Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

The title above has a double meaning. On one hand, it means that Cry Free is a real favourite among fans of Deep Purple, and over its 18-year career its name has become almost synonymous with the name of the inspiring band. Cry Free's position in Hungary is so strong that no other band has even attempted to launch another Purple tribute act in the country. Abroad, however, there's a large number of "competitors", but the uncompromising Hungarian band definitely belongs to the top, which they have proven many times since they started touring internationally in 2001. During those 12 years they have played in 8 different countries of Europe and even got as far as Asia, presenting one of the world's most authentic Deep Purple tribute show in the original line-up, with the original instruments (including the Purple trademark 60-year-old and 200-kilo Hammond organ, and even Ian Gillan's congas), and with a frontman that incredibly resembles the original vocalists in terms of both looks and sound.

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

The other interpretation of the title "Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute" is even more exciting as it refers to the sensational fact that members of the original Deep Purple also prefer to work with Cry Free, whenever they are in need of a band for their solo projects. The best example is ex-Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, who -until his death in 2012 -regularly toured the world with Cry Free, performing the first ever piece written for a rock band and a symphony orchestra, his very own Concerto for Group and Orchestra. This breakthrough composition had first been staged in 1969 by members of Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, and 40 years later, taking the places of the legendary musicians behind Lord, and facing some of the best symphony orchestras around the world, Cry Free were honoured to perform it.

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

But the only all-time Deep Purple member, Ian Paice, who still rocks in the legendary band, also chose Cry Free to play with him, when his drum clinic world tour reached Hungary. The third Deep Purple member to perform with the Hungarian tribute was founding bassist, Nick Simper, who keenly accepted Cry Free's invitation to play with them in Hungary's biggest rock club, Wigwam, in May 2010. To push the boundaries of a Purple tribute further out, Cry Free have shared the stage with ex-Uriah Heep keyboardist/songwriter Ken Hensley three times as well, and also joined drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Scorpions...) in his drum clinic performance to play a set of Rainbow songs. The number and quality of these cooperations is absolutely unprecedented in the tribute scene, and it reveals more about the level of this act than anything else. Still, the best recommendation is probably what members of the "real" Deep Purple and their legendary contemporaries think about their followers:

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

Ian Paice, introducing the band to the crowd: "You'll love this, 'cos these guys are good!"

Jon Lord, after the first rehearsal with Cry Free in Budapest: "I've had concerts that weren't as good as this rehearsal."

Jon Lord, in Bratislava, after his Slovakian musicians failed to play the challenging Concerto at the rehearsal and Cry Free hurried to the rescue: "Thank you for saving my concert."

Nick Simper, after the gig in Budapest: "Cry Free is the nearest thing to Deep Purple."

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

Jon Lord, in the Hungarian city of Győr: "I haven't worked with many better musicians than you."

Ken Hensley, in an interview: "These guys play very well and with a lot of passion, you can feel the power in what they do. It's easy to work with them, because they take their job seriously."

Bobby Rondinelli, after his concert with Cry Free: "Great singing, great playing, and excellent preparation."

The history of Cry Free...

The history of Cry Free

The history of the Hungarian Deep Purple Cover Band goes back to 1993, when the idea to form a tribute band which would only play Deep Purple songs came about. It wasn't realized until January 1996, however, when the band was finally born under the name Cry Free. The name comes from the title of a Purple track originally planned to be included on the band's legendary album In Rock, and though left off in 1970, it made it to the 25th anniversary edition.

The musical concept of the band has always been the most authentic and respectful reproduction of Deep Purple's material, reserving the right to reshape and individualise songs, but only where appropriate. Improvisation plays an important role in the shows too, just like in the case of the inspiring band. The enormous repertoire contains several rarities alongside the great classics, and the numbers are chosen from all the different line-ups of Deep Purple's long history. The extensive musical material makes it possible for Cry Free to do all kinds of concept shows to play tribute to the different eras of Purple with the greatest hits played in several versions.

Soon after the start Cry Free were playing some of the best rock clubs and festivals in Hungary, yet it could be felt that there was much more to the band. Serious decisions were made with the aim of creating a tribute act that knows no compromise, and a process started to take place during which the band found its way in the Hungarian (and later also foreign) rock scene leaving no doubt as to the right of its existence.

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

A powerful unit started work at the beginning of August, 1997, when guitarist István Nagy joined the group represented by founding members Attila Scholtz (vocals) and Márk Vermes (bass). Three weeks later István debuted at Europe's biggest summer festival Sziget, playing all the songs (inc. solos) note for note.

The next milestone in Cry Free's history was the October of 1998, when the band grew stronger again with new members György Blaskó on drums and Gábor Soulavy on organ. The Pearl drums with Ian Paice's legendary fills and the Hammond XB1 under the hands of the Jon Lord fanatic keyboard player made the "Purple sound" complete. This was the line-up that made Cry Free undoubtedly the best rock band playing Deep Purple in Hungary according to both experts and fans.

However, in the summer of 2000, Márk Vermes and István Nagy decided to quit the band and give up playing music. The guitarist slot was filled by János Kállai, winner of several talent shows and guitar contests, who now plays his own music in instrumental metal band K3, whose album credits list names like Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. The other position was taken by Csaba Kecskeméti, bass player of recording punk-rock act, Ankou. Csaba contributed to the strongest ever Cry Free rhythm section with his precise playing and the thundering Fender sound, whereas János reinforced the improvisation line with his exciting, spontaneous, and virtuoso guitar playing, and at the same time preserved the Cry Free tradition, according to which the classic solos must be played in their original forms.

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

This group along with singer Attila Scholtz, who has Ian Gillan's original vocal range and a similar character, as well as the looks of the young Glenn Hughes (even according to DP bassist Roger Glover), was already able to reproduce any Deep Purple song perfectly, and present them authentically with genuine pleasure, thus reducing the Purple fans' feelings of absence in the long years between the band's Hungarian shows.

The Blaskó-Kállai-Kecskeméti-Scholtz-Soulavy incarnation of the band spread the Purple word for 6 long years and throughout nearly 200 shows without any compromises, breaks or line-up changes until the end of 2006, when Gábor Soulavy finally broke the spell by moving to the UK and thus leaving the band. He had spent 8 years in Cry Free, just like János Kállai who was the next to quit the group in March 2008. He was followed by drummer György Blaskó later that year after a whole decade of working together. The pressure that is constantly put on all the musicians of the hard-working and uncompromising band is not easy to deal with, and it requires a passionate love of Deep Purple to keep up with the ever-expanding repertoire and bear all the hardship of constant touring. The musicians who had grown tired of the "Cry Free mission" and lost their enthusiasm had to go. The change was inevitable, even though this line-up had been very strong, and it had really established the band, giving it a stepping-stone for the huge successes that were soon to follow.

The two old foxes, Atka and Csabi, were joined by keyboardist Attila Nagy, guitarist Oliver Lee, and drummer Tamás Tatai. Attila had played in Fireball, a cover band performing mainly Deep Purple material a few years before, so he had some idea what the Hammond organ was all about. Oliver, who was only 20 years old when he joined the band, had been considered a child prodigy, and within a couple of years he made it into the very cream of the Hungarian blues-rock scene. His talent was acknowledged when he won the award for Best New Guitarist of the Year in 2010, and was invited to accompany one of the biggest vocalist promises of the Hungarian version of American Idol, marching with him in a kind of duo all the way to 4th place in the singing contest. New drummer Tamás came from Hungary's most dedicated Led Zeppelin tribute, Zep Session, thus returning to his roots, as Deep Purple's music was his first inspiration to grab those drumsticks. Little did he know, however, that within a year he would be playing the record that had put him on his way, Jon Lord's Concerto for Group and Orchestra, on stage with the Maestro himself!

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

The next change in the line-up of Cry Free came about in November 2010, when after nearly 4 years of membership, keyboardist Attila Nagy came to the same decision as the Mark Vermes/István Nagy twosome 10 years earlier, i.e. he could not carry on living that challenging double life in which one's civilian job and family are in permanent conflict with the rock 'n roll lifestyle, and one's private sphere is constantly put to the test by regular rehearsing and touring. He was replaced by Norbert Soós, who, on the other hand, would die for rock music, and who brought not only his great enthusiasm into the band, but also his unique collection of instruments. The legendary Hammond C3 organ along with the also legendary Leslie 760 rotary amp (of which he owns two) as well as the Fender Rhodes electric piano -in other words Jon Lord's complete original equipment in the 70's -provided the missing link to the sound and image of the Hungarian Deep Purple Cover Band.

The year 2013 brought along new line-up changes. In the spring guitarist Oliver Lee, who had decided to start a solo career, was replaced by his friend, the equally young and outstandingly talented Dénes Nagy, and in the autumn the great CF "veteran" Csaba Kecskemeti decided to give up on the Cry Free mission to be followed by the band's old friend Csaba "Chubby" Tóth. Chubby, who had shared the stage with the Hungarian Deep Purple Cover Band several times both as stand-in and guest over the years, is also a key figure to the cream of the national blues-rock scene, having played with some of its biggest names like Ádám Török (Mini), Fecó Balázs (Korál), and János Závodi (Piramis).

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

During their career Cry Ffree have played nearly all the major rock clubs and festivals in Hungary. Since March 2001 the group has been a regular act at the country's biggest rock club, Wigwam (now known as Club 202), which is a standard venue for international hard rock and heavy metal artists including Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner. The group have been residents of the club's very own award show, Golden Arrow, and have been nominated for several awards over the years. In 2002 Gábor Soulavy was awarded "Keyboardist of the Year", and in 2003 Attila Scholtz was awarded "Singer of the Year", and has been nominated several more times since then. The Hungarian Deep Purple Cover Band has also been a regular performer at the annual Harley-Davidson Festival organised by HOG (Harley Owners Group) in Alsóörs, Hungary for long years, along with acts like classic R'n B band Steppenwolf, heavy metal legend Motörhead, and guitar hero Gary Moore. They are also frequently featured at Europe's biggest summer festival Sziget, and the nation's biggest blues-rock festival Gastroblues along with the likes of Jethro Tull, Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord and Glenn Hughes.

On October 19, 2004, Livesound Productions, one of Hungary's two most prominent concert agencies promoting foreign rock acts like Uriah Heep and Whitesnake, asked the band to perform a series of shows starting at the biggest Hungarian concert hall, Petofi Csarnok, supporting legendary rock band Nazareth. The Scottish veterans were so impressed by the Hungarian Purple tribute that singer Dan McCafferty decided to congratulate the guys on stage during the Nazareth set. The next major event of the collaboration took place on March 5, 2006, when Cry Free were warming up to classic metal act U.D.O. Despite the obvious difference in style it was so successful that the German tour manager felt it necessary to run on stage and cut the Cry Free show two thirds into the set before the warm-up session got too hot! 2007 saw the band in Petofi Csarnok again, this time supporting Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep. The audience provided proof of the band's growing popularity as they screamed "CRY FREE! CRY FREE!" ever louder between the songs. Later that evening Attila was asked by Hensley's band to join in their show for a verse of the classic Heep song Easy Livin'. Five years after the first concert together, Nazareth and Cry Free joined forces again, and this time, during the CF set, bass player Pete Agnew felt the need to give a ring to Roger Glover, his bassist colleague from Deep Purple, to surprise him with the sound of Purple played live over the phone. During their career Cry Free has also supported virtually all the popular Hungarian blues and rock acts too, besides playing several hundreds of their own gigs, of course.

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

The members of Cry Free have met, talked to, and partied with previous and current members of Deep Purple several times both privately and during "official" encounters. The inspiring musicians ensured their Hungarian followers of their support each time. In September 2008 Cry Free organised a huge anniversary show celebrating Deep Purple’s 40th birthday, during which the legendary musicians all appeared on a big screen greeting the Hungarian tribute band and their fans. Projects involving members of both bands at the same time (inc. drum workshop performances with Ian Paice, and teaming up with Glenn Hughes) had been "in the air" for years, but it wasn't until 2009 that the first collaboration with a Deep Purple member did take place. This, however, was a true sensation, as on 4 and 5 March 2009 in Budapest Cry Free got actively involved in the making of rock 'n roll history! Along with the 69-piece symphony orchestra Danubia (also from Hungary) they performed Jon Lord's breakthrough crossover piece Concerto for Group and Orchestra written in 1969 for the first time in Eastern Europe with the great composer himself. One week later the band received an emergency phone call from a desperate Jon Lord to replace his Slovakian backing band for two shows in Bratislava, as they failed to perform the set properly. When the Hungarian Deep Purple Cover Band arrived at the concert hall the next morning, the great man greeted them with a hug and the words „thank you for saving my concert”. After the Hungarian and Slovakian Concerto premieres, the hugely successful Jon Lord show travelled to Russia for a complete tour, and the Maestro chose Cry Free again for the role of the "group". Beyond the mutual respect in terms of musicianship, a real friendship also started to arise between Lord and his Hungarian musicians, which got ever deeper as they went through more and more concerts as one band (14 shows altogether from Central Europe to Asia) until the premature death of the Maestro in the summer of 2012. To get a glimpse of what it was like when Jon Lord and Cry Free got together to tour the world, you can watch the special Tour Diary Video that the band made during their second visit to Russia with the Lord of the Hammond.

The sensational cooperation was also good reference, of course, and during the year 2010 Cry Free had the opportunity to get on stage with two further Deep Purple members, drummer Ian Paice and bassist Nick Simper. The band also had the chance to broaden their scope a little when they were offered to team up with Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep, who they had first met 4 years ago when they had played support to him. Now they became his band and had three shows with him at three different Hungarian venues. Cry Free's 20th performance of the kind took place in April 2013, when they shared the stage with drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Scorpions...) during his drum clinic performance. There are plans to continue the collaborations with all the four rock legends still alive as well as with further Deep Purple members who the band hasn't had the chance to work with yet.

Although due to the nature of the genre the Hungarian Deep Purple Cover Band focuses on touring primarily, in 2002 they started recording albums, too. The debut, titled Cry Free In Concert, was followed by Purple (r)Evolution at the beginning of 2005, which as a studio record could be considered groundbreaking in the world of tribute bands. The album presented the subsequent eras of Deep Purple represented by one song each. The live premiere was also recorded and can be heard and seen on the (r)Evolution Live double CD and DVD. The concert film, recorded by a whole crew of cameramen and edited professionally, is also exceptional among Hungarian tribute bands. But not exceptional for Cry Free! The next item on Cry Free's growing discography was the second DVD and double CD of even higher quality titled Ten Years In Rock, which commemorated the band's 10th anniversary concert, in the first half of which the whole In Rock material was presented, and special guests as well as birthday surprises guaranteed the festive atmosphere in the second. Next in the line was a DVD titled A Tribute to David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, whose specialty was the fact that it played homage exclusively to the musical material of Deep Purple mk3 and 4, two eras of the band which are often neglected undeservedly by other Purple tributes. The next item on the list was The Deep Purple History concert DVD, which was a unique historical review of the classic group's past and present, provided by Cry Free and their friends from Austria and Ireland, another authentic tribute band regularly playing with original DP members, Purpendicular. The DVD was recorded at the Budapest venue of the 4-concert tour of Austria, Germany, and Hungary featuring the two bands together. Last in this long line of CF materials is A Tribute To Deep Purple Budapest 1987, which was recorded at a special show celebrating the 25th anniversary of Deep Purple's first visit to Hungary by performing a song for song tribute of the original set list of that first DP concert in the country. Guesting the show was Zsolt Gömöry, keyboardist of classic Hungarian hard rock act Edda, which supported Deep Purple 25 years before.

Cry Free - Deep Purple's Favourite Tribute

In 2011 an exciting new line was added to the basic Cry Free concept. Joining forces with friends in Led Zeppelin tribute Zep Session (drummer Tamás Tatai's old band) they created the special classic rock project Purple Zeppelin Jam, whose 3-hour-long shows of all the major rock classics from the two most influential bands of 1970's take rock fans of their native Hungary and countries of Europe on a journey through time.

During the 18 years of its career Cry Free has had periods of time in which managers helped its progress too. Geza Kovacs's name definitely deserves mentioning here, as he spent 8 years working with the band, but they owe a lot to Beata Nagy as well, who also helped them in their career for over 4 years. Since 2009 singer/band leader Attila Scholtz has been in charge of all management duties including booking and promotion, but the Cry Free team is happy to welcome any serious organiser, promoter, and booker with connections who wish to join and expand the scope of the Hungarian Deep Purple Cover Band (and Purple Zeppelin Jam) around the world.