Transcript: Transcript Ian Gillan: Deep Purple’s Powerful Vocal Alchemist

Hello and thanks so much for joining me. Today’s guest is someone I’ve been trying to interview for the better part of four years. Try as I may, he’s always been elusive, until now.


I’m sure if you grew up in the same era as me, then you’ve been as big a fan of his as I have, and it won’t come as any surprise to you to tell you he’s widely recognised as one of the most significant and influential musicians of all time. Any idea who I’m talking about? Well, how about I give you a hint? You got it! The band is the legendary rock outfit Deep Purple, and Ian Gillan is the amazing rock vocalist credited with introducing the voice belting technique into the genre. In his prime, Ian possessed an incredibly wide vocal range, rumoured to be four and a half to five octaves.


Today it appears not much has changed. You want to meet him? Let’s do it. Hello.


Ian Gillan, welcome to A Breath of Fresh Air. One of your earliest influences, I believe, was Elvis, is that right? Well, in the rock and roll sense, I mean, I grew up, my granddad was an opera singer and my uncle was a jazz pianist, and I was a boy soprano in the church choir, and then I heard Heartbreak Hotel, so that’s when I started my career. My life was just full of music, and so you don’t analyse it when you’re a kid, you just love it and try and absorb as much as you can.


And it was fun, it was just like going out to play, you know, it was just incredible. All of the established things that children are supposed to do, and young people are supposed to do, just became unimportant, and I discovered the magic of music. You came from Glasgow, and you left school when you were just in your early teens.


Was that a problem for your family, or they endorsed that? No, no. No, my dad was from Glasgow, I was born in London. But no, I mean, they were nervous, they wanted me to have an academic career, and well, my mum did, obviously.


And dad was more phlegmatic about it, but no, it wasn’t a problem, really. Everyone thought it was risky, because they saw it as a career thing. I didn’t see it that way, I just, I guess you’d call it a vocation.


It was just something I wanted to do. And I had no idea about the commercial implications, whether I could make a living at it or not. I didn’t even think about that, I just was having such a good time.


And secondly, when I turned professional in 65, and we headed off to Germany, and we’d spend two weeks here and two weeks there in clubs doing five shows a night and eight shows on weekends. It was just so brilliant. Of course, it was the right time and the right place, wasn’t it? Absolutely, absolutely.


As always, driven by technology. In those days, it wasn’t digital or anything like that. In those days, it was transistor radio, and Jim Marshall and valves and stuff like that.


But it was still made things possible. Transistor radio, probably the most important technological development in music in the history of music, because it took the music outside of the family home, it became portable. And we were always with the music 24 seven, we didn’t go anywhere without our radios, did we? Absolutely.


Took it to bed with us. Yeah, totally. Under the pillow, when you were supposed to be fast asleep, you were tuned into all the stations you could possibly get.


That’s right. So the first band that you actually started was called Garth Rocket and the Moonshiners. I won’t even ask you where you got that name from.


You’re all right, I’m asking. The Moonshiners came from a song by Robert Mitchum, believe it or not, the actor. It was just one of the first songs we started to play, just a simple pop song.


But it kind of stuck. And everyone was being called Garth or Jess or something exotic in those days. So you had to have a stage name.


So, you know, we were wide eyed and gullible. It was great fun. And what was your stage name? Okay, I’m afraid.


Two Ts in Rocket, don’t forget to distinguish me from all the other Rockets. Ah, okay. At the time, you were not only singing, though, you were playing the drums.


Was that your instrument of choice? We just didn’t have a drummer. My dad bought us a bit of a drum kit, not an entire drum kit. I’ll give you an example.


For example, the hi-hat only had one cymbal. So it looked great going up and down, but it was completely silent. So, yeah, it’s just early days.


That was only the first few shows I played drums and I sang as well. But I’ll give you a level of, you know, how insignificant it was because it was in a youth club and the amplifier, the only amplification was my dad’s grundig tape recorder, which we used as a PA and a pretty pathetic ensemble of ensemble of half broken guitars and all that sort of thing. But boy, did we have enthusiasm.


And you were really popular at the time, too, not only just for the music. Of course, the girls were going crazy because boys who were in bands were all the rage, weren’t they? Well, I did happen to notice that, yes. That’s a wee bonus.


For sure. And the reason a lot of guys got into bands in the first place. Well, I suppose it might have been, yes.


But I swear to you, my ambitions were more altruistic. Right. That band was covering songs like Tommy Rose Sheila and The Shadows stuff.


After that, you switched to another local band called Ronnie and the High Tones. They became the Javelins. Again, you’re playing lots of different covers.


You’re highly influenced, it appears, by all the rock and roll that you were getting in London, all the American stuff, the Jerry Lee Lewises and the Little Richards. To hear all of that for the first time must have been completely overwhelming. It was.


It was so exciting and so rare. There wasn’t a massive music around. You had to save up your money and get it.


So we shared a lot. In those days, new releases, you’d go to the record shop and they’d have listening booths. So you’d go in and listen to it before you decided if you’re going to buy it or not.


And so we’d all crowd into the listening booth because they’d only let us play it once for us. We’d study it. We’d learn the chords.


We bought a book, Playing a Day by Burt Weedon, and you gradually learned your three basic chords and then a fourth and a fifth and things picked up and gradually you got more confidence. And then you learn to play together in time, in tune and all those other things that are quite important in music. But to start with, it was just a bash.


I mean, going back to the Moonshiners, I mean, my first drum kit was a biscuit tin with knitting needles. Are you kidding? Really? I’m serious. Yeah, absolutely.


Yeah. And it was exciting. It was exciting in a backroom, backroom garage band, you know, that sort of thing.


In those days, you just had to picture the scene. We didn’t have loads of equipment. Life was a lot more simple then, wasn’t it? And they held a lot more excitement.


Yes, it was uncomplicated. Well, like many things in life, I was at a loose end, and these guys came along and said, you want to sing with us? I went, yeah, okay. And it was as simple as that.


And that was fun, because they had brass sections, so they were pretty funky and pretty soulful. And it was a good experience for me, because I learned a lot of little ways of bringing percussion into the vocal performance. Elvis is a lot different to James Brown in the sense of delivery and timing.


Both geniuses in my book. It was a good little phase to go through. You pick up stuff, and you learn it, and you stick it away in your bag, you know.


It sounds like you were learning a whole lot during those years. Well, yeah, you know, as much as a young man can learn, if you catch my… I got it, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, young men often think that they know everything anyway at that stage of their lives, don’t they? Well, absolutely.


I was immortal at that time. Of course. I’m not anymore.


Yeah, I suppose he’s plodding uphill all life, and then you reach the top, and you’re sitting down looking at it, and you’re going, oh, what a bummer. I’m not sure you’re in that bloody mess category. I think you’re doing rather well with yourself.


Yeah, well, things go up and down, you know. After that, I believe that you called the band Episode Six your first professional band. Am I right in saying that? Yeah, I joined the band.


It existed already and under a different name, and that’s where I met Roger Glover, and that’s when we started doing surf music. And I love that because I remember my passion for harmony. Since I was in the church choir, I just loved the harmony of human voices.


And that was great because they had some great singers in the band, and they weren’t so hot instrumentally, and so it was a change. But we went through various transitions, and that was the beginning of the Flower Power style of music and style of life and style of clothes and that sort of thing. We were still young and impressionable.


And then Carnaby Street became the hub of the universe, and we all went through a little metamorphosis. We sort of left Chuck Berry behind, but he was buried in our soul. So then the Kinks and the Beatles and Stones and everything changed.


That was the next phase. That was when all the kids who went to learn their trade in the clubs in Germany suddenly became serious players. You said that you’d turned to surf music.


Why surf music? There wasn’t too much surf around London. Turned to surfing? Well, you’re joking. You ever been to Earl’s Cork? The Overseas Visitors Club in Earl’s Cork was a hub for Australians and New Zealanders and South Africans, and that was their meeting point.


Earl’s Cork was known as Kangaroo Valley, so we had a lot of fun there. And the Beach Boys were huge in the UK. We followed them right the way through from Surfing USA right through to Pet Sounds, genius bands in my book.


Surfing USA You’ll catch him surfing at Delos Inside, outside USA Ventura County Line Inside, outside USA Santa Cruz and Trent Inside, outside USA Australia, Philippines Inside, outside USA Oh, Orlando Inside, outside USA And down Bohemian Way Inside, outside Everybody’s got surfing Surfing USA It was at that time that you started writing with Roger Glover? Yes, 65. I had no idea I could even sharpen a pencil, let alone write songs. So we had sessions and we would work on the craft.


We’d work on stupid things like, you know, the percussive value of consonants and avoid on high notes, because oohs don’t go very well with E’s and R’s and I’s. You can work them pretty well on a high note. And I think, you know, subject matter and inspirational links and the development of a story and a lyric or narrative, a road song or all the different kinds of things.


We often have a laugh about it because Roger used to come to my place and I used to… Incidentally, we only had one pair of clothes between us for going out. Well, we had stage clothes, which, you know, they weren’t as good as they looked. You wouldn’t want to look too closely at them, but under the spotlight, they’re okay.


But for social life, I had the trousers, he had the shirt or the other way around. And that was it. We couldn’t go out together because I was wearing the trousers that night.


So Roger had to stay in. Simply because he couldn’t afford it? Yeah. It wasn’t a worry.


We didn’t have a belt, so we had a piece of string to hold the trousers up. It was that kind of thing. And I used to pinch food to survive.


There was a pet shop in Lambton Road and I used to take a handful of dog biscuits every time I walked past. And that was my main meal on most days. But you don’t think about that.


It was just so much fun. Tough times indeed, having to steal dog biscuits to survive. Thank goodness he overcame that stage.


So what came next? You’ll have to hang in to find out.


This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. Those tough times that Ian Gillan experienced really solidified his relationship with Roger Glover, despite the fact that the two had come from entirely different backgrounds.


I was pretty uncouth and he was very creative. He was an artist. He’d been to a highly respected art college.


And everything that came out of him was artistic and everything that came out of me was just sort of like a yobbo, you know. And so I was very impressed with young Roger. He inspired me to change my ways.


And that’s when I started an awful lot of things, like just getting a control of my habits and myself generally. So I learned the craft of song writing and I haven’t stopped learning, really. What did he learn from you? Probably nothing, I shouldn’t think.


Oh, Ian, I’m sure that’s not the truth at all. Well, I don’t know whether it was my sartorial elegance or whatever it was. Whatever, I don’t know.


To be quite honest, I’ve said this a few times, I can’t stand Roger Glover, to be honest. He’s just too infuriatingly nice. And that’s not your personality at all.


I do my best. Where did Deep Purple come from? How did that evolve? That was before I joined. They had, believe it or not, three albums in 68 and early 69.


And a few hit records in America. Harsh Kentucky Woman, River Deep, Mountain High. Kentucky woman She gets to know you She gets to hold you Kentucky woman She has a kind turn to put you right back in The only thing she doesn’t turn is for justice And I love her God knows I love her Kentucky woman She gets to know you She gets to hold you Kentucky woman They weren’t writing themselves, but they wanted a harder sound and a bit more energy in the band.


And they came along to see me and they needed a bass player in the session for the first recording we did. And Roger came along, played as he does, just great. So they offered him the job as well.


So we joined together, not just as a singer and bass player, but as a songwriting team. And that’s what happened with the radical change in Deep Purple’s new energy style with Deep Purple and Rock. So the Rock got gutsier and harder and more electric? Yeah, I think this is what Richie and Ian wanted anyway.


They just wanted more energy. I was a huge fan of Purple before I joined. I had all the records.


And there’s something enchanting about it. It wasn’t power at that time. It was more melodic.


And I mean, if you listen to any of the first three albums and you can hear the elements of the different influences the guys coming through. I mean, John Lord’s orchestral composition, I mean, that he studied at Royal College of Music. And, you know, he’s a giant talent.


And Ian Paice’s background in big band swing. So it gave a different feel and a different element to the Rock that was emerging. And we all had different input from our backgrounds.


But human chemistry being what it is, it produced this rather nice blend. It worked very well. Everyone had the energy, but the influences were slightly different.


We all got off on it. It was just a wow. I looked at Rog on the first gig and I said, man, this is what we’ve been looking for.


Y’all see the line The line that’s drawn between Good and bad See the blind man Shooting at the world Bullets flying Taking toll If you’ve been bad Lord, I bet you have And you’ve not been hit By a flying lad You’d better close your eyes Oh, Lord Bow your head Wait for the ricochet Oooh, oooh Ooooh, oooh Oooh, oooh You must have been pinching yourself though, saying if you’d been a fan of Deep Purple’s and then you get to join the band. Yeah, that’s how every other change of band has happened for me. But we’re all in the same area.


I mean, Richie just lived around the corner from me and the other guys lived in West London, which is not far away from where I live. Roger lived pretty close too. So it was that West London scene at the time.


But yeah, it was amazing. And it came exactly the right, it was serendipity, it came at exactly the right time. When episode six ran out of steam, I think, we’d had 13 singles, lots of radio play.


But after the wind changed, it taught me a big lesson, never to follow fashion ever, ever again. That was the golden rule within Purple and I think probably it’s worked well for us over the years. So what did that mean to the band, that you kind of had to keep your blinkers on and do your own thing regardless of what was happening around you? I think to a certain extent, yes.


It’s a subtle thing sometimes, the external pressures that come when you get success. All of a sudden from making your own way, making your own decisions and developing into a sound and musical ideas that appeal to everyone, then all of a sudden pursuits arrive and they try and change it. They try and artificially commercialize it and pick out the hooky bits and the marketable bits and everything else.


And this has happened a lot. And don’t forget, this is also during the time when it was all young men and they’re growing up and romance is in the air, to put it as politely as possible. Yeah.


And so other distractions come into place. And I think the idea came very early. We weren’t going to listen to the record company.


We weren’t going to listen to the providers. We weren’t going to take any notice of the fans at all. Any of them.


When we sat down to write, when we sat down to rehearse and prepare material for new stage songs or new albums, because we saw what happened. It sort of changed you in a way that you want to polish off the rough edges. And there’s a lot of thought went into this.


So when we finished the project, that’s when we get down on our knees and put our hands together and pray that the fans and the business like what we’ve done. God, it’s just a name that makes my life. It’s just a record that I got to put on.


To prove I’m sorry. I don’t care if it’s not the best. You say it’s all so weird.


But you don’t think that it’s weird. Try to make me cry. Make me cry.


Make me cry. So I’m speaking. You gotta hear me say it.


I’m speaking. I’m speaking. Make me cry.


It’s just a nightmare. Just got paid. Don’t care about what y’all say.


People gonna rock. People gonna roll. Girl, this ain’t my song.


I hear the moment and it sounds pretty clear. Ain’t no losing trouble since it all began. Take a little risk.


Take a little risk. Take a little risk. Take a little risk.


So I’m speaking. You gotta hear me say it. I’m speaking.


Make me cry. These guys are pretty cool. We have our own dress sense.


And it was a good rule to have. And I think even though we’ve probably lost direction once or twice mildly with ourselves, we’ve been able to think with fashion, that’s okay. Because at the end of the day, you still have your identity and your root influences are still there.


And that gives you all the tools you need to do something different on the next album. Because of all those different influences, you can bend in the wind and ride out the storm, you know. Sorry about the cliches.


I’m loving it. And you obviously were making a bit of money already in those days. Once the record started selling and the gig started getting larger, and we got a roadie.


I’d never known a roadie before. But someone had set the drums up, by God. You did the big time.


Were you surprised? We did the big time. Yeah, we had money and we had a lot of attention. A lot of people saying, Yes, you’re great.


You’re a genius. And you go ahead and do that stupid thing. Could you keep your feet on the ground when you were being told how great you were? No, that’s a good question.


You can’t help but be carried away at that age. You know, you’re immortal. And also, people are throwing money at you.


And there’s a crowd of sycophants that are just worshipping at your feet. You’ve got to stay on that level. It’s very, very difficult when you’re, you know, just turned 20 or something.


And I’ve often thought that, you know, the modern footballers are in a similar position. Young men with a ridiculous amount of money and worship and fame. It’s only their own moral code that gets them through.


And you see them dropping down on the wayside every day. I see her. I see her.


You’re in this growing up process, so families come along and partners and things like that that become a serious distraction on your emotions because the domestic life is part of your professional life, which can be tricky, to put it mildly. So was it very difficult for you to balance it all? Yes, it was. And we didn’t.


And not many people did. I mean, the Beatles were the greatest example. I suppose you’ve seen Spinal Tap.


It was a bit like that. Not just for us, but for everyone at that age. And if you survive that, then you move into your late 30s and your early 40s and suddenly you’re in a different age group and there’s kids coming along and you’re thanking God that you stuck to your guns about keeping focused on what you did best rather than following fashion.


And did you have proper guidance from a manager or were you pretty much left on your own to fend for yourself? The management was useless at the time and they weren’t experienced in handling that sort of thing. They were interested in the dosh and that was it. You know, I got married and I was born.


She passed away in November before last. She was a guiding light, you know. Absolutely.


Ian, why did you end up leaving Deep Purple? The band was probably the biggest at the time in the world. What made you jump off? Other elements were creeping in and human chemistry is very fragile. It’s complex and this growing up business, it doesn’t sit well at all with the rock and roll ethos.


It’s somehow self-contradictory. So, yes, it was a confusing time. You’re trying to act like a 24-year-old when you’re 34 and all of a sudden… You know, when I was at school, I used to pole vault.


That was my sport. Well, all of a sudden you can’t do that anymore and then you’re not as good at football as you thought you were. And then in 73, I left for, I think, probably a combination of reasons.


One, the social atmosphere in the band became conflicted and there was a diversity of interests that broke the cohesion. You know, the spiritual bond that we had, I think. I wasn’t as much to blame for that as anything else.


But on the other hand, there was a musical direction change and all of a sudden it started getting safer. Well, for me, Deep Purple & Rock, Fireball, Machine Head and Made in Japan defined that little section of our career. I think then things started moving towards what ended up being Rainbow and Richie liked things to be just tickety-boo in that direction and very commercial.


You know, the guy’s a genius and that was his way. For me, I’d like things to be a bit more edgy and a bit more challenging and I didn’t want to go back to doing the kind of pop rock stuff. I don’t mind if things are commercial, don’t get me wrong, I love it.


But I don’t think we’re designed to create commercial music. We’re designed to produce what comes naturally, organically. And then it seems to work.


Not for everyone, but for Deep Purple. I think that’s how it needs to go. I wouldn’t find the words to express it that way back in 73.


I was just frustrated and confused. We all came out to Monster On the way to meet you, sir To make some records with a mobile We didn’t have much time To bring Sapphire down to Mother Or have the best drinks around The band never even thought that Smoke On The Water would be a hit and they rarely played it live. When they did though, they got a huge reaction.


The song peaked at number four in the US a year after it was recorded just as Ian Gillen and Roger Glover were leaving the band.


This is a breath of fresh air with Sandy Kaye. It’s a beautiful day. So with growing dissatisfaction, Ian Gillen took the plunge, deciding to go it alone.


It was a massive decision, but you know what, I gave him six months notice so we could fulfil all the contracts that we had. And I didn’t even get a phone call or a reply from the office. They said, oh, he’s leaving.


So I knew that there was no emotional bond anymore. That helped me actually a lot to just think, okay, well, I’ll put that behind me and now I’ll go and race motorbikes. And that’s what you went and did.


You took a break from music. I did, yes. I bought a recording studio and it was great, great fun for a few years.


I renovated an old building and turned it into a hotel and that was my pride and joy at the time. And I had a motorcycle company and we used to go racing on weekends and I was having a ball. And then I hadn’t even thought about it.


And I got a call from Roger Glover who was putting on the butterfly ball at the Royal Albert Hall. And Ronnie James Theo at the last minute said he couldn’t come. So Roger said, could you help me out? This is the day before.


Sure. So I didn’t know the music. I had a quick listen and the words were on a rostrum on the stage when I walked out.


Vincent Price, the actor, was doing the narration. So I walked out, I was wearing a suit and I had short hair and I walked to the rostrum. And they didn’t know I wasn’t in the program.


It was Ronnie. Suddenly a bit of applause started and it turned into a standing ovation before I even opened my mouth. It was like a real welcome back.


Wow. I mean, after the concert, Vincent Price said, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It was great.


You’re the boy Playing my guitar I don’t have to be where I don’t want to be at all Maybe I’ll go home The next day I picked up the guitar and started writing again and got that old feeling back and made a few phone calls. And that was it. We had a reunion and it was perfect strangers.


I’d been with Black Sabbath for a year. That was the longest party I ever went to. I bet it was.


Lucky you survived that one. Yes, exactly. I’m still struck by how that turned you around that one time back out on stage.


And it amazes me that you had the confidence not knowing the music. And I’d imagine not doing too much singing for yourself unless you’re singing in the shower every day, that you had the confidence that you’d be able to get back out on stage and just do it. Yeah.


You know, the one thing you never go through is what you’ve just said. That’s not part of the process. Consciously anyway, I suppose it comes underneath.


But I was never short of confidence when it comes to singing because it was just second nature to me. I’d just open my mouth and have a laugh. So it wasn’t a big deal to me.


It was just a favour for a mate. But I was very moved by the reception. It was, wow, this is amazing.


They remember me. So it was about 83 when it was officially announced that you’d replaced Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath. What was that time like for you? Well, it was insane.


I loved it. I had a great time. I think Tony Iommi’s a great guy, still a very, very good friend.


But it was insane. You know, there was dynamite and there was bombs and there was unmentionable things that were happening. It was just incredible.


It was insane. I did one year with them. I did the album, Born Again, and a world tour.


Because I was at a loose end for a year because the Purple thing had been pretty much agreed. But we couldn’t get everyone to fulfil the existing contracts, concerts and bits and pieces. Everyone had obligations.


So we said, well, let’s do it in a year when everyone agreed to be free. Because I’d just finished with my own band, the Gillum Band. And I’m champion of the bit.


So when Tony said, do you fancy coming for a drink? I did. And we met in a pub and we met for lunch. And at seven o’clock they asked us to leave.


So I got home somehow. The next morning I had a call from Phil, my manager. He said, what are you doing? I said, what do you mean? He said, I’ve just read here an announcement by Black Sabbath’s management that Ian Gillum’s joined the band.


I said, really? He said, if you’re going to make career decisions, he said, I really would like it if you talk to me first. I said, is it a bad thing? He said, no, it’s great. He said, but talk to me first because there are other details that need to be sorted out.


I said, I had no idea. He said, what do you mean you had no idea? I said, well, I was pissed. So I got drunk and joined Black Sabbath.


It was pretty much that way for a year. Which was your favourite Deep Purple song? The one that’s closest to your heart. You know, I’ll be honest with you.


The first thing that comes to mind is Razzle Dazzle. Really? Yeah. Why? Well, you asked me what’s my favourite and that’s the first thing that came to mind.


Yeah, no, I did, I did. Okay, so I don’t mean to… If you want me to analyse it… I wasn’t laughing at it. No, no.


No, no, no, no. Ian Pace laughs at it. He goes, what? Yeah.


Well, I’m in good company then. Exactly. There’s something in there that just, I love, whether it’s the words or tune or whatever.


Now, if you ask me tomorrow, I’m going to give you… It’ll be something else. …a different answer altogether. Yeah, I get that.


Unfortunately, I won’t get a chance to talk to you tomorrow, but I would be interested to hear the answer. It’s a matter of distinction A real fine line between An art and art destruction In a wonderful time This room’s so cold and bare I’ve got to find some heat somewhere Get up, get up We’re going out on a razz Razzle Dazzle and we get on Later 80s through the 90s, you’d finish off with Black Sabbath. Who knew you’d end up getting back with Deep Purple again? How did that happen? It was very simple.


The record label said to the management, if you don’t get Ian back in the band, we’re dumping it. That’s what it was. A week or so earlier, I just said, I’d rather slit my throat than ever work with those guys again.


So anyway, Phil, again, the mark of a great manager, twisted my arm on my back and said, basically, you are going to rejoin Deep Purple. So we had a long family meeting with the manager and we put all the emotions to one side and got on with it. You stare into the room Nothing there but space No sign of any message It’s gone without a trace I don’t want your pity If that’s what you need I’ll take my comfort From this hole I’m sinking in Waste my time Drink my wine Take my money It’s all right I’m going But don’t try to be funny Don’t make me cry Don’t make me happy Happy Are you still as passionate about making music and singing today as you were when you set up? Has the passion waned? Not really.


I keep busy. I keep my notebook with me at all times and so I’m writing in my sleep half the time. You’ve got to get it down.


Things that impress me. Images, people, colours, incidents, locations, colour stuff. The impressionist picture that you have to try and do.


I mean, a song lyric is more constricting than a poem. You have less to play with. You’re controlled by the music to a certain extent.


So do the lyrics come first for you or the music? The music. With Deep Purple the music. Deep Purple is primarily an instrumental band.


I’ve always thought of myself as just riding the pony really. These guys develop ideas. I’m sitting there in the rehearsal room.


You see a little gem of an idea and then it gets put to one side and then a few days later it pops up again and you think there’s something there. And within a week or two you’ve got a song. The best songs are written in less than 20 minutes.


That’s for sure in my book. Why is that? Because they’re not contrived. You find a little way of saying something to start with and then the rest of the story and the tune just follows automatically without even thinking.


You’ve obviously improved with age. There’s something good about getting older and getting more experienced, isn’t there? I think so. I was very inspired by the professionalism.


My first professional tour was Dusty Springfield and I watched a lot of artists on the circuit at that time and I watched the way she operated. She was a thorough professional. I was soaking it up, all of this, as a young kid.


So I’ve often thought of the need for logistics. You’ve got to behave yourself to a point. You can go mad at night and do what you want.


The only place you’re off duty when you’re on the road is inside your hotel room. You’re on duty from the moment you step outside the door. So I think of professionalism as quite a thing.


So you’ve got the wild element and you’ve got the controlling element underneath that makes it all work and gives you the freedom within certain boundaries and I think that’s pretty cool. Wow, you’re a very deep thinker Ian Gillan. You referred to yourself earlier as a yobbo.


I’d say you’re anything but. Certainly not the sort of yobbo we grow here. Well, I was at the time.


I was on the streets and not behaving well. You’ve learnt a lot over the years and you’ve still got the energy today to head out on the road because you’re about to hit our shores here in Australia. Yeah, and that tour starts in April.


It doesn’t finish till November. I’m taking two small suitcases to live in for six months. It’s great.


The less clothes I wear, the better. That’s my principle in life and that’s why I moved to Portugal. I lead a very bohemian life, let’s put it that way.


I need a toothbrush and I need some toiletries and I need some medication these days and a spare pair of shoes and something, you know, if I want to go to a restaurant, something nice and smart, but that’s about it. I don’t need much. I used to carry books and books and books and of course I had three suitcases and one of them was almost impossible to lift.


My first item in my suitcase back in the 70s, the first thing I always packed was my Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary, which is a damn huge book. Yeah. Well, you Google everything now, but where do you get your reference in 1972 for stuff you want to do? If you’re a writer, you need a constant reference.


These days you’re travelling much lighter. Yeah. And your voice is just as strong.


You haven’t suffered the curse of many a singer where it’s deteriorated over the years and you’ve had to adjust accordingly? No, I don’t think it’s changed. You know, Highway Star, same key, 71. Into the Fire, same key.


Lazy, same key. Smoke in the Water, same key. Space Trucking, same key.


Posh, same key. I mean, all of those are easy. Nah, nah, nah, nah.


Posh, posh. She broke my heart, but her lover just ain’t now. Posh, posh.


I thought I heard her callin’ my name now. Posh, posh. I need her lovin’ and I’d like to blame now.


I got her early in the mornin’. I need it now. Oh, I gotta get… One or two songs in those days were in ridiculously high keys beyond my natural register.


So we’ve adjusted one song by one tone. I’m not telling you which one it was. I’ll be there.


I’ll find out. All right. All right, I’ll buy you a beer if you notice.


I think my voice has changed. And it’s changed for me in a way that’s helped me through the evolution of life. When I was a kid, I wasn’t happy with the top end of my normal range.


I’m a natural baritone, so I had to work pretty hard at the extremities. You know, as time went on, I suddenly found, yeah, OK, I can’t do that. So you win some, you lose some.


And that’s how I rationalized it. And I think my voice is fine now. I’m very happy with it, considering everything.


It’s not the same as when I was 24. But then again, I can’t pole vault anymore, as I said. There’s a few things I can’t do quite as well as I did.


We’ve all got that in common, that’s for sure. Ian, I’ll let you go. What an absolute delight chatting with you.

It’s great. Thanks a lot. All best.

Talk soon. Cheers, bye. Wow, he covered a lot of ground for us there, didn’t he? Ian Gillan from Deep Purple.

Look out for the re-release of Machine Head, the band’s new album, and that tour that includes a visit to Australia for the Pandemonium Festival. Time for me to run now. Take care of yourself, won’t you, until we meet again same time next week.

Bye now. It’s a beautiful day You’ve been listening to A Breath of Fresh Air with Sandy Kaye. Beautiful day Oh, baby, any day that you’re gone away It’s a beautiful day