According to Mediamax, DEEP PURPLE singer Ian Gillan and BLACK SABBATH guitarist Tony Iommi will visit Armenia in June to mark the 30th anniversary of the Rock Aid Armenia charity project.
The visit and celebration of the anniversary are being organized by the Mediamax Media Company and DoSomething (Australia), whose co-founder Jon Dee organized the 1989 Rock Aid Armenia project to help the victims of the Armenian earthquake.
On June 5, Yerevan will host a gala night under the auspices of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The event will feature Gillan, Iommi and Jon Dee and will also include a public showing of the documentary about Rock Aid Armenia's all-star 1989 remake of DEEP PURPLE's "Smoke On The Water".
On December 7, 1988, one of the most devastating earthquakes of the 20th century struck northwest Armenia. It killed over 25,000 and destroyed a region that was home to more than 700,000 people. A year after the earthquake, an all-star star version of "Smoke On The Water", featuring Gillan, Iommi and Brian May, was recorded for Rock Aid Armenia, with all funds raised donated to the Armenian earthquake relief effort.
Twenty years after the earthquake, Gillan and Iommi visited Armenia again and were deeply affected by how much work still needed to be done, especially at a music school in Gyumri that was bursting with talent but had never been properly restored since the earthquake shattered the city. Iommi and Gillan formed the WHO CARES project and wrote and recorded a new song "Out Of My Mind" to raise funds to build a new music school for the kids of Armenia. They assembled an all-star lineup at the iconic SARM studios in 2010. Participating artists included IRON MAIDEN's Nicko McBrain on drums, legendary DEEP PURPLE keyboardist Jon Lord and ex-METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted (who recorded remotely). This was one of the legendary Lord's last-ever days in the studio.
Thirty years after the earthquake, a film from the recording session was released by Australia's "The Void With Christina" (see below). Proceeds from this song, Gillan's charity concerts in Yerevan with the Armenian Symphonic Orchestra and generous donations from charities including the Fund for Armenian Relief and Mardigian Family Foundation made it possible to re-open the revitalised music school in 2013. Five years later, the revitalized Octet Music School is continuing to provide world-class musical education to the aspiring young musicians of Armenia.