Ian Gillan

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Ian Gillan at the Deep Purple concert in Hamburg 2017
Ian Gillan in Barcelona 1983

Ian Gillan (born August 19, 1945 in Hounslow , Middlesex ) is a British rock singer. He gained fame mainly as the singer of the hard rock band Deep Purple , of which he has been a member since 1969 with a few interruptions. Further engagements led him to the rock and heavy metal bands Episode Six and Black Sabbath . From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s he was the singer of his two groups, the Ian Gillan Band and Gillan .


Origin and musical beginnings (1945–1969)

Gillan comes from a musical family. His grandfather was an opera singer , his uncle a jazz pianist . He had no singing lessons, but sang the soprano part in the church choir.

In the early 1960s, Ian Gillan performed under a variety of stage names . For example, he called himself Jess Thunder , Jess Gillan or Garth Rockett . Under the latter name he joined the semi-professional band The Moonshiners in his hometown in September 1962 . The episode with the Moonshiners, however, lasted just under two months. In October of the same year, he moved to The Javelins. With this more professional band his engagement lasted until March 1964. When The Javelins broke up, the band The Hickies was formed at short notice to fulfill a contract for some gigs. From April 1964 to May 1965 Gillan sang with Wainwright's Gentlemen (whose drummer Mick Tucker and the singer Brian Connolly who followed Gillan later founded The Sweet ), which he had convinced of his quality as a singer in some of his appearances.

At the end of May 1965, Ian Gillan joined the band Episode Six , whose bassist was Roger Glover . With Episode Six, Gillan went into the recording studio. The band signed a record deal with the label Pye Records . A total of nine singles were produced for the British market. Some singles have also been released in mainland Europe , the US , Japan , Australia and New Zealand . An album that had been started with the name The Story was no longer completed. The recordings were later combined into albums in the 80s and 90s.

First membership in "Deep Purple" (1969–1973)

Ian Gillan with Deep Purple, 1970

In July 1969, Ian Gillan left Episode Six to join Deep Purple as a singer . Roger Glover accompanied him and became the band's new bass player. The line-up of Ian Gillan, Roger Glover , Ian Paice , Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord (also known as Mk II line-up) produced the pioneering Deep Purple albums for the hard rock genre: Deep Purple in Rock , Fireball and Machine Head as well Who Do We Think We Are . On Machine Head is also found the most famous piece of Deep Purple: Smoke on the Water . After disagreements Ian Gillan left the group at the same time as Roger Glover in 1973 and initially tried his first solo project, which did not get beyond demo recordings (documented on Cherkazoo and Other Stories ).

While working at Deep Purple, Ian Gillan sang the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar , which was originally only planned as a concept album and was released as an LP in 1970 .

Solo career with the "Ian Gillan Band" and "Gillan" and time with "Black Sabbath" (1973–1983)

From September 1973 to September 1975 Ian Gillan worked in a wide variety of industries. He was involved in the management of a motorcycle manufacturer , ran the Kingsway Recorders Studios in London and a Country Club Hotel in Thames Valley .

In September 1975 he then founded the jazz rock group Ian Gillan Band . The sales success of the produced LPs was slow at first, but the concert halls around the world were well filled. By August 1978 three studio LPs and one live double album had been produced. Ian Gillan also continued his solo endeavors. So he worked on projects with other stars and began to work on his own record productions again.

After the commercial success of the Ian Gillan Band did not materialize in the long term, he founded the band Gillan with his keyboardist Colin Towns , which combined Deep Purple's typical hard rock sound with the newly burgeoning New Wave of British Heavy Metal , and existed in various lineups until November 1982 . Guitarist Bernie Tormé , Mick Underwood (drums, ex- Quatermass ) and John McCoy played on the four-string. On the last two studio albums Tormé was replaced by the later Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers . Contrary to the band name, Gillan was a "real" band, as the other band members also contributed songs.

Ian Gillan (center) 1985 on stage with Deep Purple members: Roger Glover (left), Ian Paice (background) and Ritchie Blackmore (right)

In January 1983, Ian Gillan joined Black Sabbath . Rumor has it that while he was completely drunk, he was persuaded to sign the contract. The successful album Born Again was produced and a world tour was completed. Ian Gillan later described his time at Black Sabbath as the best twelve months of his career and "one party".

Second and third membership in Deep Purple and later solo career (from 1984)

In April 1984 many fans were delighted to reunite with Deep Purple in the so-called Mark II line-up . The band went to Stowe, Vermont and recorded the very successful reunion album "Perfect Strangers", which produced two classics with the title track of the same name and "Knockin 'At Your Backdoor". After the band had difficulties completing the follow-up album "House Of The Blue Light" and was not satisfied with the result despite good sales, the internal disputes, especially between Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore, increased again. As a result, Gillan left the band for the second time in April 1989 after the album tour, which is documented on the live album, "Nobody's Perfect" (1988), in the run-up to studio recordings. He was succeeded by Joe Lynn Turner, who had sung with Rainbow a few years earlier. Gillan himself ruled out a third entry at Deep Purple:

“I can only think of Deep Purple like an ex. We married 69 and got divorced in 73. In 84 we married again and in 89 we divorced. I'm not doing that again. "

By 1992 Ian Gillan worked again on his solo endeavors and brought out three more or less successful solo albums. For the album Garth Rockett & the Moonshiners (1990) Gillan again used the stage name "Garth Rockett", which he had already used in the 1960s. During this time, Gillan began his longstanding collaboration with guitarist Steve Morris, not to be confused with the later Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse.

After his own successor Joe Lynn Turner had to resign from Deep Purple due to the lack of acceptance by the fans, Gillan was moved to rejoin Deep Purple in September 1992 at the endeavors of Glovers, Lords and Paices as well as the management. The album "The Battle Rages On", which was released in time for the band's 25th birthday, sold better than the album recorded in the meantime with Joe Lynn Turner, but still fell short of expectations. Already during the following tour the line-up of Deep Purples changed again, but this time Ritchie Blackmore left the band after repeated disputes with Gillan and the other band members. After a brief stint by Joe Satriani, Steve Morse joined Deep Purple in 1994, and in 2002 Jon Lord was replaced by Don Airey. This line-up has existed to this day, gives concerts every year and records new studio albums, most recently "Whoosh!" (2020).

Despite his work with Deep Purple, Ian Gillan releases his own solo albums at irregular intervals. In early 1994 there was even a reunion of the old band The Javelins. Ian Gillan went to the studio with his old friends, where they recorded the CD "Sole Agency and Representation ". In 1997 the album Dreamcatcher was released , which contains many songs that Gillan had originally written for a project called "Repo Depo", which was prematurely terminated in 1992 when he joined Deep Purple.

Ian Gillan on stage with Deep Purple in 2011.

In April 2006 another solo album was released called Gillan's Inn , which was recorded with friends such as Steve Morse , Jon Lord , Roger Glover , Joe Satriani , Jeff Healey , Ian Paice and Tony Iommi . With the exception of the title No Worries, Gillan's Inn only contains new recordings of pieces from the musical history of Ian Gillan, both from the Deep Purple repertoire ( Smoke on the Water , Speed ​​King , When a Blind Man Cries ) and also from his solo projects, as well as a song from the Black Sabbath episode ( Trashed ). The DVD side of the double-sided disc contains, among other things, recordings that document the creation of Gillan's Inn , as well as some concert recordings of very low quality that are only interesting for the passionate Deep Purple / Ian Gillan fan, for example from the short one Phase in which Joe Satriani played guitar with Deep Purple.

On February 29, 2008, Edel released the live recording Live in Anaheim . The latest solo work includes a concert at the well-known House of Blues Club in California - right after the release of the album Gillan's Inn (2006). It includes rarities such as Have Love I'll Travel and Deep Purple classics Smoke on the Water , Into the Fire , or When a Blind Man Cries and Knocking at Your Back Door .

In March 2009, Gillan released a new studio album entitled One Eye to Morocco .

Together with Tony Iommi , he founded the band Who Cares in 2011 for spontaneous recordings and benefit concerts. The first release is a single entitled Out of My Mind and Holy Water , the proceeds of which will be used to set up a music school in Gyumri ( Armenia ).

2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019 was, or he is between Deep Purple tours at the held annually Rock Meets Classic participates tour through Germany and Austria, where he, among others, already with Rick Parfitt , Chris Thompson and Marc Storace on stood on the stage.

In the fall of 2016, Gillan went on tour in Eastern Europe with the band of his band colleague Don Airey and changing orchestras. The program consisted of Deep Purple classics and a few songs from Gillan's solo albums.

In 2018 there was another reunion of Gillan's first band, "The Javelins", which Gillan had belonged to in the 1960s and which had come back together in 1994 for an album project. The band announced that the album "Ian Gillan & The Javelins" will be released on August 31, 2018 and will feature covers by popular musicians such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.

Private life

Ian Gillan has been married to Bron Gillan since 1984, with whom he lives in Lyme Regis and in Portugal. They have a daughter, Grace, who also works as a singer and accompanied her father as a background singer on his solo tour in 2016.


With episode six

  • Put Yourself in My Place (1987)
  • The Complete Episode Six (1991)
  • The Radio One Club Sessions Live 1968/69 (1997)
  • Live at the BBC (1999)

With Deep Purple

Ian Gillan Band

  • Child in Time (1976)
  • Clear Air Turbulence (1977)
  • Scarabus (1977)
  • Live at the Budokan (1977)
  • Ian Gillan Band Live at the Rainbow (1998)
  • Before the Turbulence (2012)


  • Gillan (1978) (only in Japan)
  • Mr. Universe (1979)
  • Mr. Universe (1979) (Japan only; list of titles differs)
  • Glory Road (1980)
  • For Gillan Fans Only (1980) (EP)
  • Future Shock (1981)
  • Double Trouble (1981)
  • One for the Road (1981) (Japan only)
  • Magic (1982)
  • What I Did on My Vacation (1986) (Sampler)
  • Live at Reading '80 (1990)
  • The Gillan Tapes Vol. 1 (1997)
  • The BBC Tapes Vol 1: Dead of Night '79 (1997)
  • The BBC Tapes Vol 2: Unchain Your Brain '80 (1997)
  • The Gillan Tapes Vol. 2 (1999)
  • The Gillan Tapes Vol. 3 (2000)
  • Mutually Assured Destruction - Live at the Apollo '82 (2006)

With Black Sabbath


  • Garth Rockett & the Moonshiners (1990)
  • Naked Thunder (1990)
  • Toolbox (1991)
  • Cherkazoo and Other Stories (1992) (recordings from 1972 to 1974)
  • Dreamcatcher (1997)
  • Gillan's Inn (2006) (featuring Steve Morse, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Tony Iommi ...)
  • Live in Anaheim (2008)
  • One Eye to Morocco (2009)

other projects

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim RiceJesus Christ Superstar (1970)
  • Roger Glover The Butterfly Ball (live) (1975)
  • Zero Nine Blank Verse (1982)
  • Gillan-Glover Accidentally on Purpose (1988)
  • Pretty Maids · In Santa's Claws on "A Merry Jingle" (1990)
  • The Bolland Project Darwin the Evolution (1991)
  • Mihalis Rakintzhs Getaway (1993)
  • The Javelins Sole Agency and Representation (1994)
  • Jon Lord's Concerto (1999)
  • Gillan-Glover The Purple People Eater (2002) (Sampler)
  • Ian Gillan Eternity (Blue Dragon OST) (2006)
  • The Hoochie Coochie Men feat. Jon Lord Danger: White Men Dancing (2007)
  • WhoCares Out of My Mind / Holy Water (2011) DE # 86
  • Ian Gillan & the Javelins Ian Gillan & the Javelins (2018) DE # 72 AT # 45
  • Ian Gillan with the Don Airey Band and Orchestra Contractual Obligations # 2 (2019) DE # 41 AT # 56 CH # 38

Individual evidence

  1. Interview in Kulturspiegel 03/09, p. 43.
  2. EVENTIM http://www.eventim.de : Deep Purple. Retrieved on February 6, 2018 (German).
  3. Get Ready to ROCK! Interview with Steve Morris, guitarist with melodic rock band Heartland who played on the Ian Gillan album Naked Thunder. Retrieved February 8, 2018 .
  4. bravewords.com: DEEP PURPLE Legend IAN GILLAN - Rare Video Surfaces From The 70s, 80s And 90s . In: bravewords.com . ( bravewords.com [accessed February 6, 2018]).
  5. ^ Ian Gillan's homepage
  6. Rock meets Classic in Kempten. Retrieved January 2, 2019 .
  7. Deep Purple: "Ian Gillan & The Javelins" album is out in August . In: RockHard . ( rockhard.de [accessed June 29, 2018]).
  8. Mark Anstead: Deep Purple's Ian Gillan talks money . March 12, 2009, ISSN  0307-1235 ( telegraph.co.uk [accessed January 2, 2019]).
  9. Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan - "Nobody likes to stop". Retrieved January 2, 2019 .
  10. Ulrich Friese: Deep Purple singer Gillan: "We play as long as you can endure us" . In: FAZ.NET . ISSN  0174-4909 ( faz.net [accessed January 2, 2019]).
  11. ^ Purple -dirk: Ian Gillan - Sofia - Nov 4, 2016. In: Deep Purple Tour Page - Blog. November 6, 2016, accessed on January 2, 2019 (German).

Web links

Commons : Ian Gillan  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files