In February, Deep Purple co-founder Ritchie Blackmore announced that he would not be attending this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony due to the unwillingness of the current band to perform with him. "We have to accept that there are personalities that don't see eye-to-eye in our history," drummer Ian Paice told Rolling Stone last year.
Despite Blackmore's absence, the group looked in fine spirits as they accepted their induction from Metallica drummer and Deep Purple fanatic Lars Ulrich and performed a medley of some of their biggest hits. Members David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes spoke about Blackmore's absence, meeting Dr. Dre and finally getting into the Rock Hall.
How does it feel? What was the whole sensation like?
David Coverdale: It was a lot of fun. It's so interesting. A lot of people are asking, "Do you think it's about time?" It really has nothing to do with, about time. Glenn and I are busy. He's got his solo career, I have Whitesnake, an amazing family, an amazing life. The journey almost became with the induction of me into Deep Purple. And that adventure continues today.
But it's been a long journey.
DC: I've got the 30th anniversary of my real big album next year. I was trying to retire. I released a thing called The Purple Album, which I thought, after losing Jon Lord in 2012, I'd received a message from his representative to say, "He's determined to kick this. Would you be there for some kind of Purple reunion thing?" I said, "Tell him I'm there for him." And sadly he didn't recover.
But I reached out to Blackmore after 30 years of hostility to bury the hatchet and with no other agenda other than to share the sadness and sorrow. And we started communicating into 2013 when he asked me to speak to his manager about working together and doing either Blackmore/Coverdale or some kind of Purple thing. And really, I love what I do!
Knowing me, I started working on revamping or contemporizing Burn songs. I thought, "He's not going to want to do Come Taste the Band with Tommy, God rest his soul. But, sorry, I thought, with his wife, he has Blackmore's Night, and I thought, I'll rearrange the song "Sail Away" for us to do as this renaissance duet kind of thing. But I couldn't agree with the ideas that they had. So I thought, well, this will be my farewell album. Glad I came in! But it did so fucking well, it's like now, I'm looking at retiring next year on the 30th anniversary of the 1987 album.
Are you planning on reissuing the album?
I don't know. The only people who didn't congratulate me on this award are Universal, so fuck 'em.
Glenn, what's your take on Ritchie?
Glenn Hughes: Here's the deal: I tried to coax him into it, but I had somebody that's on the inside of our community that he was going to show up, and I said — on Twitter, goddammit — "I hear Ritchie's going to show. Wouldn't it be great for the fans?" And I got such a telling off by his camp, and I said, "I'm really sorry, I really heard that he was coming." It was a little scary for me; I just wanted to be friends, you know? David and I can't figure out why and the fans can't figure out why.
DC: Ritchie's an interesting character. He's got his own story and I think he knows that. Glenn and I share each other's story for over four decades. And we've stayed very much in touch. This is the first time I've seen Ian Paice for over 20-something years and he worked with me in Whitesnake with Jon Lord. So it was fascinating to reconnect, but the root of a happy family is total lack of communication, I understand.
GH: I did the Jon Lord tribute at the Royal Albert Hall a few years ago. I did get to see everybody and say goodbye to Jon, which was a really magnificent evening. But the whole thing is, Jon not being here because he's deceased, and Ritchie not being here, is a little strange. But we'll continue. The band is important… I dedicate this to the fans.
How does it feel to get in? Did you think Deep Purple, after all this time, would never get in?
DC: When I spoke to Ritchie, we'd been communicating since 2012, and that's I think the first time we were nominated. The fans are the ones who have been really vocal about it. But I said to Ritchie, "You going to go?" And he said, "Nah…" And I went, "Well if you're not going, I'm not going." Obviously I've changed in four years. But it's great. It's a family affair for me. My daughter's in from Germany, my son's in from college, my wife's [here] and I'm here with Glenn. This is a beautiful night for us.
Who have you met so far that you haven't met before?
DC: I just saw Dr. Dre! My son and my daughter — we were in the car coming here — and they go, "Dad, can we get a picture with Dre?" And I go, "Well if I see him, yeah!" He came in today. And I went in, "Dre, do us a favor, could you have a picture with my son and daughter?" Bless his heart. Fuck yeah! And then we did a big family shoot with him and his missus. So cool.
GH: We love all kinds of music, by the way. We're not genre for God's sake.
DC: My whole sphere of influence is Stax and Motown. Muddy Waters. I just made the fucking guitars louder. But all of that stuff has always been the root of it. The first time I was in Chicago, with Purple Mark III, Muddy Waters was playing a fucking burger bar. It was mind-blowing. I couldn't go. This guy was such a superstar to me, the idea of seeing him in… I couldn't do it. I met him in [London rock club] Dingwalls. It's fucking late and this little guy is walking around and I'm going, "Oh my fucking god, you should be on a fucking cloud right now."
It must be a great validation.
DC: The situation was, it's not really for us, "Oh, it's about time," and all this, but it's for the fans. The incredible support for over four fucking decades. And not only that, but all the offshoot bands. Gillan had his solo band, Glenn, he's been supported. And fuck it, I've done great with Whitesnake and continued to do, thankfully. Until I decide not to. But the support's there! As long as you deliver music that people can identify to, It's pretty cool.
Additional reporting by David Browne