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How I See It

A hale and hearty December to all. I need to start by thanking those who made the effort to attend a concert or two this year, by DP or any other band – without you it would be a far lonelier place all round. Music is a gift. And live, it’s a celebration.

If you sent me birthday greetings, I was touched by the warm wishes, and I read them all. Amazing – not that I read them all but that I received so many. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t reply to everyone individually but I take this opportunity to tell you that I am most grateful.

2016 is fast disappearing in the mist. Apart from some great tours, DP recorded inFinite with top man Bob Ezrin. Back in January, I had expected it to be released before the year was out but for various reasons it didn’t happen that way. As someone once said, “You shouldn’t spoil the fruit by picking it before it’s ripe.” Anyway, time being what it is, spring will drop by in a few weeks and it will be yours to love or loathe, or both.

Talking of time between albums, when Tom Waits was asked why it took so many years between two of his albums, said, “I got stuck in traffic.” If that failed to quell their interest, he explained that the real reason was that he’d been, “breaking in new shoes for people too busy to do it themselves”. Wish I’d said that.

I’ve been to a couple of gigs recently… great to see my friend Randall Bramblett and his band put on a stellar performance in Basel. A week later, I saw The Answer and The Dead Daisies. Great to meet up with friends Doug Aldridge and Marco Mendosa of the Daisies, who rocked the house.

As the man said, “All Things Must Pass”, and so they have. Forgetting the political unmusical chairs around the globe (as if one could), it’s the changes on a personal level that affect us most – the loss of a loved or revered one. It seems that love, in all its forms, is the thing most missed when it’s not around.

David Bowie’s passing was so sad and unexpected that it took a little time to sink in. And then, as his music revealed that he’d choreographed it all, I was deeply moved. Ever the stylish man, it was a supremely graceful exit. I recall Episode Six playing on the same bill as Davy Jones and The Lower Third at an outdoor show at Brand’s Hatch race track in the mid 60s, little did we know what an inspiring songwriter he was to become. When I heard the line from Life On Mars… “sailors fighting in the dance floor, oh man! look at those cavemen go…” I was sold.

I didn’t know Leonard Cohen, but I loved what he did to me, opened my mind. When I first heard Suzanne, I was captivated. “She shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers”… such evocative words. I became a fan of his for life.

That was what was so great about many songs written in the 60s – the world of Tin Pan Alley, proffering catchy songs that dealt mostly with love lost or found – even if they sounded great – was being usurped by musicians writing meaningful, irreverent, even spiritual, lyrics that provoked thought as they entertained. It wasn’t so much about getting ‘hits’ as expressing oneself as an artist. And it wasn’t just lyrics, the music also began shedding its shackles and embracing experimentation.

Leon Russell is a songwriter who inspired me with his beautiful melodies and words. He is most remembered for The Carpenters’ “A Song for You” or Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen, but listen to “This Masquerade”, “Tightrope”, or “Hummingbird” (memorably with B.B. King on the album Indiana Mississippi Seeds) and the depth of his intelligence and artistry is evident.

Greg Lake is also no longer with us. I can’t begin to tell you what an impact 21st Century Schizoid Man by King Crimson had on us. The first time we heard it was during a sound check with DP at the Lyceum Ballroom, London, sometime in late 1969. It was played over the house system and all of us in the band stopped in our tracks and listened. We were stunned.

The power of song is awesome; a force that can become part of us and, whether we know it or not, inform the rest of our lives. That was driven home to me on our first Japanese tour in 1972 when the audience sang every word of Child In Time back to us, in English.

When I was a teenager, before the flood, I wanted to be a songwriter more than anything else and still do. Nothing’s changed there.

Maybe it’s the only thing that hasn’t.

Good luck for 2017.

RG, December 2016

18 thoughts on “How I See It

  1. Bryn Keyanjian wrote on 2017-02-03:

    Dearest Roger,
    Checking in on your website today to see if you posted an additional sterling prose and you have! I am many moons overdue. Although I didn’t see the band in 2016, 2 little ponds, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans kept me away, I already have my big tickets for 2017. I bought them the first day of the presale. The shows are the BBT? in Camden, NJ — which is the closest DP been to my hometown, Philadelphia, in years and the other gig is at the Nikon venue at Jones Beach, of course near my friend Chuck’s abode. I look forward to hearing the new album, seeing the documentary, and seeing the band take the stage. Wishing you the brightest of years enriched with good health and love. Yours in Philly, Bryn

    Reply
  2. Hans-Jürgen Küsel wrote on 2016-12-26:

    Dear Roger,
    thank you for the warm words in the relation of 2016. I think, it wasn’t a good year: Too much death for my soul – not only artists. Maybe it’s a luxury Imagination too wish more life and peace. But – to realize or not: That’s what I wish for 2017. I had to hear very many Deep Purple-Songs and Songs by other bands and musicians to prevent falling in depression. But now, I’m looking Forward in your new Album inFinite. And I’m looking Forward in seeing you in Hamburg (30th of May 2017). Please stay healthy, you and all the People you love. That’s the most important Thing for a wonderful new year.
    Hans-Jürgen Küsel

    Reply
  3. Allan wrote on 2016-12-25:

    Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2017. The past year was a tough one. Glenn Frey died early in 2016, and my mother passed away last month. I hope you, Ian, Ian, Steve, and Don have a great tour. Hopefully I will get a chance to see Deep Purple one more time.

    Reply
  4. Heidi wrote on 2016-12-24:

    Have a great new year, Roger. Just as you I fell in love with Leonard Cohens Suzanne at once and bought the album. It was my second in english language, the first Simon & Garfunkel ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ and the third had been one that guided me through life – In Rock by a band named Deep Purple.

    Heidi, the Moonchild

    Reply
  5. Tracy Heyder wrote on 2016-12-23:

    Always look forward to your annual end of the year review. This seemed more heart felt than most. Referring those that have passed and their impact on you was quite humbling yet definitive and emotional. SPECIAL really. Now What? A new album and tour coming, that’s what. A superb track released for us to stew on for a few months before album release and the slated ‘long goodbye tour’. Hopefully Very LOOOOOOOONG! Hope to see ya along the way and share in a story and a pint or 3 with you and the boys. Stay well and keep on being you. You are a true blessing.

    CheerZ!

    Reply
  6. Danny N wrote on 2016-12-23:

    Thanks so much for the music Roger and for bringing it to so many people around the world as often as you can. My family and I are blessed to have met you many times over the years and we are always greeted like old friends. I hope you know that the impact your music has on people always has been and will always continue to be huge. In a sometimes chaotic and fast changing world I often look to music to sooth the soul and bring things in perspective. Very much looking forward to seeing you again. Good health and much love to you and yours for 2017.

    Danny and Susy N. Montreal, Canada

    Reply
  7. jose maria casado viñeglas wrote on 2016-12-23:

    gracias Roger,igualmente parat ti y tu familia

    Reply
  8. Dima wrote on 2016-12-23:

    A Merry Christmas dear friend, my best wishes to you and your family!

    Reply
  9. Boleslaw The Brave wrote on 2016-12-23:

    Roger,

    Congratulations on another year! Happy you and the band made it through 2016. One of my 2016 highlights was watching you and the rest of Deep Purple get inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. As one of your loyal fans, it was a big deal for me. Thank you for thank us fans. I felt vindicated. What a pleasant surprise to see you hanging out with Doug Aldrich and Marco Mendoza. Great band with a Purple influence.

    Unsure if 2017 is the beginning of reaching the upper end of Finite. Time is a bitch that nobody hide from. If it is, thanks for the 40+ years in my life. The new album and tour will make it a gracious exit. Otherwise maybe (probably…no check that — very likely) the next time you are in my city, which has been over 20 years. Although I’ve traveled to see Purple play every year recently. Can’t take what is precious to me for granted.

    All the best for you in 2017! Hope to see you play in my city.

    Reply
  10. Saul Evans wrote on 2016-12-23:

    As a famous frog once said in A Christmas Carol “Life is made up of meetings and Partings. That is the way of it.” I first heard Fireball on a cheap Telstar space themed compilation that a friend lent me back in 1984, so I count myself luck to have seen you play many time down the years. Here’s to a great tour in 2017!

    Reply
  11. Bill wrote on 2016-12-23:

    Ever since hearing “Into The Fire” on the sampler Harvest album, “Picnic, A Breath Of Fresh Air,” I have been a fan of Purple and everything associated with it throughout.
    Have a great Christmas and prosperous 2017 and as Ian Gillan would say, “Thank you all for all the years.”

    Reply
  12. Tommy wrote on 2016-12-22:

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read about Greg’s passing because I simply haven’t heard about it before :-(! First Keith in March, now Greg, leaving Carl the only surviving musician of ELP. 2016 – the year of dying heros, considering Prince left the building as well. Roger, I wish you, your family and the guys from Purple merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year! I’m looking forward to seeing you in concert next year!

    Reply
  13. Marcelo Soares wrote on 2016-12-22:

    Rog, have a great new year. I’ve been thinking a lot of the lost greats this year, and the talk about Purple farewell tour has made me more pensive than all the deaths. Yes, I get sad with that idea – Purple has been a constant presence all my life, either as a soundtrack or as a commitment when you’re in Brazil. But, respecting you guys like I do, I know you and only you can decide when it’s time to stop and breathe a little more. Time for Bedlam has been the greatest listening joy this year, a well deserved pint of cold beer to relax from the rollercoaster of those last few months. It’s hard to think a band that sharp ponders stopping activities. But then it’s all part of something we all will have to think about some day. The hard part if that happens will be not being able to count on greeting you and the boys every other year. I will definitely miss that, even if I know how blessed I am for having already been able to thank you in person some times. Thank you again and have the greatest holidays you deserve.

    Reply
  14. George G Martin wrote on 2016-12-22:

    I can’t wait for the new album and tour in 2017. I guess the next 2 years might be it so please record as many shows that is realistic for future releases so we have something to look forward to down the road. Also, I know touring through Europe is big but don’t forget America. One last thing when you look up the definition of cool, your picture is next to it. Thanks for being such a great guy every time we’ve met over the years. May happiness and health be with you!

    Reply
  15. Bo - Denmark - Africa wrote on 2016-12-22:

    As always it’s great to read words from Roger. It makes you think and often think twice. What a clever man you are. And then what a wonderful person you are. And then in the band who still is a a part of my DNA. I wish you , your real family and then the other 4 a wonderful and merry Christmas and a peaceful but still powerful 2017.

    Reply
  16. Tom wrote on 2016-12-22:

    Ever since I first heard All Night Long and Can’t Happen Here on Mtv I have been a big fan of all your music. Anytime I hear about what inspires or interests any of you I look into it and find another world that I would never have experienced. From classical to jazz and everything in between I can hear Deep Purple.Thank you and all of your bandmates through the years.

    Reply
    • Eckhard wrote on 2016-12-22:

      Merry Christmas and a ” good slight in 2017″ as we say in Germany… Good luck, Eckhard

      Reply
    • Daniel Miller wrote on 2016-12-22:

      I’m optimistic for 2017, after all I’ve got tickets for my sons, aged 9 & 13, to see Deep Purple for the first time. I’m melancholy because it may be the last time for all of us but thankful that I have been able to enjoy the unique experience of Deep Purple live so many times since Knebworth in ’85. As I said to Roger outside the Royal Albert Hall on the evening of Jon Lord’s memorial concert, “thanks for all the joy your music has brought to my life”.

      Reply

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