During a recent interview with Greece's Rockpages.gr web site, DEEP PURPLE vocalist Ian Gillan made a number of unfavorable comments about the band's former guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore, thus prompting Blackmore to respond via his attorney in an attempt to "set the record straight." Ian's original comments and Ritchie's response follow below.
Ian Gillan on DEEP PURPLE's final split with Ritchie Blackmore:
"When I came back in the band, the record company said, 'We're gonna cancel the contract if we don't get Ian back in.' Ritchie refused. The rest of the guys said, 'Yeah, we made a mistake [by getting another singer to front the band].' So Ritchie refused and insisted on a payment of a quarter of a million dollars directly into his bank account, non-returnable, to work with me. The other guys didn't know that. They didn't get any money. Nothing. The record company paid him on condition to make the record and a minimum one-year tour. And, of course, he didn't. We did the record and only half a tour. And in the dressing room, in Helsinki, there were tears, some people were crying, it was like somebody in the town had died or your parents are getting divorced. It was horrible and nobody could see the future until Bruce [Payne, PURPLE manager] told this story [in a dressing room in Helsinki] about Ritchie, and Jon Lord [keyboards] looked up and said, 'What!?' and [Ian] Paice [drums] said, 'What!?' and Roger [Glover, bass] said, 'You must be joking...' and I said, 'Let's give him one more shot,' and Bruce said, 'Look, I kinda anticipated this and we got to go to Japan now, let's give Joe Satriani a go, see your debt for the rest of the tour, give him some breathing space and we'll see what happens,' and it worked... Right, bastard (laughs). So, that's what happened and we went back to the hotel and Ritchie came in smiling, absolutely confident and happy that he killed DEEP PURPLE. So, we smiled back... 'Not yet, not yet...' . . . And you know what; we had no problem since then. It's been just glorious."
Ian Gilan on Ritchie's image being removed from "Machine Head" t-shirt:
Ian Gillan: Oh, it's very simple, it's hilarious. When you're in DEEP PURPLE, you're in DEEP PURPLE, you sign up etc. Now, Ritchie was getting paid, he got paid for everything and sometimes he got paid more than any other people. He got his lawyer to say to Bruce Payne, 'You can't use my image on 'Machine Head, I don't wanna be on it.' So, Bruce said, 'OK, so we just blur his face so he's no longer.' That's what he asked for. So, then Ritchie started suing Bruce, cause he was angry and I think it's been tried at the court several times. . . [It didn't go] to the court, but to the pre-hearing, to a judge to apply to go to court. But the judge keeps saying, 'That's stupid. You asked your image not to be used, so they took it off and they just blurred it.' What do you do? It's all too silly."
Ritchie Blackmore's response (via his attorney):
"In an interview he gave to a music website recently, Ian Gillan made a number of comments about Ritchie Blackmore that twisted facts and which require setting the record straight.
"Gillan remarked that Ritchie sued his former manager to have his image removed from 'Machine Head' t-shirts being sold at DEEP PURPLE concerts and that the judge thought the issue stupid. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ritchie sued his former manager for access to books and accounts, as well as money due him. When it was disclosed during the lawsuit that the 'Machine Head' t-shirts were being sold at concerts, Ritchie simply asked to be paid, just like all the others on the shirt. Ritchie's image was then removed from the t-shirt, apparently to avoid paying him — something that is particularly offensive, as this disassociated him from his most acclaimed work. Contrary to what Gillan says, the judge, far from thinking the whole affair stupid, sided with Ritchie on every motion, from beginning to end. Readers are welcome to examine the court record for themselves (Blackmore v. Thames Talent Publishing, Ltd., Thames Overtures, Ltd. and Bruce Payne 01 Civ. 5521 (E.D.N.Y.)).
"Contrary to what Gillan said about Ritchie's financial demands to stay with DEEP PURPLE, Ritchie in fact wanted to leave DEEP PURPLE to pursue other interests, but when he announced that he wanted to leave, the record company made him a financial offer to stay with the band to complete a tour and to make the album that became 'Come Hell Or High Water'. Gillan should get his facts straight before he talks to anyone.
"Ritchie, frankly, is amazed at Gillan's childish comments on other issues he discussed in the interview. Hasn't the time come for him to act like an adult?"