Smokin' rockers

Rock legends Deep Purple were denied entry to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame this year - losing out to pop acts Donna Summer and Public Enemy - but the band say it is no big loss.

Keyboardist Don Airey, 64, tells Life! in a telephone interview from Australia, where Deep Purple are currently touring: "I don't think the band really care, actually. It'd be nice but there's been no 'awwwww', no disappointment."

The chirpy musician adds: "The gig's the thing with this band, the next concert. That's what it's all about and we're looking forward to Singapore."

The British heavy metal pioneers will be back in Singapore to perform at The Star Theatre tomorrow, delivering classics and tunes from their soon-to- be-released new album, Now What?!.

While Airey had praise for new Hall Of Fame inductees American pop singer-songwriter Randy Newman and R&B singer Summer, he wishes the rock music genre was better represented and recognised.

The Hall Of Fame, established in 1983 in the United States, is dedicated to honouring some of the most influential artists, producers and others who have impacted the music industry greatly through the genre of rock music.

Airey says with a chuckle: "Newman's fantastic but he's not really a rock act, is he? Neither is Donna Summer, although she made one of the greatest records I've ever heard. If you're going to have a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, let's have some rock and rollers in there."

He adds, laughing: "There was a kind of ripple of excitement, like 'Oh, we've been nominated!'. Then (lead singer) Ian said, 'Don't worry, we won't get in'."

Formed in 1968, Deep Purple were one of the greatest rock bands to have emerged in the 1970s, with their albums such as Deep Purple In Rock (1970) and Machine Head (1972) playing an instrumental role in the creation of the rock and heavy metal music genres. They have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.

With the band having undergone several line-up changes over the years, drummer Ian Paice, 64, remains the only founding member left. He is joined by lead singer and songwriter Ian Gillan, 67, guitarist Steve Morse, 58, bassist Roger Glover, 67, and Airey, who joined the band in 2002.

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