The last Deep Purple MkIV show.

This year its 25 years since Deep Purple MKIV disbanded. Keith Thompson in the UK sent us some scans from the tour programme issued for Deep Purple's ill-fated 1976 tour, accompanied with his own recollections form the last show of the tour. Click on the pictures to see larger versions of them.

Here are my recollections of the 76 Liverpool Deep Purple gig, the last ever gig with Glenn's friend Tommy Bolin on the guitar. I have been careful not to doctor my memory. I tried to recall what I felt at the time. I have included a post script - it puts it into context.

Empire, Liverpool, 15th March 1976

I was on Row G that night and could see the expressions and body language onstage. You see, there were mixed emotions for me. I just missed out on seeing the classic Mark II line up. Many of my age group (late teens) in the audience just wanted to see Purple at any cost. Everyone that I met in the bar wanted Tommy to do well. They knew all about Glenn and David's talents but most hadn't seen them live. This was the moment.

In my opinion the band came on in good form. The opener was already a classic , "Burn". But soon after it was very clear that things were not right. In between were solo efforts designed to get each member through what was obviously a very traumatic and confusing time. All five members seemed to be on stage together for the opener and the closing numbers only. David Coverdale would sing some verses on songs like "Lady Luck" and march off before the solos began. "Getting Tighter" was done as a four piece.

Tommy's solo session said it all. He still remains one of my heroes but it still chokes me to say that he should have been in Liverpool Royal Infirmary that night. I think it was on "Owed to G" that Tommy stood almost motionless on the front of the stage with a little guitar synth which went "woingggggg" and "zzzzzzeeeeeep" when he managed to find a decent note.

I just felt numb. All the time I was thinking, "come on, come on Tommy, show them!" I'd bought "Teaser" the week before and was knocked out by the variety of styles on one album. (I still am). Inevitably there were some occasional and understandable calls for "The Cat" and "Ritchie" but mercifully Tommy was too spaced out to hear them. He stared at my group of friends for one fleeting moment and we gave him the thumbs up. He gave us one back. We knew he had severe problems. I have a lump in my throat writing this. Moving on........

He was rescued by Glenn who came in with the bass line and eventually David, Jon and Paicey who gave him the opportunity of riffing into "Stormbringer". Jon Lord actually did most of the chords, major solos and arpeggio work.

I don't recall David's exit being all that dramatic but I do recall Glenn's. It was strange because everyone else had left. Glenn seemed inclined to do a second encore after "Highway Star" but no one followed him back on. I distinctly remember Glenn calling to stage left, shaking his head, and tossing his bass guitar high in the air. No Blackmore style smashing sessions. Just pure anger and frustration but in its own way just as dramatic. It bounced twice on the stage and Glenn strode quickly off leaving it behind. The speakers thundered. It was over.

Jon Lord recalls that the band played badly and were not booed off. Reason? I picked up two reactions from other conversations in the hall and on the train. Basically, people of my age group (approx 16) were just honoured to have been at a Deep Purple gig and went back convincing themselves that this is what Purple were about and things could only get better. Older people with more flexible allegiances were saying that Purple were finished. Sadly a few weeks later they were proved right. Before the end of the year Tommy Bolin had finished his life.

And that was it really. I'm 40 now and I am still honoured to have been there. I'm saying this with hindsight, but it was like the laying down of a flag in the city of Liverpool. We kind of understood the ceremony I think.

Post Script

It is only during the last two years that I have revisited my interest in the music of Glenn Hughes. This was nothing to do with what happened in Liverpool. I focused in on recognisable bands and so Whitesnake, Rainbow and the reformed Purple were always available. Occasionally, I'd dream about what the inevitable Hughes/Bolin album would have sounded like or why Ritchie Blackmore never invited Glenn for a spell in Rainbow - a funked up Rainbow - hey come on - Blackmore wanted greater top 30 exposure at the time - "Since You've Been Gone", "I Surrender" - Glenn would have given him far more than he'd dreamed.

I thought maybe Glenn had given up because the biased and cynical UK music press were too busy covering the punk scene.There was no Internet then. (How many of those bands are still producing quality stuff now?) A few years later I bought "What Time is Love?" by The KLF after hearing a familiar voice on the radio and thought that voice could only's him yessssssss. Thanks to the Internet I can keep up to date with the back catalogue and get funky once again. Glenn always did have The Gift. I'm glad I have now rediscovered that unique talent. I play very little else on my car stereo.

I am now in a blues band called Toxic Blues and I am getting them to cover "I'm the Man" from LA Blues. Not easy to do it justice...... it's the only Glenn song sung at an octave lower than usual - so I can say that I can sing like Glenn Hughes. Oh all right then, that last bit is the only lie in this whole piece!!

Mr Hughes just come back and see us in Liverpool sometime.

Keith Thompson, UK
May 2001


Liverpool 76 special at The Highway Star, the official Deep Purple web site

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[ Another great place where you can check out loads of pix & video of Glenn's tours is in the Picture Gallery ]