Putin's heir rocks to sound of Deep Purple

Shaun Walker,Jerome Taylor
Friday 08 February 2008 01:00 GMT

Politicians seem to be queuing up these days to proclaim their trendy music credentials to image-conscious voters. First Gordon Brown waxed lyrical about his love for the "very loud" Arctic Monkeys. Then David Cameron got in on the act by including the Killers in his Desert Island Discs selection.

Now, the man who is almost guaranteed to be the next leader of Russia has gone one better. For Dimitry Medvedev doesn't just love Deep Purple, he loves them so much he's going to fly them to Moscow to play at his own private gig.

Besides being the current First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and chairman of the state-controlled gas giant Gazprom, the heavy metal-loving Mr Medvedev is also President Vladimir Putin's anointed successor – and thus the clear frontrunner in next month's presidential elections.

At a party to be held next Monday in the Kremlin, officially to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Gazprom but also being touted as a tribute to Mr Medvedev, guests will be entertained by his favourite group. Mr Medvedev has on more than one occasion outlined his love for heavy metal bands including Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and says he owns every Deep Purple album. Russian news agencies reported yesterday that Tina Turner would also appear at the gig.

A spokesman for Gazprom said he could not confirm the line-up and that the event would be an "internal corporate party" and closed to the press. Although Russian media have hinted that Mr Putin will attend, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was not yet in his diary.

President Putin is known to have more conservative musical tastes. When asked if Mr Putin also liked Deep Purple, Mr Peskov said: "I haven't heard anything about that. From what I know, he likes classical music more."

Bringing in Western superstars to play is nothing new for the top layer of Russian society. George Michael, Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé are just three of the stars reported to have been whisked into Moscow for behind-closed-doors gigs. Last year a juice magnate flew in Paris Hilton to entertain his 15-year-old daughter.

On Deep Purple's Russian fan website, Deep-Purple.ru, reaction to the impending visit was mixed. "I'm pleased that our high-ranking officials have good musical taste," wrote one fan. "But they are not spending their own money on the concert." Others hoped that bootleg recordings would be made available, while some posts raised suspicions that Mr Medvedev himself was using the forum under a false name.

Deep Purple formed in Hertfordshire in 1968, and - with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath - went on to become one of the pioneers of heavy metal. The band was successful in the US before poaching the singer Ian Gillan from Episode Six and making it back in the UK. The group - which once was the loudest in the world according to the Guiness Book of Records - split in the 1970s before later reforming with Steve Morse.

The band has given 24 concerts in Russia since 1996. In 2004, the deputy mayor of Moscow, Mikhail Men, hired band members Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner to re-record some songs he had written in the 1980s.

Turner was in Moscow last June to sing at a private party attended by Mr Medvedev. He told The Moscow Times he was paid "very well" for the concert.

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