July 23, 2024

On July 19, 1976, Deep Purple officially split up. The ending was horrible, marked by addiction and jealousy.

In the late summer of 1975, 20-year-old Sounds writer Geoff Barton journeyed to the US to write an on-the-road piece about Deep Purple. Little did he know what he was getting himself into, as internal bickering, jealousy and addiction began to tear the band apart. In 2003, he revisited the trip for Classic Rock.

“I must say that the las tour for me was horrendously wrong,” Glenn Hughes says today of Deep Purple’s infamously doomed Mk IV line-up world tour. “Regardless of whether Tommy was a good choice as a replacement for Ritchie, there was a total line drawn around Deep Purple.

“It was me and Tommy, it was Coverdale sort of in the middle, and it was Lordy and Paicey on the other side – the two guys who were definitely not happy with our behaviour. I don’t know, man. Something happened when Tommy joined the band.”

Tommy Bolin had been playing guitar with Deep Purple for maybe four months when I noticed the first cracks in his relationship with the rest of band beginning to appear.

It’s early afternoon on a fine Indian summer’s day in September 1975. A 20-year-old cub reporter from British music weekly Sounds – that’s me – is standing in the foyer of London’s Swiss Cottage Holiday Inn, hanging on the house telephone, trying to call Bolin’s room.The Band | Deep Purple

Eventually, after several rings, a hoarse voice answers. Bolin apologises, says he’s only just woken up, and complains about a throbbing head – the result of an encounter with Newcastle Brown Ale the night before. Nevertheless, we arrange to meet in the lobby in just 15 minutes’ time.

Bolin arrives pretty much on schedule and, to his credit, looks only slightly bleary-eyed. He’s wearing a plain, pale-coloured T-shirt – there’s no ‘The Ultimate’ slogan emblazoned across it, that would come later – and dark blue, crushed-velvet trousers with the merest hint of a flare at the bottom. Tall-heeled snakeskin cowboy boots add a good couple of inches to his height, pushing him close to the six-foot mark. His trademark white peaked cap is perched at a jaunty angle on his head, and his long, blond-streaked, freshly showered hair frames a disarming baby face.

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