Years: 1962 - present
Styles: Blues Rock, Classic Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Jazz Rock, Pop Rock, Progressive Rock
Ian Gillan - Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals (in band: 1988)
He began singing in bands while still in his teens, the most notable of which werethe Javelins (1962-1964) and Episode Six (1965-1969).
Gillan had been contacted by Episode Six's manager Gloria Bristow, who worked for Helmut Gordon, original manager of The Detours, later to become the Who. He replaced original lead singer Andy Ross, who left to get married, and joined keyboardist and singer Sheila Carter, guitarists Graham Carter and Tony Lander, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Harvey Shields. Gillan considers Episode Six to be his first truly professional band, and in their early days were sponsored and championed by Tony Blackburn, who occasionally accompanied Gillan on stage. Later, as well as performing concerts in the UK, Episode Six also toured Germany and Beirut.,
By spring 1969, Deep Purple had had a top 5 US hit with "Hush", but the band, particularly Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice, decided their future lay in hard rock, rather than the psychedelic pop sound of the early band. On 4 June 1969, Blackmore, Lord and Paice went to see Episode Six perform at the Ivy Lodge Club in Woodford, and subsequently offered Gillan the job as new lead singer, asking him if he also knew any good bassists. Since Glover was by this point a reasonably experienced songwriter, having penned several Episode Six B sides, he was also recruited. They were both accepted into the band on 16 June 1969, replacing singer Rod Evans and bassist Nic Simper respectively.
In 1970, Gillan received a call from Tim Rice, asking him to perform the part of Jesus on the original 1970 album recording of "Jesus Christ Superstar", having been impressed with his performance on "Child in Time". After rehearsing a few times with Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, he recorded his entire vocal contributions in three hours. He was subsequently offered the lead role in the 1973 film adaptation.
In 1975, Gillan formed the Ian Gillan Band with guitarist Ray Fenwick, keyboardist Mike Moran, quickly replaced with Mickey Lee Soule and then Colin Towns on keyboards, Mark Nauseef on drums and John Gustafson on bass. Their first album, "Child in Time" was released in January 1976, followed by "Clear Air Turbulence" in April 1977 and "Scarabus" in October. The sound of the band had a distinct jazz-rock aspect which, although interesting to Gillan, proved unpopular, particularly since punk rock was in vogue at that time.
Gillan then formed a new band, simply called Gillan, retaining Towns (who would co-write most of the material), and adding guitarist Steve Bryd, bassist John McCoy and drummer Pete Barnacle. Byrd and Barnacle were quickly replaced by Bernie Torme and by former Episode Six bandmate Mick Underwood, after Gillan saw Torme playing with his punk trio. This band had a more high powered hard rock sound, and the release of "Mr. Universe" in October 1979 saw Ian Gillan back in the UK charts.
In 1983, manager Don Arden invited Gillan to join Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, all founder members of Black Sabbath, to form a supergroup. Although the band had reservations, on 6 April 1983, it was formally announced that Gillan had replaced Ronnie James Dio in Black Sabbath. The group recorded the album "Born Again" at the Manor Studios in Oxfordshire. Citing health problems, Ward decided not to accompany the others during the subsequent tour, and was replaced by Bev Bevan.
After the disappointment of Black Sabbath, Gillan joined a reunited Deep Purple in April 1984, announcing their comeback on Tommy Vance's radio show. The reformed band rehearsed in Stowe, Vermont, and recorded the album "Perfect Strangers", followed by a world tour.
In contrast to his experiences with Deep Purple in the 1970s, Gillan felt frustrated that the band were no longer workingenough. To fulfil his contract with Virgin, he formed a side project with Glover, writing and recording songs which didn't fit Purple's established hard rock style, which resulted in the album "Accidentally on Purpose". By 1989, tensions between Gillan and Blackmore had resurfaced, due to the former's greater enthusiasm for touring and differences over the music – the song "Mitzi Dupree" on The "House of Blue Light" is the original demo as Blackmore refused to re-record it. This culminated in Blackmore calling a rehearsal session without Gillan.
Gillan, meanwhile formed a new version of Garth Rockett and the Moonshiners. The band toured regularly through 1989. In 1990 Ian Gillan recorded the album "Naked Thunder". During this time, Gillan also made an appearance on a re-recording of "Smoke on the Water" with Rock Aid Armenia, consisting of himself, Bryan Adams, Tony Iommi, David Gilmour, Roger Taylor, Brian May, Bruce Dickinson and Paul Rodgers as a charity record for aid relief in Armenia following the then-recent earthquake. He continued to tour with his solo band, albeit with several line up changes throughout Europe, the US and Russia.
Gillan has expressed particular fondness for Armenia and has maintained popularity there since Rock Aid Armenia in 1989, which has led to him forming the supergroup WhoCaresas a side-project to Deep Purple.
In May 1990 Gillan visited Armenia and played four concerts at the Karen Demirchyan Complex.
In April 2006 Gillan released a CD/multimedia project to document his 44-year career called "Gillan's Inn". Tony Iommi, Jeff Healey, Joe Satriani, Dean Howard, as well as current and former members of Deep Purple such as Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Don Airey and Steve Morse are featured on this 2006 CD and DVD. The project, produced by Nick Blagona, includes a re-recorded selection of his Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and solo tracks.
Ian Gillan sang on two songs off the Jon Lord & Hoochie Coochie Men studio album, "Danger. White Men Dancing", released in late 2007.
On 2 October 2009, in honour of the 20th anniversary of Rock Aid Armenia, Gillan together with Tony Iommi, Geoff Downes, and the project organiser Jon Dee were received by the Prime Minister of Armenia who awarded them with the republic's Orders of Honour. On 26 and 27 March 2010, in Yerevan, Gillan performed with State Philharmonic Orchestra of Armenia. At a press conference in Yerevan on 27 March, Gillan said he considers Armenia his spiritual motherland.
In 2010, Ian Gillan met Tony Iommi, Nicko McBrain and Jon Lord, Mikko Lindström from HIM and Jason Newsted at a studio in London to finish recording a song called "Out of my Mind", which was released 6 May 2011. This is for the benefit of the music school to be built in Gyumri, Armenia – a project Ian Gillan has been working on with others since his 1990 solo concerts in Yerevan.
On the flight back from Armenia in 2011, after each receiving the Armenian Presidential medal of Honour, Gillan and Iommi decided to form the side project WhoCares for ad hoc recordings (and possible performances) dedicated to raising money for specific causes.
In 2010 Ian Gillan hosted a documentary about great Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk Chopin in Poland directed by Jerzy Szkamruk. Chopin's Story is about the rise of artistic genius of the composer and documents his Polish years. The film has won several international awards, including the Best Documentary award at Tourfilm International Festival in Florianopolis, Brazil. It will be aired on Polish channel Discovery Historia on 21 June 2011. A worldwide DVD release is also in the works.
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