Deep Purple Perform In Graz© GettyImages

Deep Purple’s Roger Glover Takes A Walk Down Memory Lane

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Puja Talwar

Phenomenal, timeless and dynamic. These are the adjectives associated with Deep Purple’s 1972 album Machine Head. The album’s chart-topping single “Smoke On The Water” continues to be considered the band’s signature song, along with other compositions including “Highway Star” and “Never Before”.

Celebrating 50 years of Machine Head, the band has released a bespoke deluxe box featuring a 2024 remix of the full album by guitarist Dweezil Zappa, alongside a 2024 remaster on vinyl and CD.

In case you didn’t know, “Smoke On Water” has a special meaning for the band and the fans. It’s based on true-life events chronicling the fire at Montreux Casino in Montreux, Switzerland, as the band was recording their album at the Grand Hotel. The song is also best remembered for its iconic guitar riff.

Deep Purple Perform In Graz©GettyImages

In an exclusive interview with HELLO! India, Deep Purple’s legendary bassist, Roger Glover takes a walk down memory lane, recounting moments of creating the masterpiece as well as his love for Indian instruments.

H!: What comes to mind when you think of Machine Head as it celebrates its fabulous golden years?

Roger Glover: “The first thing that comes to mind is fire! The fire is really what gave birth to the album, it gave us circumstances that were pretty difficult at the time. It seemed like everything was intent on stopping us from recording it. We hit roadblock after roadblock and we ran out of time and had less than two weeks, and most of it was written instantly. We didn’t go in with a whole set of songs to record, We had one vague idea for a song which was ‘Highway Star’. But apart from that, it was all instantaneous. By the time we’d find a place to record which is in a closed-down hotel in the winter, we just started working on finishing it. So, in a way, that gives us sort of a fresh quality as we didn’t have time to go back and second guess anything. It was as if we had no idea what we’d done. By the way, we knew we were a very good band, we’d had a couple of hit records in albums like Deep Purple In Rock and Fireball. But we had no idea that the accident and the fire and all the calamity that was surrounding it would make it what it was and propel it to a greater height than any other album that we’ve played.”

H!: Deep Purple have been the legends of rock and roll, it is the timelessness of your music, that has been passed on to generations. What do you think is the appeal of your music?

RG: “It could well be dangerous to analyse too much. I don’t know. First of all, we learned a long time ago that you don’t get anywhere by copying anyone else. You have to be a leader. You have to be out front and take chances and risks. There’s a degree of musicianship in the band that I don’t think many bands have. When I joined the band, I’d never heard musicians like Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord... Ian Pace they just blew me away. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, they’re so good and am I good enough?’ There was a kind of naivety. Looking back on it, maybe there’s something to it, this naive side yet an honest and very musical side. If everyone was a brilliant musician, they would go over people’s heads, because only other musicians would appreciate them. But because we had this mix of naive and finesse, maybe that gave it a quality that appealed to people and that simplicity! It is hard to be simple, especially if you’re a good musician, it’s really hard to be simple. A riff like ‘Smoke on the Water’ is so simple, and yet it’s like nothing else. And we didn’t even recognise that at the time. But looking back on it, one can see reasons for things.”

Deep Purple With Blue Oyster Cult In Concert - Hollywood, FL©GettyImages

H!: You were the pioneers of rock and roll at a time when there was no social media or crazy promotions. If you’d made your debut now, how do you think it would turn out?

RG: “Jon Lord described Deep Purple as an atomic toy. It’s like a little toy, but it keeps going, it runs on nuclear energy. There was a time when music was really important to the public. In the 50s 60s, and 70s, music and sport were the only two things people cared about. They were the great escape from poverty, there was a romanticism surrounding both of them. It is almost like a religion, but now there are so many different genres and avenues and things. Instead of one world, it’s become 1000s of worlds, mini separate worlds all over the place. So getting one song to rule the world is almost impossible. But we are who we are and we didn’t change and maybe that’s a good thing or a bad thing. We did change musically, but as a touring band, that’s what we do. We were meant to be performing live on stage. Making records is just one of those things you have to do once in a while. But being live on stage is really where the magic happens with Deep Purple. I think Machine Head was an attempt to bring that feeling to the stage. Instead of going to a dead studio, we wanted to do it in a venue to get to capture that sort of magic and sound. We had no idea the venue would burn down and we would be against a wall.”

H!: Apart from being pioneers, we had anthems back in the day. Now, it seems like everything comes with a shelf life. Do you agree or do you think we just have too many options for one song to stand out?

RG: “I can hear people trying to write anthems like they wrote part of a song that goes ‘Whoa!’ and then you’re expecting the audience is going to pick up on that and join them. We never thought of that. But they do now. I think Deep Purple’s music back then and probably even now is honest music and we’re not trying too hard to impress. We’re just trying to express and there’s no other ulterior motive. It’s not our need to be successful. People ask me, how do you get to be famous? You don’t want fame? Fame comes along with it, it’s not necessarily a good thing. Be careful what you wish for, you know, too much pain will destroy your life, because you can’t move, you can’t do anything without people watching you. So, it takes away your freedom. The real question is how do we be happy?”

Deep Purple Concert In Lisbon©GettyImages

H!: Having performed in India earlier, are you familiar with any Indian instruments?

RG: “I fell in love with the sound of the sitar at an early age. I bought a sitar and tabla. I was really into producing music, so I was just interested in different instruments and different sounds. I had a sitar guitar once, which is a kind of halfway between both. I’ve always been interested in sound, that’s maybe why I was a producer. It is really about me experimenting and finding things out the hard way.”