Gillan: ‘If Ritchie had stayed it would have been the end of Deep Purple’
Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan says the band would no longer exist if guitarist Ritchie Blackmore hadn’t quit in 1993.
And he has no desire to speak to his former colleague ever again.
Asked recently whether he might consider picking up the phone, in the light of keyboardist Jon Lord’s death last year, Gillan tells Vorterix Rock: “Not in the slightest.”
He continues: “If you want to talk about Ritchie, I guess we have to. Not many people do these days.
“The truth of the matter is: the band was dying. If Ritchie had stayed it would have been the end of Deep Purple. The shows were getting shorter and shorter, the audiences were getting smaller and smaller.
“We were playing in small halls, they were half-empty, and Ritchie was walking off stage every night. When he left it stopped raining and the sun came out.
“Jon Lord, among others, started walking up straight – his personality re-emerged. So did Roger Glover and Ian Paice: they became the people they were originally, instead of cowering in case they upset Ritchie.”
Gillan says the band spent some time rebuilding after Blackmore’s departure. And now that nearly two decades have gone by, they can live with the events of the past.
“The distance of time is so great that we just remember the good times,” he says. “We remember Ritchie as a great player, great performer, a great writer.
“I remember him as my roommate – I used to share rooms with him. But something happened with Ritchie.”
That appears to be the way things will remain. “I have no desire to pick up the phone to Ritche, or have dinner with him, or meet him,” says Gillan. “I hope he’s well and I hope he’s happy. And that’s the end of it.”
Blackmore’s wife and bandmate Candice Night recently said he was a better songwriter now he’d disengaged himself from “inspiration from darker places.”
Deep Purple – who launched 19th studio album Now What?! earlier this year – will release a live DVD shot during their Perfect Strangers Mark II reunion tour on October 14.