There is no justifiable explanation as to why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are not including current Deep Purple members Steve Morse and Don Airey when the band itself is inducted into the institution in 2016. The reasons why they should be inducted are apparent, yet since it seems to require clarification we’ll break this down.
The Rock Hall are righting a longtime wrong by inducting Deep Purple after more than two decades of eligibility. The criticisms haven’t been unapparent, with such prominent musicians as Slash, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Steve Lukather, Geddy Lee and Gene Simmons all openly expressing their discomfort with the lack of purple coloration in the Rock Hall.
Further more, the Rock Hall did succeed with including Ian Paice, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and original vocalist Rod Evans under the Deep Purple banner for this induction ceremony, as it encompasses multiple incarnations of the band – particularly the underrated MK III and IV lineups. However, that same diversity makes matters especially appalling as to which members were not included.
It’s worth mentioning bassist and backup vocalist Nick Simper, who was in Deep Purple during the same period of March 1968 to July 1969 that Rod Evans was in the band for. Also notable are guitarist Tommy Bolin, who appeared on the 1975 ‘Come Taste the Band’ album that featured both Coverdale and Blackmore, and singer Joe Lynn Turner from Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen prominence that picked up for the 1990 ‘Slaves and Masters’ record.
Returning full circle to Morse and Airey, these musicians certainly didn’t just pop up randomly from the woodwork to stand in for the late Jon Lord and estranged guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. Morse spent multiple successful ventures with Kansas and the Dixie Dregs, while becoming a pioneer for jazz fusion guitar in the process. As for Airey, the keyboardist has worked alongside a long line of aspiring garage bands: Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Whitesnake, Saxon, Judas Priest, Electric Light Orchestra and Ozzy Osbourne, to name a few.
Their individual backgrounds might be billed as irrelevant, yet it’s their collective experience which has allowed Deep Purple as an entity to continue their control on hard rock and remain relevant through a rigorous touring schedule and new material. Morse entered the picture back in 1994 following a near disastrous tour in support of 1993’s ‘The Battle Rages On…’ that Blackmore left right in the midst of and Joe Satriani was recruited to stand in for. This unification with Morse led to Deep Purple’s most relevant album in over a decade, 1996’s ‘Purpendicular.’
Airey stepped into Deep Purple in 2001 to fill the shoes of an injured Jon Lord, who would later retire from the hard rock group. Fast forward fourteen years later, Airey has maintained a stable member of the Purple roster having performed hundreds of live dates and appeared on a trilogy of studio albums to date, ‘Bananas’ from 2003, ‘Rapture of the Deep’ from 2005, and ‘Now What?!’ from 2013.
There wouldn’t be Deep Purple without Steve Morse and Don Airey, just as it wouldn’t have been the same band without Joe Lynn Turner, Tommy Bolin and Nick Simper’s contributions over the course of Deep Purple’s career. Although the fact that Deep Purple are finally making their way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after far too long is welcome news, it isn’t the full-fledged induction that it should be.