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15th May 2016


















I first met Don in the mid–1980’s when he was part of Gary Moore’s band. An instantly likable man with a soft North England accent, it was a couple of decades and many recordings between that meeting and our next when I first interviewed him in 2009 but he hadn’t changed. Despite having played with pretty much everyone in the Rock music world, he has no ego and treats everyone as if they are part of his family. He crosses the lobby with a big smile on his face and I know he’s in a good mood as his beloved Sunderland FC secured Premier League survival just a few days ago. With me being from Leicester and my team having just won the Premier League, inevitably, we start with Football…


Q: Thanks for your email – I’ve been chatting with Colin Hart (ex-Deep Purple and Rainbow Tour Manager and Sunderland fan) who sends his best and I told him that you’d beat Everton to stay up.


DA: I wasn’t there at the Stadium of Light for the game against Leicester but my son went and said that Sunderland were nearly as good as Leicester and the game last year which was 0-0 when Leicester stayed up, that was one of the best games I ever saw. It’s been a great season.


Q: Of course you now know that Sunderland are tipped to win the title next season.


DA: (laughs)


Q: I think a lot of club owners and managers are now sitting there thinking about how they will spend their money in the future.


DA: Yeah. I think our best buy was the guy we got for £500, 000 from Bayern Munich – Jan Kirchhoff. At last we have someone who can get the ball from the defense to the attack. Have you heard what the Sunderland fans call him?


Q: No.


DA: Macenbauer. Isn’t that brilliant?


Q: (laughs) Classic. Got to love football fans humour.


Purple and Keyboards


Q: Comments about the new album? More of Now What?!


DA: Well I don’t remember much about it actually; it went by in a big flash.


Q: Have you got a Wurlitzer on it again?


DA: There is yes. A Wurlitzer in disguise. It’s going through a matchless 50W amp, distorted. A fantastic sound.


Q: Any other  vintage keyboards apart from the Hammond?


DA: Not really. There’s a bit of Moog and strings but it’s all Hammond really.


Q: Presumably your  A100.


DA: Yes with two Leslies.


Q: I presume your A100 is modified – those things were never designed to lug around.


DA: Yes it’s an old one in a new bottle – it’s what’s called a chop. The A100 was made for the front room and that’s why they survived- because they never got played. I’ve got four of them, three of which were made before 1963 but pristine condition. Mine are all chopped and but in a new box.


Q: Do you have a Novachord?


DA: No I don’t.


Q: How about the opportunity to play on a big pipe organ anywhere? You know like the one at Leicester De Montfort Hall?


DA: I never played that one but I am a bit of a church organist. When I was young in Sunderland, there was a magnificent instrument in our church and I learnt to play that. When the church closed down, it went to Portsmouth Cathedral and it’s there now.


Q: What was your first keyboard – Not the piano in the front room but one you plugged into a wall?


DA: A Vox Continental which was a wonderful thing. It features on the Rival Sons’ album Great Western Valkyrie. I met the guy in Nashville who played it, Michael Webb. When we are in Nashville, Roger and I go to a jam every Tuesday night because we’ve got some friends there and we’d sit in and play a couple of Purple numbers. I think we did Into The Fire and you could see grown men sitting in the audience crying…’It’s Roger! Playing Into The Fire!’


Q: I spoke to a friend of mine’s lad a few days ago and mentioned I’d be talking to you and asked him his favourite Purple tracks. He named a couple from Now What?! and when I said what about stuff from Machine Head  he replied he didn’t listen to it as that was all the old stuff.


DA: It made a lot of headway that album. Suddenly we realized that we were a better band than we thought we were. That was the first thing that struck me and because of all the gigs we’ve done – because there are very few bands that do as many gigs as we do – it’s made us into something more. You are kind of overshadowed by the old band a bit…


Q: I don’t think you are anymore. Well there was all that Hall of Fame controversy that went down but I think the band is past that.


DA: Well there always will be a bit of it but yeah. Who would have thought it eh? (laughs)


Odds & Sods


Q: I appreciate scheduling may be difficult but what are the chances of getting Don Airey & Friends out here?


DA: We just did a European tour in March, twelve gigs in thirteen days and I can’t say it was financially successful but it was a very serviceable tour where the band improved and a great feeling developed, particularly with Simon McBride who is a wonderful guitar player.


Q: A great set list as well.


DA: Yeah I like doing all the old Rainbow stuff because a lot of the time with Rainbow, we didn’t play any of it. Ritchie didn’t want to. I don’t think we ever did Since You’ve Been Gone (laughs) We did Spotlight Kid and we did No Release on this tour which I believe was its world premiere.


Q: How’s the autobiography coming along by the way?


DA: (laughs) Well I stalled on it because I realized I didn’t really like the person I was writing about very much. (laughs) I think it starts to hit you when you write. You start to think back and think ‘Oooh I could have done a lot of things a lot better than I did’ so I stopped for a bit to think about it and I’m going to go back to it in

October when we’ve got some time off. I’ll try and finish it by the end of the year. I think everybody writes a book and all they talk about is themselves and that’s certainly what I was doing – then I did this and then I did that – but you need some sort of over-arching perspective, some point to it all. If you just try to justify what you did which is what I was trying to do, you miss the point of it all. You know, what was going on. Something I came to realize was that I was a small part of some enormous movement that produced all this amazing music. How and where did it come from and why? How did the baby boomers create all that and why? How did an obscure skill that came from the deep south of America, Blues guitarists, a real minority, how did surface in South London to such great effect? It’s a very mysterious thing to me. Why the British? We were the most straight-laced, ‘Doesn’t do to make a fuss old boy’ race so how did all that happen. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. The Beatles and all that…


Q: Have you ever met a Beatle?


DA: Yeah I met Ringo once. I did a gig with Zak Starkey and Ringo came in at the end and it was like meeting royalty. He said (adapts a very passable Ringo voice) “I saw you up there son, playing with the adults.” (laughs) I was just overwhelmed by him.


Q: There’s only a few at that level of Rock Royalty. The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin…


DA: The Who.


Q: Yeah.


DA: I had a bit of a party last night. Some of the crew came down and I wanted to show them the splendid view from this hotel (Ritz Carlton, Tokyo) which they are denied in their humbler hotel (laughs) and I put on Cream Live At The Albert Hall, the 1968 concert and it’s so amazing. Ginger Baker…and Jack Bruce and Eric. They were all at it. Cozy Powell used to say they were the greatest group England ever produced.


Q: I interviewed Ginger…


DA: Did you?! And lived? Have you seen where he hits the cameraman? (Beware Of Mister Baker)


Q: Yes I did. I saw it a few nights before the interview and started to wonder if I would survive it. It was tough but thankfully Football saved the day when I discovered he’s a Chelsea fan so I side-tracked him with it.


DA: He’s still an amazing drummer.


Q: Oh yes. Once he got to the stage and sat down, he was Ginger Baker. A phenomena.


DA: Jack said that apparently. He said when it comes to drummers, the best there has ever been is Ginger Baker. Jon Hiseman told me that Ginger didn’t drive and that he went everywhere with his kit on a London bus. He had this way that he could sling it over his shoulder and it go under the stairs on a London bus. It neatly fitted in there and then when he got off he could lift it all in one and walk off to the gig.



Q: I notice after a show you like a glass of red wine…


DA: I do yes.


Q:…a lot of bands these days are doing their own brew; Iron Maiden Trooper Beer, Motorhead Vodka, etc. Have you thought about doing Deep Purple Wine?


DA: Ooohh…


Q: Lilac Wine!*


DA: (laughs) It’s a thought isn’t it? I do have a bottle of wine at home that’s got the band on it – the cover of Now What?! I don’t know where that come from, some vineyard sent us a few bottles. He liked the Now What?! album so he did a Now What?! vintage for us.


Q: Did you drink it?


DA: Oh no I‘ve kept that in my cupboard.


Q: We often hear of guitarists jamming with each other. Do keyboard players ever get together and jam? I know you played with Rick Wakeman on occasion and Jon Lord of course, are there any other renowned Rock keyboardists have you played with? Gary Brooker? Rod Argent?


DA: I’ve met Gary a couple of times when we did the Sunflower jam at the Albert Hall (2012) but the thing is you never really meet another keyboard player. The concert for Jon Lord was where I really met Rick. I’d met him before and we’d never really spoken but I started my bit at the rehearsal and I could see that Rick was behind me. I had a Leslie and a Marshall going and he turned round and said “How the hell are you doing that?” (laughs) God he told some funny jokes. On stage he said ‘It’s great to be at the Albert Hall because I used to go to music school, the Royal College of Music is just over there and the alleyway behind there is where I had my first sexual experience.’ There was a big Ooooooh! from the crowd and then he said ‘It wasn’t that good actually. Well it never is on your own.’ He brought the house down! (laughs)


Q: An excellent way to end Don. Thank you.


DA: Thanks Glenn and congratulations to Leicester again.


Q: Well if Sunderland win the Premier League next year, you have to wear a Sunderland shirt onstage.


DA: Oh of course I will!



 *A James Shelton song from 1950

15th May 2016




















Q:ニュー・アルバムについて何かコメントを。『Now What?!』以上ですか?






















DA:ヴォックス・コンチネンタルという素晴らしいものだったよ。ライヴァル・サンのアルバム『Great Western Valkyrie』で使われている。これを弾いているマイケル・ウェブという人にナッシュヴィルで会ったんだ。ちょうどバンドがナッシュヴィルにいる時にね。ロジャーと僕は毎週火曜日にジャム・セッションをしていたんだ。現地に友人がいたから。パープルの曲をいくつか演奏したよ。「Into The Fire」をやったと思うね。オーディエンスの中のおっさんが泣いているんだよ。「ロジャーだ!<Into The Fire>をやってる!」って。


Q:数日前に友人に、あなたにインタビューすると言ったんです。彼に気に入りのパープル・ナンバーを訊くと、『Now What?!』からいくつかの曲を挙げたんですよ。私は『Machine Head』のナンバーを挙げたんです。すると彼はそんな古いアルバムは聴いた事がないと言ったんですよ。












DA:ああ、レインボー時代のナンバーは大好きなんだ。レインボー時代が長かったからね。パープルではやらないし、リッチーもやりたがらないから。そういえば「Since You’ve Been Gone」はやらなかったな(笑)。このツアーでは、「Spotlight Kid」や「No Release」はやったけど。「No Release」は史上初披露だったと思うよ。












DA:昨日、パーティがあったんだ。スタッフの何人かが来たから、このホテル(リッツ・カールトン東京)からの素晴らしい景色を見せてやったんだ。自分たちのホテルとは天と地の差だって(笑)。そこでクリームの1968年の『Live At The Albert Hall,』のDVDを観たんだ。ジンジャー・ベイカー、ジャック・ブルース、エリック、みんないた。コージー・パウエルがよく言ってたものさ。彼らがイギリスでは史上最高のバンドだって。



DA:本当?!生で?カメラマンを殴らなかったかい?(映像作品『Beware Of Mister Baker』のことを言っている)















DA:(笑)いいアイデアだね。バンドのラベルを貼ったワインのボトルを持っているよ。『Now What?!』のジャケットがラベルになっている。誰が作ったのか分からないけど、どこかのブドウ園が送ってきたんだよ。製造者は『Now What?!』が気に入ったんだろうね。だからそれで作ったんだ。















* ・・・サンダーランドのホームグラウンド


** ・・・「マッケム」(サンダーランド出身者のニックネーム)とベッケンバウアーの合成語。フランツ・ベッケンバウアーは、史上最高のプレイヤーと称されるバイエルン・ミュンヘンの選手だった。


*** ・・・1966年にグラハム・ボンド・オーガニゼーションにジンジャーの後任として加入したドラマー。後にコロシアムⅡをドンとゲイリー・ムーアと共に結成した(1975年)。


**** ・・・1950年のジェームズ・シェルトンの楽曲

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