DEEP PURPLE vocalist Ian Gillan recently spoke to Canada's Chart Attack about the departure of founding member Jon Lord and the addition his replacement, Don Airey (ex-RAINBOW, MSG, WHITESNAKE).
"Now, how can I say this without in any way undermining the fact that we all adore Jon Lord?" Gillan offered. "He's a monument in our lives, a founding member of DEEP PURPLE and just a really darling guy. I spoke to him just a few days ago — we send emails regularly and he phones us up in the dressing room, quite frequently, before going onstage. 'What's the set list tonight?' So what I'm about to say, you have to bear that in mind: Jon was getting tired. This is my interpretation. Jon was getting tired because of frustration. Because we are a working band, we're a touring band… this tour we're doing right now started last June in England. And we've been to Brazil and Europe and we're coming to the States now, and we shall finish in December, this coming year. So it's an 18-month-tour, basically. And this is normal for DEEP PURPLE. We take a few weeks off, go and write some songs, go in the studio, take six months off and then go back on the road for a couple of years. That's pretty much how it's been since day one, apart from the usual break-ups and things like that.
"But anyway, Jon was getting tired and frustrated because he couldn't, with this kind of schedule, write his orchestral music, which he'd been dearly wanting to do his entire life, and which he is now doing," Gillan continued. "He is delighted he got the time to do it. And I think, probably, Jon within himself was finding it difficult for that spark of spontaneity that we demand — that freshness — and the fact that… I think he just felt a bit knackered, to be honest. This had been a long time coming. It's a difficult decision to sue for divorce and I think, pretty much, that's what he did, in the end. He had been going for a long time. Don, we've known — all of us — as a personal friend for years. So when Jon started skipping out, missing a few tours, a few dates here and there, we got Don in as deputy. And so he was completely familiar with all the material and we all knew him personally. And now we have the benefit of new blood. Don is a dynamite musician, wonderful guy and of course he's full of enthusiasm. But I would seriously ask you to remember what I said at the beginning. It's full of love and understanding."