Deep Purple & Alice Cooper At Ak-Chin Pavilion

August 15, 2017
6:30 pm
Phoenix, AZ
Deep Purple & Alice Cooper At Ak-Chin Pavilion
Deep Purple & Alice Cooper At Ak-Chin Pavilion

Deep Purple survived a seemingly endless series of lineup changes and a dramatic mid-career shift from grandiose progressive rock to ear-shattering heavy metal to emerge as a true institution of the British hard rock community. Once credited in The Guinness Book of World Records as the globe’s loudest band, their revolving-door roster launched the careers of performers including Ritchie BlackmoreDavid Coverdale, and Ian Gillan.

Deep Purple were formed in Hertford, England, in 1968, with an inaugural lineup that featured guitarist Blackmore, vocalist Rod Evans, bassist Nick Simper, keyboardist Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice. Initially dubbed Roundabout, the group was first assembled as a session band for ex-Searchersdrummer Chris Curtis but quickly went their own way, touring Scandinavia before beginning work on their debut LP, Shades of Deep Purple. The most pop-oriented release of their career, the album generated a Top Five American hit with its reading of Joe South‘s “Hush” but otherwise went unnoticed at home. The Book of Taliesyn followed (in the U.S. only) in 1969, again cracking the U.S. Top 40 with a cover of Neil Diamond‘s “Kentucky Woman.”

With their self-titled third LP, Deep Purple‘s ambitions grew, however; the songs reflecting a new complexity and density as Lord‘s classically influenced keyboards assumed a much greater focus. Soon after the album’s release, their American label Tetragrammaton folded, and with the dismissals of Evansand Simper, the band started fresh, recruiting singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover from the ranks of the pop group Episode Six.

The revamped Deep Purple‘s first album, 1970’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra, further sought to fuse rock and classical music. When the project, which was recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was poorly received, Blackmore took creative control of the band, steering it toward a heavier, guitar-dominated approach that took full advantage of Gillan‘s powerful vocals. The gambit worked; 1970’s Deep Purple in Rock heralded the beginning of the group’s most creatively and commercially successful period. At home, the album sold over a million copies, with the subsequent non-LP single “Black Night” falling just shy of topping the U.K. pop charts. Released in 1971, Fireball was also a smash, scoring a hit with “Strange Kind of Woman.”

Plans to record the follow-up at the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland, were derailed after the venue burned down during a live appearance by Frank Zappa, but the experience inspired Deep Purple‘s most enduring hit, the AOR staple “Smoke on the Water.” The song, featured on the multi-platinum classic Machine Head, reached the U.S. Top Five in mid-1972 and positioned Deep Purple among rock’s elite; the band consolidated its status with the 1973 studio follow-up Who Do We Think We Are and the hit “Woman from Tokyo.” However, long-simmering creative differences between Blackmore and Gillan pushed the latter out of the group that same year, with Glover soon exiting as well. Singer David Coverdale and bassist/singer Glenn Hugheswere recruited for 1974’s Burn, and Gillan meanwhile formed a band bearing his own name.

After completing 1974’s StormbringerBlackmore left Deep Purple as well, to form Rainbow with vocalist Ronnie James Dio; his replacement was ex-James Gang guitarist Tommy Bolin, who made his debut on Come Taste the Band. All the changes clearly took their toll, however, and following a farewell tour, the group dissolved in 1976. Coverdale, meanwhile, went on to form Whitesnake, and Bolin died of a drug overdose later in the year.

The classic lineup of BlackmoreGillanLordGlover, and Paice reunited Deep Purple in 1984 for a new album, the platinum smash Perfect StrangersThe House of Blue Light followed three years later, but as past tensions resurfaced, Gillan again exited in mid-1989. Onetime Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner was recruited for 1990’s Slaves and Masters before Gillan again rejoined to record The Battle Rages On…, an apt title as Blackmore quit the group midway through the supporting tour, to be temporarily replaced by Joe Satriani.

In 1994, Steve Morse took over the guitar slot (fresh from a stint in Kansas), and the revitalized group returned to the studio for 1996’s Purpendicular, which proved a success among the Purple faithful. Abandon followed in 1998, as well as a 1999 orchestral performance released the following year as Live at the Royal Albert HallDeep Purple were given the box set treatment the same year with the four-disc set Shades: 1968-1998, which collected hits, demos, live takes, and unreleased tracks from throughout the years (touching upon all of Purple‘s different lineups). Meanwhile, Blackmorekept himself busy after leaving the band by issuing a single album with his briefly resuscitated outfit Rainbow (1998’s Stranger in Us All), before forming the Renaissance-inspired Blackmore’s Night with fiancée/vocalist Candice Night.

Despite continuing lineup upheavals, Deep Purple remained active well into the 21st century. Keyboardist Lord departed the band in 2002 and issued several classical albums during the remainder of the decade; sadly, he died in 2012 after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly a year. Lord‘s replacement in Deep Purple during the new millennium was Don Airey, and the band issued two surprisingly strong albums with a lineup of GillanGloverPaiceMorse, and Airey: 2003’s Bananas and 2005’s Rapture of the Deep. The late ’90s and early 2000s also saw the release of many archival releases and collections preserving the band’s enduring legacy (Machine Head‘s 25th anniversary, Friends & Relatives, Rhino’s The Very Best Of, and Days May Come and Days May Go: The 1975 California Rehearsals), as well as a slew of DVDs (Total Abandon: Live Australia 1999In Concert with the London Symphony OrchestraBombay Calling, and New Live & Rare). The impressive and timeless-sounding Now What?!, produced by Bob Ezrin, appeared early in 2013. Surviving members of Deep Purple came together for a tribute concert held April 4, 2014 at Royal Albert Hall that marked the 45th anniversary of when Jon Lord‘s “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” first debuted there. The event was chronicled on film and on two albums, Celebrating Jon Lord: The Rock Legend and Celebrating Jon Lord: The Composer, which appeared in the fall of 2014. The group returned to the same Nashville studio with Ezrin early in 2016. A pre-release single of the opening track, “Time for Bedlam,” was issued in December. In January, Infinite‘s title, cover, and track listing were announced. In an interview, Airey described the album as “a little heavier than the last one…a bit more prog.” Infinite was released in April, as a precursor to Deep Purple‘s global “Long Goodbye Tour.” The band refused to address all speculation regarding the meaning of either the album’s or tour’s titles.

In 1975, Alice Cooper joined forces with longtime collaborator and producer Bob Ezrin to record his first solo album Welcome to My Nightmare, a theatrical concept album about the nightmares of a young boy named Steven. Now, he’s followed Steven into adulthood and presents Welcome 2 My Nightmare, a new but familiar concept album about the fear, anxiety and disgust that haunt Alice Cooper’s dreams in an era of Facebook, Lady Gaga, Sketchers and Angry Birds.

“Alice hates technology, disco is still a nightmare for him and working in a cubicle from nine-to-five would give him cold sweats,” Cooper says. “At the same time, this is a nightmare so all these normal life things are thrown into this crazy world that’s only logical when you’re in the nightmare. You could have an elephant in your garage, and you’re on the lawn in a pink tutu cooking hot dogs. And at the time it’s fine. But when you wake up you go, ‘How insane is that? Where did that come from?’ So we realized that having Alice in a modern-world nightmare is a great place to come from theatrically because we can go anywhere we want and make it as insane as possible.”

A wild, surreal odyssey, Welcome 2 My Nightmare provided Cooper and Ezrin the opportunity to work with numerous musicians and experiment with various musical styles. The three surviving members of the original band, guitarist Michael Bruce, bassist Dennis Dunaway and drummer Neal Smith, co-wrote three songs and they all played on “When Hell Comes Home,” a gritty ‘70s-style rock track about the nightmare of domestic abuse. “I wanted the song to feel like it was off of Love it to Death or Killer, Cooper says. “But we never had to talk about playing the song ‘70s-style, they just did it. It was great and there was nothing we could do to make it any more ‘70s ‘cause that’s just the way these guys play.”

The collaborations with his fellow original band members stemmed from their 2010 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for which they reunited to play four songs. “I was always looking for a logical reason to work with them again,” Cooper says. “When we broke up there was no bad blood. Most bands break up and they start suing each other. We never broke up on that level. We broke up on a very friendly level. ‘You go do what you’re gonna do, I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. Let’s see what happens.’ When we got in the Hall of Fame I called them up and I said, ‘We have to do four songs. Let’s get together and rehearse.’ And they sounded great. They played great. We did a few projects after that. We played a couple times together. And I said, ‘Let’s keep it going. Let’s get these guys on the album.’ And Bob said, ‘That’s a great idea. Let’s write with these guys.’ It just worked.”

The first single from Welcome 2 My Nightmare, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off,” is about a gorgeous but deadly female who takes Alice by the hand and guides him through the various scenes of his nightmare. The song was co-written by Neal Smith and features a swaggering ‘60s British rock rhythm, brash, bluesy guitars and sneering, seductive vocals. “We tried to make this sound as much like early Rolling Stones as possible and we really did capture that,” Cooper says. “We’ve been doing it onstage and the audience sings along without knowing the song.”

On “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever,” Cooper combines a tongue-in-cheek disco beat and rhythm with near-rap vocals and lyrics about taking a machine gun to zombie disco dancers who refuse to die. Then there’s the zany surf rock of “Ghoul’s Gone Wild,” the derelict down-on-his-luck slur of “The Last Man on Earth,” and the Beatles meet Gary Glitter show tune “The Congregation,” which stars Rob Zombie as a narrator describing such modern-day nightmares as telemarketers, lawyers, pimps, mariachi bands and mimes.

One of the highlights for Cooper is the throbbing, modern rocker “What Baby Wants,” which stars Ke$ha as the devil. “Some people thought I was crazy to have Ke$ha on the record, but I never saw her as one of these Britney Spears diva girls. I saw her more as a rock singer. So I said, ‘Let’s present you not as a diva, but as a rock singer on this.’ We wrote the song together and in the end the darker lyrics were hers.”

Like The original Welcome To My Nightmare, which was highlighted by “Only Women Bleed,” Welcome 2 My Nightmare also features a lovelorn ballad, “Something to Remember Me By,” which was written with Dick Wagner back when they released “I Never Cry” in 1976. “We never used it on an album before because I never felt I was good enough to sing that song,” Cooper reflects. “It was never in my key, I could never get it right. Finally, we got it where my voice is in the right place so we included it and it may be the prettiest ballad we ever wrote. Steve Hunter played guitar on it and we really got a nice Beatles-y sound out of it. So when you’re listening to it you hear this really pretty romantic song and then you realize that in the Nightmare Alice is singing to a pile of bones that used to be a girl.”

Fans of the first Welcome To My Nightmare will recognize melodic references to the original woven throughout the new record. For example, in the cinematic minor-key song “The Nightmare Returns,” Ezrin plays the theme from “Steven” when Cooper sings, “I think we’ve heard that song before.”

“I really like the idea of having some of the musical identity of the first album showing up in the second album,” Cooper says. “It really connects the two and if you’re a real Alice fan and you hear those themes it makes you feel comfortable.”

Welcome To My Nightmare, which came out in 1975, was a landmark album for Cooper. It was his first solo release, following a historic string of anthems written and recorded by the original band between 1971 and 1974, including “School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Elected,” and “I’m Eighteen.” A multimedia smash long before the dawn of music television, Welcome To My Nightmare proved that Cooper could remain popular musically and could take theatricality to an entirely new level of dream by exposing audiences to the crippling fears of a seven-year-old child with an active imagination.

Welcome To My Nightmare spawned two major singles, the ominous, anthemic title track and the beautiful, melancholy acoustic ballad “Only Women Bleed,” and featured narration by horror movie icon Vincent Price. In addition to touring the live “Welcome To My Nightmare” show, Cooper created the prime time special The Nightmare, which was essentially the first long form music video. The program debuted in April 1975. In September he shot the concert film “Welcome To My Nightmare” at London’s Wembley Arena.

“A seven-year-old kid is pretty sure there’s something living in the closet and thinks that something is waiting for him under his bed,” Cooper says. “His toys are probably coming to life and trying to kill him. And I thought, ‘Well, that’s a good general approach for the album because we’ve all been kids and we’ve all had those nightmares.’”

From his first solo album, 1975’s Welcome to My Nightmare through releases such as 1994’s The Last Temptation and 2000’s Brutal Planet, concept albums have been a specialty of Alice’s, and this time he spins the story of a serial killer who imagines himself as the most predatory of all insects, trapping his prey, killing them, then enveloping his eight victims in silk, taking a leg from each of them. A web of intrigue, wrapped around some serious hard rock.

Co-produced by Alice with the team of Danny Saber [Black Grape, Rolling Stones, Ozzy Osbourne, David Bowie] and Greg Hampton [Bootsy Collins, Buckethead], songs like the opening “I Know Where You Live” and “Vengeance Is Mine,” featuring a snaking metal guitar solo from Slash himself, evoke such classic Alice anthems as “Is it My Body,” and “Under My Wheels” along with landmark albums like Love It To Death, Killer and School’s Out. There’s also a patented rock ballad in the tradition of “Only Women Bleed” and “I Never Cry” with “Killed by Love.” Along Came a Spider features Cooper’s touring band of drummer Eric Singer, bassist Chuck Garric and guitarists Keri Kelli and Jason Hook. Songwriting was handled by Alice with Saber, Hampton, Garric, Kelli and a few friends including former band member Damon Johnson and Warrant’s Jani Lane.

Along Came a Spider has elements of serial killers such as Hannibal Lecter, Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd and Psycho’s Norman Bates with Alice himself taking the central part, acting out the murderer’s diary — challenging reality by Alice Cooper inhabiting the identity of a serial killer who imagines himself a spider. As he has in the past, Alice chronicles a classic battle between good and evil, with inevitable results.

“Evil should get punished,” says Alice. “It should never win. And that, to me, is what’s most satisfying. I may love Darth Vader when I watch Star Wars, but I feel relief when he finally gets what’s coming to him.”

By the time Edgar Winter left his hometown of Beaumont, Texas in the 1960’s, he was already technically proficient in every aspect of music. A child prodigy who achieved international success early on, Edgar has found an audience in every major entertainment medium–music, film and television. A prolific writer, Edgar’s music encompasses many different genres, including rock, jazz, blues, and pop. From his critically acclaimed 1970 debut release, Entrance, he has demonstrated his unique style and ability to cross the genre lines and do the unexpected. His early recording of “Tobacco Road” is a powerful, emotionally devastating masterpiece that propelled him into the national spotlight. Edgar followed Entrance with two hit albums backed by his group White Trash, a group originally comprised of musicians from Texas and Louisiana. White Trash enjoyed huge success, both with the 1971 release of the studio album, Edgar Winter’s White Trash, and with 1972’s follow-up live gold album, Roadwork.

In late 1972 Edgar brought together Dan Hartman, Ronnie Montrose and Chuck Ruff to form The Edgar Winter Group, the legendary band that created such hits as the number one Frankenstein and the ever popular Free Ride. Released in 1973, They Only Come Out at Night peaked at the number 3 position on the Billboard Hot 200 and stayed on the charts for an impressive 80 weeks. It was certified gold in April 1973 and double platinum in November 1986. Edgar invented the keyboard body strap early in his career, an innovation that allows him the freedom to move around on stage during his multi-instrument high-energy performances. He was also the first artist to feature a synthesizer as the main instrument in a song. Frankenstein revolutionized rock and roll and opened up a whole new world of possibilities with experimentation and sound.

After They Only Come Out At Night, Edgar released Shock Treatment, featuring guitarist Rick Derringer in place of Ronnie Montrose. Later albums included Jasmine Nightdreams, The Edgar Winter Group with Rick Derringer, a live album, Together Live With Johnny Winter, Recycled, a reunion with White Trash, Standing On Rock, Mission Earth, Live In Japan, Not A Kid Anymore, The Real Deal, and Winter Blues.

With over 20 albums and numerous collaborative efforts to his credit, Edgar Winter has not been satisfied to ride the wave of popular music stardom. Major national television and radio campaigns have relied on Edgar’s music to advertise their products. Edgar has also made frequent television appearances, both to promote his music, and to give his opinions on everything from Politically Incorrect to a commercial with George Hamilton for Miller Lite beer. He has appeared in the film “Netherworld”, and the TV shows “The Cape”, “Mysterious Ways”, “Dave Letterman”, and “Jimmy Kimmel”.

Edgar’s music can be heard in no fewer than fifteen film and television projects, including Netherworld, Air America, My Cousin Vinny, Encino Man, Son In Law, What’s Love Got to do With It, Wayne’s World 2, Starkid, Wag the Dog, Knockabout Guys, Duets, Radio, The Simpsons, Queer as Folk, and Tupac Resurrection. Edgar’s hauntingly beautiful song, Dying to Live, is featured as “Runnin” (Dying To Live) in the film “Tupac Resurrection”, the biography on the life of rapper Tupac Shakur. Produced by Eminem, the song uses the vocal talents of the Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, and Edgar Winter himself. “Runnin” is on numerous Billboard charts. It peaked at number 5 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles Sales chart, and the soundtrack CD was number 1 for 8 consecutive weeks.

Edgar’s CD and DVD, titled, “Live At The Galaxy” was recorded live at the Galaxy Theatre for Classic Pictures in 2003. It features the songs, “Keep Playing That Rock and Roll”, “Turn On Your Love Light”, “Free Ride”, “Texas”, “Show Your Love”, “New Orleans”, “Frankenstein” and “Tobacco Road”. In addition, the DVD includes a 30 Minute Documentary, “Edgar Winter: The Man and His Music”.

Edgar Winter’s live shows consistently receive rave reviews. His music is always evolving and he is a master at stretching his skill and imagination to produce amazing results. He continues to thrill audiences with his live performances, always remaining on the cutting edge of music and style. Edgar is now at the very top of his game, and his future looks even brighter than his past.

Edgar and his wife, Monique, live in Beverly Hills with their little dog Mimi.

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© Soundwave Brigade 2017