For weeks I tortured my parents with the same question. “May I go to the Deep Purple concert?” My favorite band since Deep Purple in Rock. I mean, I was 11 years old. Rock music was my life. Since I was ten and attended the French-German grammar school in Berlin, I let grow my hair. I wanted to see my heroes live.
Hey, I am 11. I’ve never been to a rock concert. It’s about time.
Then, the day had arrived, May 21, 1971. This day we received the results of our last French test, a dictation. I got a B or the equivalent of it. Yes, this was my permission to attend the Deep Purple concert. A dream came true.
A rockphan at the age of 11 years @1971 Helmut Fischbeck
I hurried home from school. Excited. Without even saying hi, I immediately started bombarding mom with my chatter, like a waterfall.
Mom, I had the second-best test in class.
Mom, this deserves a reward. I am allowed to go to see Deep Purple tonight.
Mom did not say no. Hence, this meant yes.
When dad returned home from school. He was a young teacher, I welcomed him happily, smiling with the words:
Mom has allowed me to see Deep Purple tonight.
It took him by surprise. But as a kid, I perfectly mastered the art of playing my parents one against the other when it came to special permissions.
At 18:30, I arrived at the Deutschlandhalle. 11 years old. 1.5 m tall. 10 DM the ticket. The venue was crowded. 6000 fans. Some were smoking joints. At this time, smoking was still allowed in public places. The hippie and movement and drugs of all kinds were en vogue among Berlins youngsters.
Cool, I thought. I was amazed. I recognized a guy with long hair rock ‘n’ roll style I had met on a train back to Berlin some months ago. He was 16 years old and had told me stories about concerts and smoking dope. Proud of being so cool. I knew I wanted to try that. But I felt too young yet. It was my puberty springtime.
19: 30. Still no band on stage. People were sitting on blankets they had carried to the concert. They drank wine or beer. It was still allowed to bring bottles to shows. In the early 1970ies, people were not standing at concerts but sitting on the floor. This was really chill. I realized I would not return home as planned. Well, what’s more important? Deep Purple in concert or the sorrows of parents – lol?
Finally, at 21:00, a band entered the stage. But it wasn’t Deep Purple. Well, The band was mentioned on the poster Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. I was a complete rock ‘n’ roll newbie. I had no idea of opening acts.
Deep Purple Tour poster 1971
Anyway, they were ok, but time was running out. I knew my parents would not really appreciate it. To be honest, I didn’t care.
Rock ‘n’ roll was there to stay.
After the opening set, there was a break of about half an hour. It was already 21:30
I went out to the bar to get a Coke. All of a sudden, a very tall girl smiled at me. The older sister of one of my classmates. She was at the same school and knew me because I was desperately in love with her younger sister. She invited me to join her and her girlfriends not to be alone. I guess it was out of a motherly or sisterly motivation. They had a place in the center not too far from the stage.
Finally, at about 22:00, the lights turned off.
On stage, my superheroes, Deep Purple. They opened with Speed King, a masterpiece from their In Rock album. Their live album Scandinavian Nights corresponds to what they played in Berlin.
This was the setlist. I found it on the web (setlist.fm):
Strange Kind of Woman
Into the Fire
Child in Time
Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones cover)
I was amazed.
I was excited.
It was the ultimate revelation.
I knew it.
I felt it.
This music would change not only my life but the whole world.
Rock ‘n’ Roll was the starting point of the Revolution, Jerry Ruben 1970
In fact, the world was already changing, and I knew I would be an active part of it. Then they played Strange Kind of Woman, still one of my favorite rock songs. Listen to Deep Purple live albums of the 1970ies. You will notice that Ian Gillan, the singer, always shouts a very long cry at the end of Strange Kind of Woman.
I couldn’t believe my ears.
It must have been while playing Mandrake Root when Ian Gillan made an announcement:
One of our road managers had an electric shock.”
During this interruption, Ian Paice played a drum solo. The first drum solo of my life.
Can you imagine, dear reader, how I felt? I was in rock ‘n’ roll heaven.
When I think back to this concert, I can still smell the smoke-filled air of the Deutschlandhalle.
Deep Purple always played with the same line-up. From the public’s point of view:
on the left keyboard player Jon Lord, bass player Roger Glover. In the center of the stage, the singer, Ian Gillan, and on the right guitar player, Ritchie Blackmore. Finally, in the center of the background, the driving force, drummer Ian Paice.
The musicians of the band changed, but they still play the same line-up.
What I felt was far beyond fascination. As if the Lord herself had descended on stage. It was a crucial moment in my life. To say it with Bruce Springsteen (On the Run, his autobiography- summarized): In the beginning, there was great darkness upon the earth. Birthday, Christmas, summer vacation, a black, endless authoritarian void. Nothing to look forward to, nothing to look back upon. And then, in a moment of light blinding like a universe building a million new suns, there was hope, sex, rhythm, excitement…