Though Ian Gillan's solo career never reached the heights of Deep Purple, or Black Sabbath for that matter, he had a long and rewarding run.
Gillan began fronting bands as a teen but it was with Episode Six, with bassist Roger Glover, that his career took off. Deep Purple had been around for a couple years but despite having a Top 5 U.S. hit with a cover of Billy Joe Royal's "Hush," the group failed to get much traction. So in '69, singer Rod Evans and bassist Nicky Simper were tossed and Gillan and Glover were asked to replace them. This line-up of Gillan, Glover, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, organist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice, became the group's best known and most accomplished.
Shortly after joining Deep Purple, Gillan landed the lead in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar and performed on the '70 cast recording.
Suffering bouts of exhaustion, Gillan left Deep Purple in '73 at the conclusion of a tour of Japan. Ironically, his departure came as the group was enjoying its biggest success. The single "Smoke On The Water" rolled up to #4 on the U.S. charts and the album "Made In Japan" made it to #6. Interestingly, Glover left a month later. Reportedly, both Gillan and Glover had "differences" with Blackmore.
Forming the Ian Gillan Band, the singer launched a successful solo career scoring a number of U.K. chart hits. Material from this era has been culled into a couple "Best Of" releases.
In '83, Gillan was asked to join Black Sabbath replacing Ronnie James Dio. He stayed about ten months, recording "Born Again," before leaving to join the reformed Deep Purple who released two successful albums, "Perfect Strangers" and the lesser "The House Of Blue Lights" before fracturing again.
Gillan famously commented that he looked at Deep Purple as an "ex-wife." "We got married in '69, divorced in '73, then we got married again in '84 and divorced again in '89. I made my mind up I was never going to marry that (woman) again." But of course he did.
Between Deep Purple tours and recording, Gillan released "Accidently On Purpose" with Glover in '88, "Naked Thunder" two years later and "Tooolbox in '91. Then it was back to Deep Purple for another stint. A number of live albums and repackages also hit the streets.
'98 had "Dreamcatcher." '00 was particularly productive with two releases, "Cherkazoo & Other Stories" and "No Fire Without Smoke." The following year saw "Sole Agency & Representatives." "Poor Boy Hero"arrived in '03 and the double CD "Second Sight" followed two years later. Gillan continued his solo career with '06 release "Gillan's Inn."
Ian Gillan Band & Gillan Albums:
1976 Child In Time
1977 Clear Air Turbulence
1979 Mr. Universe
1980 Glory Road
1981 Future Shock
1981 Double Trouble (live)
Ian Gillan Albums:
1988 Accidentally On Purpose
1990 Naked Thunder
2006 Gillan's Inn
2008 Live In Anaheim
One Eye To Morocco
With help from a trio of exceptional guitarists, Jeff Healey, Joe Satriani, and Steve Morse, Gillan has the backing to soar on "Gillan's Inn." The blasting set opener, "Unchain Your Brain" gets the album off to a strong start. "When A Blind Man Cries," "No Worries" and "No Laughing In Heaven" are top notch. The piercing vocals of the glory days may be long gone but Gillan proves he still has impressive chops.
As one might expect, there are numerous Deep Purple touches throughout, showing up predominately on the fierce "Men Of War" and the cover of the Purple classic "Speed King."
The legendary "Smoke On The Water" first appeared on "Machine Head," then a superior live version on "Made In Japan." Does the world need another rendition of this song? Probably not, but Gillan steps up to give it a a scruffy yet lean interpretation that is still true to the original.