If you’re a fan of Deep Purple, you’re well aware of the band’s revolving door line-up. Many musicians have passed through the Purple camp over the years. There have been four different lead singers and three lead guitarists (four if you count Joe Satriani, who filled in for the band during a mid-‘90s tour). In fact, drummer Ian Paice is the only Purple member to have performed in every iteration of the group.
But there’s one version of Deep Purple that doesn’t feature on the band’s official family tree, and that all but the most fervent Purp devotees have probably never heard of.
In 1980 – a time at which the real Purple had disbanded – an unscrupulous promoter called “Steve G.” put out his own version of the group. Other than lead singer Rod Evans, who fronted the Mark I version of the band, no one in Steve G’s outfit had anything to do with Deep Purple, something that the real Deep Purple was none too happy about.
In this two part series, we’re diving into the strange story of Bogus Deep Purple, how they came to be, and how legal intervention led to their demise.
In 1976 Deep Purple’s Mark IV line up disbanded after a playing its final concerts. For Purple, the dream was over. For their original lead singer, however, that dream died long before the band’s demise.
By the time Purple folded, Rod Evans had turned his back on music. Booted from the band after their first three albums, it was his replacement – Ian Gillan- that led the group to superstardom and became a household name. Post Purple, Evans tried his hand at other musical ventures. He formed Captain Beyond – a progressive supergroup of sorts - with Iron Butterfly members Rhino Reinhardt and Lee Dorman in 1972. But Captain Beyond were ultimately a footnote in the annuls of rock history, folding in 1974 after one album. After that, Evans hung up his mic, retired from singing and went to work in a hospital.
Until 1980, that is, when Steve G and co. came calling.
The management company Steve G worked for were fly-by-night, used car salesman types, determined to make a fast buck from the legions of rock n’ roll fans, ethics be damned. That year, they’d organized a “Steppenwolf” reunion tour. Steppenwolf was a hot ticket, but the problem was that their version of the band that featured no original members. After being sued by real Steppenwolf front man John Kay, the company decided to try another tactic and made plans to form a new version of Deep Purple. Unlike with their “Steppenwolf” facsimile, Steve G and co tried to build a new Purple lineup that featured actual past members of the group, albeit none from Purple’s most famous iterations.
The Bogus Deep Purple line-up L. to R.: Dick Juergens (drums), Tony Flynn (guitar), Tom De Rivera (bass), Geoff Emery (keyboards) and Rod Evans (vocals)
Original bassist Nick Simper was contacted but declined the offer to join the group, having the good sense to see the sham for what it was. Rod Evans however, was game, hoping that a return to Deep Purple would kickstart a career comeback. As for the rest of the band, the management company recruited Tony Flynn, Tom de Rivera, Dick Jurgens and Geoff Emery – the same musicians they’d used for Bogus Steppenwolf.
The line-up for the new “Deep Purple” was in place. But, before making gig bookings, the management company made a fateful move that would have dramatic implications for the band’s vocalist. As Harmut Kreckel noted in an article for The Highway Star, “Rod Evans [was made] the only shareholder, and therefore sole risk-taker of that "Deep Purple 1980" venture.” This meant, “Rod Evans was the only person, who could be taken to court.” As the singer would soon find out, agreeing to this position was a big mistake…
That’s it for part one. In part two, we’ll delve into the disastrous Bogus Purple tour and how the real band intervened to scupper their namesake copycat.