Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover reflects on ups and downs of a life in heavy rock

Pioneering hard rock band Deep Purple are back with a new album. Roger Glover tells Joe Nerssessian how he’s learnt from some of his bad experiences.

SEVERAL years ago, Deep Purple bassist Roger Glover came off stage in Liverpool, and after escaping the noise and the lights, the fans and the photographs, returned to the haven of his hotel room. Alone, he stood in stunned silence, as an overwhelming wave of disbelief rushed through him.

‘How the hell did I get here?’ he thought, as nearly 50 years in the music industry spun around in his head.

It’s something that still hits the 71-year-old, as the band prepare for the release their 20th studio album, Infinite, and the tour they’ve named, in teasing contradiction, The Long Goodbye Tour.

Strolling into a fifth-floor room in an expensive London hotel, Glover’s calm demeanour is immediately obvious. 

Sporting a black newsboy hat over his wispy, shoulder-length hair, he plonks himself down, and, leaning forwards, glasses tipped to the end of his nose, start to seamlessly reflect.

“It’s been 50 years of music, more. I can’t imagine life without that, but I do sometimes think, ‘How did I get here? How did I become part of this amazing music?’”

It was 1969, when Welsh-born Glover, who now lives in Switzerland, quit his previous band Episode Six to join Purple, alongside singer Ian Gillan, at a time when he admits he was yearning for a number one hit.

“It was all I wanted, I would’ve done anything for it. Pink tutus, halos, hanging from trees, whatever it took,” he admits.

“And then I joined Purple and I met musicians who weren’t interested in having a hit single, they were just interested in playing and expressing themselves.

“And as soon as I stopped looking for success, whoosh, it came.”

The band, after guitarist Ritchie Blackmore took over their creative direction, are widely credited with pioneering the heavy rock movement, particularly following their fourth album, 1970’s Deep Purple In Rock. 

The following few years saw much success, including the 1972 multi-platinum record Machine Head, which features what’s widely appreciated as one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time in ‘Smoke On The Water’.

However, at the height of Purple’s success, Glover and Gillan left the band in 1973, following disagreements with Blackmore.

Glover eventually rejoined in the 1980s, and while some 45 years on, he recalls feeling “pretty p**sed off” by the fallout, he enjoys the way he’s come full circle with a band, who’ve endured almost constant line-up upheavals to remain active just shy of a half a century.

This circus of the Purple line-up is something he now appreciates, as it means the name is bigger than any individual’s.

“We’re aware that we’re closer to the end than we are the beginning; we don’t want to specify when, because none of us can emotionally face it, and health and age are the only concerns really. As far as motivation is concerned, none of us want it to end.”

He ponders briefly, before deciding there’s probably “another album or two” to go.

“We’ve had such a good time in the studio, the last two have really been a joy to work on, especially with [producer] Bob Ezrin.

“We seem to have hit another seam of creativity that’s very much like Deep Purple but nothing like Deep Purple, nothing like our past. The danger is you become a parody of your past, and although we take the past with us all the time, we are very much focused on the present.”

Infinite’s first track, the angry Time For Bedlam, opens with a Gregorian drone. 

Its name was initially a working title, but stuck, Glover

explains, when they noticed a certain atmosphere surrounded the song.

“It was going to be a song about insane institution of some kind, and then Ian and I talked about the thought of being locked away, not for something you did but for an opinion that differs from the government. And not just locked away - you’re gone, forever. That’s happened, that’s happened in real life, not in ours fortunately.”

Glover is also philosophical about ‘bad times’. 

“The bad times are there for a reason. You learn far more from failure than you do from success. It’s tough to take sometimes, but that’s how you learn.

“With my children, they’re upset if they can’t get their way. It’s good to get upset, you’ll learn not to eventually,” Glover continues.

“I got chucked out of Deep Purple when we were the biggest band in the world. How difficult was that? Really difficult. But without that, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Deep Purple’s 20th studio album Infinite is out on April 7


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