Don Airey performing with Deep Purple in 2005
|Birth name||Donald Airey|
21 June 1948 |
|Genres||Rock, hard rock, heavy metal, blues rock, progressive rock, jazz fusion|
|Associated acts||Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Electric Light Orchestra, Gary Moore, Glenn Tipton, Judas Priest, Wishbone Ash, Whitesnake, Ten, Jethro Tull|
Donald Smith "Don" Airey (born 21 June 1948 in Sunderland, England) has been the keyboardist in the rock band Deep Purple since 2002, succeeding Jon Lord. He has had a long and productive career, playing with such acts as Gary Moore, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Whitesnake, Saxon, Wishbone Ash, Steve Vai, Colosseum II, Sinner, Michael Schenker, Rainbow, Empire, Thin Lizzy, Brian May and Living Loud. He has also worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Music career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Inspired by his father, Norman Airey, Don Airey took a love for music at a young age and was trained in classical piano from the age of seven. He continued his love for music by earning a degree at the University of Nottingham and a diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music.
In 1971 he moved to London and joined Cozy Powell's band Hammer. Don worked on several albums with solo artists and was a session musician on the 1978 Black Sabbath album Never Say Die! Soon after, he joined guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's band, Rainbow, and featured on Gary Moore's solo debut Back on the Streets. With Rainbow he contributed to two hit albums, Down to Earth and Difficult to Cure. He was also part of the very influential jazz rock band Colosseum II, with Jon Hiseman, Gary Moore, Mike Starrs, Neil Murray and later John Mole, which also formed the core band that recorded Andrew Lloyd Webber's variations on a theme of Paganini, simply called Variations.
After leaving Rainbow in 1981, Airey joined with Ozzy Osbourne for a three year stint where he helped with the albums Bark at the Moon and Speak of the Devil. He did play on the Diary of a Madman Tour from 1981–82 and appears on Blizzard of Ozz. Airey joined Jethro Tull in 1987 for their tour in support of Crest of a Knave. The same year also saw the release of Whitesnake's multi-platinum Whitesnake, on which Airey played keyboards. (The album is known as 1987 in Europe). Soon after he quit the band to record the solo album K2 - Tales of Triumph and Tragedy. In it he plays with Gary Moore, Keith Airey - guitars, Cozy Powell - drums, Laurence Cottle - bass, Chris (Hamlet) Thompson, Colin Blunstone, Mel Galley, Genki Hitomi - vocals.
In 1990 Don Airey played keyboards on Judas Priest's Painkiller Album. Originally Airey played on all Painkiller tracks but they were cut out to make the album more brutal-like.
He also worked with Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson on one of Dickinson's solo albums, playing keyboards on "Darkness Be My Friend". Airey also played keyboards on At Vance's mastermind Olaf Lenk's first solo album Sunset Cruise. In 2006 Airey featured on Gary Moore's release Old New Ballads Blues contributing to all tracks.
In 2008 Airey released his second solo album, A Light In The Sky and recently it has been announced that another solo album from Airey is set to premiere in 2011.
Airey went in semi-retirement until 2001, when he joined Deep Purple to fill in for an injured Jon Lord, who subsequently retired from the band. Airey joined the band as a full-time keyboardist in March 2002. He has recorded three studio albums with the band, Bananas, Rapture of the Deep and Now What?!.
Airey lives with his wife, Doris, and their three children in South West Cambridgeshire. In 1992, Airey's son suffered from a serious illness, causing him to slow down his musical activity until 1995.
He also has another brother, Paul Airey, who played piano for SlowBone and Rollups. He works with Robbie Gladwell at the moment.
He is currently writing a book about his experiences in the music business.
with Cozy Powell
with Colosseum II
with Michael Schenker
with Ozzy Osbourne
with Gary Moore
with Deep Purple
with Living Loud
Guest appearances and sessions
- Don Airey interview – BBC Wear
- Don Airey's profile – Official Deep Purple website
- see article on Peacedogman.com written by Mark Marchman (2006)
- Michael Flexig (Zeno)