"It was like a spy movie; I was in a room, this light shining in my face": A true crime story of Roger Glover, a new Rickenbacker, and Smoke On The Water

A Rickenbacker 4001 bass, and Roger Glover in 1971 (headshot)
(Image credit: Rickenbacker 4001: Adam Gleeson/Future | Roger Glover: Shepard Sherbell/Corbis via Getty Images)

There are, as we well know, many great stories surrounding Machine Head, arguably Deep Purple's definitive musical moment – most famously the Montreux Casino fire that scuttled the group's plans to record the album there and sent them to the nearby Grand Hotel. But even before Deep Purple hit town there was some drama for Roger Glover and the bass he planned to use on the album.

Glover had purchased a new Rickenbacker 4001 at Manny's Music on 48th Street in New York City while Purple were touring North America in the autumn of 1971. He sent the guitar back to England with a roadie while he spent a little extra time in the States with a girlfriend, only to receive a call to tell him that "customs has seized your guitar. The next morning when I went through, it was, 'Hello Mr. Glover...' It was like a spy movie; I was in a room, this light shining in my face.' 'What's your story?'

"I protested my innocence up to a point, then I couldn't hold out; 'Yeah, I was trying to save £25 [about £300/$380 today]' which would have been the tariff if Glover, as the working musician, brought the instrument in rather than a crew member transporting it. The prospect of going to court, however, sent him into a mild panic. 

"I said, 'When?' and they said, 'Some time in the next month.' I said, 'I'm recording an album in two weeks. I need my guitar.' 'Oh, no, you’ve lost the guitar.' 'What?! No! What do I have to do to get it back?' I paid a lot of money to get it back, that's what –probably twice what it would have cost me if I'd just paid the [customs tax] in the first place."

Reunited with his new purchase, Glover took the bass to Montreux. The first song he recorded with it? Smoke on the Water, of course – which, along with the Machine Head album as a whole, justified all the expense and legal hassle Glover went through.

That story may wind up in a memoir Glover is working on, with editing assistance from veteran British music journalist Chris Charlesworth. 

"There's a lot to write about...and I'm finding out how much I can't remember," Glover says with a laugh. "The big question is really if you remember a story – What happened? When did it happen? I've got a list of all the gigs we ever did, thousands and thousands of gigs, page after page after page. I can sort of pinpoint things by looking at that, and I use Wikipedia, Google, friends, roadies who were there at the time and pick their brains. It's quite a project, I'll tell you."

Deep Purple release their 23rd studio album, = 1 – their first with guitarist Simon McBride, who replaced Steve Morse in 2022 – on July 19. The group begin touring on June 13 at the ALMA Occident Festival in Madrid and have a North American run with Yes kicking off on August 14 in Hollywood, FL. Full dates below.

Deep Purple: One More Time tour 2024

Jun 13: Madrid, Parque Tierno Galván, Spain
Jun 15: Bilbao Arena, Spain
Jun 17: Toulouse Metropole, France
Jun 20: Grenchen Airport, Switzerland
Jun 22: Nancy Open Air Amphitheatre, France
Jun 23: Dessel Graspop Metal Meeting, Belgium
Jun 25: Istanbul Kucukciftlikpark, Turkey
Jul 04: Cognac Blues Passions, France
Jul 10: Rome Cavea Auditorium, Italy
Jul 11: Marostica Piazza Castello, Italy
Jul 13: Belgrade Tašmajdan Stadium, Serbia
Jul 14: Chirpan Midalidare Estate, Bulgaria
Jul 16: Innsbruck Olympiahalle, Austria
Jul 18: Salem Schloss (Castle Grounds), Germany
Jul 19: Dresdenn Elbufer, Germany
Jul 21: Winterbach Zeltspektakel, Germany
Jul 28: Gignac En Quecy, France
Jul 30: Orange Positiv Festival, France
Aug 02: Notodden Blues Festival, Norway
Aug 03: Bergen Calling, Norway
Aug 05: Furuvik Amusement Park, Sweden
Aug 06: Stockholm Grona Lund Amusement Park, Sweden

Aug 14: Hollywood Hard Rock Live, FL
Aug 15: Tampa Seminole Hard Rock Event Center, FL
Aug 17: The Woodlands The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, TX
Aug 18: Durant Choctaw Casino Grand Theatre, OK
Aug 19: Forth Worth Dickies Arena, TX
Aug 21: Cincinnati PNC Pavilion At Riverbend Music Center, OH
Aug 22: Sterling Heights Amphitheatre At Freedom Hill, MI
Aug 23: Tinley Park Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre, IL
Aug 25: Toronto Budweiser Stage, ON
Aug 27: Montreal Bell Centre, QC
Aug 28: Gilford Banknh Pavilion, NH
Aug 30: Camden Freedom Mortgage Pavilion, NJ
Aug 31: Holmdel PNC Bank Arts Center, NJ
Sep 01: Wantagh Northwell Health At Jones Beach Theater, NY
Sep 03: Bridgeport Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater, CT
Sep 04: Saratoga Springs Broadview Stage At Spac, NY
Sep 06: Bethel Bethel Woods Center For The Arts, NY
Sep 07: Bristow Jiffy Lube Live, VA
Sep 08: Scranton The Pavilion At Montage Mountain, PA

Nov 04: Birmingham Resorts World Arena, UK
Nov 06: London The O2, UK
Nov 07: Leeds First Direct Arena, UK
Nov 09: Manchester AO Arena, UK
Nov 10: Glasgow OVO Hydro, UK

Tickets are on sale now.

Gary Graff

Gary Graff is an award-winning veteran music journalist based in metro Detroit, writing regularly for Billboard, Ultimate Classic Rock, Media News Group, Music Connection, United Stations Radio Networks and others. Graff’s work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Guitar World, Classic Rock, Revolver, the San Francisco Chronicle, AARP magazine, the Detroit Jewish News, The Forward and others. Graff has co-written and edited books about Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. A professional voter for the Grammy Awards and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Graff co-founded the Detroit Music Awards in 1989 and continues as the organisation’s chief producer.