Nino and April are a brother and a sister who each had fair solo careers (real names: Antonio and Carol Lo Tempio). April had hits with "No No No Not That" (1950, when she was 14), "I'm in Love Again" (1951), and "Teach Me Tiger" (1959); Nino was a session saxophonist. They were teamed by Atlantic Records' owner Ahmet Ertegun, who was also their producer. Ertegun wanted them to record another song called "Paradise" - which they did - but in the 14 minutes of studio time remaining, they also cut "Deep Purple," which was the hit, in two takes. Nino and April knew the song very well, but their session players had to pick it up quickly based on their instructions.
The song was written by the composer and radio performer Peter De Rose in the early 1930s, and it became a standard when the lyricist Mitchell Parish added words to it in 1938. Parish was known for sweeping, romantic lyrics - some of his other compositions include "Stardust" and "Sophisticated Lady" - and he turned the song into a touching ballad. The song was recorded by a number of orchestras, including those led by Artie Shaw, Paul Whiteman, Guy Lombardo and Larry Clinton. In 1939, it was a #1 hit for Larry McClinton and His orchestra.
Many popular vocalists also recorded it, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sammy Davis Jr. In the Rock Era, the song charted first when Billy Ward & His Dominoes took it to #20 US in 1957 (their last crossover Top 40 hit). Tempo and Stevens had by far the biggest hit with the song, but Donny & Marie Osmond returned it to the charts in 1976 when their version hit #14 in the US.
Nino was supposed to sing the second chorus by himself, but he "blanked out," so April fed it to him line by line as the tape was rolling. A friend listening to the recording thought that April's "narration" would make "Deep Purple" a #1 record... but not Nino, initially - April took two months to convince him that the narration was OK. Ertegun didn't like "Deep Purple," either - he mothballed it and released "Paradise" instead. "Paradise" sank without a trace.
Nino demanded that Ertegun release "Deep Purple" as a single or release them from their contract from Atlantic Records. Ertegun agreed to the single release, stating that if "Deep Purple" didn't become a hit, his and April's contract would be terminated.
When this song was released as a single, Ahmet Ertegun had so little faith in it that he thought the B-sid, "I've Been Carrying a Torch for You so Long That I Burned a Great Big Hole in My Heart," had a better chance of becoming a hit.
Won the Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Recording of 1963.
Subsequent singles by Nino and April mined the big band era, with #11 "Whipering" (originally by Paul Whiteman in 1920) and #32 "Stardust" (originally by Isham Jones and his orchestra in 1931). They had some success and found themselves playing a lot of casino shows later in their career. Nino got some work with his old friend, Phil Spector.
The British pioneering heavy metal band Deep Purple took their name from this song as it was guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's grandmother's favorite tune. Bassist Nick Simper admitted to Mojo magazine: "We were slightly embarrassed about the name until we saw it in the charts."
This song was recorded at Radio Recorders studios in Los Angeles on October 4, 1962. Musicians on the session included Glen Campbell and Billy Strange on guitar, and Earl Palmer on drums. Jimmie Haskell did the arrangements.