long in duration, and said: "We haven't made any hard, fast plans, but it becomes obvious that you cannot tour the same way you did when you were 21. It becomes more and more difficult. People have other things in their lives, which take time. But never say never." On 3 February 2017, Deep Purple released a video version of "Time for Bedlam", the first track taken from the new album and the first new Deep Purple track for almost four years.