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Deep Purple sings for Kalpana Chawla

 
Varun Khanna
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When the legendary rock group Deep Purple sang about the "fire in the sky" in their signature song Smoke On The Water , little did they imagine that some day the expression might well be applied to the Columbia space shuttle disaster.
Nor did they reckon that one of the astronauts on board Columbia, India-born Kalpana Chawla , might turn out to be a fan, and later, a friend.

Chawla carried three Deep Purple CDs into space, and woke up every morning to the piercing sounds of Space Truckin' from the album Machine head . During her 16-day space odyssey, she exchanged e-mail with the band members.

The CD copies of Machine head , Purpendicular and Down to Earth were found among the Columbia debris. NASA used them as part of special commemorative plaques honoring the seven astronauts.
The rock group has now commemorated Chawla's death with a tribute in the form of a song called Contact Lost , the final track in their new album Bananas . The track, an instrumental number, was composed by DP's lead guitarist Steve Morse.

The band members were horrified and deeply saddened by Columbia's fate, and Morse immediately channeled his emotions into composing Contact Lost within one hour of the accident, the group said in a statement accompanying the release of Bananas.

Morse is donating his Contact Lost songwriting royalties to the families of the astronauts.

The band has just concluded a concert in Mexico City where members of the group were presented with special plaques by Chawla's husband.

The band will begin a tour of US in February with the launch of Bananas , and they are expected to visit Asia, including possibly India, later in the year.
 
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