The Real Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Rod Evans

On April 18, Lou Reed, Green Day, Ringo Starr, Joan Jett and others will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, joining everyone from The Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Who to Kiss, Metallica, ZZ Top and, er, ABBA. But what about all the bands this US institution has overlooked, ignored or wilfully snubbed over the years? The giants and innovators of rock, prog, punk, blues and more who weren’t deemed important enough, cool enough or American enough to warrant entry through those hallowed portals. Nearly 50 years after forming, Deep Purple are the greatest band not to be in the official Hall Of Fame. They are one of a diminishing handful of bands who formed in the late 60s who are still active today, who are not content to rest on their laurels and who still exist in a meaningful and creative way. While many of their peers are content to play the chicken-in-a-basket circuit – their tour posters emblazoned with monochrome mug shots of how they looked back in their bushy-tailed heyday – Purple have matured like a fine, expensive wine (a Sweet Burgundy, as their former guitarist, the late, great Tommy Bolin, might have it). From 1968’s Shades Of Deep Purple to 2013’s NOW What?!, Purple’s passage through time resembles a mountain range of breathtaking highs and turbid lows. On the next several pages, via a series of interviews with every key member past and present, we celebrate Purple’s extraordinary, multi-decade career. We highlight the radically different personalities of the musicians who have impacted on the band, and marvel at how these contradicting characters were able to gel musically. We examine the mysterious – and occasionally devious – workings of this at times most volatile of bands. We analyse the contributions of alleged bit-part players including Nick Simper, Joe Lynn Turner and the aforementioned Bolin. Plus much more besides. This is Deep Purple dissected, deconstructed and laid bare. (Oh, and we only mention Smoke On The Water once.)

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of original Deep Purple singer Rod Evans. After being fired from Purple Mk I, Evans recorded two albums with Captain Beyond before quitting to study medicine. However, in 1980 he was approached by organist Geoff Emery and guitarist Tony Flynn about creating a new version of Purple. The pair claimed to have obtained the rights to the band’s name; they’d even registered the moniker ‘Deep Purple Inc’ in California.

A five-piece band was formed and began playing shows Stateside, much to fans’ bemusement and confusion. In a review the_ LA Times_ declared: “The band’s playing was sloppy… The songs were barely recognisable… The whole thing is sham.”

The bogus band was stopped in its tracks by the Purple’s management company, HEC Enterprises. Even though the real Purple were on sabbatical, a court ruled that Emery and Flynn had fraudulently registered the name.

But pity poor Evans. Having agreed naively to be the sole shareholder of Deep Purple Inc, he bore the brunt of HEC’s fury and was left licking some very expensive wounds – to the tune of $672,000. Rumours persisted that he worked as a medic in Florida, but nothing concrete has been heard of him since. The bird has well and truly flown.

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.