[% META title = 'Ian Gillan, Interviews' %]
Ipswich Evening Star Monday October 20th 1980
Out of the Purple Legend?
And heading for the blues?
The next event in Ian Gillan"s life will be his gig in Ipswich Tomorrow. Here Gillan tells Steve Painter about his life until today and his Expectations from tomorrow.
FANS of Ian Gillan might be shocked to hear that at one time the singer was perilously close to abandoning his Career.
When he left the legendary rock band Deep Purple he "came
down to earth with a big bump".
"I had more money than I had ever seen before," he said, "I've been singing for my crust for 18 years now, so I'd been working a long time before I joined Deep Purple. I went straight from earning ?10 a week to ?50 a week with expenses. That was a lot of money."
He described how the life of a rock idol had played havoc with
his personal life.
"I missed having people around me who were sincere. I wanted to he able to make a joke and hear people laugh because they thought it was funny - not for other reasons. I'd lost all the friends I had before too.
"I also got disillusioned when the band started to stagnate and wasn't pushing itself any more."
Immediately after leaving Deep Purple in the mid 7Os. Ian
took two years away from the business, bought a hotel in Oxfordshire
(which later went bust) and then moved to France as a tax exile.
"I vowed I would never get back into the business," he told me, "But I had never been completely cut off from it, because I thought a recording studio in London in my days with Deep Purple, and I was always getting reports about that Also I had a guitar hanging around in my house. One week I wrote about 15 songs, and that was it"
So the Ian Gillan Band was formed, and during the heyday of
punk rock, spent its time touring around clubs and colleges.
Ian justifies the existence of the band then by pointing out how punk existed almost to the exclusion of anything else, and that fans deserved some kind of variety and competition between artists.
The first couple of years were also spent finalising the line-up of the hand. It now includes drummer Mick Underwood. Who played with Ian and fellow ex-Deep Purple player Roger Glover in a band called Episode Six, before Purple ever formed.
"Things are very incestuous like that in music," he told me as we talked about other bands that have formed since the demise of Purple, like Rainbow and Whitesnake - each containing members of that band.
Talk inevitably led us to the question of any possible
further reunion in the Deep Purple ranks.
"I think Purple has become more of a legend than anything else," he said, "and it's best left that way. We're all different people now to what we were ten years ago."
In any case, as Ian pointed out, he's more than happy with the
way things are going for the band - which he has now named Gillan.
"It's just about the most exciting time of my life. It was equally exciting with Purple in 1969-72 - and with any luck we will follow along that path. I have been along that route before and I understand what is happening to us. We have more maturity and we are avoiding the pitfalls."
Although Gillan's music is best described as hard rock, part
of their current appeal must be due to the rise of the "New Wave or
British Heavy Metal".
And although some heavy metal events have given Ian a platform for his band, generally he Is sad about the movement.
"It is very influenced by what went on in the early 70s. And if you look at what influenced those artists it was probably people like Elvis Presley, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Jimi Hendrix. "The original influences become diluted and what is left is only the root influence, which is what has happened with heavy metal. In that respect I don't think that we (Deep Purple) left a very good legacy.
"The danger with a cult-following like this is that it becomes too intensified and follows too narrow a pattern. There's no room or humour or anything like that." The sight of Ian Gillan leading a hard rock band may be new to some fans at the Gaumont Theatre tomorrow night, while to others (myself included) he does seem to be more of a throwback to the early 70s, old denims and long hair to boot.
"I still cling to my old denim jacket," he told me, "It's like a good luck charm.
"It's been washed so many times now that the arms have fallen off!"
And what about that long hair?
"I cut it off every two or three years!"
Ian casually told me that he is now 35, and as he spoke tome
in his Pangbourne home, near Reading, his collection of budgies
twittered wildly in the background - all of which led me on to ask
just how much longer he
intends to be a rock singer.
Speaking realistically he put a life of three years on his current band, but added, "I personally will carry on singing, although when I'm approaching 50 I don't think I'll be jumping around, to the embarrassment of everybody else!
"You've got to remember that there will be an awful lot of ageing rock musicians around then. I'd like to get back to something more blues based, but I can imagine huge bands of ageing musicians doing the rounds!"