The Supergroup Deep Purple Members Secretly Formed Without David Coverdale

Deep Purple is considered one of the leading figures of the heavy metal and hard rock genre with its influencing sounds. The band was a member of the ‘unholy trinity’ along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple’s line-up changed quite a few times throughout the years, not forming a stable set of members.

One of their most commercially successful line-ups was the one with Ian Gillan on vocals, Roger Glover on bass, Jon Lord on the keyboard, Ian Paice on drums, and Ritchie Blackmore on guitar. However, the most impressive lineup was probably when David Coverdale joined as the lead singer between the years 1973 to 1976. He brought success to the band with his powerful voice before he formed Whitesnake in 1978.

Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice was working on another project at the time Coverdale joined Deep Purple. Because Deep Purple had a more stable and organized way of creating songs, he thought it was partially limiting and worked on the side to create various songs that do not necessarily match each other. He secretly formed the supergroup Baby Face with Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott and Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore without including David Coverdale in the project.

Was Baby Face A Success?

The trio started jamming together to see if it would work out. However, after a few tries, the Baby Face supergroup wasn’t actualized. Aiming to create freedom in their song choices, they thought they would be successful as a three-piece band and do the things they couldn’t do with their bands. Ian Paice discussed this, and his words about the project were revealed in 2018 by Classic Rock.

Here is what Paice had stated about why they created the supergroup:

“Deep Purple constructed music in a very specific way. ‘Limiting’ isn’t the word, but it was a little more arranged. Ritchie and I thought it would be fun to have the freedom of a three-piece band, where basically everything was up for grabs musically – you could change every song every night, which we couldn’t really do in Purple.”

He also talked about why the band didn’t succeed.  Paice praised Phil’s voice but stated that he could not play the bass at the level they wanted him to. The dreams of being a liberal three-piece band ended there as they couldn’t meet their expectations. Paice and Blackmore decided that it was not working and immediately gave up the idea.

Here is how Paice told the story of Baby Face’s failure:

“Well, Phil’s voice was staggering, wonderful. But he couldn’t play, at least not to the standard that we needed if it was just Ritchie, myself, and a bass. When there’s only three of you, everybody’s got to be really good at everything they do. Really, the bass playing had to be on a par with someone like Jack Bruce. And, God bless him, Phil wasn’t there yet. He was pretty simple, and quite often out of tune and out of time. And although he became really, really good at everything he did, at that point, he wasn’t.

Ritchie and I looked at each other and went: ‘It’s not working. It’s a nice attempt to try and do this three-piece thing, but let’s go and rethink it.’ But we never did rethink it. We got back on the road with Purple, and it just sort of disappeared into the mist.”

The idea was abandoned and wasn’t reconsidered after that. Even though David Coverdale had no hard feelings towards the trio for secretly jamming and not inviting him, he was happy to have Blackmore back and focused on Deep Purple after the supergroup failed.