1945 – Ian Gillan, vocalist with the best-known incarnation

1945 – Ian Gillan, vocalist with the best-known incarnation of Deep Purple, is born in Hounslow, England.
Ian Gillan (born 19 August 1945 in Hounslow, London), is an English rock music vocalist best known as the lead singer for Deep Purple. During his career Gillan had a year-long stint as the vocalist for Black Sabbath and sang the role of Jesus Christ in the original recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Gillan is considered to be one of the foremost rock vocalists, who introduced into rock music the vocal belting technique. In his prime he possessed a wide vocal range. His work with Deep Purple is particularly recognisable for its occasional high-pitched screams and falsettos.
Early life

Gillan was born at Chiswick Maternity Hospital, Hounslow, London, England in a family of Scottish descent (his father was from the Govan area of Glasgow) He sang in various constellations and appeared under a variety of different pseudonyms during the early years, eg. Garth Rockett, Jess Thunder, Jess Gillan, and probably others as well.

Deep Purple
Ian Gillan playing air guitar

He was the lead vocalist in the band Episode Six. After Deep Purple members Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore saw one of his performances with the band, he was later approached to replace Rod Evans in Deep Purple.

Gillan was a member of Deep Purple from 1969 through to 1973, appearing on such now-classic Deep Purple albums as In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head and Who Do We Think We Are. During these years, he also was the voice of Jesus on the original 1970 album recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was offered the lead role in the 1973 film adaptation. Ian demanded not only to be paid for his role in the movie but insisted, without the consent of his manager, that the entire band be paid because filming would conflict with a scheduled tour. The producers declined and Ian continued on in the band .

Gillan was room-mates with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and in a 2006 interview Gillan said Blackmore “turned into a weird guy and the day he walked out of the tour was the day the clouds disappeared and the day the sunshine came out and we haven’t looked back since.”


He rejoined a reunited Deep Purple in early 1984, recording the highly-acclaimed comeback album Perfect Strangers. He was sacked in 1989, but rejoined in 1992 to record the album The Battle Rages On. During the 1993 tour for this album, Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple for good. The rest of Deep Purple carried on, eventually replacing Blackmore with Steve Morse, and Gillan remains in the band to the present day.

Away from Deep Purple

After his first departure from Deep Purple, Gillan retired from performing to pursue business ventures. However, encouraged by his reception at the Butterfly Ball in 1975, he decided to resume his singing career. He formed the Ian Gillan Band. The early band sound had a distinct jazz-rock aspect which proved unpopular and was replaced by a more high powered hard rock sound as Gillan reformed the lineup and shortened the group’s name to Gillan. Writing the bulk of new material with keyboardist Colin Towns, the release of Mr. Universe saw Ian Gillan back in the UK charts, although the independent record company the album came out on – Acrobat – folded soon after the album was released, prompting a contract with Richard Branson’s Virgin Records. Through several more lineup changes the band released a string of UK hit singles and successful albums including Glory Road, Future Shock, Double Trouble, and finally Magic.

In 1982 Ian Gillan announced the band would fold as he needed to rest his damaged vocal cords.

Black Sabbath

In 1983 he joined Black Sabbath (replacing Ronnie James Dio) for a year to record the Born Again album and tour (on which Black Sabbath played the Purple standard “Smoke On The Water” as an encore). He was largely dissatisfied with his stint in Sabbath, notably the final mix of the Born Again album (though he liked the songs and their original mixes) and its cover, which featured a demonic-looking baby. He was quoted in Kerrang! in 1984 as saying “I looked at the cover and puked.” The tour did not do well, as Gillan did not enjoy singing the early Ozzy Osbourne-era Sabbath material. In an interview on Part 2 of the VHS, The Black Sabbath Story (1992), he said, “I was the worst singer Black Sabbath ever had…” However, he stated in the same interview that he liked Sabbath personally: “I love Tony (Iommi), love Geezer (Butler).”

2000s solo activity

In June 2004 Gillan performed guest lead vocals on Smokescreen as part of Dean Howard – Volume One. Dean Howard (T’pau/Gillan/Repo Depo) co wrote some of the material that went towards Gillan’s Dreamcatcher album.

In April 2006 Gillan released a CD/multimedia project to document his 40-year career called Gillan’s Inn. Tony Iommi, Jeff Healey, Joe Satriani, Dean Howard, as well as current and former members of Deep Purple such as Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Don Airey and Steve Morse are featured on this 2006 CD and DVD. The project includes a re-recorded selection of his Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and solo tracks.It was produced by Nick Blagona. In a recent interview, Gillan announced that his solo albums from the 1970s and 1980s would be re-issued late in 2006 through the Demon record company. These albums began to be released in early 2007.

Also, on September 11th, 2006, Ian Gillan promoted the Gillan’s Inn tour by having local guitarists compete through local radio stations to play on stage with the band during the famous song “Smoke on the Water”. The promotion was titled “Smoke This!”. One of the notable contest winners was Gizzarelli who shared the stage with Ian Gillan and Lars Ulrich from Metallica on drums. http://www.1077thebone.com/contests/smokeThis/default.asp – http://www.gizzarelli.org – http://youtube.com/watch?v=QxcsIR81xzI

In 2006 a single called Eternity was released for the Japanese Xbox 360 game Blue Dragon, composed by Nobuo Uematsu and featuring the vocals of Gillan. That same song was reused in the fan-made, freeware RPG game Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden for battles against VinceBorg2050 (a combination of cyborg & Vince Carter). The Eternity file in the Barkley game music folder is labeled “jesus christ the guy from deep purple sang this”.

On 2 April 2007, Gillan released a DVD Highway Star: A Journey In Rock. The DVD has 6 hours of footage including documentaries and music clips.

In June 2007, he sang with the group Sed Nove and Ann Wilson in the Festival of Music in Paris.

In February 2008 Gillan released a double live album on Edel Records, “Live in Anaheim” that features Gillan and Deep Purple classic songs and several rarities. A companion DVD was released in May 2008.

Personal life
Ian and Bron, dressed in Georgian national wedding costumes during Gillan’s 1990 visit to Tbilisi, Georgia
Ian and Bron, dressed in Georgian national wedding costumes during Gillan’s 1990 visit to Tbilisi, Georgia


In 1984, Gillan married Bron, his girlfriend, to whom Ian had dedicated the melancholic “Keep It Warm” from Black Sabbath’s 1983 album Born Again. They have twice since renewed their marriage vows. The couple have one daughter, Grace. He currently lives in the English coastal town of Lyme Regis in Dorset.

Gillan’s mother, Audrey Parkinson, often visits him while he is touring with Deep Purple in the United Kingdom. She can often be seen sitting to the side of the stage.


He is a passionate football fan, supporting Queens Park Rangers F.C. He is also a big fan of cricket.

Gillan is well-known for his intolerance of aggressive crowd security personnel at concerts. On August 15, 1998, he was charged with assault after striking a security guard on the head with a microphone.

In 2004, he was banned from driving for being twice over the legal alcohol limit. He was banned from driving for 16 months and fined £500.

His surname is often misspelled as “Gillian”. Gillan himself made light of this in the lyrics to “MTV”, a track off of Deep Purple’s 2005 album Rapture of the Deep.


With Deep Purple

Studio albums

* In Rock #1 (1970)
* Fireball #1 (1971)
* Machine Head #1 (1972)
* Who Do We Think We Are #4 (1973)
* Perfect Strangers #5 (1984)
* The House of Blue Light #12 (1987)
* The Battle Rages On #29 (1993)
* Purpendicular #56 (1996)
* Abandon #75 (1998)
* Bananas #81 (2003)
* Rapture of the Deep #88 (2005)

Live albums

* Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1969)
* Made in Japan (1972)
* Deep Purple in Concert – BBC Radio sessions 1970/1972 (1980)
* Scandinavian Nights – Live in Stockholm 1970 (1988)
* Nobody’s Perfect (1988)
* In the Absence of Pink – Knebworth ’85 (1991)
* Gemini Suite Live ’70 (1993)
* Come Hell or High Water (1994)
* Live at the Olympia ’96 (1997)
* Total Abandon: Live in Australia (1999)
* Live at the Royal Albert Hall – Concerto’s 30th Anniversary (2000)
* Live at the Rotterdam Ahoy (2001)
* Live in Europe 1993 (2006)
* They All Came Down To Montreux (2007)

As Ian Gillan Band

* Child in Time (1976)
* Clear Air Turbulence (1977)
* Scarabus (1977)
* Live at the Budokan (1978)

As Gillan

* Gillan (aka The Japanese Album) (1978)
* Mr. Universe #11 (UK) (1979)
* Glory Road #3 (UK) (1980)
* Future Shock #2 (UK) (1980)
* Double Trouble (live) #12 (UK) (1981)
* Magic #17 (UK) (1982)

With Black Sabbath

* Born Again (1983)

As Gillan & Glover

* Accidentally on Purpose (1988)

As Garth Rockett & the Moonshiners

* Garth Rockett & The Moonshiners Live at the Ritz (1990)


* Naked Thunder (1990)
* Toolbox (1991)
* Cherkazoo and Other Stories (’73/’75 solo sessions) (1992)
* Dreamcatcher (1997)
* Gillan’s Inn (2006)
* Gillan’s Inn-Deluxe Tour Edition (2007)
* Live in Anaheim, live at the House Of Blues Club, California, 2006 (2008)
* Mercury High – The Story Of Ian Gillan

With The Javelins

* Sole Agency and Representation (1994)


* Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)
* Dean Howard – Volume One – Guest Lead Vocals On Smokescreen (2004)

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