"Deep Purple experienced sheer terror for 48 hours," reported a reporter for the German-language music magazine "POP", who had seen everything.
“Jakarta was hell.” After the disaster in Indonesia, a bodyguard was dead, the band a fortune poorer, and dozens of fans were injured.
Sergei Fadeichev / ITAR-TASS / imago images
(born 1951) was the singer and bassist for Deep Purple from 1973 to 1976.
After three studio albums with the British hard rockers, he sang for Black Sabbath and the blues guitarist Gary Moore, among others.
Alcohol and drugs were bad for his health and the performances.
Since a withdrawal in the 1990s, Hughes has played in changing formations, most recently with The Dead Daisies, whose new album "Holy Ground" will be released in January 2021.
In December 1975 the "Guinness Book of Records" had just listed Deep Purple as the "loudest band in the world".
Her trademark: complex guitar riffs and sometimes classically inspired solos, a roaring Hammond organ and a drummer who maltreated the drums like a dervish.
In addition, a singer with cries of torture as if from hellfire.
Critics celebrated the quintet for its exuberant virtuosity - and the fans lifted every new album to the top of the charts.
Two years earlier, the quarreling band had changed their line-up.
Former singer and later returnees Ian Gillan was outside, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore then also dropped out.
The new singer was called David Coverdale, later also famous with the band Whitesnake.
Bass player and second singer was now Glenn Hughes with his distinctive head voice.
And fresh on board in 1975 was the only 24-year-old guitarist Tommy Bolin, a gifted jazz rocker with a serious heroin problem.
Their new album "Come Taste The Band" was funkier than its predecessors, but was panned by the critics and flopped in sales.
Live the band continued to fill the big stadiums.
During the fall she had toured the Pacific: Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia.
Before the final in Japan, she received a curious offer: Deep Purple should be the first western rock band to play in Indonesia's capital Jakarta.
A smaller concert in front of 20,000 fans, an advance of $ 11,000 - they agreed.
Landing in the wasp's nest
And so on December 4, 1975 a canary yellow Boeing 707 flew over the endless rainforests of the largest island nation on earth.
Nobody on board the band plane had dealt with Indonesia's bloody history.
Nobody suspected that they were stumbling into a wasp's nest.
Because Haji Mohamed Suharto, the "smiling dictator", ruled in the former Dutch East Indies.
A decade earlier, the right-wing general had put himself to power, and hundreds of thousands of alleged "communists" had died in massacres.
Suharto acted like the prototype of a cruel, corrupt despot.
In December 1975 a nervous tension lay over the island nation.
Shortly before, separatists on the neighboring island of Timor had declared independence from the Portuguese colonial power.
Indonesia advanced into the newly founded "East Timor" with covert operations.
Shortly before, the Indonesian military had murdered five Australian television journalists there.
And only two days before the band's arrival, terrorists occupied the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam and shot four hostages.
On the same day as the British hard rockers, US President Gerald Ford and his Foreign Minister Henry Kissinger landed in the metropolis of Jakarta, which at that time had around five million inhabitants.
The West supported the staunch anti-communist Suharto with arms deliveries.
At the secret meeting they wanted to discuss the impending invasion of East Timor.
A stage made of orange boxes
The rock stars had no idea of any of this when their machine landed in the tropical sultriness.
A reception awaited them in Jakarta like they had never experienced before.
In an interview with SPIEGEL, singer and bassist Glenn Hughes recalls how a military convoy escorted the musicians: “It was maybe ten kilometers from the airport to the hotel.
The entire route was lined with Deep Purple fans.
Every damn street.
Everyone was completely over the moon.
It was beautiful, but also kind of scary.
The people were so fanatical! "
The band soon began to have doubts.
Instead of a hall for 20,000 fans, the Indonesian promoter had booked the Senyan Sports Stadium, designed for 50,000 visitors - and sold 125,000 tickets.
The "stage" was cobbled together from orange boxes.
The military provided security.
A second concert was scheduled for the following day.
Deep Purple opened the concert with their hit "Burn".
“The fans went crazy,” says Hughes.
“They were happy young people.
But the uniformed men looked angry.
There was a very strange atmosphere. "The magazine" POP "described the scene as follows:" The police took up position with machine guns, flamethrowers, gas grenade launchers and a pack of hot Doberman dogs. "
Towards the end of the performance, the uniformed men chased the dogs into the audience.
"The military beat the fans with heavy sticks," said Glenn Hughes.
“I saw children being torn apart by dogs.
I am sure there were deaths.
It was terrible.
We had to stop the show. "
The bodyguard fell six floors
Band manager Rob Cooksey was pissed off too.
For two concerts of this size, the band usually raked in $ 750,000.
Back at the hotel, he confronted the Indonesian promoter.
But he seemed to be in league with the regime.
Glenn Hughes was partying with his bodyguard and two crew members in his hotel room.
“My bodyguard was Patsy Collins, he'd worked for Led Zeppelin and the Stones.
A couple of girls were still there that the promoter had brought in.
They were obviously prostitutes.
At some point Patsy left the room. "
Under circumstances that were never fully understood, Patsy Collins fell into an elevator shaft, broke several water pipes and hit the ground six floors below.
With the last of his strength, the bodyguard dragged himself into the hotel lobby and died there from his serious injuries.
“It was murder,” Glenn Hughes is convinced.
“You fucking killed Patsy.
He was a trained bodyguard, you couldn't just overpower him like that.
It must have been at least four or five men. ”Keyboardist Jon Lord and band manager Rob Cooksey also repeatedly stated in interviews that they did not believe it was an accident.
"The police chief looked like Idi Amin"
At dawn, uniformed men tore Hughes, Manager Cooksey and two assistants out of their beds: arrest on suspicion of murder.
“They wanted the fee back,” says Hughes.
“Obviously, they were in league with the promoter.
We stewed in our cell all day.
When it was showtime, they picked me up and drove me to the stadium at gunpoint. ”The arena was packed again.
“They held the barrel in my back and pushed me onto the stage.
They pointed their damn rifles at me throughout the performance.
I tried to be as calm as possible. "
In mourning for their bodyguard, the band tormented their way through their set.
After a few songs, the military drove the dogs back into the crowd.
The bloodbath of the previous day was repeated.
“As soon as the concert was over, they took me back to the station.
War broke out in Indonesia that weekend, "explains Hughes, referring to the invasion of East Timor on December 7, 1975." A bunch of angry officials were walking around, all of them terribly nervous.
The police chief looked like Idi Amin.
Medals everywhere and he kept playing with that big revolver ... He turned the cylinder and put bullets in it.
I was sure he would kill one of us.
It was like a bad movie.
These guys didn't care - they wanted the money.
We had to return every damn penny of our fee.
The next morning they let us go. "
Never again Indonesia
The nightmare wasn't over then.
A nasty surprise awaited the band at the airport: "They shot the tire on our plane," recalls Hughes.
“And the Indonesians refused to change wheels.
They charged us a fortune to borrow the tools. ”Eventually stagehands changed the tire.
Once in safe Japan, the band sent their lawyer to Jakarta.
Manager Rob Cooksey later told Deep Purple biographer Chris Charlesworth, "He set up a meeting with the promoter, but they chased him across the room with a machete." The band had to write off the fee.
Glenn Hughes is still preoccupied by events today: “It was the worst concerts of my life.
When you witness a murder, you are no longer the same. ”He has never gotten over the horror of Jakarta:“ Even if there have always been offers to perform there - I will never return to this country. ”
In retrospect, the events seem like a bad omen.
One day after the band's departure, dictator Suharto ordered the invasion of East Timor.
60,000 people were killed in the following weeks.
Three months later, Deep Purple broke up.
And exactly one year to the day after the "Jakarta Disaster", on December 4, 1976, guitarist Tommy Bolin died of a heroin overdose.
Icon: The mirror