After waiting over four decades, longtime Deep Purple fan Lee Green said he finally fulfilled his dream Saturday night of seeing the British rock band perform live and in his hometown at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
“I was so excited because I’ve been waiting to see Deep Purple all my life,” said Green, 63. “It was destiny.”
Green said he’s been a fan since 1969, shortly after the band formed.
“There’s something about the music. It’s hard to put into words,” he said. “It just clicked with me. They are my favorite band of all time. I think they’re in a class of their own.”
Another fan, Jody Lee, couldn’t agree more. He said Deep Purple’s sound is like no other.
“They have their own distinct sound. You can’t really describe it. They’re a little more classic rock,” Lee, 41, of Roseburg said.
“Deep Purple had a lot of influence on today’s music. They just get out there and do it and show a lot of the newer bands how to do it. Their music pretty much speaks for itself,” he said.
Lee said he was hoping to hear three specific songs during the concert, including “Highway Star” and “Smoke On The Water.”
The band didn’t fail to deliver.
The crowd’s anticipation grew as smoke drifted across the scene and the dramatic music started on cue.
Audience members jumped up and cheered as they welcomed the five-man band onto the stage.
Without hesitation, the group immediately launched into “Highway Star.”
“I love it and I need it
I bleed it yeah it’s a wild hurricane
Alright hold tight
I’m a highway star,” lead vocalist, Ian Gillan, belted out.
Live images of the performers were projected on screens behind them, as colorful lights flashed.
Nearly 900 people bought tickets to see the show, Douglas County Fairgrounds Director Harold Phillips said. He estimated the show drew about 7,500 people.
“These guys have been nominated twice to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We are very honored to have them here,” Phillips said.
Deep Purple has seen many lineup changes since forming in Hertford, England, in 1968. Current members are Gillan, drummer Ian Paice, bassist Roger Glover, guitarist Steve Morse and keyboard player Don Airey. All are in their 60s.
The band has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.
Deep Purple was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October 2012 and again in October 2013, but wasn’t voted in.
A “diehard fan since 1972,” Marty Anderson of Albany said, “It’s shameful they haven’t been inducted yet.”
“They just have a wonderful blend of hard rock ‘n’ roll from back in the day. It’s very balanced. You have a high influence on keyboard, as well as guitar. It kind of adds a little bit,” said Anderson, 56.
“We were blown away when (fair officials) posted Deep Purple this year,” he added. Anderson said he had not yet seen this lineup, with Airey.
Mike Penn, 53, and his wife, Kim, of Merlin said they were also looking forward to seeing Airey play.
He said he likes that Deep Purple still has a keyboard sound. “It’s their own and they’ve pretty much stayed that way this whole time,” Penn said.
“I haven’t seen them since the ‘Perfect Strangers’ tour, almost 20 years ago,” he said. “These guys are the ones who made music the way it is today.”
The couple bought their reserved seats online as soon as tickets went on sale. Penn said he’s seen Deep Purple in concert three times.
“You don’t last this long without being this good,” Penn said. “Deep Purple is an icon.”
This rang true for another fan, Takuma Shoji of Myrtle Creek.
“This band was a big one in the ’70s in Japan when I was in high school. It’s just my high school memory,” said Shoji, 54. “Everyone was listening to Deep Purple in Japan, and now I’m in Douglas County. I can’t believe this. It’s like a dream come true.”
Shoji’s fiancée, Tina Firstenburg, 44, said she tried to surprise him with reserved seat tickets.
“I had to blow the surprise because I couldn’t figure out how to get them online, and he had to help me,” she said, chuckling.
The couple ended up with second row seats.
“We are right up front. You can’t beat that,” Shoji said.
He described the band’s sound as unique.
“I think that’s what they strive for and, when you listen to a song, you know that’s Deep Purple,” he said.
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.