The Crazy Story Behind Deep Purple’s California Jam Concert
Deep Purple - Stefan Gisca / Youtube
There are a lot of memorable concerts in rock history, but only a few have gained the notoriety that the California Jam concert of 1974 had. According to an official tally, over 200,000 fans attended, although it was more likely that over two times that figure was there that day.
The chaos intensified with Deep Purple’s set, which was in its Mk III era that had David Coverdale replacing Ian Gillan and Roger Glover taking over Roger Glover’s spot in the band. Deep Purple was highly successful with their album sales at the time and was in the middle of the supporting tour of their 1974 release, Burn.
Deep Purple wasn’t supposed to go onstage until sunset, which was actually part of the contract they signed, but the festival running ahead of schedule made things rough for the band. Due to Ritchie Blackmore’s insistence that the band would only go out at the agreed time, they were almost cut out of the show, if not for their tour manager who managed to race the festival organizer to the mic. The organizer was already on his way to announce that Deep Purple was off the bill, but was overtaken by their tour manager who asked the crowd if they wanted to see the band already, and was met with a resounding yes.
And to be fair, Deep Purple delivered a hot show despite the looming vibe hanging in the air. Probably too hot of a show when Blackmore attacked a cameraman who was giving him orders to keep him in the frame, slamming his Stratocaster into the cameraman’s rig. He then proceeded to destroy several more guitars until an explosion from his amplifier stack set his hair on fire, along with Ian Paice and a handful of the crew who stood nearby.
Albeit being one of the craziest shows to have ever been recorded in rock history, Deep Purple really hit the nail on the head with their raunchy number onstage the California Jam.