Exclusive Interview with Simon Robinson - by Jose Galván

Página Principal
Quienes somos
Hush Magazine & Puntos de Venta
Números Atrasados
Suscripciones y renovaciones
Convenciones y eventos C.A.D.P.
Relaciones Internacionales
Hush Hall of Fame
El C.A.D.P. backstage
Album de Fotos
Libro de Visitas

How did the idea of a Deep Purple fan club start on your mind? And why you and no other?

The idea arose because I was corresponding with a lot of fans in the early 70s, and produced some fact sheets which I sent to people (family tree, discographies, etc). There was a short-lived Deep Purple club going in 1975 (it only did four newsletters), so rather than compete, we began as a Blackmore club first.

On October 1975 the first newsheet is issued and, between Manchester and Chesire, Ritchie Blackmore Appreciation Society was born.
How many members did you have on the first days? Which has been the highest number of members on the society history? And what about nowadays?

I was still living in Manchester as I went to art college there for three years. I really can't remember what membership level was in those early days! I think the membership now is about the highest it has ever been, and we print around 3,000 copies of each magazine.

The newsheet became an 8 page magazine. Why did you chose this horizontal format? Did your job help in any way?

The magazine was needed as there was more to include; I just liked the horizontal format - and also it was useful as we did the artwork on two A4 pages side by side and had this reduced to A4 at the print stage.

On September 1977 the fan club headquarters moved to Sheffield, going through no less than three different locations since then. Tell us about the moving.

I got offers of work back in Sheffield after finishing college. I stayed back at my parents for a short time, then a flat, and then got a Post Office Box number to make life easier for everyone.

How big the DPAS archives are? Do you have room enough for them at home? And how are they organized?

The archives are organised to some degree, but I wish I had more time to properly catalogue everything. We have room at home for most of it. The posters are now stored in special drawers (used for storing plans by architects). The cuttings and photographs are mostly stored chronologically in numbered files. Programmes, books and magazines are filed. Vinyl records are kept in a special room on shelves.

Darker than blue`s quality`s been above average always and currently, in my opinion, they don`t need to envy any other publication in the music business. For most of the time Ann and you worked all on your own. What about now?

That's really nice of you to say so, but I always wish I could spend more time on the design and layout. However with so much to get into each issue, often a nice layout is compromised just to squeeze more in! It's still just me and Ann at the office, but a lot of people help by contributing to the magazine in all sorts of ways.

As 70`s came to an end  ex Deep Purple musicians were willing to help with the various fan clubs, but once they got publicity enough they kept out of the way. Would you say that situation caused trouble to your job?

I think it's true that some musicians made themselves available early on when Purple split but withdrew that help quite quickly. I've never felt that the fan-club suffered too much because of this as we have such good information supplied by DPAS members.

After the split, in your opinion, which band kept the Deep Purple essence?

I don't think any of them did. To me Deep Purple were a unique group, and never really sounded or played like any others. After the split, we got several new groups, all of which sounded very different to me - and all of them offered something exciting to begin with.

Still in the seventies the club changed its name to Deep Purple Appreciation Society. When and why?

As I said earlier, there was a Deep Purple club for a short time in 1975/6. They soon stopped, and we began increasing our coverage of all things to do with Deep Purple. So it was the DPAS long before we actually changed our name. I think that happened around Issue 14.

Little by little the musicians took positions against the fan club. What did originate that?

You would need to ask them this question! It still amazes me that a big circulation magazine like Classic Rock can really rip an album to pieces, but if a fan-club dares say anything mildy critical some musicians start a vendetta. But we don't run this magazine for the band, it's for the fans.

How did you get in touch with Tony Edwards?

Tony was one of the band's managers, and I went to his office with some ideas just after the band had split. That was in 1976. We still keep in touch.

Since the start you were also in contact with EMI and Polydor regularly.

EMI certainly. They have a more open mind than some of the musicians on the importance of back-catalogue and how it can enhance and support new releases. They make a few mistakes, but no other company has been prepared to support the band's main back-catalogue so well. I think that is clear if you look at how poorly the archives since 1984 have been treated.

What could you tell us about your work in Powerhouse? And... why did they use this name for the record?

I don't think we suggested the title! The material was on a list I prepared for the management. They put it together and then asked me to write the sleeve notes.

On Deep Purple in concert 1970-1972 you took part in the graphical design too.

As I am trained as a graphic designer, and that's what I enjoy most, I asked if I could have a go at the sleeve for this title. They liked the results so it got used.

What did you feel the first time you were put in front of those old shelves full of reels and reels of Deep Purple recordings at EMI warehouse?

When I first saw this archive it was stored in an old World War 2 underground shelter in London off Tottenham Court Road. I was astonished both at the place and the material down there (everything from Deep Purple to Benny Hill Show). It was great to see so much saved, but depressing to see it stored so poorly and uncatalogued.

After 24 numbers of Stargazer you decided to transfer the society. What did happen?
By the way, whose idea was to title the new fanzine Darker than Blue?

Simply, a company in London who did rock merchandise wanted to start a few fan-clubs. They were going to do this whatever we thought. It seemed silly for two clubs to compete, so I suggested we combine our work. As this was something new, I thought it was a good time for a new name. The first magazine we did together was great, but then business took over and they treated a lot of our old club members very badly. As soon as I realised what was happening, and that they wouldn't put things right, I pulled out and restarted our own magazine.

Live in London was your new job for EMI. Then, with some experience on your back, was it easier to front that new project?

Yes and no. It wasn't a perfect release, and there were problems with the sleeve which I couldn't change.

In 1980 Rod Evans` lawyers got in touch with you.

Yes. This was at the time he was fronting the fake band! It didn't take me long to explain that I didn't think it was a very clever idea, and they didn't call again. If Rod had started a new band (and perhaps played some new and old material) I think he would have generated some interest.

Through the years you`ve been in touch with most of Deep Purple members, but i keep warmly on my memory an interview with Nick Simper that you realized him around 1983.

That was great fun and made a good article. We did discover much later that Jon Lord disagreed with a lot of Nick's recollections though!

Would you say the end of the 70`s and the 80`s, with Gillan, Whitesnake and Rainbow, were the most intensive times in the life of the DPAS?

No, it's always busy! For fans they were very busy times with so many tours and albums to buy and listen to but because it was still pre-email days, everything was done at a more leisurely speed.

Darker than blue # 29 confirmed the Deep Purple reunion. Which memories do you have about working on that particular magazine?

Huge tension. Joy that they were going to work together, worry that it would not be as good as it had been first time. But it was great to put the magazine together and feel the buzz amongst fans.

DPAS kept the Deep Purple flame alive, but with the reunion musicians showed their unpleasantness with the fan club. Why? Was it frustraiting?

Again you must ask them! I guess they didn't like the well intentioned criticism when it happened and while it was very mild compared to what many journalists printed, we did get cold-shouldered a lot. And still do. We are not allowed advance copies of new albums at all. The only way it is frustrating is that we could do so much more for the band given the many thousands of fans we are in touch with all the time, and I know they have lost a lot of money because of this.

What did you feel at Knebworth?

Wet and cold!

I presume along all those years you`ve made a lot of good friends among the DPAS members.

I think most of the people I would think of as friends now have at some time or another been part of the fan-club, and that's the best thing that has come out of it.

You`ve taken part in the elaboration process of an incredible amount of records and also you`ve written no less than four books. The first two were discographys on Deep Purple and its split groups. Am i right if i say it`s been a hell on Earth to do those ones?

No, just hard work - but I get bored sitting around doing nothing.

Whitesnake biography is a must and you used the same typos, the same letter font, that was used on Chris Charlesworth`s book. By chance? Whose idea was that book and how many time did it take to you?

The publishers approached me to do the book and, as it was part of their Illustrated Biography series, it needed to match the others. I think I worked on it for about a year, not full time, but quite hard.

Your last book, Listen learn read on, was an update of Charlesworth`s one,  eventhough some chronological and location mistakes are still on it. Could we expect a fifth book which mends this situation and carries away the band`s story till present day?

We are looking at publishing this as a stand alone book some time. If you find any mistakes, let me know! Part of the problem is that research is always going on and uncovers new information. That's part of  the fun of it.

By the way, do you think we`ll see, anytime, a Deep Purple compilation not based on the 70`s golden age?

I'm not sure what you mean as most of the band's output was in the 70s. There are some reunion collections which don't cover the 70s. But by their nature, compilations are sold to new fans, who want the hits mostly. I'm working on a new one for EMI now and have tried to put some unusual choices on it.

Coming back to book, why do you think so many Deep Purple biographys are appearing on the last five years or so? Do you have any facts and figures on those books sales?

I have no sales figures for this sort of thing. I'm not sure why so many recently, but when someone does one it makes it easier for the next person to "borrow" the information!

On August 1988 you travelled to Poland in order to attend the Polish fan club convention. Have you ever taken part on any other meeting of the like?

No. I keep meaning to go to one of the Swedish conventions so I can get to look at the country. The Polish convention was an amazing experience for me from start to finish.

You`ve got a long relationship with other Deep Purple related fan clubs from many different nations. Did you ever suspect something like that 30 years ago?

It's great to see so many people prepared to spend their spare time doing something like this. Especially when they publish a magazine, which requires a lot of dedication.

Were you pleased when offered to write an essay on Tommy Bolin for the trice Lp The ultimate...?

Yes. I'm still amazed that so many Bolin fans remember an article I did in Kerrang about twenty years ago as well. I could never be a full time writer as I only write about things I'm interested in or passionate about. Imagine having to write stories about The Darkness for a living?!

What`s your opinion on the horde of titles bonded to Tommy these days?

There is a lot of behind the scenes problems here which may be spoken about some day. As for the TBA CDs, they began well but quickly became a flood, and sadly I think they started to damage Tommy's reputation. I hope the new set Whips & Chains will improve things

Your first collaboration with Connossieur Collection started on the 80`s and through them fans could enjoy amazing works suchs as Scandinavian nights, Live in Germany 1976 or the fascinating Ritchie Blackmore`s Rock Profile I & II.

Connoisseur was connected to Tony Edwards, which is how I became involved. It was really a budget label, but we really pushed their budgets in the packaging on some of those titles! It was great because I didn't have to worry about the bills. Nobody would spend so much time and effort on titles like that any more.

What did you feel when you see your name on so many records and on the thanks department of some of DP members` new albums?

I'm still quite proud when I see titles I've worked or helped on sitting in record shops around the world. I don't recall being thanked on any new albums recently - maybe Ritchie gave me a huge credit on Shadow Of The Moon and I missed it?

Once Gillan was given the elbow you got in touch with him and supported his new musical direction. As a result of that on a paper napkin a contract was written and Cherkazoo and other stories saw the light of day, but was Ian as affected by his dismissal as it seemed?

The contract was done on the back of a photograph which of course I have kept! I don't think I supported him any more than any other solo project but I did feel that the situation was wrong and not great for the band or fans. I don't think I know Ian well enough to say how deeply he was affected. I know I'd have been upset in a similar situation.

Meanwhile Joe Lynn Turner became public enemy #1 in DPAS Towers. You weren`t willing to give him any space in Darker than blue and it was not after some years that you started covering his post DP career.

This is not quite true. I think we were very unhappy about the direction the band went in, and some of the very pompous attitudes from the musicians. My only answer was a certain amount of humour but I think some people took offence. However if you go and read the reviews, they are not nearly so harsh as people seem to think.

A new musical venture was the idea of an Ian Gillan video compilation provisionally titled From the beginning.

Yes; sadly it wasn't possible to sort out the financial side of this release, but we did a lot of work on it and even filmed Ian off stage talking about all the albums etc.

Your next step was a logic one, to rise up your own label, and in 1991 the new RPM was born.

This wasn't my label; it was three people together wanting to make a label dedicated to reissues of all sorts of pop and rock music, from Sandie Shaw to Uriah Heep. After a few years one partner left, then in 1999 I left, but the label still lives on and has now issued over 200 great CDs.

In my opinion your work was fundamental on Glenn Hughes return. Do you think nowadays we could consider him the strongest musician on the Deep Purple saga?

In later Deep Purple days, Glenn Hughes was a liability in Deep Purple, and probably contributed to the split as much as anyone. However in 1990 or so he began to build his career again and has done some of the best concerts I've seen by any member of Deep Purple.

Gillan`s return to the band meant an aproachment between Deep Purple and the fan club.

Not that I remember...

On 1992 you bought an Apple/McIntosh and fell in love. Darker than blue was printed nearly since the first days so which changes introduced the new informatic tool?

OK so I'm an Apple Mac fanatic! But scientific studies show that Apple Mac users generate something like 30% more work for the same time as a PC user, because the machine is so well designed and built (I still have my first machine, and it still works - I keep it as a museum piece now). The Mac helped me become more efficient and also to keep on top of the changes brought about by the internet.

Following Blackmore`s departure More black than purple was created in 1994. You opted the band`s side in spite of Ritchie`s and from that magazine`s pages you were attacked heavily. I know you`ve been asked about that before, but how can you survive with so many daggers stabbing your back? Everybody seems to forget you were Ritchie Blackmore`s biggest fan on 1975 and that you created his fan club...

I was upset to some extent but anyone who contributes to a magazine needs to realise not everyone will agree with the opinions and to expect some negative feedback. Again there were matters which most people didn't hear of which caused me to dislike More Black Than Purple's editor. There is more going on which may get printed one day.

From 1995 on you started working on the remastered edition of every Deep Purple studio record.

This was a joint project with EMI, the DPAS, me, the original managers and (originally) some members of the band, and aimed to tackle each album with as much respect as possible to ensure a great series for fans.

How did you feel when you knew Deep Purple had recorded a track for the first Deep Purple Appreciation Society convention? Share with us some memories of that first fans meeting.

That was easily one of the highpoints of the DPAS - just seeing and hearing the buzz which went round the room when we played it! I really enjoy the conventions but they are so difficult to organise and run.

Ann`s health problems obligued you to search for help and CeeDee Mail came into the picture in1995 in an attempt to decrease your work barden. It wouldn`t be till 1998 that you took total control of the Society again. Did you even thought of abandon it all?

I'm not sure. I needed help with the mail-order as Ann handles all that side of things. I never fully let go of the DPAS, just had help with running the mailing out and so on until we could get pulled round.

What kind of influence have had internet on society`s day by day routine?

All sorts! On a day to day basis it mostly means the bulk of my correspondence now comes via email instead of through letters. The downside of the internet is the way it has put more pressure on people and increased workloads. For example where once people would have a phone conversation and sort something out, now it takes several emails to do the same thing as they often lack clarity, so you're going back and forth trying to clear up simple points.
On the plus side most reviews and data for the magazine now comes via email, which speeds up putting the magazine together, but often people will now email their review to several different destinations, so we get less we can actually use.

After leaving RPM, Tony Edwards and you relaunched the Purple Records label. Whose idea was this one and which the aims were?

It was my suggestion to start the label, and I asked if I could use the name Purple Records. It has no connections with the original label beyond this. I didn't have any lofty aims, just wanted to keep working in the back-catalogue area.

Must we fans take the Sonic Zoom releases as official DP albums? And what about the pair of bootleg packages issued by the band?

In as much as these titles are available, and royalties are being paid to the owners of the recordings and thus to the band, then they are clearly official. However they are extra to the recordings the band themselves have issued since 1968, so I kind of regard the studio albums as the main core of Deep Purple's work, and stuff like the official bootlegs as something which appeals mostly to the hard-core fans.

A lot of people want to know if, after all those records and books, you`re a wealthy man now. Have you become a rich man through your DP related works?

Not at all. We still struggle to pay the bills each month like everyone else. If I had just wanted to be rich I would have done something else altogether. I've never had the drive to just want to make money, as I like to spend my time doing work which interests me.

Describe us the work you develop, how the projects start and the phases of them.

This would take a long time to answer and each project is different.

What did it mean to you Jon Lord`s leaving?

At the time it was very emotional, especially seeing his final shows. I didn't think it would be as important to me as it has been. Now I really think the band has changed fundamentally and when I see DVDs like Montreux 1996 I think this difference is clear to hear, and I really miss his presence in the group.

What`s your view on Deep Purple current situation?

See the above. I don't really think my opinion matters much as they are clearly doing what they want to do. If I was in charge it would be very different!

Would you say nowadays Ian Paice is the hidden leader of the band?

This hadn't occured to me. Ian Gillan seems to be the boss these days in many ways.

Do you think Whitesnake, three years on the road and no new album, have any future?

Very much so; the band were huge in America in the 80s and can rely on that audience to keep them touring for many years (after all, Gene Pitney is still touring and his hits were in the 60s). However the Whitesnake I liked best ended in 1984/5, and they became a different group then. It wasn't my sort of music any more. They are playing in my home town soon but I still won't be going.

What about the Whitesnake remasters with extra material? Can you see any chance for them in a near future?

As you know by now these will appear starting later this year, although the bonus material seems a little unimaginative (and no remixes which is a shame).

Is Blackmore`s Night stagnated in its own formula?

Who knows? Ritchie seems to like what he is doing. I haven't enjoyed any of the albums and only went to one concert. But if he never makes another rock record, then I still think he did enough in the 70s to justify his reputation.

Glenn Hughes seems to be recording one good record after another, but the lack of direction continues.

Yes I would agree; to me some of his solo work is the best produced by any of the ex-members of Deep Purple. However he always seems to do what people around him want, and never generates enough momentum. For example Soul Mover really did well, then he loses direction by doing the Iommi album.

In the last 30 years you`ve met a lot of people, but in your opinion who`s the biggest Deep Purple fan?

I can never understand this desire to be "the biggest fan" - what does it mean? Every letter we get from America comes from the "world's biggest Deep Purple fan". Who can say you or me or anyone else like the band more?  It's a bit like trying to be the fastest gunslinger in the West - there's always someone faster!
All I know is I've met a lot of people to whom the band's music and concerts have meant an awful lot and made a difference to their lives in some way. Me too.

Please, chose 10 records made by these 14 musicians to carry away to an island.

Unfair! I would take some Deep Purple albums (In Rock, Fireball, In Concert 70/72, Space Vol 1 & 2), then I would want to make up a Gillan collection, then a couple of collections of all the rest  (a bit of Glenn, Rainbow, Whitesnake, pre-Purple etc). Then some Rammstein, Cyndi Lauper, Damage Manual, Royksopp, Nine Inch Nails, Robert Plant's new album, etc.

How does Simon Robinson spend his free time?

I guess I'm a bit of a collector, mostly of 1950s-1960s stuff - some pottery, old Matchbox toy cars, old shop packaging, old record sleeves, 60s American comics (especially those drawn by Jack Kirby). I do some photography. I like walking in the countryside, and watching wildlife. Old buildings. Reading. Good movies. Music old and new. Really I enjoy so many things, there's never enough time!

How many and which projects are you working on right now?

This week I'm mostly working on... sleeve notes for Montreux 96 DVD, artwork for PAL DVD, co-ordinating the Live In London reissue, checking some new TV clips from 68 and 71, putting together packages for the Tony Ashton Abbey Road CD and DVD.

Do you feel any kind of preference for any Deep Purple member?

Joe Lynn Turner - of course!

Now that set lists are pretty similar and predictable, will you keep on going to Deep Purple shows?

From 2006 I will stick to just going to one show each tour, unless they really come up with some new material that knocks me out! They'll nearly always put on a good show, but I think they tour too much now.

Do you think Lord`s idea of every Deep Purple incarnation playing together will be possible some day? Maybe as a farewell concert?

In a perfect world it would be good but I think there are too many ego and management and promoter problems to allow this. Maybe you could do a three days festival. Have Nick Simper do Warhorse, get Rod Evans over. Let Whitesnake do one night, the one of the Rainbow line-ups, Dixie Dregs, Glenn Hughes, and perhaps a Mk 2 set to finish with.
I do think if Deep Purple decide to retire the group, then they should do some farewell shows with Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore. Not to do that would be a real shame.

Is it easy to separate your multiple jobs and your private life? What is like a day in your life?

It isn't easy but if one job is getting especially troublesome, I can always find something else to take my mind off it for a time. A day in the life is not something I can answer as you are never quite sure what will need doing during a day which you did not expect.

What did DPAS bring to your life?

A lot of work but a lot of friends too.

Could you share with us your future plans for DPAS?

There are plans for a DPAS members only area on our web site, and for digital PDF download versions of our magazine as well.

Will DPAS activities come to an end with Deep Purple split?

I don't think so. After all we were going from 1976 to 1984 when there was no band. I think Deep Purple's music will always have an interest for some people.

Copyright C.A.D.P & Hush Magazine (1994-2015)