Skip to main content

If you don't Like the Music, Turn Down the Lights

There is a reason that there is no saxophone solo in Deep Purple's song Child in Time. My guitar teacher at The Musician's Institute told me why.

The men from Purple invited then up-and-coming sax player David Sanborn to play on the track. Sanborn obliged and turned up ready for work at the studio. The band sat in the control room and Sanborn stood with his sax the other side of the glass in the sound room. Apparently Sanborn had not heard the track before so listened to it a couple of times before doing a take.

On his fist try he got a couple of bars in before he asked the producer to stop the track. “I'm having a little trouble with the mood,” he told the band. “If you turn the lights down a little, maybe it will help.” Thinking that perhaps some mood lighting would help the musician with the mellowness of the song, the producer complied. With the dimmer lighting he tried again. Again, a few bars in the young saxophonist stopped. “Yeah, still not quite right. Could you lower the lights a bit more?” The producer obliged and sat down for a third take. In an almost totally dark studio, Sanborn began to play. He made it through a few bars before ceasing. The band, quite miffed by this time, began to wonder if they had picked a lemon. Is all this light dimming really necessary? Why can't he play this song? It's not that hard.

“I tell you what,” Dave pipped up, “why don't we just turn off the lights, perhaps then I will catch the mood of the piece.” Thinking that perhaps the young Sanborn was intimidated by a band of long haired English rockers staring at him while he played, they turn the lights off. In pitch darkness Child in Time began to play. Staring into the darkness, Purple became expectant. Perhaps now Dave would stun them with his virtuosity. It would be remembered as a defining moment of the recording, reminisced about on many a long road trip in the bus. “Hey,” one would spark up, “you remember when Dave recorded that solo in the dark?”

“Yeah,” another would reply, “amazing solo, man, just perfect”

However, the point for the sax solo arrived and departed. And no sax. Perhaps just a dramatic pause. But bars went by and still no squeak. Eventually the producer stopped the song. “Everything okay Dave?” he asked.


They turned up the lights. As the studio illuminated they could see an abandoned mike stand with no one in the sound room. Dave had gone.

It turns out, Dave hated the song. He had no idea how to tell the boys, something I cannot blame him for, and worked out a way to beat a hasty retreat. This is why there is no saxophone solo on Child in Time.