Ye Olde Kings Head in Santa Monica is famous for many things: great fish & chips, a great pint and excellent entertainment. Recently the restaurant hosted a cd/dvd release party for the legendary rock singer Ian Gillan, perhaps best known for his work with Deep Purple, especially their international classic, Smoke on the Water. His newly released dual cd/dvd Gillan’s Inn covers 13 songs spanning his long and accomplished career, and features some of the biggest names in rock such as Joe Satriani, Joe Elliot (Def Leppard), Jeff Healey and Ronnie James Dio to name but a few.
In a brief interview at Ye Olde Kings Head, Gillan spoke of both the past and the present.
Mirror: You seem genuinely excited about this record. How did you get the idea to remake those songs with these great musicians?
Ian Gillan: My manager said to me, “You know Ian, it has been 40 years since you signed your first record deal. Maybe you would like to do an anniversary record?” I played around with the idea of doing a compilation of different tracks from my career, not just Purple or Black Sabbath stuff, but also stuff from my early days, Episode Six, and some songs that were little more than demos. When I began listening to them I realized that they wouldn’t fit well together, different recordings and different sounding records, so I thought about having some friends basically re-record the songs. So I contacted them to see if they were interested and the response was amazing. Joe Elliot got back within 20 minutes of me sending the e-mail and said, “Yeah, let’s do it.” Everyone was really enthusiastic: Joe Satriani, Jeff Healey and so on. The idea was to have it really simple – like having friends ‘round for a jam so to speak.
Mirror: Why Gillan’s Inn?
Ian Gillan: Years ago my manager had given me an inn sign as a gift and so we had the idea of friends playing live in an inn, that kind of atmosphere.
Mirror: Do you still communicate with Ritchie Blackmore?
Ian Gillan: (after a brief pause) No, we got divorced. I don’t want to speak bad about him here. I mean there is a lot that people don’t know about what happened, but when Ritchie left, the band was just about dead anyway. We spent the next 13 years getting it back up, and all I wish is that he is happy and fulfilled. He is a great guitarist and good luck to him.
Mirror: If there is one moment that stands out in your career what is it?
Ian Gillan: You’ve got to be joking (laughs). Hmmm, there are so many, but if there had to be one it was when Roger [Glover] and I joined Deep Purple. I thought this is it. We joined together as a songwriting team as well as musicians. It was a wonderful moment.