Deep Purple on Its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction: 'It's A Somewhat Complicated Situation'

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Deep Purple photographed in 1973.

With its multiple members, distinct eras and often dueling personalities, Deep Purple is poised for a dramatic entry -- and maybe even some drama -- as it enters into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2016.

"It'll be interesting, won't it?" drummer Ian Paice, Purple's sole remaining founding member, tells Billboard. "It's a somewhat complicated situation. The personalities that are involved didn't always get on terrifically well, so that has to be taken into consideration. I don't think there'll be anybody swinging at anybody else -- I think there's a possibility that some people just won't be there. We may all turn up and be happy on the night and it'll go wonderfully well, or two or three people will be studiously ignoring each other. It could almost be like a reality TV show. I'd rather it wasn't, but there we go."

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The Rock Hall will induct Purple's first three lineups, including mainstays Paice, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, late keyboardist Jon Lord, and separate teams of singers and bassists -- Rod Evans and Nick Simper (Lineup 1), Ian Gillan and Roger Glover (Lineup and currently with the band) and David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes (Lineup).

"If they ask us to play there, who's gonna play what? Who's prepared to play what, and with who?" Paice points out. "As we've been blessed with so many virtuoso players in the band over the years, it might have been easier to take us individually to be inducted rather than as a band. We've just got a lot of details to work out -- what they're going to ask us to do, what we can do, what will be impossible. It's not a band of four or five guys who have stayed together throughout their career and are asked to do something. It's more complex than that. So we'll just have to make a decision of what's right for us, not what's right for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

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There's also a bit of disappointment that the induction does not include current guitarist Steve Morse, who's been part of Purple since 1994, and keyboardist Don Airey, who replaced Lord in 2001. "The lineup we have now has been together the longest of any incarnation," Paice says of the group, which will be working on its next album with producer Bob Ezrin in Nashville during early 2016. "Quite honestly they should've included Steve and Don."

What about short-lived Purple guitarist Tommy Bolin and frontman Joe Lynn Turner? "Everybody who's ever been involved with the band, even for a short time, is instrumental in making it work and ensuring it still exists to this day," Paice acknowledges. "So I think if you're gonna do it, everybody should have been invited to join the club."

Deep Purple hasn't always been complimentary about that club, either. Gillan and Glover in particular have made critical comments about the Rock Hall; Gillan told Billboard last year, "It's the business people in America who decide who they want in the Hall of Fame...You have to realize this is exactly the same group of people that decided the Monkees were America's answer to the Beatles, so on that basis it doesn't concern me that much." Blackmore previously said, "Personally I couldn't care less...Considering some of the people that are in the Hall of Fame, I'm not sure if it's a good idea."

Nevertheless, Paice says, "We all say things at moments... that are exactly how you feel at that moment in time. A little while later some of that vehemence is gone, some of the anger's gone. And sometimes it isn't. We shall see."

Paice and Gillan do agree that they're happy for Purple fans, who have long lobbied for the group's induction; it's also been championed by other inductees, notably Metallica frontman James Hetfield during his group's 2009 induction.

"It's not really for me as much as for your family, your parents, your fans, the people that supported you," Gillan says. "They love you and they love to see you getting honored and they get a kind of vicarious charge from it. It's very important to them."

"I'm happy for our fans," Paice says. "They see us getting credited in a way that should have been done a long time ago. I don't think it makes a lot of difference for us individually, but it's a nice thing to have been included."

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For Hughes, however, it is a big deal. And he says that anyone who says differently is not speaking the truth. "There's a lot of mumbo jumbo from other members, but I'm excited. I don't have anything to say negative about this," says Hughes, who was with Purple for three albums between 1973-76. "And more importantly this is really important to the fans of the band Deep Purple, the four or five decades this band has been around making music. It's a grand step in music history for anyone. There's only so many people who get into the Hall of Fame."

Hughes plans to attend the April 8 ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. And despite some valid concerns, Paice is hopeful it will be a night when everybody truly does get along. "I see Glenn quite frequently," the drummer notes. "I haven't seen [Coverdale] in a long time, but I don't have any problem with David. And after all this time, I don't have a problem with Ritchie. I really hope he's happy in what he's doing. At the end of the day we're far enough along in our lives now that I just hope everybody's having a good time. The crap that went on before, that's what it is -- it's before."