Nick Simper has described his unceremonious 1969 sacking from Deep Purple as a "body blow" – and insists later lineups have diluted the impact of the band's original sound.
Mark I bassist Simper recommended Ian Gillan when Ritchie Blackmore’s outfit were looking for a frontman in 1968, although the singer refused the job, saying he was better off staying with his own group Episode Six.
Purple then hired Rod Evans, but when Gillan was approached again the following year, he said he’d only join if Roger Glover took over bass duties – and that spelled the end for co-founder Simper’s 16-month, three-album stint.
He tells TeamRock: “It was definitely a body blow. It was a turnaround, when you consider I’d recommended Ian in the first place. He had the chance but rejected it. We auditioned about 200 people before we found Rod Evans – I bet Ian was thrilled to get that second chance in 1969.
“When he did come on board, he made it very clear he wasn’t joining without Roger. I was definitely peeved.”
Gillan’s Mark II lineup is regarded as the most successful of the band’s various incarnations. But Simper says: “I feel subsequent Deep Purple lineups have diluted what we created. They had success, you can’t deny that, but I’ve lost interest in it – it doesn’t do a lot for me musically.”
The bassist went on to lead Nick Simper’s Fandango and work with Warhorse and a string of other acts. He currently plays with Nasty Habits, which started as a Deep Purple MkI tribute act but are currently pulling together their debut album of original material.
He says: “When I was asked to play with Nasty Habits and do Mark I stuff, I said ‘no way.’ But eventually I realised people still love those songs, and they haven’t had the chance to hear them live for a long time.
“I was amazed at how packed the shows were, so we kept going. Now I’m getting ready to record bass for our first album of all-original songs.”
A box set of the Deep Purple Mark I’s trio of albums is available now via PLG. _Hard Road _includes remastered mono and stereo mixes of Shades Of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn and Deep Purple in a 5-disc box set.