During August 2014, my lovely niece, Sophia Palombo, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Just 45 years old, she was the youngest of my late sister’s four daughters, a great girl who lived life to the full, always managing to laugh in the face of the dreadful illness that finally took her life. She was a real inspiration. Since Sophie’s passing I have attended five more funerals, all veteran musicians and associates who, unlike Sophie, thankfully enjoyed a reasonable lifespan, and i would like to pay tribute to each of them:
In September 2014 we said goodbye to bassist Steve Hargreaves. A pioneer of the West London scene, he will always be remembered for his work with Frankie Reid and The Casuals, amongst others. One of the gang who would hang out in Jim Marshall’s Hanwell shop, Steve was a skilled electronics engineer who could always fix a duff amplifier, as well as being one of the nicest people in the business!
In October 2014 we lost another real nice guy when Mick Burt passed away. I had followed his drumming career from the Canons to Cliff Bennett’s Rebel Rousers, and finally to Chas n’ Dave. When Dave Peacock took time out I joined Chas and Mick in their rock n’ roll trio, where it was an honour to play beside the man who many rated as England’s finest rock n’ roll drummer.
In early 2015 we said goodbye to one of the best guitarists that this country produced. Gerald “Ged” Peck was one of the most innovative and original players, and if there was any justice then he would be a household name! I met Ged in 1966 when we both played in the Mack Sound, the 18-strong soul outfit fromted by U.S. light-heavyweight boxing contender, Freddie Mack. Together we worked with Bilie Davis, Screaming Lord Sutch, the Flowerpot Men and Marsha Hunt, before forming Warhorse. His amazing speed made him stand out from the rest, and at that time few players could have matched him. I will always treasure the memory of being asked for Ged’s name by guitarist Robert Fripp, because as he said, “He’s the best guitarist I have ever seen!”.
April 29th 2015 saw the departure of one rock’s biggest characters, drummer Roger Pinah. Born into a family of circus performers, it was not long before young Roger became a serious drummer, and a stalwart of the Hanwell scene centred around Jim Marshall’s shop. I was lucky enough to turn professional in 1964, joining up with Roger in Buddy Britten and The Regents. Buddy renamed him Roger Truth, and it was in 1966 that he and I became the rhythm section for Johnny Kidd’s Pirates. Best known by the nick name ‘Solly’, Roger became firmly established as one of the best rock drummers in the country. For reasons best known only to himself, he turned down several offers from big-name acts, preferring to spend a couple of decades fronting small jazz combos, where he proved to be no slouch as a vocalist! Everyone who met Solly will never forget him. He was, as Pete Parks often said, the Max Miller of rock n’ roll!!
Finally in May this year, 2015, we said goodbye to another simply astounding drummer, the great Mac Poole. Mac proved to be one of the bravest of them all, having been diagnosed with so-called terminal cancer about 12 years ago. Undaunted, he continued to defy the odds, and kept on playing almost until the end. In 1970, searching for a new drummer for Warhorse, I offered the job to Sweet’s Mick Turner, who, saying that he was not good enough, urged me to find a bloke called Mac Poole! Finally, Mac was tracked down and agreed to join Warhorse, having missed the boat by turning down an offer from a new group called Led Zeppelin!! I had worked with many great drummers, but Mac took it to a new level, doing things that seemed impossible! In later years, Mac became a journeyman player when he should have been a superstar, but his great reputation always went ahead of him. A lovely bloke, affectionately known as ‘Mac the Mouth’, due to his ability to ‘talk the hind leg off a donkey’ he was, without doubt, one of the greatest drummers and will be sadly missed!
Well, that’s the end of the obituaries, hopefully for a long time.
(9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012)
During the last few years, the music business has lost some of its most seminal players, people who inspired me and many others. We said goodbye to my three favourite guitarists, the three “Micks” as I called them, namely Mick Keane, Mick Green, and Mickey King. We also lost Tony Dangerfield, Neil Christian, Jet Harris and the man who played a big part in our lives, Jim Marshall.
This week another name has been added to the list, as we learned of the death of Jon Lord.
I first met Jon, very briefly, late one night at the famous Shepherds Bush pie stall, one of the few places where food (of a kind) could be obtained during the early hours. It was the summer of 1966, and we were both, in those days, at the top of our game. I was playing with one of rock’s biggest names, Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, whilst Jon was with the Artwoods, one of the country’s top R & B groups. Neither of us spoke, just exchanging nods, as Kidd spoke animatedly with the Artwood’s drummer, an old friend. Little did we know that in less than two years we would be best friends, climbing the U.S. charts together, and creating a supergroup that would still be working nearly half a century later!
Fate was to throw us together in late ’67, working with the chart-topping group the Flowerpot Men, and it was Jon who talked me into leaving this money-spinning outfit to create a new band. Together with Ritchie Blackmore, and briefly, Bobby Woodman, we sowed the seeds that became Deep Purple. Jon and I hit it off from the first day that we worked together, and for the next two years we lived together, firstly at my parents’ home, then at Deeves Hall, and finally sharing a room at the Deep Purple house in Acton, West London. On tour we always roomed together, and life was one big round of fun! He called me his best friend, and I thought of him as the brother that I never had.
Sadly, as is well documented, none of this was to last! During the next forty years we both moved in different directions, but strangely, in the last couple of years, whilst our paths did not cross, they came very close to doing so. During my recent trips to Europe with Nasty Habits, we played where Jon had been very recently, or was due to perform very soon. Several times I came across his contemporaries who would pass on “greetings from Jon”. It seemed only a matter of time before we met up again on the same bill, or in the same town. Finally it looked on the cards as we were both appearing on the same weekend at a festival at St. Veit in Austria. Sadly, Jon cancelled his appearance, and it was then that I learned of the seriousness of his illness. During our show I asked the audience to join us in sending good vibes to Jon for a speedy recovery, and the resulting roar from the crowd said it all!
Since that gig, last September, we all constantly enquired after Jon’s health, hoping for a happy outcome, but sadly it was not to be. However, his music will live on, a fitting memorial to a great musician, and the memories of those exciting, pioneering days will remain with me forever. Rest in peace Jon.
Nick Simper 18th July 2012
Together with the Nasty Habits, I had a very enjoyable gig in Budapest recently. I would like to thank the guys in the band Cry Free, who made sure that we received the best hospitality possible. It was a great pleasure to work with them. Their sound is the closest I’ve heard to the original Deep Purple – quite amazing! Check them out if you get the chance.
Nick 10th May 2010
Many thanks to all those who wished me a happy birthday at our recent gig at Mill Hill, and special thanks to to Reinhard and Sabrina who came all the way from Vienna to give me a delicious chocolate cake! Thank you all again!
Nick November 2009
Last week, together with the Nasty Habits, I performed a concert at Plock in Poland. This was our first visit and we were all absolutely knocked out by the warmth of our reception and the great hospitality shown to us.
I would like to take this opportunity to say once more, thank you to the Nasty Habits for a great performance and thank you to promoter Roland Bury along with Witek, Marcin and Tomasz for all their kindness and support, making it a superb evening.
Na koniec stukrotnie dziÄ™kujÄ™ wszystkim, którzy przyszli na nasz concert i stworzyli niezapomniana noc.
Nick 15th October 2009
Tomasz Slaby has posted some great photos of the day. Click here
Many thanks to all the Deep Purple fans who attended my recent gigs with the Nasty Habits in Austria. It was tremendous fun to revive the Mark I act, and the enthusiasm of the audience proved that the original Purple songs still sound good, even after 40 years! The Nasty Habits were excellent, as usual. They really deserve to be recognized as one of Austria’s most original bands, writing and performing great songs. Thanks to them, I was able to play the old numbers once more, in front of some lovely people. I hope that we can do it again in the near future and I will look forward to meeting you all once more. Thanks again, and all good wishes.
Nick April 2009
Here is an e-mail I received from Ralph Grille shortly after the Vienna gig:
Nick Simper & Nasty Habits Live at Reigen/ Vienna 2009
The Reigen Club in Vienna is a well known location for people who have an interest in highbrow music. It is permanent venue of the Blues Spring and the Jazz Festival Vienna and a lot of famous musicians like Al Di Meola or Brian Auger for example performed there.
It was Mr. Simper’s third concert there and the Nasty Habits were once again much more than faithful accompanists. Together they celebrated the beloved, but seldom to hear live Deep Purple hits from the early years.
The Nasty Habits are a powerful Viennese rock band, specialized to support rock stars in Austria. The first part of the show contained a couple of usual Nasty Habits songs to warm up. For the second part, Nick Simper came on stage to make true a dream.
I met fans from all over Europe – Poland, Croatia, UK, Germany, Switzerland and of course, from the high mountains of Austria.
Needless to say, it was a unforgettable show, powerful, rousing, I wish they could do it one more time.
Set list: And The Address / The Painter / Mandrake Root / Emmaretta / Chasing Shadows / Lalena / Wring That Neck / Why Didn’t Rosemary / Roadhouse Blues / Kentucky Woman / Hush / Gimme Some Lovin’
Thanks to Ralph and Christian for some fantastic photos of the Vienna gig – sorry it’s taken so long to get them posted! You can see them all here.
At the end of last year, I had to cancel several shows in Austria and Germany with the Nasty Habits, where we were to perform the Deep Purple Mk I songbook. The reason for this was the sudden ill-health of my sister, Liz Palumbo. Sadly, Liz passed away on October 4th 2008, which was a huge shock to everyone that knew here. Always a lively, bubbly person, she was a lovely lady, well known in her home town of Hastings as a dance teacher and leader of a belly-dancing troupe who gigged all over the country. She was also a great Mum to her four daughters, Liz, Angelique, Sophy and Kate. Always extrovert and great company, she was a real inspiration to me. Without her enthusiasm for music I may never have played an instrument myself. Her stores and experiences certainly fired my imagination, spurring me on in the right direction. The huge crowd that gathered for her funeral was a measure of her popularity. She would have loved the performance that her belly dancers gave at her graveside, a fitting send-off for a great lady and a great personality who will be sadly missed. This web site is dedicated to her memory.