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Deep Purple: Stormbringer – In Depth

Written by on 3rd May 2021

by Steve Ashwell

“…their live performances were stellar”

On this week’s Solid Rock show (Wed 5th May 7pm),  I am continuing with the series of interviews with rock music author Laura Shenton for Leighton Buzz Radio. Laura is the author of the first four books in the In Depth album series commissioned by specialist music and sport publisher Wymer Publishing. Each book in this series is about an album that was pivotal in one way or another for the artist, the fans or the music world in general. The first four artists to be featured are Jethro Tull, Kate Bush, Deep Purple and Tears For Fears.
This week the featured album is Stormbringer by British hard rock band Deep Purple, I play some cuts from the album and talk to Laura about it and why she decided to write the book. We discuss the band line-up, the recording of the album, what the live performances were like at the time, rumours about the band breaking up, how Laura has structured the book was and the research she did for it.
Stormbringer was Deep Purple’s ninth studio album and their second after singer Ian Gillan left and bassist Roger Glover was dismissed, the band’s line-up at this time was known as Mk3. The wider musical influence of band mates David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes can be heard in tracks like Love Don’t Mean A Thing, Holy Man and Hold On. The vocal duties were now being shared between Coverdale and Hughes and instead of all band members sharing equally in the song writing credits, they were now individually credited. Artistic differences led eventually to Ritchie Blackmore leaving the band for a solo project that was to become the band Rainbow.
Despite the turbulence that the changes in the band’s make-up must have brought with it, their live performances were stellar. The performances can be heard on two of the band’s live albums. The album Made in Europe was recorded from shows in France, Germany and Austria and was released in 1976. Ritchie Blackmore’s final concert at this time, before he re-joined the band 8 years later, was captured with the album Live in Paris 1975. This Paris recording however, wasn’t released until 2001.
The artwork on the cover of Stormbringer was based on a 1927 photograph of a tornado in Minnesota taken by Lucille Handberg. It has been used several times by different music artists including Miles Davis and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Visually it is stunning and the artwork on the 30th anniversary edition improves on the original in my opinion.
Deep Purple continued as a band after Ritchie Blackmore left. A replacement for the virtuoso guitarist was found in a young artist named Tommy Bolin. He had been in a several previous bands but was virtually unknown. The band released the album Come Taste the Band in 1975, it was admired but many fans claimed it wasn’t a Deep Purple album. Unfortunately, when touring began for the album the live performances were nowhere near as impressive as on previous tours and Bolin received criticism for not being able to play the solos on their hits like Blackmore could. Both Bolin and Hughes were having personal problems due to battling drug addiction at the time and in 1976 the band finally fell apart. Very sadly, in December the same year while on a tour supporting Jeff Beck, Tommy Bolin was found unconscious by his girlfriend in a Miami hotel room and paramedics were unable to revive him. He was just 25 years old. Laura has also written the book Tommy Bolin: In and Out of Deep Purple via Sonicbond Publishing, if you want a good follow-up read.
I hope that the interview inspires you to listen to the album and buy Laura’s book, it is a fascinating deep dive into a truly remarkable album. The many Deep Purple fans out there will enjoy it naturally, but it also stands alone book for anyone who has Stormbringer in their record collection.
I host the Solid Rock show on Leighton Buzz Radio every Wednesday at 7pm and I play a range of rock genres from across the decades. The show gets a repeat airing on Sundays at 6pm.
Next week: Wed 12 May – Tears for Fears – The Hurting
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