“Deep Purple” was the biggest hit written by pianist Peter DeRose, who broadcast, 1923 to 1939, with May Singhi as “The Sweethearts of the Air” on the NBC radio network. “Deep Purple” was published in 1933 as a piano composition. The following year, Paul Whiteman had it scored for his suave “big band” orchestra that was “making a lady out of jazz” in Whiteman’s phrase. “Deep Purple” became so popular in sheet music sales that Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1938:
When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls
And the stars begin to twinkle in the sky—
In the mist of a memory you wander back to me
Breathing my name with a sigh.
In the still of the night
once again I hold you tight.
Tho’ you’re gone your love lives on when moonlight beams.
And as long as my heart will beat,
lover, we’ll always meet
here in my deep purple dreams….
Larry Clinton and His Orchestra recorded one of the most popular versions of the song on 23 December 1938. Featuring vocalist Bea Wain, the Clinton version was a huge hit. Released in January 1939 on Victor Records, the Clinton recording was number one on the U.S. popular music charts for nine consecutive weeks in 1939. The next most popular version was made by Artie Shaw with vocalist Helen Forrest. The song was also a top ten hit for Guy Lombardo in 1939. The song is a sentimental ballad. The tune was a favorite of Babe Ruth, and Peter DeRose performed the song at Ruth’s birthday parties for about a decade.
It was Adelaide Hall who introduced the song to Britain and recorded it for Decca. Her version was released on 15 May 1939. The song remained a traditional pop favourite, recast in 1957 as a doo wop classic by The Dominoes with vocals by Eugene Mumford. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (best remembered for his song “I Put A Spell On You”) also released his version of “Deep Purple” on his 1958 album, At Home with Screamin’ Jay.
Harry James recorded a version in 1951 on the album Your Dance Date With Harry James And His Orchestra (Columbia CL 6138). The saxophone player Earl Bostic had an instrumental hit with “Deep Purple” c. 1951, along with his biggest hit “Flamingo” (both on his 1963 LP The Best Of Earl Bostic). Joe Loss and His Orchestra recorded it on October 15, 1956. It was released on the 78 rpm record HMV POP 107. Pop and jazz recording artist Joni James also covered “Deep Purple” for her 1956 album In the Still of the Night. The song was released in 1959 by Ralph Marterie on the Wing album Marvelous Marterie. Avant-garde jazz keyboardist Sun Ra recorded the song in 1953 with Swing violinist Stuff Smith. An instrumental version of “Deep Purple” was recorded by The Shadows for their 1965 album The Sound of The Shadows.