Rhythm - - FEATURE -

Deep Pur­ple formed in 1968, and, over a se­ries of su­perb al­bums, for many de­fined hard rock to this day. The clas­sic line-up of the band, in full flow by the 1970 al­bum In Rock fea­tured guitar vir­tu­os­ity cour­tesy of Ritchie Black­more, a su­perb vo­cal­ist in Ian Gil­lan, a funk­i­ness helped by the Ham­mond keys of the great Jon Lord, and an un­de­ni­able sense of groove un­der­pinned by the rhythm sec­tion of Roger Glover on bass and Ian Paice on drums. Paice was there from the start, and is still go­ing strong with the band to­day. His speed, prow­ess, tech­nique and ex­plo­sive power served to raise the bar of rock drum­ming, and his style and ap­proach to the drums is cen­tral to the unique sound of Deep Pur­ple, while his mu­si­cal­ity, in­no­va­tion and his drum­ming abil­ity are highly de­vel­oped.

‘Black Night’ (1970) had drum­mers re­dou­bling their prac­tice ef­forts if they wanted to in­clude it in their band’s set-list. The uni­son fill that starts off the track, its main shuf­fle groove and Paice’s bril­liant cross-rhyth­mic triplet drum hook re­main a les­son in rock drum­ming to this day. On ‘High­way Star’ Ian plays with the en­ergy and con­vic­tion that the rock’n’roll feel de­mands, while his clever ac­cent­ing within the 16thn ote fills de­fines the phras­ing and in­ter­nal ‘melody’ of the fills. He was equally im­pres­sive on ‘Fire­ball’, with its fast kick work – surely the pro­gen­i­tor of thrash metal dou­ble kicks. “It’s not that what I did was par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult,” says Paice, “but it is mu­si­cally per­fect for the track. It pushes and pulls the verses and mid­dle-eights and sets up lit­tle in­stru­men­tal bits won­der­fully well. It’s one of those things, as a kid, where you’re not think­ing about what you can’t do, you’re think­ing ‘that is what I am go­ing to do’.”


As with many of the drum­mers of this era who were schooled in jazz, there’s an un­de­ni­able jazz in­flu­ence in his play­ing, and per­haps more than any other rock drum­mer his defin­ing qual­ity was his swing, par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent in solo flour­ishes. All this style was not with­out con­trol, how­ever, and his highly de­vel­oped tech­nique comes from a reg­u­lar prac­tice diet of rudi­ments, ev­i­denced by his skill and his mu­si­cal vo­cab­u­lary. “I hear ev­ery­thing with a swing and even to­day I have more in com­mon with the rock drum­mers of the 1950s than even the 60s’ and ’70s,” says Paice. “My fa­ther was a very good pi­ano player and his [jazz] stuff was al­ways on the ra­dio and I love that to this day, the sub­tleties of great jazz mu­si­cians and vo­cal­ists.”

Like most of the pro­fes­sional UK drum­mers Paice was a Lud­wig drum­mer by the late 1960s, as soon as he could af­ford to buy one. He was later en­dorsed by Lud­wig and Paiste as Pur­ple be­came suc­cess­ful. When Deep Pur­ple started out in 1968, Paice played a Lud­wig Su­per Clas­sic kit: 22"x14", 13"x9" tom, 16"x16" with a 14"x5" Supra­phonic 400 snare, in the clas­sic Oys­ter Black Pearl fin­ish pop­u­larised by Ringo. Cymbals were Avedis Zild­jian: 20" ride, 18" crash, 14" hi-hats. Early pics show that he added a sec­ond floor tom later – typ­i­cal of the one-up-twodown style de­rived from the big band drum­mers, par­tic­u­larly Buddy Rich. Like Bon­ham, he was in­flu­enced by Carmine Ap­pice to change up to big­ger size Lud­wigs in Sparkling Sil­ver Pearl, with a sin­gle 24"x14" and/or 26"x14" bass drum (live, for more loud­ness and bot­tom-end). Plus the 14"x6½" Supra­phonic 402 snare, again favoured by Bon­ham.

Paice had a strong lead bass drum foot and stayed with a sin­gle bass drum. His fa­mous ‘Fire­ball’ dou­ble­kick boo­gie came about when he bor­rowed an ex­tra bass drum from Keith Moon who’d been record­ing in the same stu­dio and left his kit be­hind. Ian later played Paiste cymbals, the choice of many rock drum­mers in the UK to cut through am­pli­fied guitar mu­sic. These were Gi­ant Beats and then 2002s: 15" Sound Edge hats, 20" & 22" rides and 24" Medium tiered like Gin­ger Baker’s on a sin­gle stand, 22" China, 8" Splash.

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