We were one of the first to scream in joy “about damn time!” when the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame announced it would finally induct Deep Purple this year. We also knew, though, that their induction would cause quite a lot of drama. After all, not only has Deep Purple gone through a crap ton of lineup changes in the 48 years of its existence, but the band has a notoriously rocky relationship with founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (and that’s putting it nicely).
Things had already gotten off to an awkward start as soon as the Hall Of Fame confirmed that only members of Deep Purple’s Mark I, Mark II and Mark III lineups would be inducted, leaving singer Ian Gillan unhappy that they chose to exclude current members Steve Morse and Don Airey. Then last week, it was revealed that Blackmore will not be attending the ceremony taking place on April 8 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center… but in true Deep Purple fashion, it got a little more complicated.
So with that in mind, let’s break down Blackmore, the Hall Of Fame and Deep Purple’s sides of what happened:
-The story first broke when Blackmore’s management issued a statement claiming that Deep Purple’s management requested he be excluded from even attending the ceremony, let alone perform onstage with his former bandmates. “He was discussing the possibility of attending, until we received correspondence from the President of the Rock Hall of Fame, who said that Bruce Payne, management for the current Deep Purple Touring Band, had said ‘No’”, the statement claims. Thus, Blackmore is out, denying fans the chance to see him play with Deep Purple for the first time since 1993.
– Shortly after Blackmore’s statement was issued, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame president and CEO Joel Peresman spoke with Rolling Stone to clarify what had transpired. He admits that despite numerous attempts to make a reunion happen, Deep Purple’s manager Bruce Payne reportedly said the band was “unwilling” with perform with Blackmore. However, Peresman goes on to state that there is no way Blackmore is banned from attending the ceremony. “That notion we would ever do that is patently untrue,” declared Peresman. “We’ve never banned any inductee. He is invited to come enjoy the evening and accept the award.”
– It didn’t take long for Ian Gillan to chime in with his own statement. He confirmed that the band came to a compromise with the Hall Of Fame, where past members (including David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes of the Mark III lineup) would be allowed to attend and accept the award, only the current formation of Deep Purple would actually perform. He further claimed that he spoke to Coverdale about their decision, and was totally understanding. “It should be stressed that there is no slight intended nor any desire to upset anyone regarding this decision; it is purely a mark of respect to Steve and Don,” claims Gillan. However, he then slightly contradicts the stance Deep Purple’s management supposedly holds on the matter, saying “In fact, we would love to perform with Ritchie, David, Glenn et al on Smoke on the Water in the encore jam.”
So unless if something miraculously changes prior to April 8 (which isn’t that crazy of a bet to make), it seems that Blackmore will officially not be present at the induction ceremony. Granted, the chances of Blackmore actually playing on the same stage as his former bandmates seemed extremely unlikely to begin with (frankly, fans would’ve been lucky just to see them in the same room together). But it’s still a shame that that they were weren’t able to make something happen, especially since this year will find Blackmore playing rock for the first time in over a decade with a new lineup of Rainbow for a handful of European gigs.
Would Deep Purple with Blackmore back onstage to play “Smoke On The Water” actually be any good? Well, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony would’ve been a fun place to find out, or at the very least give fans a chance to celebrate the band’s legacy with everyone involved in the band’s success present. Then again, given Blackmore’s recent legal battle with the band’s management, his attendance might’ve made things unnecessarily tense at the ceremony.