Deep Purple is an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, they are considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although some ensemble members believe that their material cannot be categorized as belonging to any one genre. The band incorporated classical music, blues-rock, pop and progressive rock elements. They were once listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the loudest pop group”, and have sold over 100 million albums worldwide. Deep Purple were ranked #22 on VH1’s Greatest artists of Hard Rock program.
The ensemble has gone through many line-up changes and an eight-year hiatus (1976–84). The 1968–76 line-ups are commonly labelled Mark I, II, III and IV. Their second and most commercially successful line-up featured Ian Gillan (vocals), Jon Lord (keyboards), Roger Glover (bass), Ian Paice (drums) and Ritchie Blackmore (guitar). This line-up was active from 1969 to 1973 and was revived from 1984 to 1989 and again in 1993, before the rift between Blackmore and other members became unbridgeable. The current line-up (including guitarist Steve Morse) has been much more stable, although Lord’s retirement in 2002 has left Paice as the only original member never to have exited the group.