The Band of My Youth
Russia’s policy today is in the hands of the Deep Purple fans. Those who saw two president Putin’s colonels Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov in the midst of other fans at the recent Deep Purple gig in Moscow will find it hard to deny this.
Late 1960x marked a watershed for all those who then became a part of rock music. New bands burst on the scene and topped the charts with rugged and straightout rock, elbowing aside good old beat and blues.
Eric Clapton and supergroup Ñream got ahead of Animals and Hollies, Led Zeppelin with its breath-taking rock-and blues numbers rose like a bright new star. Black Sabbath was winning over fans’ hearts and its Ozzi Osbourne keeps on shining.
It was also then that music lovers first heard of Deep Purple, although at first most viewed it as one of the new promising bands able to play both rock and to impeccably perform ballads such as Hey Joe.
Then a miracle happened. The ‘1970 album Deep Purple in Rock starring Ian Gillan blew the minds of rock musicians and their audience. Nobody had played like that before.
The rigid riffs, the fabulous vocals, the tensity in the songs – from Into the Fire to the legendary Child in Time – made you listen to this album over and over again. Its copies, even those worn to the point of mere screech, but still wildly popular, flooded Moscow. A new disc cost 25 to 30 rubles on the black market, or one quarter of the average salary.
Deep Purple became more than a cult band – it emerged as as the first rock icon in the Soviet Union. Obviously, this stagnant land needed a good shakeup, and Deep Purple was the answer.
To own Deep Purple recordings on reels played on the then huge recorders, such monstrosities as “Romantica” – cassette recorders were then out-of-reach luxury – was a matter of prestige.
Later came the record which most musicians still consider one of the most brilliant in the history of rock music -- Machine Head with its anthem to real rock -- Smoke on the Water. There was probably no band, including high-school ones, which didn’t try out the unforgettable first chords.
Those over 40 now can honestly admit having lived many hours if not days of their lives to the music of Deep Purple.
Needless to say, no one could imagine at that point seeing the legendary musicians performing live onstage. The wildest dreams did not stretch beyond a blurred video.
Deep Purple may have had a far greater influence on the young people of the Soviet Union than all the Voice of America and other such radios’ broadcasts targeting the USSR.
Deep Purple recordings were in every house and millions joined the army of the band’s fans every year. This is still going on. This kind of music leaves no one unmoved – just look at grey-headed businessmen and politicians rubbing shoulders with disheveled youngsters at Russian venues that are always full.
Beyond doubt, Deep Purple is and going to remain, in the words of a Russian song, “the band of our youth, the band we can’t live without.”