Just before the start of a new leg from Deep Purple’s The Long Goodbye Tour I had an honour to exchange some words [via e-mails] with Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey. About his past, present and future collaborations, his new solo album and many more.
At first thank you for this amazing opportunity. Let’s start with your new solo album One Of A Kind that was released on May 25th. Who came with the title for it? Is it really one of a kind?
Carl Sentance came up with it when we jammed the song in rehearsal. I think he was referring to a young lady of his acquaintance, but it is a very apt description of the very few keyboardists in heavy rock.
What’s your favourite track off the new album?
It changes all the time, but currently very sweet on “Remember to Call”. Love the sound of the string section, wonderful lead guitar work from Simon McBride, and the dedication to my younger son Colin and his wife which brings the family to mind.
Did you get any feedbacks from your fellow Deep Purple members?
Not so far.
Did you use all material or were there some songs that were left unused?
Song-writing partner Carl Sentance reckons we have at least another forty songs on the back burner, and also that we left the best song off this album, one called “Say what you Mean”. It will be on the next one!!
How do you plan to promote it, since Deep Purple is just about to start a new leg of their current The Long Goodbye Tour [tour started on May 30th]? Will they also play some of your songs?
Mainly through interviews, but we hope to do a few gigs in December. Purple won’t be playing anything from it that’s for sure!
Is there a song that was at first offered to Deep Purple but was declined?
Deep Purple’s The Long Goodbye Tour will end in October, do you have any plans what to do after it? Is this the end or will there be any new music and/or tour?
It carries on through November actually and may continue for a short time in 2019. I plan to retire actually.
In the late 80’s you also collaborated with Divlje Jagode. You played keyboards on their sixth studio album called Wild Strawberries (1987). How did you meet the band and what was the reason that you decided to collaborate with them?
Through the engineer and producer working on the project Kit Woolven who is a good friend. They of course also offered me money. Nice experience especially with three guys in suits from the Yugoslavian Embassy at the recording helping translate the lyrics into English – they were really into it. I still know Divlje [Jagode] as “Sid” [Sead “Zele” Lipovača]. We had met a few years before in Zagreb when he came as a teenager to see Colosseum II in concert – he was in the front row gawping at Gary Moore.
What’s your take on the album?
Liked the guitar playing very much. Good band.
Can you describe us how was working with the band? Any “behind the scene” stories?
To get a raucous Hammond sound we plugged my CS80 synth into a Marshall amp and cab placed at the bottom of the stairwell that lead from the control room, and had a mike at the top of the stairs. Amazing sound!
Since the band opened for you last year in Zagreb, it seems like you are still in touch with them?
Kind of. Sid is very regal now!
Are you aware of any tracks that were recorded but not used on the album?
I don’t remember.
What was the last time that you listened to the above mentioned album?
During all these years you have collaborated with many different artists, about which collaboration you are the most proud of?
With Ritchie Blackmore and the making of the album Down to Earth (1979) by Rainbow. His way of working was an education, and musically there is not a spare note from start to finish.
Do you ever listen to your old projects?
Occasionally and am always pleasantly surprised. My 1988 solo album K2 was re-released last year and it was quite an experience prior to the release, going through demo tapes, monitor mixes, and my research into the events of 1986 where 12 climbers died on the mountain, which shaped the narrative of the album. Also refreshing to hear how good Cozy [Powell] and Gary [Moore] still sounded after all these years.
Can you recommend us five albums and artists that had and are still having the biggest impact on you as an artist?
- The Beatles – Abbey Road (1969)
- Todd Rundgren – Hermit of Mink Hollow (1978)
- Alice in Chains – Dirt (1992)
- Led Zeppelin – In through the Out Door (1979)
- Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Tarkus (1971)
Is there an artist with whom you still wish to collaborate?
Eddie van Halen if he’d have me!
What would you like to say to our followers?
Keep on rockin’ my droogs!
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