plus Special Guests

deep purple special guestsA few people have been batting about the subject of best and worst support acts for Deep Purple, after we’d all been puzzling over the latest announcements for tours this year (and I hadn’t heard of any of them – German melodic metallers EDGUY?). Some were saying they couldn’t manage two songs from Cheap trick, and I remember watching The Planets through those round port-hole type glass inserts in the entrance doors from the upstairs foyer and wondering what on earth it was all about.

Some support for Lynyrd Skynyrd from Mike Richards (and others) and Tim Summers suggesting they’d be hard pushed to beat the supports for the 1999 Royal Albert Hall shows! On this logic I suppose the best ever support would be DP at the 69 Concerto.
I wish I could say more about the supports in the 70s but we were usually too busy skulking around by the stage door trying to get Ritchie’s autograph when he sneaked out to watch (and succeeded). My old ticket stub suggests Bullet (aka Hard Stuff) did the honours back in 1971 but if so I cannot recall watching them; I expect we were all far to keyed up seeing Purple for the very first time.

1972 – Glencoe? Nope, nothing (though I do still have the stickers they gave out!). See above. I may have heard Nazareth in 1973 but we were buzzing around backstage most of the time (oh to have had a camera!) they were on, watching Jon Lord doing his keyboard warm-up.

Elf of course in 1974, I did see a bit of their sets. I do recall being unimpressed by Strapps on the 1976 tour though, very arrogant and expecting us all to be bowled over.

It would taken an age to even list all the reunion supports and increasingly it became more fun to stand around in the foyer chatting with other fans than braving whatever act the promoters had been paid to put on. At least first time around the group had some input and connection at times – Hard Stuff being on their label, Nazareth with the Glover production, Elf even more so and Strapps being Blackmore’s old sparring partner Mick Underwood on drums.

Anyhow, let us know of any highs or lows in this area. And by the way if you keep tickets, do keep an eye on them, I notice looking at some of mine the inkjet print is fading. I don’t know if it is possible to stop this or not.

66 Responses to “plus Special Guests”

  1. richard musselwhite Says:

    Worst support I saw was a band called orphic soup Wembley 98

  2. Roy Davies Says:

    There’s a really good Blue Oyster Cult website at that has an entertaining and extensive concert listing and fan reviews from right across their existance; Rainbow get frequent mentions, given their extensive co-headlining across the USA in the late 70s-early 80s.
    I always liked them- very tongue-in-cheek ; sort of an articulate American Black Sabbath!!!

  3. CP Says:

    Wild T and the Spirits in Columbus Ohio in 1996. T apparently did a Hendrix tribute show in the local area, and was known by some of the locals.
    Went to a Rainbow/Blue Oyster Cult show in Indianapolis in 1979, and the opening act was a midwest band called Hounds. Well, Ritchie was watching TV or something and did a no show, so Hounds were given a full set. They were virtually unlistenable, so off to the box office we went for a refund. Shame, as I wish I could have stayed for the Cult set, but man the Hounds were awful.
    In 1976, Rainbow came through Indianapolis with no opening act, as Thin Lizzy had to cancel. A couple of months later, Rainbow came back though opening for Tull in an interesting billing. The solo Rainbow show wasn’t drawing well in the States I was told.

  4. Jim Sheridan Says:

    I almost forgot the most recent triple bill!! It was Edgar Winter and BOC opening for DP. We sat at the bar during Edgar Winter but went in to see BOC. To their credit, the band does not try to look young and hip; they looked like an Elks Club meeting or a bunch of used car salesmen – balding, chubby, wearing leisure suits, standing sedately at their mics – all except for their bassist, who was younger, with a heavy metal mane, wearing leather pants & vest with no shirt, who was posing for everything he was worth, humping his bass, looking like a parody of Poison….we were laughing hysterically at the contrast.

    It turned out he was Rudy Sarzo!!

  5. Jim Sheridan Says:

    When I saw DP for “House of Blue Light” tour Joan Jett opened. She was solid if not amazing; she did finish with a cover of the Stones’ song “Starfucker,” which was great! I forget who opened for them on the S& M tour.
    As for the Morse years; I enjoyed seeing John Sykes’ Thin Lizzy open for DP at the Beacon Theater, and I also enjoyed the triple bill of Dream Theater & ELP with DP. That was a show full of chops!! I thought the triple bill of Ted Nugent & Skynyrd with DP was awful…

  6. D Brock Says:

    Katchis supported Rainbow replacing Samson in 1980.

    Twice G-Force were supposed to support Whitesnake in 1980/1 and twice they didn’t turn up. Thinks it was a band called Marseille who replaced them

  7. Roy Davies Says:

    Rainbow & Foghat – Springfield Civic Center in Mass- 29th (or 28th?) May 1978 and with Cheap Trick at Leroy Concert Theater, Pawtucket RI- 5th August 1978. I must get out more…

  8. vince chong Says:

    Just realized that I have caught most support acts for purple in Canada , that is if the cavity search by security here for cameras or recording material did not take too long. But in the UK I have spent most of that time chatting before the main event as I find it much more fun, having some Purple diehards to relate to is really preferable than some of the support bands on offer. Having said that, Ted Nugent at Rock the Park festival London, Ontario in 2007 has to be the best. Not only was Sir Ted on fire but I think he managed to raise the bar and Purple had to be brilliant to follow. As for the worst I think some bands have not been too inspiring but more of a mismatch than anything.

  9. James Hare Says:

    First DP Gig I saw – July ’71, Spectrum, Philly. Bill was Matthew’s Southern Comfort, DP, and headliner Faces with Rod S.

    Reunion Tour, 85 (?) – Not sure who opened, if anyone, in their Philly show.
    2004- Solo at Trump Marina, I think.
    2005- Mountain at the Borgata, Atlantic City. Wasn’t impressed. I met them after, so I was pumped about that, probably.
    2008- Solo at HOB in Atlantic City.
    2011- I forget who it was, so I probably wasn’t impressed then either.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Wasn’t it Giraffe in 1985? Giuffria to be exact. Quite why I should remember that I’ve no idea though it was a strange name. Apparently formed by an ex-member of Angel. According to one website they “were subjected to poor treatment by Ritchie Blackmore, who cut the band’s set from 45 minutes to 25 minutes, no guitar solo and no encores.” Could be worse, could have made them wear tights!

  10. jamie williamson Says:

    Since Rainbow has crept in here somehow: I saw them twice in ’78. The first time, at the Springfield Civic Center in Mass., Rainbow was warming up for Foghat – a great boogie band at their peak, but really more suited to bars. It was really weird that they opened to the strains of the end of Stravinsky’s Firebird, suitable atmosphere wise for Yes but… for Foghat?! I remember a wild guitar bash for Ritchie that night, ripping the guitar apart, somehow emerging with the disembodied electronics still plugged in, and plopping them down on top of the Marshalls. Possibly the worst feedback squeal I’ve ever heard! A few months later I saw them headlining at the Leroy Concert Theater in Pawtucket RI with Cheap Trick warming up – a band I didn’t like then and still don’t. Rainbow was pretty much done (in the Dio configuration) at that point I now know, and it showed: the set was shorter than the warm-up set for Foghat, and when Ritchie started the guitar bash someone jumped up on stage and he just let him take the guitar.
    Guess he got offstage quicker that way. Also the LOUDEST concert I ever saw. That’s more on Rainbow than the warm-ups!

    • simon robinson Says:

      Don’t worry Jamie, it’s all interesting stuff for the historians amongst us! LOVE the idea of Blackmore just handing a kid his guitar and walking straight off; that’s almost performance art.

    • Chris Says:

      “Slow Ride” by Foghat is one of the best songs of all time. Oh, and Cheap Trick rocks!

  11. Chris Hayward Says:

    Sorry Simon, can’t remember to much of the show at the Fairfields hall, I do remember meeting Jon out side as he tried to get in the front door which was of course locked and of course DP were very good (I would have remembered if they hadn’t been). But the guy from the Bonzo’s had robots on stage that made strange electronic sounds, it was all a bit weird.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Checked with Ann on this, she’s the Bonzo fanatic round here (though I’ve been listening to their albums now for over 40 years!). The guy is likely to have been Roger Ruskin Spear, who was into building strange robots all through his musical career, they first turned up with the Bonzos. I had a hunt around and he did work with Viv Stanshall called Big Grunt and they had some of these ‘robots’. Check out this clip! Scary to think of this opening for Deep Purple…

      • Nigel Young Says:

        It was Roger Ruskin Spear and his Kinetic Wardrobe. It’s in the book, an advert and a review, been there for seven or eight years.

      • Chris Says:

        Just watched this clip, and as the kids today would say, “WTF?” Actually, one of the top youtube comments was “So this is how GWAR started out?”

  12. Robert J Tyler Says:

    Didn’t Guiffria get thrown from the tour halfway in, around 1985? Really liked them, a spin off from Angel and later to become House of Lords. Can’t remember why they were removed…

    • Chris Says:

      That’s what I’ve heard, as Blackmore thought they were upstaging DP. On guitar they had Craig Goldie, who went on to play with Dio! BTW if anyone didn’t know Giuffria is named after keyboardist Greg Giuffria, who has made a mint in casino slot machines.

      • Roy Davies Says:

        In my opinion its another of those urban myths, a good bit of Guiffria PR easily blamed on Ritchie’s well-known moodiness. If you look at Guiffria’s set they did 35-40 mins right through the Purple tour support (18th Jan to 17th March). They didn’t even get booted off the tour, Girlschool supported intermittently from 28th Feb onwards. Guiffria in parallel played their first date with Foreigner in Albany on 9 March 1985 through to May…..playing exactly the same set and the same length as with Purple!

  13. Roy Davies Says:

    I’ve just finished reading Colin Hart’s biog – another missed opportunity for some great DP-related stories (but I digress) – and he mentions that Vixen frontman, um, sorry, front person, Janet Gardner was ‘romantically involved’ for some time with our very own legendary Deep Purple Manager Bruce Payne! (which begs the question -is that why they got the support slot?).

    • Chris Says:

      She later became a dental hygienist–I learned this a few years ago one one of those VH-1 “Where Are They Now?” type-shows, so presumably she and Bruce are no longer together.

  14. DME Says:

    Aye, The Darkness on the rise, opening for DP in 2003, with Lyn Skyn as a buffer were ‘orrible!

  15. Paul Hine Says:

    Saw Silverhead (Michael Des Barres, of some notoriety for something that escapes me, plus Nigel Harrison later of Blondie) supporting DP at The Rainbow, Finsbury Park in 1972. They were also on Purple Records and not a bad band at all.

    • Chris Says:

      Ian Paice produced one of their singles, “Rollin’ With My Baby.” Des Barres was also in Detective, Chequered Past, and the Power Station but is best known for being the ex-husband of groupie Pamela Des Barres.

      • simon robinson Says:

        They’re also reforming for a couple of shows in Japan in April and a new studio album. And while his name isn’t so well known in the UK, Des Barres forged a good career as an actor on US TV in the eighties.

  16. Roberto Says:

    It would be great to have a list of all bands which supported Deep Purple during their career… even big names as Aerosmith and many others supported them…

  17. Martin Ashberry Says:

    I’ve been trying to keep a track (unsuccessfully!) of all the bands on the bill at Purple shows since 1968 on my website at, click on the “on the bill” link, it might jog some memories for readers. Updates always welcome.

    Who have I enjoyed? Can’t honestly say many of them, Thunder were good, Frampton was not, Cheap Trick were terrible recently, some of the European supports have been, er, interesting too. Pan Ram anyone? No, what about Florian Ast & Der Florianstein?

    Thought not! Anyway, looking forward to the original Mk II line-up touring for the 50th anniversary with MkIII supporting…..*

    (* This is “humour”. Expect to see this on Blammermouth soon as a fact!)

    • simon robinson Says:

      Seem to recall a Swiss outfit called Gotthard at some European shows which transmuted into Goat Herd in my brain and bored me rigid. They’re till out there working away too.

  18. Roy Davies Says:

    Not a direct support of Purple, but on a related matter this months Classic Rock reheats the old chestnut regarding Stretch upstaging Rainbow on the 1976 UK tour. This urban myth seems to have come from Brian Harrigan’s Melody Maker review. He must have been drunk in the bar, as I recall Stretch playing to a near empty Bham Odeon on 11th Sept 1976. Suffice to say a letter to that effect has winged its way to CR for next issue!!!

    • simon robinson Says:

      And quite right Roy, they were pants (to use young person’s vernacular). Mind you every other band on the planet was pants compared to Rainbow on this tour.

      • Paul Hine Says:

        I saw Stretch on that Rainbow tour (probably Hammersmith Odeon) and I seem to remember them going down very well with the crowd although it would definitely be stretching it (sorry!) a bit to say that they upstaged Rainbow.

      • Michael Ball Says:

        I concur Simon – saw Stretch support Rainbow at the old Manchester Free Trade Hall – Kirby was an OK guitarist but Elmer Gantry & the rest were no more than average. Think the guy from MM was probably on the take, on drugs or had a bad run-in with Mr RB. Mind you my cousin caught Rainbow in Munich that same tour – support act AC/DC – that must have been some gig.

  19. Dave Stoddard Says:

    Best support for me – Styx. “Pieces of Eight” was heavily played at my local rock clubs through out the 80s so that was about all I’d ever heard by them. I remember saying to my mate that DP would have to pull out all the stops for me after being very very impressed by their set – and for me DP played a blinder, so all in all a great night out at the NEC – Can’t remember what year tho! – (far out weighing their performance following Skynyrd the previous tour)

  20. Anthony Says:

    In ’93, at the Brixton 2 show (and probably the first, too), a band called The Storm supported. Everyone around me hated them (“What a load of sh*t!”), but I thought they were progtastic.

    Gary Moore’s G-Force were as much a reason to see Whitesnake in 1980 as Whitesnake.

    Knebworth ’85 gave us UFO as well as DP, and they were the only other band which got the crowd chanting. Scorpions were fun also.

  21. Lee Worrall Says:

    I have been a big ‘The Answer’ fan since they supported Deep Purple. Great bunch of lads. Check out Preachin’.

  22. Jeff Says:

    Sensational Alex Harvey Band

    • simon robinson Says:

      When and where? I know they supported DP circa 1974 in Europe – Switzerland I think. One of my favourite bands, I was very jealous when I saw the adverts.

  23. Tony B Says:

    I can remember Bad Co. with Brian Howe and not Rogers at DP’s HOBL tour 1987 at that NEC place I despise. As Simon noted above I was keyed up for seeing DP for first time so can’t remember too much about the support, apart from Bad Co had a better sound mix and I could hear Mick Ralph’s guitar solos (Blackmore’s could not be heard in a barrage of sound).

    Vixen supporting DP 1990 Manchester Apollo. I had a front row seat and thought Jan Kuenehmund, the guitar player of Vixen, was smiling at me (!). She looked oh-so-pretty with those rivulets of cascading blond hair (steady) I forgot to check out the guitar playing as I should have done. I also remember very unkind comments about DP when they came on from various punters about wigs etc. I believe Simon only just got there from a previous DTB account?

    Styx – Manchester Arena 2007 (?). These guys really pulled out the American showboat style presentation, keyboards on a turntable etc. that had me fooled like one of those cheap medicine shows selling Dr. Praetorious’ magic elixir. I’m saying that because I thought I’d be a fan after being bowled over by their flashiness but since listening to their music – not really. ‘Come Sail Away’ is the song I remember and the lead guitar player’s very set, almost camp deliberate posing when taking a solo. It took away some of the impact of DP’s performance later for me I’m afraid.

    Frampton as support Manchester Arena – dunno when. I was sitting in someone’s seat until I got turfed out (OK I moved when rather gruffly prompted!). My excuse was that he played ‘Do you feel like we do’ & the novelty of seeing Frampton, talk box etc. Plus I actually got to see him play a black Les Paul and hear him clearly. As above it took a bit away from seeing DP. Sorry – gone on a bit and I promise not to take anyone’s seat again.

  24. Andy Taylor Says:

    Glencoe were brilliant, you should check out their two albums, Elf likewise, other than those two I can’t recall any other DP support act from the early days that made an impression. In later years Thunder and Pete Frampton (he was a surprise) were worth watching, but they were establised acts. The best support act I ever saw and they blew the main act off the stage and they were Racing Cars supporting Manfred Manns Earthband (they were shocking!!)

  25. Chris Hayward Says:

    Two of the best that spring to my mind were Lynyrd Skynrd, I thought DP had a bit of a hard time following them and The Crave were good as well. I remember seeing Elf at the Albert Hall they were ok but the weirdest one was a guy from Bonzo Dog Doodah Band at the Fairfield Hall back in circa 1971 I can’t remember his name, perhaps it’s just as well.

  26. Gary Poronovich Says:

    If we`re discussing only DP – Girls School for the `85 reunion tour wasn`t bad. Thin Lizzy with Zak Wylde was a bit much but the worse support band has to be April Wine – nothing like a band (I can not bring myself to call them a Rock band) singing a love song to a crowd of bloodthirsty rock hounds!! (ie: predominately male). The most mismatched would have been ELP, stuck in the 70`s with the same old, same old…hey wait a minute, have the boys of DP been accused of that? Not trying to start a fight!!
    Peace, Gary from Montreal

  27. Chris Says:

    I saw them in 2002 with Dio and the Scorpions opening. Dio was great; he had Doug Aldrich on guitar at the time. Killing The Dragon (his best album in years) had just come out. The Scorpions were…well, they were the Scorpions. Some good songs and some goofiness.

  28. Paul Hogan Says:

    The 2006 (or was it 2007?) Oz tour saw more a double bill arrangement than a support slot, with the other half of the bill being filled by Status Quo. I thought it a very bad move because not only did it mean both bands had to cut short their full set; it also very much divided the audience.

    Most of the DP fans were there to be amazed by passion, power and mind-blowing musicianship. Whereas the Quo fans wanted – well, Quo! – and I think largely found DP too complex, indulgent and heavy and probably didn’t know a lot of the music. In short, most of the fans of each band didn’t ‘get’ the other band. Which is why we had drinks in the foyer listening to the Quo hits through the doors and thinking ‘No – we don’t need to go in there.’

    BTW Q. What’s the most boring job in the world?
    A. Bass player for Status Quo.

    • simon robinson Says:

      I can remember seeing the adverts for this tour and wondering how it would work out. I guess it was more a case of promoters wanted to cover their backs.

  29. Michiel Says:

    Worst support act for Rainbow: The Catchies (February 1980).

  30. Michiel Says:

    Can’t remember the one in Dusseldorf ’98, but they had a TERRIBLE (German) name!
    And (Dutch band) I’ve Got The Bullets together with the JLT Purple in Rotterdam was a pretty lousy combination.
    Talking about Rotterdam… I remember a support slot by a Bad Company that wasn’t a 100% bona fide Bad Company.

  31. jamie williamson Says:

    Savoy Brown on the US Burn tour in ’74 were excellent– I saw the Providence Civic Center show and while Purple was kind of middlin’ that night (though God to me at the time) Savoy Brown was great; some people I was with thought better than Purple.

    • simon robinson Says:

      Strange, a band which never really did much over here, relegated to blues compilations mostly.

      • jamie williamson Says:

        And also, I now remember, this group called Tucky Buzzard (a fairly nondescript blues rock band who disappeared into the ether) was third down on the bill on that tour. A funny side note, given Purple’s reputation as a revolving door band, is that Savoy Brown put even the 69-74 King Crimson to shame (or Rainbow!); they were “celebrating” band member number 50 on that tour!

  32. Tom Says:

    Good subject Simon – for me the best will always be Nazareth at Newcastle City Hall In Feb 1973.
    The worst has to be the Darkness at the NEC – I was drinking the overpriced warm lager when they started, & I rushed toward my seat… then I heard Justine Dawkins start to sing & went back & bought another warm overpriced lager & tried to shut the sound out!
    There have been other good bands & many poor bands (although the Planets were a visual delight which I saw at close quarters at 3 concerts (I was stood at the front gazing up at their instuments!))
    I do prefer the non package supports – when you attend multiple shows, even Frampton paled the 4th time.
    Still Purple are the main attraction & whoever it may be is endured for the greater good. Or (in the case of (I think it was) Iced Earth supporting Heaven & Hell, you get as far away from the auditorium as possible.

  33. Mike Galway Says:

    Rory Gallagher!

  34. Dirk Says:

    Hi Simon and all fans,
    many of support act are listing on my website (Deep Purple Tour Page) … too many to enumerate them here …

  35. matthewturnage Says:

    On the 2005 US tour I saw Mountain supporting DP, and I thought they were very enjoyable. Leslie West still had some fire left in him that night.

  36. Jon Kirkman Says:

    I remember Vixen supporting Purple on the Slaves and Masters tour in the UK. They were actually rather good as I recall and were well received by the crowd in Manchester at least :)

    • simon robinson Says:

      Must confess I didn’t watch the support on that occasion; seems like I missed something going by one of the comments we’ve had in!

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