When Deep Purple was formed, it was named after original guitarist Richie Blackmore’s grandmother’s favorite song, connecting the band (obliquely) to the likes of Artie Shaw, April Stevens and Dean Martin – a touch of irony because the song’s gentle strains have nothing whatsoever to do with the band’s sound.
In fact, Deep Purple was a major part of the second British invasion in rock history, the 1970s assault by what was known as the “unholy trinity” – Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.
Deep Purple arrives at Thunder Valley Friday, or at least what’s left of Deep Purple. Actually, the group has a pretty good percentage of original members, given the usual case of shifting populations in classic rock bands. Ian Gillan still does the vocals, Roger Glover is still on bass and Ian Paice still plays drums.
Deep Purple is one of the hardest touring bands in history, regardless of who is in the cast. They could probably tour forever on the strength of “Smoke on the Water,” a song with a rich history, often told but worth repeating. The band was heading to Switzerland to record the album “Machine Head” at the Montreux Casino. But Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention had a gig there before them, one during which a fan fired a flare gun into the ceiling, causing the casino to burn down. “Machine Head” was recorded elsewhere and “Smoke on the Water” was the result.
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Joining Deep Purple is an American heavy metal band from the same era – Blue Oyster Cult. The band was originally called Soft White Underbelly after Winston Churchill’s description of Italy in World War II, but instead went for Blue Oyster Cult, a name taken from a poem about a group of aliens out to alter the history of Earth. BOC now has two original members, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and Eric Bloom, both guitarists and vocalists.
Trying to put a finger on a where a band’s name came from is always fun (is Blue Oyster Cult an anagram of Cully Stout Beer, as Pearlman has suggested?), but the big charge is in the music, and Blue Oyster Cult, another veteran touring band, pours out the voltage with songs like “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” “Godzilla,” and Burnin’ for You.” (7 p.m.; $37.75, $44.75, $59.75, $74.75, $89.75; thundervalleyresort.com)
Would there ever have been a “Proud Mary” if Creedence Clearwater Revival had been named Gossamer Wump as originally suggested? Thankfully, they went for CCR. Their Creedence Clearwater Revisited incarnation – Stu Cook and Doug Clifford without John Fogerty – also makes the trip Thunder Valley, teaming with 38 Special (“Hold on Loosely,” “Caught up in You”) Saturday for a Southern Rock feast. (7 p.m.; $27.75, $39.75, $52.75, $64.75, $79.75)