By Brian Ives
This year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony kicked off with long-snubbed heavy rock band Deep Purple‘s induction. As a mini-documentary on the band was shown on the screens, the crowd roared, pointing out that much of the audience was there to pay tribute to the legendary British band.
Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich recalled seeing Deep Purple in Copenhagen, and it changing his life.
He mentioned that they should be seen as equal to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. “With almost no exception, every hard rock band of the last 40 years, including mine, traces their lineage to Black Sabbath , Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple, and they should been seen as equals. I am somewhat bewildered that they are so late in getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
Ulrich paid tribute to the members who were being inducted, but also shouted out those who weren’t being included (which includes current guitarist Steve Morse and keyboardist Don Airey).
Singer Ian Gillan started by saying, “I’m speechless. It’s a great honor and it’s very humbling.” He went on to mention the names of every musician who had been in the band. “Every one has played their part in our remarkable family.”
Bassist Roger Glover joked, “Thanks Lars for reading everything I wrote!” Adding, “The words thank you isn’t quite enough… The band changed my life forever.”
Drummer Ian Paice, the only member to be in every version of the band, introduced late keyboardist Jon Lord’s wife Vicky and then said, “I’m the guy who has been there from the beginning, I’ve seen it all and when I say I’ve seen it all, I mean it. Bands are a weird conglomeration of people. you can work together and create wonderful things and then you realize you can’t stand each other. You look back and wonder how you could be so stupid… and then you do it all again. But when it works, it’s pretty damned good.”
Former singer David Coverdale said it was an honor to be in the same Hall of Fame as Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding. He thanked “My incredible musical mentor Rithcie Blackmore, [late Deep Purple guitarist] Tommy Bolin and Jon Lord.” He also thanked the members of his longtime band Whitesnake. “Music has been there for me when nobody else was. be safe, be happy and don’t let anybody make you afraid.”
Former bass player/singer Glenn Hughes said, “I am so grateful to be given the gift of music. I was born int he U.K. but my soul was born in Detroit. I want to thank Roger Glover, I replaced him, I joined as a co-lead singer bass player, we auditioned one man [to be singer] he’s been one of my closest friends for 43 years David Coverdale.”
The current version of the band – Gillan, Paice, Glover, Steve Morse and Don Airey then took the stage to “Highway Star.” They then covered Booker T. & the MG’s classic instrumental “Green Onions” and then went into “Hush” a song recorded by the original version of Deep Purple (which featured original singer Rod Evans, who wasn’t on stage with the band). It’s notable that the solos were taken by Morse and Airey (it’s understandable why Gillan, Paice and Glover are annoyed that they weren’t included in the induction: on the other hand, they were playing parts by original guitarist Ritchie Blackmore — who famously said he wouldn’t attend – and late keyboardist Jon Lord).Then, the song featuring the iconic riff that Ulrich joked that even he could play on guitar: “Smoke on the Water.”