|Birth name||Donald Smith Airey|
|Born||21 June 1948|
|Genres||Rock, hard rock, heavy metal, blues rock, progressive rock, jazz fusion|
Donald Smith Airey (born 21 June 1948) is an English keyboardist who has been the keyboardist in the rock band Deep Purple since 2002, after the retirement of 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, Colosseum II, Ten, Sinner, Michael Schenker, Rainbow, Empire, Brian May, Divlje jagode and Living Loud. He has also worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
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 (where he studied under Ryszard Bakst).
In 1971 he moved to London and joined Cozy Powell's band Hammer. In 1975 he joined Jon Hiseman's highly influential jazz rock band Colosseum II, along with Gary Moore, Neil Murray, Mike Starrs and later John Mole. They made three albums and also formed the core band for Andrew Lloyd Webber's album Variations, based on variations on a theme by Paganini. 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.
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 also played on the Diary of a Madman Tour from 1981 to 1982 and appears on Blizzard of Ozz and was also the only witness to Randy Rhoads's death. 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. Soon after he quit the band to record the solo album K2 – Tales of Triumph and Tragedy. In it he plays with Gary Moore and Keith Airey – guitars, Cozy Powell – drums, Laurence Cottle – bass, Chris (Hamlet) Thompson, Colin Blunstone, Mel Galley, and Genki Hitomi – vocals.
In 1990, Airey recorded keyboard parts for several songs on Judas Priest's album Painkiller. However, because Judas Priest wanted the album to have a heavier sound than their previous work, only one song on Painkiller, "A Touch of Evil", prominently features Airey. In a 2020 interview, Airey revealed that he also played most of the album's bass parts on a Minimoog, as Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill was unable to participate in recording sessions due to illness.
Airey played keyboards on the song "Darkness Be My Friend" by Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, released on the 2002 reissue of Dickinson's debut solo album Tattooed Millionaire. 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.
In early 2014 Airey joined hard rock band Hollywood Monsters where he played keyboards (Hammond B3 organ) on the track "Move On" on the album "Big Trouble" which was released in 2014 on Mausoleum Records. The album features Steph Honde on vocals and guitars, Vinny Appice on drums, Tim Bogert on bass and Paul Di'Anno on lead vocals on the bonus track.
On 18 January 2017, Airey was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History.
Airey joined Deep Purple in 2001 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 six studio albums with the band, Bananas, Rapture of the Deep, Now What?!, Infinite, Whoosh! and Turning to Crime.
Interviewed by Jeb Wright, for Classic Rock Revisited, about the album Now What?!, he said "Well, it's Deep Purple and there is a Hammond there. There is only one way to go, really. Over the years, I have really worked on my sound, it didn't just happen overnight. The first two, or three, years I was with the band, I was using Jon's C3 and it was pretty knackered. I had it refurbished. It's been put in mothballs now... I much prefer Hammond A-100's, that's my choice."
Instruments and gear
Airey has employed many instruments and effect processors to aid him in the creation of his music and is well known for the use of his Hammond A100. In an interview with Keyboard Magazine Don Airey explained that he preferred the Hammond A-100 over other organs (including the Hammond B-3) for their "purer tone" in live settings. He also uses Leslie 122 speakers and a Hughes and Kettner Puretone amplifier. For piano sounds, Airey uses a Kurzweil PC3K8 and also uses a MOOG Voyager. He also uses several rack and pedal based units such as a Roland Fantom.
Airey is also an endorsing artist for several effects companies including Neunaber Audio and TC Electronic and currently uses a Neunaber Seraphim Shimmer as well as a TC Hall of Fame Reverb and a TC Flashback Delay.
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. Airey is an ardent Sunderland A.F.C. fan.
He has a brother, Keith Airey, who played guitar for Nik Kershaw during the mid 1980s and the reformed version of The Zombies from 2001 to 2010 and is currently lead guitarist for the London stage show Mamma Mia!.
His other brother, Paul Airey, played piano for SlowBone and Rollups and currently works with Robbie Gladwell.
|2005||E-Thnik (with Mario Fasciano, Steve Morse & Ian Paice)||Studio|
|2008||A Light in the Sky||Studio|
|2018||One of a Kind||Studio|
|2019||Contractual Obligation #1: Live in Moscow (with Ian Gillan and Orchestra)||Live, BD/2CD|
|2019||Contractual Obligation #2: Live in Warsaw (with Ian Gillan and Orchestra)||Live, 2Cd|
|2019||Contractual Obligation #3: Live in St. Petersburg (with Ian Gillan and Orchestra)||Live, 3LP|
|2021||Live in Hamburg||Live, Recorded 2017|
As band member
|1974||Cozy Powell's Hammer||"Na Na Na" (Single)|
|1976||Colosseum II||Strange New Flesh|
|1979||Rainbow||Down to Earth|
|1980||Monsters of Rock|
|2015||Denver 1979 (LP)|
|2015||Long Island 1979 (LP)|
|2015||Down to Earth Tour 1979 (box set)|
|2016||Monsters of Rock - Live at Donnington 1980|
|1981||Difficult to Cure|
|1997||Quatermass II||Quatermass II: Long Road|
|1998||The Snakes/The Company of Snakes||Live in Europe|
|2001||Here They Go Again|
|2002||Burst the Bubble|
|2003||Living Loud||Living Loud|
|2005||Live in Sydney 2004 (2CD/DVD)|
|2005||Rapture of the Deep|
|2007||They All Came Down to Montreux (CD) / Live at Montreux 2006 (DVD)|
|2007||Over Zurich (DVD)|
|2008||Live at the NEC UK 2002 (DVD)|
|2011||Live at Montreux 2011 (CD / DVD)|
|2013||The Now What?! Live Tapes|
|2014||Deep Purple, Bruce Dickinson, Glenn Hughes, Paul Weller, Rick Wakeman & Many Others||Celebrating Jon Lord at the Royal Albert Hall (CD / DVD)|
|2014||Deep Purple||Live in Verona (CD / DVD)|
|2015||From the Setting Sun... (In Wacken) (CD / DVD)|
|2015||...To the Rising Sun (In Tokyo) (CD / DVD)|
|2017||The Infinite Live Recordings, Vol. 1|
|2019||Live in Rome 2013|
|2021||Live in London 2002|
|2021||Turning to Crime|
As session member
- 1976 – Babe Ruth – Kid's Stuff
- 1978 – Jim Rafferty – Don't Talk Back
- 1979 – Bernie Marsden – And About Time Too
- 1985 – Alaska – The Pack
- 1985 – Phenomena – Phenomena
- 1985 – Gary Moore & Phil Lynott – "Out in the Fields"
- 1986 – Zeno – Zeno
- 1987 – Wild Strawberries – Wild Strawberries
- 1987 – Helix – Wild in the Streets
- 1988 – Fastway – Bad Bad Girls
- 1988 – Jethro Tull – 20 Years of Jethro Tull
- 1989 – Crossbones – Crossbones
- 1990 – Perfect Crime – Blond on Blonde
- 1990 – Jagged Edge – You Don't Love Me
- 1990 – Bruce Dickinson – Tattooed Millionaire
- 1990 – Forcefield – IV – Let the Wild Run Free
- 1990 – Tigertailz – Bezerk
- 1992 – Anthem – Domestic Booty
- 1992 – Kaizoku – Kaizoku
- 1993 – Brian May – Back to the Light
- 1994 – Graham Bonnet – Here Comes the Night
- 1994 – The Kick – Tough Trip Thru Paradise
- 1994 – Katrina and the Waves – Turnaround
- 1998 – Colin Blunstone – The Light
- 1998 – The Cage – The Cage
- 1998 – Olaf Lenk – Sunset Cruise
- 1998 – Eddie Hardin – Wind in the Willows (live)
- 1999 – Millennium – Millennium
- 2000 – Micky Moody – I Eat Them for Breakfast
- 2000 – Silver – Silver
- 2000 – Olaf Lenk's F.O.O.D. – Fun Stuff
- 2001 – Silver – Dream Machines
- 2001 – Rolf Munkes' Empire – Hypnotica
- 2002 – Metalium – Hero Nation – Chapter Three
- 2002 – Bernie Marsden – Big Boy Blue
- 2002 – Rolf Munkes' Empire – Trading Souls
- 2003 – Silver – Intruder
- 2005 – Kimberley Rew – Essex Hideaway
- 2006 – Gwyn Ashton – Prohibition
- 2009 – Carl Sentance – Mind Doctor
- 2011 – Wishbone Ash – Elegant Stealth
- 2012 – Persian Risk – Once a King
- 2012 – Various artists – Help! For Japan
- 2013 – Schubert – In Rock
- 2014 - Hollywood Monsters - Big Trouble
- 2014 - AraPacis - A Disturbing Awakening
- 2021 - Metalium - Never Surrender
- "Wear - The Don Airey interview". BBC. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- "Deep Purple's new album is "all recorded" — Don Airey". TASS.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who's Who of Heavy Metal (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 14. ISBN 0-85112-656-1.
- "Deep Purple Keyboardist Don Airey: I Played Bass on Judas Priest's 'Painkiller'". Loudwire. 6 November 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
- "Hollywood Monsters Signs With Mausoleum". Rock N Growl Records. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- Legaspi, Althea (22 December 2016). "Scorpions Among Nominees for Hall of Heavy Metal History". Rolling Stone.
- "CRR Interview - Don Airey: It's Deep Purple & There's a Hammond". Classicrockrevisited.com. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- "Don Airey, Master of Heavy Metal Keyboards". Keyboardmag.com. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- "Don Airey | TC Electronic". Tcelectronic.com. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- "Don Airey". Neunaber.net. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
- "Don Airey". Deep Purple. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- "BBC - Wear - The Don Airey interview". www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Peace Dogman -". Peacedogman.com. Archived from the original on 23 April 2018.
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