A fabulous root to smoke...

This page is dedicated to my first Deep Purple cover band, Mandrake Root, which ran between 2003 and 2007. In fact, we never officially quit, so I can still wear the t-shirt today - enjoy!

Mandrake Root - 2003 - 2008

Singer - Alex 2007
Singer - Sven 2004 - 2006
Singer - Martin 2003
Keyb - Tom
Bass - Stefan
Drums - Markus

I found an advert in a newspaper for a guitarist to play for a space-hippy-free-loving-Deep-Purple-cover-band. They apparently had a big gig booked in the Burg Lindenfels Festival in Odenwald, but their banjo player had walked off and was last seen in an asylum... I was intrigued and called. I roughly understood (understanding Tom on telephone = ?) that he wanted space-hippy-free-loving-improvisation and not just a straight cover band, I nodded (not that he could see that on the phone), and we set up 2 rushed rehearsals.

On arriving I was pleasantly surprised that Stefan and Markus appeared almost normal. Stefan was the most sensible of us all, despite wearing makeup, but at least he wore clothes, Markus did not always. Stefan wanted an orderly cover band and tried to organise things correctly, simply praying we would turn up - bless him. I remember arriving in Lindenfels (on time and with the family) and asking if the others were already there. Oh that incredulous look in his face gave it away... I had a lot to learn...

Markus was the most brilliant drummer I ever met. He had more John Bonham than John Bonham and more Ian Paice than Ian Paice, but like Tom, he was a free hippy spirit. He accepted all of our short-comings (and time-keeping) with the absolute calmness and patience of a saint. Bless him.

And then there was Tom. He was the leader. We followed chaos for the next 5 years... Bless him too.

The circus had arrived!

Here is a collection of pictures taken from some of our gigs. Sadly in those days nobody had a good camera or thought about it until too late... A shame. Feel free to click thru them or start the slideshow. Please also feel free to read about:

Purple Smoke - 2010-2012

Cheap Turtle - 2008-2010

THE GIG LIST - oldest first

Sadly I do not remember all the gigs, dates and where we played. Some dates of the photos help a little, but many gigs had no photos. I swear we played twice in the famous Schwimmbad Club in Heidelberg. The 2nd time, a Uriah Heep band was on after us, but I have no date for it. Who was the singer? How did I get home? It does not matter, just playing with these guys in a room was enough - if we could get one. This was the only band I ever knew with no rehearsal room. For 4 years we borrowed rooms in and around Bensheim; a car repair garage, a kitchen in a car cleaning shop, rooms from other bands, a wine cellar in a house in Lampertsheim and in Osthoven we landed in a horrible house full with illegal immigrants... To top it all we landed in Satan's 'Hell Farm'. That was even less of a joke and if I talk about it, you will get mad cow's disease. One day I might write a book about this band...

2003 - Burg Lindenfels im Odenwald Our first gig together and it was a very pleasing success. Burg Lindenfels was full and we pulled it off very well, but I admit I was a bit nervous at the outset. This was a big jump from pubs in Bingen to an open air festival in a substantial castle and only 2 rehearsals. I had my 5150 there.

2003 - Schwimmbad Club in Heidelberg There was an impressive list of all the stars that had played there in the backstage room. I read David Bowie had played there (or did a guest spot with some band). Oh yes, I stroked the stage... Holy ground. This gig went well until we packed up to go home. It proved to be the last time with Martin. I recorded the gig on a Sony video camera (I still have the tape, but can't read it though...).

2004 Schattenhausen Stadtfest Tom had talked Sven into joining. This was a large Stadtfest in a big tent with a full stage and Sven was a monster singer...
It went very smoothly considering we only rehearsed irregularly. Pics show me with a Marshall JCM800, but I think I had my 5150 on the floor behind my Marshall cab.

2004 Medikus in Groß Umstadt The first time in Medikus. On this evening I had an Ampeg 50w amp, which was quite creamy. I remember borrowing amps a lot around this time as my 5150 was waiting for spare parts from the US. I recall even using a Marshal JTM-45 in some room near Bensheim - it sounded pleasant but was not loud or aggressive enough to match the mighty Tom with his 100w Arshall.

2005 Medikus in Groß Umstadt A year later, and nothing happened in between. Stefan, desparate to re-start the group, had booked us here again to try and revive the band. They were always happy gigs there and we were great again. This time I had my 5150 back.

2005 Appenheim Rockfest This was organized by Bernie S. and he did it very well. I later played in his Crowe's Garden Band for a while. We rocked and had a great time, except Tom refused to play 'Smoke', which caused a bit of annoyance amongst the good people there... We recorded the show and it turned out well. On this night the 5150 had a great creamy sound with my SSL3 monster pickups - my favourite heavy single-coil pickups - they get noisy though...

2007 Dieburg? Sven had left us in 2006 due to no action. I can't blame him, but somehow I met Alex at a Fake Doll gig. I may have the sequence wrong, but I think we started with this infamous gig in Dieburg? with another cover band on a very large stage (their guitarist was brilliant - he showed me some fusion solos, which I could not do in a hundred years... lol). Funny: On that evening Tom could not get off the big stage fast enough to go to the toilet, so he took a fire-bucket and sat behind Markus for 20 mins, leaving me improvising and Markus holding his breath... It was a school of hard knocks mixed with slapstick comedy. I loved the guys, but the place was empty and our spirits were at a low.... I had a Marshall JCM 900 by now. I liked the sound but it was a dead lifeless amp.

2007 Alex's Wedding Party This was a lot of fun. David N. brought his Nikon camera - finally decent pictures! We played very well and relaxed - Alex was great - we were cruising again.

2007 (Xmas) Medikus in Groß Umstadt I remember my sister being there and I recall there was a 'Spinal Tap' squabble amongst the ladies... Anyway, it was a good gig as always, but the fatigue was there. It was just another repeat of the same location. We had done too little in so many long empty years.

2007 (Xmas) New Nobels - Bingen The last gig. It started too late (Tom as usual), but the pub was almost empty anyway. We played the setlist plus Rock n' Roll from Led Zep, just for fun. We drove away and never saw each other again...

Well almost... Alex and I were still active in bands in and around Mainz and Stefan was buzzing about in Darmstadt. Anyway, I hope they are all well, where ever they are. They were exceptional musicians, wonderful personalities and very dear friends of the purple!