POWER TO DEEP PURPLE
There are a lot of reprint and indeed repro Deep Purple posters out there these days to watch out for, while the genuine items continues to rise in value (I personally think the best rock posters will follow the pattern set by vintage cinema posters, and become interior design pieces.)
Recently examples of a set of American Warner Brothers promotional posters have been turning up and people were unsure if they were real or not. Further investigation shows them to not only be genuine, but also to have an interesting back story.
It took Warners in America a while to get behind Deep Purple when they ended up on the label almost by default in 1970, but by late 1971 the band were starting to ‘move units’ and the label began to step up promotion with some interesting posters and other paper memorabilia.
Sometime in early 1973, as best as we can work it out, they issued this set of six matching promo posters in a Power To Deep Purple campaign, which had begun with full page press adverts for the Machine Head album. Smoke On The Water was high in the charts, with Made In Japan also selling like hot cakes, and Machine Head not far behind.
The posters were around A2 size (the Americans have never moved to metric paper sizes) and featured head shots of each of the band; the sixth poster just had the campaign logo PURPLE POWER across it. Each contrasty photo was printed in very vivid colours, with a dot pattern overlaid. The twist was that the posters were designed to be viewed in a black light (a form of ultraviolet) environment such as a disco, and when viewed like this would change colours and ‘glow’. Getting such vivid inks back then was not possible with regular printing, so these were done as screen-prints (sometimes referred to in America as seri-graphs) using special fluorescent ink which becomes visible in UV light.
The posters were all based on a set of prints by rock photographer Mike Putland, taken at the Rainbow Theatre in July 1972.
The story goes that the group were shown a set but took against the posters, and Warners had to do a reprint in more boring colours, just black on a single pale background of blue, yellow, green, etc. By the time they had sorted all this out, the band had split anyway, so a lot of the posters were never used (an unused batch turned up in a Detroit record shop in the Eighties), hence them appearing for sale in such good condition. We cannot confirm this story (it seems hard to think the band had time in ’73 to be approving promotional material!), and it seems more likely that the screen-print versions were only ever due to be produced in small numbers as it was an expensive process, and they then went over to the cheaper litho prints.
Few of us would have room to put these up on the wall as a set, but if you have a recording studio then it’s a different matter, and here is a great shot of Mark Gleed working on a drum track at a studio, taken by his mate Quinn Moore. You can see the Deep Purple set nicely framed across the back wall!
Thanks to Stephen Clare, Tonny Steenhagen, Mark Maddock and Vince Chong – who actually sneaked a couple of his set of posters into a nightclub just to see what they looked like under the UV light! We have shown the before and after versions above.
You can see the images in better quality in the forthcoming book Fire In The Sky : The Story of Machine Head and Smoke On The Water, due in 2017.