June 1970: Deep Purple Release IN ROCK
When Deep Purple released the band's fourth studio album, In Rock, on June 3, 1970, the world of rock was not entirely ready. Led Zeppelin had turned the genre on its ear with the release of the group's debut album in 1969, and Ritchie Blackmore was inspired. His band was just coming off its own 1969 release, Concerto for Group and Orchestra, and the guitarist was frustrated.
"That's true," Blackmore told Guitar.com. "We were a rock band. I couldn't understand why we kept playing with orchestras. I was impressed with what Zeppelin did, and I wanted to do that kind of stuff, and if it doesn't take off we'll go and play with orchestras the rest of our lives. So we did it, and it was Deep Purple In Rock..."
With In Rock, Blackmore was able to fully unleash the MK II version of Deep Purple, featuring singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. The band laid down the gauntlet with opening track, "Speed King," a blistering explosion of heavy metal thunder that announced there was a new axe-slinging sheriff in town who would not be ignored.
The lone single from In Rock, "Black Night," was an instant classic, blazing all the way to #2 in the UK, #1 in Switzerland, and #4 in Ireland. The album In Rock hit #1 in German and Australia, climbing to #4 in the UK. In America, the album stalled at #143 on the Billboard 200. The top LP in America that week: none other than Led Zeppelin III.