Deep Purple is now five years and three new studio albums removed from the beginning of its 'Long Goodbye' tour.
While the band knows an end is coming, no single member is willing to commit to a final bow. The 'Long Goodbye' wasn't explicitly billed as a farewell, but the band made no mistake that it was contemplating life after Purple.
The answer: for now, anyway, is another world tour — scheduled to kick off next month in Los Angeles. The band has dates on the books through November.
Longtime keyboardist Don Airey surmised in a recent Rolling Stone interview that with all the misgivings about saying goodbye, Deep Purple may simply go out with a "whimper," and not a minute earlier.
"When you're a musician in a band, you think you're in control of it, but you're not," Airey said. "The business is running you. Of course, there was so much demand for the band to continue from the promoters and agents that we said, 'OK, we'll do one more year.' ...I can't say for certain, but hopefully, if things get better this year, we'll be able to do a lap of honor. It'll last longer than a year, is my guess."
Pressed about how he imagines "it being over," Airey admitted he's less inclined these days to fantasize about a triumphant end to the band's career. He evoked T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men."
"'This is the way the band ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper,'" Airey paraphrased. "I think we won't know it's the last gig. We won't have a clue that this one is going to be the last one. That's how it's going to end. It's going to be no big scenario. ...I like what Buddy Guy said. He said, 'Musicians don't retire. They drop.' You do have thoughts about being in the garden and bouncing the grandchildren on your knee, but it's part of your blood system, playing and touring. It's an addiction. I hope I keep playing for a while yet."
Deep Purple's latest album was 2021's covers collection, Turning to Crime. The band's upcoming 'Whoosh!' world tour will support its 2020 studio album of the same name.
Frontman Ian Gillan explained in 2019 that when the band announced the 'Long Goodbye' tour two years prior, the members had just come out the other side of a series of health issues.
They were certain that retirement was near, but as the tour chugged along, everyone began feeling stronger, healthier and more inspired than they had in years.