Deep Purple have gone through many, many incarnations since they first landed on the charts in 1968 with a cover of Joe South’s “Hush.” Fourteen members have come and gone during the past five decades, and the only constant is drummer Ian Paice. He was on their first album and he remains behind the kit to this day as they continue to tour the world. We chatted with him about the group’s long-awaited Hall of Fame induction, the possibility of an onstage reunion with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (who left in 1993) and the enduring mystery of original lead singer Rod Evans, who seems to have fallen off the face of the planet.
How do you feel?
I knew it would probably happen one day. I do appreciate how difficult it probably was for them to do it with so many lineups, so many different members. It’s a minefield, really. I suppose it’s rather nice.
Who told you the news?
My manager called me a couple of nights back.
Your first reaction?
I heard that Chicago got it as well and was like, “It’s about time they got it too!” Without naming names, there’s a few people that got inducted that my own personal feeling is they aren’t that important in the way of what music has done. I remember seeing Chicago at the Whisky a Go Go when they were still CTA and they were magnificent then. They blew me away. They’re a real important band — a lot more important than some people that actually got in there.
You think Deep Purple’s induction took so long since there’s been so many singers and guitarists that it was just hard to sort through?
I don’t know. It’s two things. You either are flavor or the month or you’ve been forgotten. We have to be honest: You go back to the glory days of bands like Chicago and ourselves, it’s a long time ago. We’re still working. We’re still touring. That’s great. But a lot of bands that seem to be important are not there, or aren’t seen to be there. They get forgotten.
Do you think part of the problem is so many voters are in America and you were never quite as big here as you were overseas?
Of course, that does effect what people are aware of. If you’re not seen on the U.S. touring circuit very often, then why would U.S. voters pick you? It’s not a criticism. It’s just a reality of life. Certain parts of the world have different musical tastes now. I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of rock & roll fans in the States, but what is covered by the media and what is thrown in front of people by TV, like the flavor of the month, segregates things quite badly.