Everyone knows Deep Purple’s ‘Mark III’ era with David Coverdale on vocals, Glenn Hughes on bass and vocals, Jon Lord on keys, Ian Paice on drums and Richie Blackmore on guitar. Burn is one of the undisputed classic albums of 70s rock, after all! But not enough attention is paid to the Mark IV era, when Blackmore left and Tommy Bolin stepped in on guitar. This line-up made only one album, 1975’s Come Taste The Band, before going their separate ways. Phoenix Rising is a DVD and CD which looks at this rarely-examined era, including Gettin’ Tighter, an 80-minute documentary featuring in-depth interviews with Lord and Hughes, behind-the-scenes footage from a chaotic Indonesian tour, and even the band’s appearance at the Sunbury music festival here in Melbourne. But the set’s centrepiece is Rises Over Japan, a five-song set featuring “Burn,” “Love Child,” “Smoke On The Water,” “You Keep On Moving” and “Highway Star.” It’s an incredible document of a little-seen era of the band.
The Phoenix Rising DVD is a really cool thing to have, especially the footage of the Mark IV line-up on stage in Japan.
Oh it is, Peter. That footage is warts and all. You can see in the interview that I’m kind of rattled a little bit. Jon Lord and I did separate interviews but when you look at the footage that was found by Drew Thompson of the Indonesian debacle and the very inebriated performance we did in Tokyo, and then you get Jon Lord into a room one day, and then you get Glenn Hughes – and we had no preconceived notions of what Jon would be talking about – but we were both talking about the same stuff, both pretty much with the same topic.
One thing I find really interesting about that era is that all of you guys were learning for the first time how to be rock stars. The really big concerts like California Jam didn’t exist before then.
No! And remember in that period, let’s just say the golden era of rock and roll… mate, I’m not being an old fuddy duddy here, I’m talking about the big-time era, the grandiosity of private jets and private this and that, penthouse suites, groupies and all of that. In the era between 1968 and 1975, the Stones and the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and The Who, it was a grand, grand scale. You’re talking to somebody that’s lived through many deaths, many gunshots, many escapades, and I’m here to tell the bloody tale!
I’m glad you are! Now, Tommy Bolin – what was it like to work with him?
Here’s the deal, Peter, with Tommy. When he got into the band, before he played a note with the band I said this to him, because he had the green and yellow and red hair. I said “I don’t care if you get the gig or not, you’re coming home with me.” Because he looked so cool. And also, unbeknownst to me, I wanted to have a relationship in the band with somebody I could drink with and get high with. Tommy was that guy. We were both born in the same month of the same year, both Leos, both with the same kind of composure and nature. Two very working-class boys. We hit it off, and he lived at my home for three months when he joined the band. In fact the night he got the gig he just moved right on in! When we lost Tommy 18 months later it was really beyond sad for me. To bury a 25-year-old friend from this hopeless addiction…