The Incident That Caused David Coverdale To Quit Deep Purple

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Deep Purple lived its most successful era between 1969 and 1973, and they released ‘Smoke on the Water,’ their most famous song, in 1972. Their lineup during that time consisted of Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, and Ritchie Blackmore. However, Ian Gillan quit the band in 1973 to pursue a solo journey, and the band had to replace their vocalist.

That marked the time David Coverdale joined Deep Purple and contributed to the band’s sound with his blues-tinged voice. The band continued for three years, and in 1974 they released their studio album ‘Burn’ featuring Coverdale. ‘Burn’ was certified Gold in the US and the UK, yet, according to Coverdale, the band’s future didn’t look bright, and he emotionally quit the band in 1976.

Why Did David Coverdale Quit Deep Purple So Soon?

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The band’s co-founder and guitarist Ritchie Blackmore quit before Coverdale because the band’s style was starting to change. After ‘Burn,’ Deep Purple released ‘Stormbringer,’ and like ‘Burn,’ it had soul and funk genre influences which didn’t make Blackmore happy. However, the members didn’t give up on the band and replaced Ritchie with Tommy Bolin.

Deep Purple released ‘Come Taste the Band’ with Bolin in 1975, which didn’t receive any remarkable success, and that is why Coverdale thought it was time to let go. The other band members were getting distracted by their ego and party life, and with the shift of the genre from rock and roll to a funkier sound, Coverdale wanted out. In 2011, he stated how grateful he was to be a member of Deep Purple, but he had to quit the sinking ship.

Here is what he said about his decision to quit in 2011:

“Oh, god, I don’t know; I don’t play that hypothetical game. I don’t do comparisons. It’s there but for the grace of God. Thank God I went on my own journey. But I’m utterly grateful beyond words for the courage that those guys used giving me an opportunity cause the adventure continues. I wanted out very quickly; I wanted out soon as I saw the downward spiral, and part of me felt responsible because I brought in the catalyst of that beginning.

It wasn’t Tommy’s responsibility or whatever but it was the match that lit the candle to set the explosions in motion. It’s interesting that since Kevin Shirley did the remix of Come Taste the Band, there’s been a lot of people coming on my website asking questions including the guy who seems to be administering the Purple catalog; a guy called Drew Thompson.

He was asking me about some documentary that we’d made during the making of Come Taste the Band, which was actually a spoof. He thought it was a legitimate documentary because he was like Sherlock Holmes trying to find footage and stuff on Purple. You know, pursuing the scraping-the-barrel effect.”

What Did Jon Lord And Ian Price Do That Triggered Coverdale?

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One of the reasons the sinking ship metaphor fits Deep Purple’s situation is that aside from their declining musical success and switch in the genre, the band members had also lost their enthusiasm. According to Coverdale, the last drip was when the organ player Jon Lord and the drummer Ian Paice started performing with their heads down instead of standing up straight while on stage. That was the point Coverdale realized that he cared about the band too much to stand around and watch it get destroyed.

Here is how he concluded his last moments before he decided to quit:

“I wanted to finish after what I felt was a very difficult American tour. I felt that if you took Purple in the state that it was into the UK, it would have just broken an awful lot of hearts. And I was talked into it by my friend, Rob Cooksey, who was at that time, acting manager of Purple. That was an immense lesson for me that you don’t in big business, you don’t do friends favors of that magnitude. But I was absolutely worn out emotionally and physically by the entire experience.

Then for me to turn around and see Jon Lord and Ian Paice, two founder members, playing with their f*ckin’ heads down instead of their usual proud and arrogant attitude, body language was just too much for me. I didn’t want to be part of the complete ripping of the Purple fabric.”

According to the vocalist, there was no band left to leave but, he was upset anyway. He quit and formed Whitesnake after one year. Whitesnake also went through many lineup changes throughout the years, and Coverdale remained the only permanent member, but it always maintained success. However, Deep Purple disbanded in 1976, and the bands took their separate journeys until they reunited in 1984 with their classic lineup consisting of Gillan, Lord, Blackmore, Glover, and Paice.