"Highway Star" is one of British rock group Deep Purple's most famous songs. The song is the opening track on the 1972 album Machine Head and is the fastest song (tempo-wise) on the album. It is characterised by a long classically-inspired guitar solo and organ solo. Organist Jon Lord claimed that the organ and guitar solos were based on Bach-like chord sequences.
This song was born on a tour bus going to Portsmouth in 1971 when a reporter asked the band how they wrote songs. To demonstrate, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore grabbed an acoustic guitarand began playing a riff consisting of a single "G" repeated over and over, while vocalist Ian Gillan improvised lyrics over the top. The song was refined and was performed that same night.The song first appears on the 1972 LP Machine Head. The track remains one of the band's staples in live concerts, and was the set opener even before it was released on any album.
The very first live version released, recorded live for German TV program Beat-Club in September 1971 is featured on the History, Hits & Highlights '68–'76 DVD. The most famous live version is featured on the 1972 live album Made in Japan. It's also the opening track on the live albums "Nobody's Perfect" (1988) and "Come Hell or High Water (1994).
The structure of the song consists of a 35 second bass/guitar introduction, before the band launches into the thumping opening riff, which soon leads into the first vocals section (0:55). The first two verses are sung, then Jon Lord begins his organ solo (2:14). The organ solo lasts for about a minute, then Ian Gillan sings the third verse of the song (3:24). At the conclusion of the third verse, the guitar solo starts (4:04), and lasts for just under a minute and twenty seconds. Then, the fourth and final verse, which in the original recording is simply a repetition of the first verse down a fifth, is sung, finishing around 6:10. Depending on the version, there may be a 15 second-long exit section before the end of the song. When the song is played live, Gillan has been known to improvise its lyrics, as seen in the official video for the song.
- In 2005, it placed 5th in Top Gear's Greatest Driving Song of all Time.
- It is featured in 2007 music video game Rock Band.
- It is featured in 2008 music video game Rock Revolution.
- It is featured in 2006 Nintendo DS music video game Elite Beat Agents.
- Its electro mix is featured in 1993 battle-racing video game Rock n' Roll Racing.
- Cover version is featured in music video game Guitar Freaks.
- It is featured in the video game The Lost and Damned on the in–game radio station Liberty Rock Radio.
- It is featured in the video game The Ballad of Gay Tony on the in–game radio station Liberty Rock Radio.
- It is featured in the soundtrack of the 1993 movie Dazed and Confused.
- It is featured in the soundtrack of the 1994 movie The Stöned Age.
- It is featured in That '70s Show.
- Was Used in the CSI:NY-CSI:Miami Crossover Episode
- The song is used in the episode 2-D Blacktop of the seventh season of Futurama.
- Is referenced in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable via the stand Highway Star