Deep Purple Singer Opens Up on What Ritchie Blackmore Was Really Like, Reveals If They Will Ever Reunite

In his recent interview with Spanish radio Rock FM, Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan reflected on his relationship with original guitar player Ritchie Blackmore. During the chat, Gillan also recalled what Blackmore was like back in the day and with different incarnations of the band. Discussing the matter, Gillan said (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“Look, Deep Purple is a family that’s been together even before I joined. In ’68, it was Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Paice, Nick Simper, and Rod Evans. Roger Glover and I joined in ’69, and in the intervening period, there’s been David Coverdale, and Glenn Hughes, and a couple of other guys.

“And then, when we grew up, when we settled down and the human chemistry was OK, we were getting on. [When] we had the reunion with ‘Perfect Strangers’ [1984], everything was slightly different. Ritchie was different, I think we all were.”

Deep Purple - Lazy ( Istanbul 25.05.2022)

“Ritchie used to be my roommate with Deep Purple, we used to party together. And I don’t like to think of the negatives, I just have lots of fantastic memories of Ritchie as a guitar player, [he’s got] a wicked sense of humor – and I mean wicked – and a professional, real good guy in that sense.”

“But something changed when we got back together, and the human chemistry wasn’t quite the same.”

Going further into the discussion, Gillan also looked back on the albums that he and Blackmore worked together on after the 1970s — “Perfect Strangers” from 1984, “The House of Blue Light” from 1987, and “The Battle Rages On” from 1993. He said:

“So, it became difficult. And in the end, there was this antagonism. I got fired from the band because I wanted to do more touring and Ritchie wanted to do less. We had a meeting one day, and I said, ‘Why don’t we go to South America, Russia, all over the world, we’re a live band,’ and the next day Ritchie went to the management, and said, ‘Well, it’s either him or me.’ So, they chose him, and that was fine.”

“And they made a record with another singer [1990’s ‘Slaves and Masters’ with Joe Lynn Turner], and the record label said, ‘Either you get Ian back in the band, or we’re tearing up the contract. So, I went back to Deep Purple, and Ritchie went crazy; he didn’t like it. So, eventually, he walked out.”

D̲eep P̲urple – S̲laves A̲nd M̲asters Full Album 1990

“So, in normal terms, in a family – because we are a family, we think it was like a divorce – he walked out, and he’s gone. But he wanted to keep control of the band after having walked out. And he’s been a pain in the ass ever since [laughs].”

However, their current relationship seems to be doing much better these days. As Gillan reveals, Ritchie and him are not in any sort of a conflict these days. He elaborated:

“But we are getting along much better these days, and we think his manager has got a lot to do with the problem that exists. It’s one of those things that you cope with.”

Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers (Official Video)

“And I think the idea of a grand reunion would be utterly disrespectful to the living, breathing Deep Purple. The atmosphere would be terrible, it would be artificial – it would be only for money, nothing else. ‘Cause there’s no love there, there’s no affinity. Twenty-five percent of the essence of Deep Purple is improvisation, and we’ve got a musician now that’s absolutely unbelievable.”

“And I don’t know how much Ritchie has been practicing… I could go on for a long time, but the simple answer is, ‘No’. It’s the ex-wife, we do not want to get back together again.”

At the end, he also added:

“This is a subjective view of the whole band. It’s not the view of the promoter, the record company, or certain fans.”

Photos: Stefan Brending (2022 Lieder am See – Deep Purple – Ian Gillan – by 2eight – 9SC6646), Steve Knight (Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow headlining the Stone Free 2017 Festival at the O2 (34994158240))

David Slavkovic

David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.

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