DEEP PURPLE Frontman: 'RITCHIE BLACKMORE Is Wasting His Time'

Sweden's Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with DEEP PURPLE frontman Ian Gillan. A coulple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Metalshrine: Have you heard any of the BLACKMORE'S NIGHT stuff?

Ian Gillan: "I have! I had to do an anomynous review. I heard his records and I listened to it very carefully. I do understand his love and I'm gonna pick my words very carefully here, but you know...I was doing a blind review and I suspected it might be BLACKMORE'S NIGHT and I said nothing. And the bloke said, 'Well, have a listen to this one!' What I did say was that the voice was very weak and the guitar sounded terrible. And then they played a Jeff Buckley track called 'Hallelujah' and I said, 'Now you're talking! There's and acoustic guitar, compare the difference! What was that? Ritchie?' 'Yes!' I know in my heart of hearts that Ritchie Blackmore is one of the great guitar players of all time. He's a fabulous technician and he's got incredible skills and he was a great showman. I have to talk about the positive things with Ritchie, because everyone talks about the negative things. He has all these qualities and all these skills and yet something is going on in his brain and I don't know what it is. But for a guitar player of that quality, to record such a crappy-sounding acoustic guitar...you just have to listen to Jeff Buckley and you hear how good an acoustic guitar sounds. Just listen to the vocal performances! Delivered quietly, but with such vibrant passion. Beautiful delivery! And as far as I am concerned, in my honest opinion, Ritchie is wasting his time! I know he's quirky, but I think I, like everyone else, would like to hear Ritchie play the guitar properly again. Not with DEEP PURPLE, but he's got plenty of opportunities to do what he wants to do. I'm a huge fan of Ritchie and I would like to see that. So that's my opinion on that and I hope I didn't sound too negative."

Metalshrine: No, I understand! What about "Gillan's Inn" coming out soon. You're working with a bunch of really cool guitarists on that record. Why remakes of the songs?

Ian Gillan: "My manager came up with the idea. Look, if you just get all these songs, the original recordings, and put them together and you listen to them, it's a very uncomfortable experience, because they all come from different ages and the sound is different. You can't settle down and you're listening to them individually. I wanted to create a situation as of all these songs had been recorded at the same time and with paying total respect, I've made that in the liner notes, we're not trying to improve them we're just trying to have fun with them. And that's exactly what we had. A joyful experience! So re-recording them was the only answer, really. I don't think that anyone's gonna think that we seriously are gonna try to improve on 'Smoke on the Water'. But you know, it is fun and on the flipside of the DualDisc you can pick your soloist. You can have Jeff Healey, you can have Joe Satriani, you can have Steve Morse, you can have Uli Jon Roth or whoever you want! It's a lot of fun and I know that 'Smoke on the Water' means a lot... I remember when Joe Satriani joined the band. He flew to Japan, rehearsed everything and at the end Ian Paice said, 'Well, we don't need to rehearse 'Smoke on the Water', Joe, do we? You know 'Smoke...' surely?' And Joe had this little look on his face. And I said, 'Joe, no problem, we'll do it!' And he said, 'Well, I'd really rather just do it!' So we did and he went across and adjusted his amp a little bit and I said, 'You're alright?' And he said, 'Jeez, I get to play 'Smoke on the Water' with DEEP PURPLE!" It was very important to Joe to do that one performance in private, because he said, 'My knees were shaking!' And these are all pros, these are guys that have been around a bit and they know what they're doing. So yes, we can have fun with 'Smoke on the Water' and 'Speed King' as well as some of the other stuff. I mean, to give you the spirit of the album... Joe Elliott (DEF LEPPARD) and I went out to a pub in Dublin many years ago after a football match and we got locked in afterwards. We were singing just to the landlord and his family and a couple of mates. There was a micrphone, one guitar and a bar stool, which I used as a drum and apart from everything else we sang a load of EVERLY BROTHERS songs, in a private performance just for the sheer joy of it. So I called him up and said, 'Joe, will you sing on my record?' And he said, 'Count me in mate, I'm there!' So choosing this BOB DYLAN song, there's something from each era and this is from my EPISODE SIX period and I heard it from the BBC tapes. So I said, 'Do you remember when we did that sing song in the pub? Well, if you could do the other EVERLY BROTHERS part?' So it's me and Joe Elliott doing a EVERLY BROTHERS version of a BOB DYLAN song. So I'm thrilled to bits! We just had a bunch of fun and it's a celebration, it's an anniversary and we've got no claims to anything special in terms of improvement. I think people will get a lot of fun out of listening to the stuff. There's another moment like that for example. It was an inspired moment when we decided to ask Jeff Healey to play on 'When a Blind Man Cries'. He actually played on three or four songs, but the actual putting together of Jeff Healy and Jon Lord on that track is hair-raising. It's incredible! It was such a joy to sing and it's just a new approach. Sometimes these songs have been around and you play them many, many times and it's just nice to have a fresh approach. It's a hands up, honest...we're just having fun. It's a great project and I couldn't have done that commercially, I mean, all of those guys just turned up and played."

Metalshrine: How is Steve Morse doing? Because I know he´s sitting out on these TV appearances you're doing.

Ian Gillan: "His wife has been very ill and he's nursing her back home. She's had three major operations and fingers crossed she's getting better now, but it is a slow recovery. She's very weak. So we're doing this promotion tour and suggested... well, our producer, Michael Bradford, and he said he would love to come and fill in and he's a wonderful musician and I fell off my chair laughing... he's a big, huge black man from Detroit and he introduced himself to the TV producer yesterday, and he said, 'Hello, my name is Ritchie Moreblack!' (laughs). Everybody adores him. He's a lovely man. So we don't have Steve Morse, we have Ritchie Moreblack on guitar."

Read the entire interview at Metalshrine.se.

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