An interview with the legendary singer from Deep Purple and Black Sabbath
by Tina Hall
Ian Gillan is best known for his work in Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Ian has also had a long solo career, appeared on countless albums, and also worked on four published books I recently caught up with the legendary frontman to see what fans can expect next.
Maximum Ink: Who where some of your earliest influences?
Ian Gillan: Well I grew up in a musical family so opera and jazz piano (boogie-woogie) were there from early days. Also I was a boy soprano in the church choir – yes I know!!! But it was really the young Elvis, Little Richard and Chuck Berry that hit the spot.
MI: What was it that first led you to consider a career in music?
IG: I never really considered it to be a career, in fact I haven’t given it much thought; it just kind of happened.
MI: You performed at the Jeff Healey tribute concert in Toronto in 2008. Did you know Jeff? Did you ever have the chance to work with him?
IG: Yes, I knew Jeff; he used to jam with us every time we played Toronto and he did me the great honor of recording a contribution to my anniversary album ‘Gillan’s Inn’. There’s some nice footage of him on the visual element of that record too.
MI: What genres of music do you enjoy listening to?
IG: I go through phases according to my mood and the climate. Down in Portugal – when I get some time off for bad behavior – I have a record called ‘Duende Magic’. It’s flamenco guitar with contributions from Paco de Lucia, El Tomatito etc – great stuff.
MI: How would you say the industry has changed most since you first started?
IG: It wasn’t called an industry when I started, but that’s what it has become. Music and business are strange bedfellows wouldn’t you say…yet there’s an historical symbiosis that’s existed since the early days of patronage. Since 1982 we have lived in a digital world that is both pro-creative and self-devouring. Most of this passes us by as we continue to focus on performance and have settled back underground where we started and really belong.
MI: What advice would give up and coming artists? What is the most important thing to remember when decided to become a professional
IG: Don’t be late or you’ll miss the bus.
MI: I read somewhere you are a passionate football fan? Why do you think the sport appeals to you so much?
IG: Well I was an ardent fan and I still keep one eye on the results, but I am heartily sick of the game now and prefer to watch Rugby Union and Cricket. There is no honor left in football – need I go on?
MI: What do you think you’d of been if not a musician?
IG: I love working with wood so I may have been a cabinet maker. And I enjoy writing, so I may have done something along those lines had I finished my academic schooling.
MI: What was it like to sing the role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, “Jesus Christ Superstar” on the original concept recording? Was it very different from your work in rock?
IG: I prefer to think Tim Rice was the main man behind J.C. Superstar. My entire contribution (apart from the sayings from the cross) was recorded in one session – three hours - so I didn’t really dwell on it at the time. Encouraged by Tim to extemporize (‘not too much’ warned Andrew) I look back with pleasure on what became the interpretive version of a great role.
MI: Where can your fans go for the latest information on your career? Is there anything you’d like to say to them in closing?
IG: Thank you very much, Gillan.com
CD: One Eye To Morocco Record Label: Eagle Records
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