Simon Robinson (Deep Purple Appreciation Society)

Think of yourself as a Deep Purple fan? Been exploring the Purple family jungle? Bought any remasters and anniversary editions of classic Purple albums, or any of the excellent Purple Records releases? If so, then chances are that Simon Robinson has had a hand in a significant part of your record collection. Just check out those CD sleeve notes and credits. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that no one has put more time, effort and love into preserving, protecting and promoting the immense Deep Purple legacy.

Simon kindly agreed to contribute to the Words and Music Q&A Series … and we’re both delighted and privileged to have him!

So Simon, what made you start up the Deep Purple Appreciation Society? 
Just as a fan wanting to get in touch with other fans really. A way of keeping up to date, exchanging information, trading records and the like.

What sort of things do you do, and how much of a time commitment is it?
For 35 years it was a printed newsletter (later magazine). More recently (mostly I’m afraid due to the massive hikes in the cost of postage – a block on businesses which the Government seems to have massively underestimated) it has become largely web based with a site, blog and emailed newsletters. I probably spend at least an hour a day on this directly and my mate David helps keep the website updated. As I enjoy the printed media, we’re now developing a series of books to cover aspects of the band in more detail and depth.

Why Deep Purple? Is it possible to say what their music means to you?
They were just the band whose music hit me between the eyes and ears back in 1970; others came close, and have equalled them at times, but Purple’s classic era has yet to be surpassed for me in the rock arena. ‘Speed King’ on the flip of ‘Black Night’ was the one which really hooked me. Oh and the dodgy bootleg H-Bomb which Virgin sold me for £4 and gave me my first hearing of the band live.

Ever meet the band?
I’ve met them all at one time or another, usually backstage, except for the mysterious first singer Rod Evans, and the ersatz singer they got in for a couple of years in the 1990s while Ian Gillan was busy elsewhere.

They say it’s often a mistake to meet your heroes. Has your experience with Deep Purple been different?
Not really, they were all very patient when I did meet them, and any quirky behaviour was more amusing than otherwise. However on a business level it has been less easy over the years when I did work for their old manager and became seen as ‘the enemy’! Not that they ever turned the cheques down.

So, in your experience, what should you say to a ‘rock star’ after you say hello?
“Your flies are undone …”

Your first Purple gig?
Sheffield City Hall, Fireball tour 1971.

Your most memorable Purple gig?
Well, probably the above ought to be considered, but curiously it was one of Jon Lord’s last shows with the band at the same venue which really impressed for sheer power and performance. But there have been any number of good shows and individual highlights and shows by the spin-off bands.

Your top five Purple albums?

  • Fireball
  • In Rock
  • Made In Japan
  • Machine Head
  • Come Taste The Band

(From the authorised catalogue)

Some (not me, obviously) might say running a fan club is an unhealthy obsession. What would you say to that?
It can be, and I’ve seen it happen to some people, but fan clubs should be run by fans for other fans, not to try and become best mates with the band. It rarely works, except for Gary Numan fans.

Of everything you’ve done with the Deep Purple Appreciation Society, of what are you most proud?
The series of archive albums I helped develop and release during the 1990s.

Are you involved with any other bands or in music in any other way?
Not on this sort of level, though I do like all sorts of stuff (I ran an arty Talking Heads fanzine for a short time in the 1980s) and did issue some material by local bands for a time in the 90s.

In your experience, is it ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ that attracts rock fans or is it more about the music?
I think it’s mostly the music; you can get the others much cheaper than by following a band, which is often a big enough drain on finances!

How do you view the role of fan clubs (or similar) in the current era? And do you think they have a future?
I hadn’t thought of this before but you’re right, the fanzine scene has largely gone and I do miss that almost underground culture a lot. A website, no matter how good, is still a bit distant somehow. Forums are usually bogged down with largely unhelpful one-liners and point-scorers. I find the blog works best for us, as people can still interact, but the format forces a more reasoned and developed response – at least from our readers! But as most official websites are dreadfully anodyne, I think there is plenty of room for unofficial sites which understand how fandom works.

What would you say to people who say that rock or the rock era is dead?
“Where are you living?” It’s all still happening. I do find a lot of bands more derivative these days personally (every track by Muse I can cite chapter and verse where it’s been taken from), but as long as younger people still get the same kick out of live music it’ll be around. And lots of them do. And hopefully they’ll find time to delve back in time and discover some of the great bands of the 60s and 70s.

THANKS SIMON!

Visit the Deep Purple Appreciation Society website
Read Darker Than Blue (the DPAS blog)

Back to the Words and Music Q&A Series page

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