Derek Lawrence

May 19, 2020

Derek Lawrence, Deep Purple’s first producer, deal maker, guiding light and without whom… died last week, May 13th 2020.

Derek Lawrence Shades of Deep Purple

It’s taken me a few days to get to grips with the news and put a few words together for this site. It is sometimes easy to overlook Mk 1’s contributions to the band’s catalogue but as AllMusic says of their debut; “at various points the electricity and the beat just surge forth in ways that were startlingly new in the summer of 1968…” And much of that was down to the man behind the control desk doing his best with a stingy budget.

Like many of us who got into Deep Purple through the early Seventies, the discovery of the band’s early history and career was something of a gradual voyage of discovery, given the limited resources at hand in those days.  One of the few places to glean information were album sleeve notes and it would certainly be here that I and others first spotted Derek Lawrence production credits decorating the back and labels of the early albums (or “A Derek Lawrence Production” as it rather proudly proclaimed on the Book Of Taliesyn sleeve) and singles.  His name then cropped up again as we delved further back into the earlier careers of the musicians (I can still remember the shop where I managed to pick up the almost mythical Blackmore solo single in London and again saw the Derek Lawrence credit). And even though Derek’s name had gone from the Deep Purple sleeves by the time I first got into them, his name appeared on strange projects like the Green Bullfrog album and, as we were well into the group, on Wishbone Ash recordings. Though this isn’t the place for a long listing of his production work, Discogs has over 150 listed and even a quick glance shows that’s not complete.
I’d say it was in the early Eighties working for labels like Connoisseur that our paths actually crossed.  There was a reason; while Derek himself was rarely sentimental about his work, even somewhat (or very!) self-deprecating at times, he did like to see it treated properly. He had also been shrewd enough to negotiate a producer royalty as well, so always liked a new Mk 1 release coming out.

Deep Purple Hush Derek Lawrence

I guess we must have passed muster (not everyone did) as when RPM began Derek was quick to lend a hand on the first CD reissues of some of his early productions and had sensibly kept ownership of a lot of the sessions.  Though I doubt whether he ever expected to be quizzed at long length years later over some of the more obscure ones, or see some unknown soul recording quickly become a sought after collector’s piece once he let slip Ritchie Blackmore had done the guitar work.  My RPM partner Roger even decided to help broker a four CD series of Derek’s early work, which appeared via Line Records in Germany (it being a little too borderline even for RPM!), full of amazing obscurities (including this fascinating  alternate take on Mk 2’s first single!).

Derke Lawrence Statement

Derek was equally hands on for projects like the pioneering Rock Profile CDs on Connoisseur and the Blackmore Sessions CD Take It for RPM.  But it was only when I got to work on the anniversary reissues of the first three Deep Purple albums for EMI that we got to chat in more detail about his working methods, and the difficulties in turning out an album in a weekend.  More importantly perhaps, it reinforced the clear feeling that without Derek in place in late 1967, while Deep Purple would probably still have happened, it seems very unlikely that they would have made much headway during 1968 and seen the manager’s investment money run out quite soon.  It was Derek’s connections and contacts, built up over four years with EMI, publishers here and industry big-wigs in America (where he had been licensing productions already) which actually got things moving big time. And while Mk 1 struggled internally after a year or so, and the American side hit the rails due to record label issues, it showed both the band and managers that this was clearly a project worth sticking with. And Derek was there as Mk 2 made their first secretive foray into the studio.  He also kept in contact with some of the band, and was indeed invited down the last time Purple played London as a guest.

Derek Lawrence-Ainsworth

Needless to say I was always keen to quiz Derek at any opportunity and he was kind enough to answer questions from fans when I rounded these up for him once (the results are on the web site archive). I think he was quite surprised at the level of interest still, and it certainly gave us an opportunity to show how much his early contributions to the band meant to some people.  He invited me to drop by when we were using studios in St. Ives as he lived not so far away, which we did on a number of occasions.  Derek had kept very little in the way of memorabilia and pictures, indeed he was often calling me up to see if I had a picture of him in the studio with Deep Purple or the musicians for some journalist or other. Sadly not, he simply didn’t bother having such things taken at the time, not being much into the whole star thing. I was reduced once trying to freeze frame something off a bit of old footage shot at Apple studios when he and Jon Lord were in there to chat about a project. It was unusable but he did find me the shot above which shows Derek on the left and Barry Ainsworth, in the studio just prior to working of the Shades album (a little tribute to which is on the site here).
In more recent times we kept in touch by phone, often once a month or so, to natter and catch up on music industry gossip (he was a bit old-school, a text message or email to him would more often than not see him call instead).  Derek would do this with any number of people and so was extraordinarily well informed about goings on.  Nor did he ever really leave the business, always seeming to have some project on the go, either a new singer he’d heard, or being sought out by young bands keen to get his advice and perhaps technical help.  I’ve got three copies of a CD on my desk now left from a box he had sent up so I could punt them out to a few metal labels in Japan where we had contacts.  And his interests covered all types of music; not long before John Coletta died he and Derek had been working on a dance music project for the Spanish club market of all things (though he spared me a CD of that!).
Another of Derek’s pet subjects when talking Purple was a legendary take of Hard Road which he said was one of his career highlights, listening as Blackmore ripped through it doing each guitar solo at a time in the style of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, etc.  Sadly I doubt it has survived as we’ve investigated every surviving Mk 1 studio reel out there, but never say never.
I did eventually get him to start thinking about an autobiography some years ago and Derek make some progress, though still sort of doubted anyone would be that interested.  After I’d doubled up reading about him encountering a pyjama-clad Joe Meek running down Holloway Road one morning in the rush-hour shouting that aliens were after him, he did suggest I set to work editing it for him and would then write some more. I got to work only to find he suddenly got sidetracked instead into starting a police procedural novel set in the Seventies which he thought would have more commercial appeal (and based apparently on mates he’d had who worked in the force).

With Derek’s passing the last real link with the support network of industry insiders and managers which helped bring Deep Purple into being is broken, a link without which I doubt it would have lasted very long. And on a personal level myself (and Ann) will really miss those phone calls.  Let’s hope that where ever he goes next, they’ve got 8-track installed.

La Jam Band Del Heavy

May 15, 2020

This Is Rock cover Spain June 2020

This Is Rock magazine in Spain have kicked off the In Rock 50th anniversary with a cover feature in their latest issue, although inside it is just a single page looking back. Nice for cover collectors though. My thanks to Hugh Gilmour for the news, even if it is starting to make some of us feel our age more than usual.

In case there is any fan out there who hasn’t yet self-isolated with a copy of the fab book about the album, Wait For The Ricochet, the second edition is still available.


Little Richard

May 13, 2020

Little Richard Oasis Club 014 copy.jpg

So exactly why should we be marking the passing of Little Richard here?  Well, Deep Purple In Rock would not have been the same without Richard’s trail blazing contributions to rock’n roll for starters.  Speed King in particular owes even more, with Ian Gillan quoting lyrics from Little Richard classics throughout (to brilliant effect).  Deep Purple often featured manic versions of Lucille and Good Golly Miss Molly (the latter with keyboard work Richard himself would be proud of) as encores for chunks of Mk 2’s early career (check out the amazing version of the former on the BBC In Concert 1972 set in particular).  Cut during the mid-Fifties, these songs and many other Little Richard hits were instrumental in the development of the individual musicians growing up. Check out how closely Ritchie would reference the original guitar break in Lucille.  And we shouldn’t forget The Outlaws’s cover of Keep A Knockin’ which was based closely on Little Richard’s version (Zepp later nicked the 1957 drum intro), while Richard did also cut a track called Baby Face…

Our photo was taken in Manchester in 1964 when Richard played the famous Oasis Club to a packed and reverential crowd, backed by The Dakotas (courtesy Easy On The Eye Books).

Cancelled in Osaka

May 11, 2020

1972 Japan May flyer.jpg

Tonight would have been Deep Purple’s live debut in Japan, the first of two shows in Osaka in May 1972. Tickets available at 1400 Yen to 2300 Yen (or 3300 Yen for a box seat). BUT the three shows were cancelled some time before due to a backlog in America where the band were trying to catch up for shows missed there.  So this little flyer might be a bit dull, but is an important piece of band history!


Ian Paice On The Drums and the Box!

May 8, 2020

Ian Paice has joined the long list of musicians who have taken a leaf out of the younger generation’s book and begun putting material up on the web to entertain everyone, is promising more broadcasts to come. He was always entertaining on shows like Super Drumming and The Ian Paice Drum Tribe (has he been remembering his days as an I-Spy spotter?!) while rather short is a 50% a mini percussion work out, and more will follow.  Perhaps, like us, IP got bored witless by BBC2 deciding to entertain us all during lockdown by repeating vintage snooker matches all effing afternoon (thousands of hours of brilliant archives dating back 70 years and that’s all their imagination can run to, no wonder everyone is going stir crazy!)

Tim Summers also reminds us that David Coverdale has been posting acoustic / vocal numbers on his Facebook site, revisiting some early Whitesnake material and solo album tracks.  Tim says anyone who worries about DCs vocal abilities should check it out as he sounds great doing this sort of material, and inevitably people are wondering why his doesn’t cut a record like this. Surely while Bernie Marsden is sat around not doing so much there is a golden opportunity here?

Anyway you know how much DTB loathes Facebook but I’m sure you can find this site for yourselves. Ritchie and his better half have also been posting stuff for some time.

Auto Repair

May 6, 2020

Speed King mug Bridlington.jpg

This tickled us seen by Simon in a dusty shop window over in Bridlington a couple of years ago.  It’s probably still there (the shop is just by the walk way at the top of the harbour).  A set of strange ‘Dad’ mugs with various faux adverts on the side and themed handles.  So this Speed King mug advertises an auto repair business with a scooter handle, the snooker hall one has balls…  well, we are in saucy seaside postcard territory here!  As Simon pointed out at the time, if it had just been the mug he might have parted with some of his holiday money, but not with the silly handle. And anyway as readers of the fab Deep Purple In Rock book will know, the song title was inspired by a chain of laundrettes Roger spotted in London,

Man Alive

May 5, 2020

Deep Purple have posted the second full track off their upcoming album (release date now August 7th), six weeks after the first appeared (where is time going?).  This one is a moody concept track titled Man Alive which sort of defies description (and is nothing to do with the memorable – to some oldies – Tony Hatch TV theme), complete with Richard Burton-esque spoken snippets from IG, and lyrics which you would assume were written after the virus broke not months before: “Don was experimenting with an oboe to do a haunting, repetitive little piece to illustrate the echoes of emptiness. So I just started speaking at the microphone and it fit perfectly. It just had to be something that wasn’t sung – it was almost like a voice bubble attached to the song. It just seemed to be the right thing to do.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this fits in the the album as a whole. And no crude remarks as to the colour of the oboe here you will note. Meanwhile as expected Deep Purple’s tour dates have ALL been put back to 2021, clearly a sensible move in the current uncertain times.

The best version of the video seems to be the one linked direct to YouTube, some others had poor audio. Thanks to Mark Maddock, Tim Summers and many more.

There’s a link to the earlier track Throw My Bones on the site below.

Split screen – tastic

April 29, 2020

Some fans have been enjoying this cover of Highway Star lately. It’s by the Kris Barras Band, which is basically Kris and … a keyboard player / drummer Josiah J Manning!  So they both did all the parts to camera (isolated), then mixed them together in a nice straightforward video.  I’m always wary of listening to DP covers (even when it’s Ian Gillan doing them on his remake album) but this is pretty good. It was a while before I even twigged it was just two guys.  And the thing I took away from it at the end is just what a bloody good track it is to stand up so well to this slightly modern take nearly 50 years on…  Thanks to John Tucker for the heads up. Bernie Marsden is a fan too and Mike Richards says they were so good when he saw them live in 2019 that he went again.


In town tonight

April 25, 2020

A week of exclusive prog rock shows in London, ending with a blistering set (well two actually) by Deep Purple according to most reviews (although The Times felt the volume was comfortable only if you were ‘three fields away’!). Read more on our 1970 diary page. Let us know if you were there.


DC and GH

April 22, 2020

Whitesnake have announced another set of reissues, we can do no better than to quote the publicity blurb: “(They) bring together some of their hardest-hitting songs of (their) multi-platinum career on The Rock Album, a new collection that features revisited, remixed and remastered versions of the group’s best rock songs. The album is the first release in the band’s “Red, White and Blues Trilogy,” a series of fresh, new collections organized by musical themes that will include: Love Songs (red), The Rock Album (white) and The Blues Album (blue). Pre-order ‘The Rock Album’ now on White Double Vinyl, CD and …” box set.
If Guinness Book of Records have a category for most recycled rock back catalogue then nominations are now closed. We are told that the “revisiting” includes new Hammond overdubs (on post-JL material) as well…

Glenn Hughes‘ first full track off the now delayed Dead Daisies album has been trailed on an animated YouTube vid – takes us back to those Old Great Whistle Test fillers! Great singing but not sure it has enough of a musical identity (or the visual theme is particularly appropriate at this time), although as with Purple you wouldn’t give away your best cut online! Talking of which, they’re promising another album teaser very shortly…

Thanks to Martin Ashberry and Tom Dixon