Lars Ulrich Praises Deep Purple’s ‘Legacy Without End’ in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Speech
Lars Ulrich of Metallica inducted Deep Purple into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during the induction ceremony in Brooklyn tonight, offering what Ultimate Classic Rock's Matt Wardlaw described as "the speech of the night ... and the longest."
Beginning by telling the crowd that he was "seriously f---ing honored to be here," Ulrich strode out in a coat that he swore was actually colored "deep purple" and opened his speech by praising by name a number of the many musicians who've passed through the Purple ranks over the years, including keyboardist Jon Lord, as well as longtime members Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Roger Glover and Ritchie Blackmore.
"And then there was Ritchie. F---ing. Blackmore," said Ulrich. "What he did with a guitar did not seem feasible."
Already five minutes into his speech by the time he really got going, Ulrich — who quipped he was "ready to go all night ... the advantage of going first" — singled out the group's 1971 album Fireball for particular praise, recalling that after he came into his copy, "my life changed forever."
Metallica have long counted Deep Purple as an early influence. But Ulrich, in particular, has been pushing for their induction into the Hall of Fame. "I'm not gonna get into the politics or all that stuff, but I got two words to say: Deep Purple," he said back in 2014. "That's all I have to say: Deep Purple. Seriously, people, Deep Purple. Two simple words in the English language."
Ulrich doubled down on that sentiment in the home stretch of his speech, chiding the Rock Hall for taking so long to induct the band and praising Deep Purple for achieving fame the old-fashioned way — through hard work and constant touring. "In the golden age of rock 'n' roll debauchery, they were known primarily for their music," said Ulrich. "If you must dig on Deep Purple, the main dirt on Deep Purple was the revolving door of personnel. Ten different band members in the first seven years, 14 in total."
That said, Ulrich went on to single out three former members: David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, and Rod Evans. Referencing all that turnover while praising the group's overall legacy, Ulrich concluded, "From the eight inductees tonight to the 14 band members who have played in this band, it's obvious that great music comes from tension — and what great music it was."
Ulrich went on to name check a number of classic Deep Purple records and songs — including, of course, the group's banner single "Smoke on the Water." Saying it featured "the most classic guitar riff of all time," he praised it as "A big heavy door into a legacy without end, one that remains as vital as ever in its latest incarnation, touring the world, blowing minds, and still changing lives."
Admitting he owns a picture of his own face Photoshopped onto Ian Paice, Ulrich told the crowd, "That's how much Deep Purple means to me. To the fans here tonight and the millions of followers around the world who look upon Deep Purple as epic, unpredictable, energetic, cool, intense, brilliant, impulsive, spontaneous, mesmerizing, jaw-dropping, otherworldly, relentless, pioneering and ultimately timeless: Ritchie Blackmore, David Coverdale, Rod Evans, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Glenn Hughes, Jon Lord, Ian Paice. They should have been here a long time ago ... they are now here where they belong."
Gillan started off the band's acceptance speeches, joking, "Thank you, Lars, that was amazing. I'm speechless — almost." Calling the induction "a great honor" and "very humbling," he went on to list every musician who's passed through the Purple ranks, including stopgap guitarist Joe Satriani, and said the honor was ultimately for their families and crew — as well as the group's die-hard fans, whom he described as "amazing."
Glover followed Gillan, quipping, "Finally we're here. Thank you, Lars, for reading what I wrote." Noting that it takes "a small army of people" to get anyone into the Rock Hall, Glover admitted that "thank you isn't quite enough" — and that he wasn't going to thank everyone he needed to, because, as he joked, he couldn't remember them all. "The fans rule."
Paice hit the podium after Gillan, introducing Lord's widow to the crowd in what he called "a very important and necessary" gesture toward the group's dearly departed longtime bandmate. Noting that he'd been there from the beginning, Paice mused, "Bands are a weird conglomeration of people. You can work together and create wonderful things, and then you find you can't deal with each other. ... But when it works, it's pretty damn good."
Coverdale stepped up after Paice's remarks, expressing his "appreciation and gratitude" to the Rock Hall for the honor before extending the same to everyone who's been in Deep Purple over the years — singling out Lord and guitarist Tommy Bolin for particular praise. Coverdale also made room to thank the members of Whitesnake and his own legal and management team, as well as his friends and family. "I love you all," said Coverdale. "Music has been there for me when nobody else was."
Glenn Hughes brought up the rear, describing himself as "so grateful to have been given the gift of music" and insisting that while he might have been born in Britain, his soul must have been born in Detroit. Thanking Glover for "getting me into the Hall of Fame" by opening a spot in the lineup through his departure, and thanking Coverdale for their long friendship, Hughes also asked the crowd to applaud for Lord before thanking his management team and his wife. "A long time ago, a friend of mine said you've got to keep forever changing, because music is the healer," concluded Hughes. "Ladies and gentlemen, my award is dedicated to the fans. God bless you all and have a lovely, lovely evening."
The 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be broadcast on HBO on April 30.
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