[hand] [face]
The Original Deep Purple Web Pages
The Highway Star

Intensely quiet

Elizabeth the opera singer (a.k.a. the lady who forgot about singing more than all of will ever know) analyses Gillan’s take on Gethsemane.

I’m very familiar with this song and have seen it performed many times, but have never seen nor heard the original with none other than Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan! This is going to be a treat for my ears!

Thanks to Mike Whiteley for the info.

32 Comments to “Intensely quiet”:

  1. 1
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Master Gillan eats that upstart from the colonies, Ted Neeley, for English breakfast, nuff said.

    It’s a constant source of strife between me and my wife: Inexplicably and in disobedience/outright revolt to her husband, she prefers Neeley! To my defense: I only found out AFTER we had married. Watch the Yank overdo it:


    And since Lizzie says so many nice things about Ian Gill-i-an, pointing out the hesitancy and vulnerability/fragility in his (un)voicing which makes his rendition so amazing and heartfelt, I won’t address her name pronunciation research capabilities here, I’m not that type of guy to fire a cheap shot.

  2. 2
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice think Gillan’s original version superior too btw.

    It’s really one of the great moments in his vocal career and it’s not just the – at this point still fledgling – experience with Purple you hear (they were composing and recording In Rock at the same time), but also his background with Episode 6 where he had to perform by necessity many vocal styles.


  3. 3
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Hear for yourself:


    To be fair: Neeley did well too, but through all the anguish I like the sweetness in young Gillan’s voice.

  4. 4
    Woodman says:

    Ian Gillan’s performance on the original LP is the template that no others have matched, or will match. I never listened to more than a few seconds of Neely.

  5. 5
    George in Ohio says:

    Thanks, Uwe, for the link. I was not familiar with Neeley, and this gave me a chance to hear his version. No offense to your wife, but this one is absolutely no contest – Gillan blows him away, IMHO. And Neeley had plenty of time to prepare/practice for his version. Ian did the whole JC gig in 3 hours one afternoon.

    Neeley might have had more acting experience, so you can argue he is a better fit for the movie role. But Ian Gillan has the vastly superior voice and rendition.

  6. 6
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    @Uwe Hornung Gillan’s version was best. But why all the needless anti-American hostility? It’s like you’ve got an ax to grind or something.

  7. 7
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Lieber James,

    where shall I start?

    Christmas 1972 a then 12 year old little Uwe took a plane for the first time to travel to Kinshasa (then: Zaire, before: Belgian Congo, today: Democratic Republic of the Congo) – together with his family, his father was a General Motors plant construction engineer seconded there to erect a car plant. There was no German school in Kinshasa, so my dad sent us to TASOK (The American School of Kinshasa), where most of the teachers seemed to have studied in Berkeley and listened to Bob Dylan. For the next three years (we returned to Germany in 1976, I was devastated and in tears I had to leave TASOK) I was immersed in US high school culture, I led a typical American high school life, the only difference being that there were remnants of jungle around me. It’s where I became acquainted with/fell for the music of Loggins & Messina, Three Dog Night, Bread, CSNY, Steppenwolf, Rare Earth, Grand Funk Railroad – archetypical American acts (and, of course, Deep Purple eventually). All my best friends were Americans as was my first love – Kendall from Nebraska, sigh … By the time I left, I dreamed in English, calculated in English and thought in English – the most important years of my adolescence took place in “Little America in the Jungle”.

    Fast forward more than a few years and not-so-little-anymore Uwe has left law school (that intended rock musician career grinded to a halt somehow), is hired by an international law firm and works in 1988/1989 in their Manhattan office. I soaked it up.

    Do I have an axe to grind with the US or Americans? Nope, I’m attracted to them (my son works in LA and travels to places like Wyoming), like and love them and am eternally grateful for the beautiful music they brought into my life, I’m totally with Ian Hunter (another one of my favorites) here:


    But I’m also hopelessly ironic and sarcastic (all my brothers are too as was my dad), caustic, have a penchant for one-liners and outrageously low pc remarks etc. (And if DP were an American band joined by a Brit I’d refer to him as “the Limey”.) TASOK might have something to do with that: When I arrived I was the odd kid out, the ‘Kraut’ and the Kraut learned fast that he was better with his tongue than with his fists. But it didn’t take me long to assimilate, Americans are a welcoming with a friendly curiosity people.

    So take my tongue-in-cheek remarks with a grain of salt, the US is a lovely country and so are its inhabitants – not just Kendall I hasten to add!

    I read the US page of The Guardian (figures!) slavishly everyday and generally subscribe to the view of Winston Churchill who once remarked about Americans (I’m quoting from memory) “that they can always be relied upon to ultimately do the right thing – after having exhausted all other available options of course”. ; – )


    All good?

  8. 8
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Incidentally, are you from Michigan, James?

    It’s the first piece of real America I saw – early 80ies, my then girlfriend’s mother had her best friend living in Detroit, she had married an American GI äfter ze wär. Most Americans I tell that wince and try to make excuses for Detroit, but I loved it. I saw Alice Cooper in Cobo Hall (plus a Polish-American wedding in a WW II Veterans Club in Dearborn – it was very ‘The Deer Hunter”ish – where they played Kool & the Gang’s ‘Celebrate’ seemingly all night – yeah, I’m a sucker for Kool & the Gang too!) and inhaled the vibe of the city. There was an Amtrak close by to the house where we lived, it all epitomized “America” for me.

    Mind you, it was also towards the end of the post-war American dream. If you were an auto worker in 1981 in the Detroit region and still had a job, it enabled you to have a motor boat on Lake Michigan, own a paid for house in a still nice neighborhood, have a (used) car for each and every child plus send them to … well not the most expensive universities, but certainly to Ann Arbor. But the cracks were beginning to show on the wall, you could see that the infrastructure in Detroit was starting to decay and that is never a good sign.

    To this day, I feel attached to the Detroit region. And its music. Detroit radio stations!!! Three tracks they power-played at the time, I still love them all (oh yeah, The Cars were brilliant too!):




  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Edith (my wife) says hi and advises you all that YOU HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT – NEELEY ROOLZ !!!

    I’m innocent, my hand was forced … There is, alas!, no reasoning with that woman.

    : – )

  10. 10
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Having listened and watched to nearly most of Ian Gillan interviews, I can’t recall him taking about who actually taught him to sing. He spoke a lot of the musical family background influence on him and past musicians that he listened to and influenced him.
    That why I think all this supper analysis of his singing techniques might be just pure garbage and the guy was just sings naturally from the heart and armed with an amazing vocal cords.
    But then again I might be a complete ignorant and I am taking rubbish.
    But one things is certain for sure that Ian Gillian is one of a kind and no one on earth could sound like him during his peak times.
    Peace ✌️

  11. 11
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Don’t know whether he had formal training, likely that he sang in a choir (hell bent for leather: even a young Rob Halford did) and he aped the vocal techniques of Elvis and Little Richard as a teen. But he certainly must have learned a lot with Episode Six, because their music was so varied. And he once mentioned that whenever Sheila Carter, the keyboardress, sang lead it was up to him to replace her high voice in Eposode Six’ ever-present stacked harmonies. It’s where he got his strong passagio/falsetto from.

    And I shamefully forgot The Cars in my “Detroit posting” @8!


  12. 12
    Dr. Bob says:

    Ha ha! I was the one who recomended that she watch this video.

  13. 13
    MacGregor says:

    Regarding Ian Gillan’s vocals & all the other vocalists of a previous & wonderful era. They were NOT ‘manufactured’ singers & they did NOT use that appalling rubbish autotune or whatever it is called. Also they didn’t cheat using that cringe worthy lip syncing.
    That is why they all sing naturally & we love them for it. Cheers.

  14. 14
    rock voorne says:

    @ 1 I once had a girlfriend who said Gillans voice on JCS reminded her on David Bowie, something I did not really handled well at the time.1993

    My only true love , 1989, bought me the GILLAN edition on CD , which was still a thing around that time, for my birthday.

    Originally only aquainted with Ted Neeleys version which I loved, years after I started my love for the Purple family I studied at University and somewhere near my room there was a fleemarket where I encountered Gillans version on vinyl. It was 1987.

  15. 15
    Gary in Montreal says:

    Well, I have seen both versions through the years and in my humble opinion Gillian’s version The version if THE masterpiece upon which others would be and should be judged. There have been many attempts to capture the passions and feelings that Mr Gillan brings to the song but none can surpass his. Although, this guys version may have come close… ( tongue firmly planted in cheek)…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWW8cBX15PQ

  16. 16
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Dr. Bob: I of course dutifully played it to her, but she remains unrepentant, the doomed sinner …


    (Needless to say, Judas Priest “does very little” for her too, she’s more a Bad Company person.)

    I guess it is simply down to the fact that she heard the movie soundtrack recording with Neeley first, not the original recording with Gillan which predated it. The soundtrack only came out in 1973 and – bolstered by the movie (which wasn’t bad) – generated far more sales/found entrance into more households.

  17. 17
    Michael Mazur says:

    Ian Gillan by far is one of the best voices in our world today. I am 57 and when I was 7 years old, I heard highway star. I could not belive what I was hearing. Say ing all this I remember hearing alot of the stuff back in the day for Jesus Christ Superstar, and it was some of the greatest music that can never be touched by any other singer. Ian Gillan will always be one of the greatest singers I have ever heard in my life.

  18. 18
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    @ Uwe . Thanks for your reply. Good to hear your family is doing well in the United States. Yes, I live in the Grand Rapids area, on the west side of the nice. It’s lovely, about 30 miles inland from Lake Michigan. Some of the most scenic spots in the country are along Lake Michigan. We’re surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes; they are freshwater lakes – largest in the world. America is not as nice an experience as 40 to 50 years ago when gun violence was much lower, and most everyone listened to rock and pop music. Although there are many exceptions, our youth are generally self-absorbed, have their heads buried in their video games and SmartPhones (even at the dinner table) and listen to garbage like Justin Bieber. So, we have our weaknesses and problems over here, but there are still plenty of Deep Purple fans – and Americans pretty much live a lifestyle similar to Europeans, except we have more air conditioning. You know all this, but for those who don’t: America is NOTHING like what you see on TV or Hollywood films. There are plenty of really sweet people walking around, especially older ones. The politics and all that is hogwash. Americans are no more arrogant than anyone else, although TV paints another picture. Our politicians are largely fools, but again, there are exceptions.

  19. 19
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Maple Gary @15: A green skin doesn’t rob you of emotion! I like Kermit’s version. Just as long as Miss Piggy doesn’t do Mary Magdalene and starts oinking: “I don’t know how to lo-hove him …”.

    “I studied at University and somewhere near my room there was a fleemarket where I encountered Gillan’s version on vinyl. It was 1987.”

    Himmel, you could all be my children!!!

  20. 20
    Rev. Harry Longfallis says:

    JSG #18 – Air Conditioning? You mean in your cars, right? Out here in So Cal we don’t need it in our houses! The only people who have it in their houses out here are getting it just to show off how much money they have!

  21. 21
    Uwe Hornung says:

    James, if there is one thing I don’t identify Americans with at all, then it is arrogance – I’d go as far as to call it inherently un-American. In fact, Americans are more the other extreme, prepared to give everyone a chance to the point of being gullible. That is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s actually a national trait that has served America well throughout its history.


  22. 22
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Sorry to jump in as your post was for someone else.
    I just wanted to say that USA is the most beautiful diverse place on earth and I love going there on holidays.
    Since I started avoiding watching the endless news channels and and I stopped talking or been sucked into US politics and religion I started to enjoy the place more.
    Peace ✌️

  23. 23
    Ivica says:

    Happy Birthday Ian Gillan !!!

  24. 24
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Where would DP be without colonial reinforcements from one Tommy, one or two Joes and one Steve? We wouldn‘t have CTTB and S&M (whether you like them or not, two historically interesting pieces in Purple’s crown) plus the whole Morse era. How sad. And even in an alternative universe where DP would have been even more obliging to Ritchie‘s whims and wishes, we all know that he would not still be playing with them today.

    And finally: It was America that broke DP (and the other way around), we could not have sensibly relied on that rainy North Sea island populated by people insisting to drive on the wrong side of the road with their fickle, fashion-oriented pop music tastest do that!

    Now cue in the music!


    (Yeah, and one day all you Yanks frequenting this forum will explain to me why you didn’t see to it that this beautifully uplifting, modern and spirited piece of music – appropriately penned by one of your Portugese immigrants and not lifted off a prior Limey composition – became your national anthem as it to me just encapsulates American derring-do and positive outlook on life!)

  25. 25
    Fernando Azevedo says:

    In my opinion this is the best performance of Ian Gillan in his entire career.

  26. 26
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    @Uwe I’d hazard to guess that most Americans are not fond of the music of our national anthem. But the words/lyrics are great; really stirring. I think England became more democratic after the separation from the colonies. Us Americans love England. Along with Canada, it is our greatest ally. We know our music generally was not as good as the British rock (with some exceptions). It’s hard for me to know, but I know the Brummies (Sabbath, for example) sound much more Scottish in their accents; I’m guessing because Birmingham is in northern England – closer to Scotland. We have a big Birmingham (Alabama) in the States, too. Speaking of Sabbath, I do hope progress is coming along on the remix of ‘Born Again,’ about a year after Iommi informed us that the long-lost original master recordings had been found somewhere. Maybe Iommi could join Purple for a studio album. Ha ha! (I realize: it’s not going to happen)

  27. 27
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Tony is a great stylist on guitar and has co-written the book on heavy metal (and later grunge) riffs, but he’d face real technical issues playing with Purple. With the chopped off digits of his fretting right hand (he’s a leftie), playing something like Lazy would be beyond his capabilities. Let’s not even talk about the triplets in the Highway Star solo.

    Roger Glover’s definition of “how good” a DP guitarist has to be was once (in the interregnum between Joe and Steve): “Can he play Lazy?” That is pretty telling.

  28. 28
    MacGregor says:

    @ 26 – in regards to Sabbath’s Born Again master tapes being ‘found’. I fear that finding them is one thing, getting hold of them could be another. The fact we haven’t heard anymore raises the mystery ever more for me. However I do remain a little optimistic, here’s hoping it can still happen. Cheers.

  29. 29
    MacGregor says:

    Talking of American music, my very first rock band addiction as a very young & innocent Australian in the late 60’s was Creedence Clearwater Revival. Yes that is correct even before Purple, Sabbath etc. Now back in the news again with the impending release of the CCR live footage from The Royal Albert Hall concert of 1970. The move from popular music which I still hold in high regard from the mid to late 60’s, into rock music was with that very band with those wonderful songs. Cosmo’s Factory, what an album. Cheers.

  30. 30
    Jet Auto Jerry says:

    RHL #20: Your definition of So Cal must be pretty small and regulated to the coastal areas where I would agree with you. Now I will admit that for 9-10 months of the year (With the exception of those couple of weeks in Feb +/- that we seem to have every year) you are not wrong about the need for AC, but I am sure that people in places like Riverside (Saw DP @ Fox Theatre few years ago), San Bernardino (DP ‘bout 20 yrs ago, the 2nd US Festival in 83 and many more shows) and even closer to the coast like Sherman Oaks (Freakbeat Records) or even inland parts of Anaheim (BCC on their First and only(?) US Tour) would debate that opinion. Full Disclosure – I am a So Cal native almost 60 years now & live in Huntington Beach.

    JSG #20: Yeah, what is up with Born Again?

  31. 31
    Uwe Hornung says:

    With the draught and extreme heat summers we have seen in Germany in recent years (and see now), air conditioning doesn’t seem such an alien concept anymore. We have it in our bedroom and if truth be told, I wouldn’t want to miss it there even though we live close to the forest with its natural cooling effect.

    But having lived in Central Africa, yeah, a healthy body adjusts to great heat eventually if you have high temperatures all year around, but here in Europe you have fluctuating seasons so your body has to always readjust. Strangely, those periods of readjustment seem to take longer now that I’m 61 to when I was 14!

    Not that we have “real winters” here anymore.

  32. 32
    Uwe Hornung says:

    All you Sabbatheers, Born Again was released in 1983 – I’d say we can expect something for next year with the then 40th anniversary label.

    Rumors that the anniversary release will be called “I Almost Puked!” remain unconfirmed though!

    Seriously, I’m looking forward to it as well. It’s an unsung classic though its (deserved!) reappreciation has gone a long way in the last decades.

Add a comment:

Preview no longer available -- once you press Post, that's it. All comments are subject to moderation policy.

||||Unauthorized copying, while sometimes necessary, is never as good as the real thing
© 1993-2023 The Highway Star and contributors
Posts, Calendar and Comments RSS feeds for The Highway Star