Drummer Ian Paice, the rock of Deep Purple as the only member to have been in the band continuously from their inception in 1968, turns 66 on Sunday (June 29).
From 1968’s ‘Shades of Deep Purple’ to 2013’s ‘Now What?!’ and on to the next studio album that they’re already planning, Ian is the only founder member of Purple who’s still with the rock giants. During Purple’s inactive years, he was one third of Paice Ashton Lord and then played with Whitesnake for three studio albums in the early 1980s.
Born in Nottingham, Paice has never sought the limelight and is hugely admired throughout the industry, happy to remain the backbone of an extraordinary British rock institution. From the band’s early days, his assured style was a key ingredient in Purple’s success. A review of their first album by Miles, in the counter-culture newspaper International Times, said: “Jon Lord plays very full organ and Ian Paice draws a line along the street which they all follow – skipping and jumping and sometimes sliding for whole blocks.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Paice’s first instrument was not drums, but violin. As the Melody Maker reported in 1971, he couldn’t play it properly, so he turned it upside down and started hitting it. “I flogged the violin and found a tom-tom and some old biscuits tins,” he said. “Then I hit them again and again.
“Eventually I bought a kit for £32 and went round accompanying my father, who was a pianist, playing waltzes and quicksteps. It was a wee bit insipid, but it was a start.”
Along with a host of guest appearances and collaborations with other artists, Ian and his wife Jacky are closely involved with the Sunflower Jam charity, which works “towards providing access for all to complimentary and integrated treatments in the fight against cancer and other diseases by funding and supporting research, treatment and education.”
Paice plays at the Sunflower Jam’s regular, all-star concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. This year’s show, in April, was a celebration of the life and work of Paice’s former Purple colleague, the late and much-loved Jon Lord. Fellow players included Paul Weller, Rick Wakeman, Bruce Dickinson, Glenn Hughes and many others, including Deep Purple themselves.
With the deluxe edition of their ‘Made In Japan’ live album now on release from Universal, Purple embark on European tour dates in July, followed by a North American itinerary in August.