PURPLE’S 3RD JAPAN TOUR
MUSIC LIFE MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 1976

Author Unknown (submitted by Damian Phelan, translated from Japanese)

Deep Purple have come back to Japan for the third time since 1974. Their amazing 10-day tour marked a comeback for the band, kicking up a storm with new members David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and Tommy Bolin. This special feature includes exclusive interviews with Coverdale and Bolin, along with photos of the band’s concerts and stories from the band’s history.

OFF-STAGE

Tommy Bolin: Joined Deep Purple as a guitarist, replacing Richie Blackmore. He unluckily hurt his hand, but he is still a guitarist to be reckoned with. A cheerful, smiling man.

Jon Lord: The leader of the group. The rock of the band, staying through all of the numerous member changes.

Ian Paice: His powerful drumming is well-known and fits in perfect with deep Purple’s heavy sound.

David Coverdale: The quite youthful vocalist. He looks happy when he talks about his older lover.

Glenn Hughes: A bassist who goes wild on-stage. He never stops smiling.

DAVID COVERDALE INTERVIEW

David Coverdale is the lead vocalist for Deep Purple, replacing Ian Gillan, and in person he’s a lot more focused than you might think. Before joining Deep Purple, he spent 6-7 years in the deep end, moving from semi-pro band to semi-pro band. He talks to us clearly and honestly, seeming to be much happier now that he’s out of that rut.

Tell us about your history before Deep Purple.

DC: Well, my mother tells me I’ve been singing since I was 5. When I was 14 I joined my first rock group, but my voice was… well, it was quite a cute voice, I’m told. But then, that was before the drink and the cigarettes. (laughs) I’ve been drinking and smoking since I was 15, so that’s where this voice came from. Before making “Burn,” I’d never set foot in a recording studio, let alone released an album. But I didn’t care even if they kicked me out after, I was just happy making it. Because I’d gone to art school, I went semi-pro from 17 onwards. It wasn’t really pro, we just went to small clubs every night and played to maybe a maximum of 200 people. We only made about a tenner a night, although now that’s worth about… 20? (laugh).

So you could say it was like a Cinderella story.

DC: You know, I still wake up every morning and worry that my carriage will turn back into a pumpkin. Everyone thinks I just jumped to success overnight, but I had a very hard 6 or 7 years before this. I didn’t make any records, and I couldn’t sing to half of the people I wanted to. It was a really hard time for me, so I’m more than happy with how I am now.

What do you think of Japan?

DC: Oh, the people are so quiet and so sincere. I’ve never met anyone so kind and mannerly as the Japanese. Especially in the world of show business, nobody’s out to just flatter you, they truly mean what they say. No matter what hotel I go to here, we get such a warm welcome, and even little gifts. That means so much to me.

I was wondering if your vocal style was influenced by Paul Rodgers from Bad Company?

DC: Oh no, we were just raised in similar circumstances. We do have similar voices, but I had never heard anything from him until he formed Bad Company, and I’ve been singing the same way since I was 14. I sing from the heart. Paul’s the same. I think he’s amazing, and Simon Kirke, the Bad Company drummer, says that Paul thinks I sing well too. But since he released records before I did, everyone thinks I was influenced by him. I mean it when I say I’m not trying to copy Paul. I do listen to his records a lot, and often think “Oh no! We’re too similar!” (laugh) I hear he does the same thing!

Ian Gillan made a very strong image for himself as the previous lead singer of Deep Purple. Has that ever caused you any problems?

DC: No, not at all. We’re good friends, Ian and me, we’re even planning to release an album together next year (1976). When I joined up, John, Ian and Richie told me: “Only you can decide how to take over from Ian. We’re a famous band, but it’s like a new beginning.” We got a lot of letters after Ian left asking if it was the end of Deep Purple, but I got a lot of supportive letters too. I can’t stand imitating people, so I don’t sing “Smoke on the Water” like Ian at all. I just sing from the heart, how I feel.

What kind of music did you listen to in your teens?

DC: What? I’m still a teenager! (laugh) I listened to blues a lot. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, BB King, that kind of music.

Did you buy a lot of records?

DC: Well, no, I didn’t own a record player until I was 17 or 18. So I listened to music at parties with my friends. I think I started off with Yardbirds and Pretty Things. When I was semi-pro, I sang the Yardbirds’ “For Your Love,” that was the first song I ever sang in a band. I learned a lot from blues and R&B. And I love the Beatles and Rod Stewart too. I like songs that appeal to a part of you. I don’t want to try and push my opinion on anyone else, but I personally think that there’s no point to a song that doesn’t make you feel anything when you hear it. I want to be able to appeal to everyone, whether they’re 4 years old or 60 years old, it’s people I care about. I want all of those people to enjoy my music, but of course, that’s impossible. Well, unless you’re the Beatles… I really like John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s records.

Is Ritchie Blackmore still popular after leaving Deep Purple?

DC: Yes, of course, he’s still a big star. He’s the best live guitarist in the world. I’ve written songs for him, and that turned out very well. He’s somewhat… eccentric, but if you can understand him, he’s amazing. But don’t expect anything normal to come from him. When he was in Deep Purple, we worked together on songs and we made a good team. He’s a great person, both as a musician and a friend. I’d like to work with him again, definitely. I hope he goes on to further success.

You mentioned that you were planning to release an album with Ian Gillan, what kind of album would that be?

DC: It’s something we just talked about maybe two months ago. He’s bee working on his solo album, but when we did talk about it we were thinking we’d like to do a Little Richard-style old rock ’n roll album. I’m a big fan of Little Richard. We were talking about it, but it’ll still be some time before we do anything. Also, Ian’s doing a lot of work right now. People keep telling me to do a solo album, but I don’t have any time either!

Off the topic of music, I hear that your wife is a much older woman than you?

DC: It’s not that uncommon. Marriage is just a simple ceremony, Julia means a lot more than that to me. She’s 10 years older than me, but she understands my work. I love her deeply, but I don’t have any interest in marriage as a ceremony. It’s impossible to show how much you love someone simply by signing a sheet of paper. Even if it looks like we’re separated, that’s just how we live our lives. I honestly think that getting to know her is the best thing I’ve ever done. She has two children from her previous marriage, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. When this tour is over, I’ll be going back to America with Julia. The children are in a boarding school in Germany, but we’ll all get together for a holiday. It’s not that I’m telling people not to get married, marriage is a wonderful thing. But all it is is a ceremony. I can vow that I love her, but I can’t say I’ll love her for eternity. And she thinks the same thing. But no matter how cynical I am, I have to thank the heavens that she loves me.

Thank you for your time, and I wish you all the happiness in the world with your wife.

TOMMY BOLIN INTERVIEW

We interviewed Tommy Bolin, who unfortunately hurt his hand in a previous tour in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is the first time playing for his Japanese fans, but it is unfortunate that he can’t play at his peak ability. Even so, he talked to us straightforwardly about his career as a guitarist, his feelings towards Ritchie Blackmore, and more.

How is your hand?

TB: It’s getting better.

You play slide guitar, don’t you?

TB: Yeah, when I hurt my hand I couldn’t play at all, but I could still do slide guitar, so I’ve been doing nothing but that. (laugh)

Where did you hurt your hand?

TB: In Jakarta. We had a welcoming party there, and I drank too much and ended up knocking over a table. Someone got me to my bed and lay me down there. I usually turn over in my bed when my arm goes to sleep, but because I was so drunk I just lay there for 12 hours in the same position. So I think my hand just stayed twisted and got hurt like that. It’s not a real injury, but it buggered up my hand well enough. It’s getting better now, though.

I heard that there was a riot at the concert in Jakarta…

TB: Yeah, I didn’t like Jakarta that much. It looked like we were the first rock group to go there, but on the first day we had about 45,000 people there, and 50,000 on the second. We did a concert in a stadium out in a field, but that’s when my hand was at its worst. I even tried acupuncture and brought it to about eight doctors, each saying different things. Cool it down, keep it warm, massage it, don’t massage it, that kind of thing.

And what do you think of the Japanese audience?

TB: Fantastic! Everyone’s been great everywhere on this tour. First Hawaii, then New Zealand, it’s all been great.

You come from a Native American village, right?

TB: More like a Native American city! Native Americans everywhere, all around me. But I’m half-Swedish, half Syrian.

When did you start performing?

TB: I started off on the drums at 12. I drummed for a while, then I switched to guitar, and even played the organ for about 2 years then went back to the guitar. That’s why my solo album “Teaser” has me playing the piano too.

I understand you have a good friendship with Joe Walsh. We were all surprised when we heard that he joined the Eagles!

TB: I know! So was I. I think the Eagles are due here next year, so when you’re interviewing Joe Walsh, tell him I said hello! (laugh)

I will. Your solo album, was that recorded before you joined Deep Purple?

TB: Yeah, it was. When I left James Gang, I spent about a year looking for a lead singer, but I couldn’t find any so I did it myself. I had a contract with Nemperor, a subsidiary of Atlantic, but after a while Deep Purple asked me to “come jam with them.” I knew Ritchie had quit, so I knew straight away what they wanted me for. It was all decided after only 5 or 10 minutes working together. And I didn’t really like British bands at all, it just felt like the same jokes over and over every day with them. But with Deep Purple, there was always something new there, a new joke every night, so I joined up. (laugh) But with a group, you have to decide the night before a concert how you’re doing things. With James Gang, there was none of that, no communication at all. That’s the main reason I left.

I’m planning to head out with my solo band after this tour. My friends, Michael Walden, Dave Sanborn and Stanley Sheldon. After that, I’ll be helping Glenn with his solo album, and I want to do an album with him. We have a lot of the same interests, so I want to work with him, but we both have a lot of work to do so I don’t know how that will work out. My solo album’s currently fairly popular in America, so I have to promote it. While I’m doing that, I have to play with Deep Purple, so right now I’m contracted with about 4 companies. Purple Records came from Warner Records, so who knows, maybe Nemperor Records will come out from Atlantic Records. I wish I knew.

Me too.

TB: Oh, me three! (collapses laughing)

So when was your first time going pro?

TB: It started with the group Zephyr, under ABC Records. I worked with them for a year at 19, and made albums. After that, I did mostly jazz work, and joined James Gang. I really wanted to get famous. But the members all had different ideas about what they wanted to do, so it got really tiresome.

As the new guitarist for Deep Purple, have you had any problems with the strong image Ritchie Blackmore carved out for himself?

TB: Absolutely not, he’s a good friend. But for some reason, I took Joe Walsh’s place in James Gang, and Ritchie’s in Deep Purple. But I get on well with both of them! Ritchie is an amazing guitarist. He’s very quiet too, a man of few words. When I joined Deep Purple, he came to me and said “So, looks like you’re doing great!.” He really is an amazing guitarist.

Have you heard his Rainbow album?

TB: No, not yet. I don’t really go to concerts, but he had a great one. But his band changes members an awful lot. That’s just like Ritchie, but it makes me wonder whether he knows himself what he wants to do.

About how many guitars do you own?

TB: FIve in all. I have three Fender Stratocasters, one of which is a Telecaster. I have a 1959 Gibson Les Paul, and then a special-order Yamaha. I got that one in Nagoya, and it’s in fantastic condition. The strings on the other 4 are Ernie Ball’s Extra Super Slinky.

How did you learn to play bottleneck?

TB: I actually practiced it especially for playing here, because of my hand getting hurt. I never really used it before now, and I don’t really plan to in the future. But I played a long time ago with the Ernie Ball Bottleneck. When I play bottleneck, I use straight tuning, not open tuning. I don’t know whether the bar is metal or glass. But it shines! It’s probably an Ernie Ball Bottleneck.

What do you use as a pick?

TB: I use a Herco, which I chew for four hours before going on stage to sharpen it up.

Do you use sound effects?

TB: Yeah, I use an Echoplex and a pressure sustainer. For the echoplex I use Maestro, and the fuzz sustainer is from Sam Ash. The pressure one is special-order.

Have you eaten any Japanese food?

TB: I have, yeah. I’ve been a vegetarian for the last 5 or 6 years, but Japanese meat isn’t tempting me away from that! I’m currently on a diet to lose weight.

What? But you don’t look fat at all…

TB: Nah, I was 137 pounds when I joined Deep Purple, but then I over-drank when we were recording in Munich and put on 15 pounds, now I’m 152. I just want to lose about 10 pounds, then I’ll be fine.

Last question, what musicians and songwriters do you like?

TB: They’re both difficult ones to answer… I like Michael Gibbs, a jazz musician from England, and the Sergio Mendez from Brazil. And he’s not credited on my solo album, but Airto Moreira helped out with it and I think he’s the best percussionist in the world.

Thank you very much for your time.

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