1. Edel's Ian Gillan Biography, for 'One Eye To Morocco'
  2. Ian Gillan Biography
  3. Ian Gillan by Jeff Miers


Ian Gillan - "One Eye To Morocco"

His unique voice is instantly recognisable. In early days Ian Gillan was heavily influenced by the young Elvis Presley, as well as Little Richard, Buddy Holly and others of that dynamic era. During his formative years he absorbed the wide range of musical genres that were flooding Britain in The Sixties.

Ian Gillan met Roger Glover when he joined the harmony group Episode Six in 1965. They learned their trade touring with Dusty Springfield and performing five shows a night - eight on weekends - at joints like The Storyville Clubs in Cologne and Frankfurt, as well as a long stint at the Casino du Liban near Beirut.

In 1969, both went on to become forty per cent of Deep Purple when they were enlisted as singer, bass player and nascent song writing team.

Gillan emerged at the beginning of the next decade as 'the voice' of Deep Purple; his approach to singing on 'Deep Purple in Rock' set new standards.

Ian played the interpretive role of Jesus Christ in JC Superstar, the original London studio recording on MCA Records, 1970.

In a recent questionnaire Gillan chose new Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and pop icon Britney Spears to be guests for a desert island weekend; figuring on '…a decent conversation with Putin whilst Mugabe explained himself to Spears.'

Ian Gillan broke new ground in the '80s with his famous tours in previously unexplored territories (check out the gigography on his website). Sting, after going solo, requested a tour schedule 'just like Gillan'.

He played the role of Charles Darwin in the Bolland and Bolland recording, Darwin - The Evolution, 1991.

Ian Gillan has twice duetted the aria Nessun Dorma with Luciano Pavarotti, 2001 and 2003.

His interests outside music are: his family, walking, drinking in good company, scribbling his thoughts, current affairs and following the fortunes and misfortunes of QPR, the West London football club he has supported all his life. And…like all fans, he is a philosopher.

Gillan is still performing to sold-out audiences in major arenas all over the world - 48 countries last year - with Deep Purple and is still on tour supporting the most recent Purple album 'Rapture of the Deep'. On top of all these activities Ian finally found the time to recorded his long awaited new solo album 'One Eye to Morocco':

Ian Gillan about 'One Eye To Morocco':

"It all started in Cracow, Poland, late December 2005. In a café in where Oscar Schindler had been active during dark times in the mid-20th century, I sat across the table from my friend Tommy Djiubinski who was telling me all about it. He was deep into this amazing story when a woman caught my eye as she walked behind Tommy. Quite naturally I followed her graceful movement; I was drawn by her magnetism.

'Sorry, what were you saying?'
'Ah, Ian you have one eye to Morocco.'

This meant I was not concentrating on the matter in hand; I apologised and we carried on.

Later I was curious about the expression so Tommy gave me the full version…You have one eye to Morocco and the other to The Caucasus. We could only guess the origins but agreed the epigram meant being distracted from the party line by the lure of something exotic.

So I filed it away in Incomplete Proverbs, Vague Maxims or more likely Interesting Phrases.

Three years later, due to a family illness, there was an unexpected break in the Deep Purple tour schedule and so I made some calls and we looked at the making of a new album. By the time we'd finished counting there were 38 songs in various stages of completion. Roughly half of these were discounted because they need too much work in the allotted time span, and the rest were put on the 'Short List'.

There was one particular song - as yet untitled and without lyrics - that I felt should be the nucleus of the project. This song was the criterion by which all the rest would be judged and so the process was made easier by having a yardstick or even an interesting phrase - Aha!

'One Eye to Morocco' became the title of that song, and the song became the title track of the album, and there you have it - how apt."

Tracklist 'One Eye To Morocco':

1. One Eye To Morocco (Gillan/Morris)
2. No Lotion For That (Gillan/Morris)
3. Don't Stop (Gillan/Appleby)
4. Change My Ways (Gillan)
5. Girl Goes To Show (Gillan/Morris)
6. Better Days (Jackson)
7. Deal With It (Gillan/Morris)
8. Ultimate Groove (Jackson)
9. Sky Is Falling (Gillan/Morris)
10. Texas State Of Mind (Jackson)
11. It Would Be Nice (Gillan/Morris)
12. Always The Traveller (Gillan/Morris)

More information about Ian Gillan's career:

Periods of professional interest:

1962 - 1964 The Javelins
1964 - 1965 Wainwright's Gentlemen
1965 - 1969 Episode Six
1969 - 1973 Deep Purple
1976 - 1982 Various Gillan bands
1983 - 1984 Black Sabbath
1984 - 1989 Deep Purple
1989 - 1992 Solo work
1992 - Deep Purple

Significant Recordings:

Deep Purple
Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Deep Purple in Rock
Fireball
Machine Head
Made In Japan
Who Do We Think We Are
The Battle Rages On
Purpendicular
Abandon
Bananas
Rapture of the Deep

Black Sabbath
Born Again

Various Gillan Bands
Clear Air Turbulence
Scarabus
Live at the Budokan (1&2)
Mr. Universe
Glory Road
Future Shock
Double Trouble
Magic

Solo Albums
Naked Thunder
Toolbox
Dreamcatcher
Gillan's Inn (Dual disc w/DVD)
One Eye to Morocco
With Roger Glover
Accidentally on Purpose

The Javelins
Sole Agency and Representation

Books:

The Candy Horizon (poems 1969)
Autobiographies - Child in Time (1 & 2) - 1990's
Smoke This! (recent)

DVDs:

The Highway Star
Gillan's Inn
Live in Anaheim

Collections:

Singles, Gillan A and B sides plus all the videos (Demon Records)
Boxed sets of re-mastered Gillan albums (Demon Records)

Website:
You will find historical tour dates as well as other information when you explore this labyrinthine website, which includes Ian's famous articles (Dear Friends), video clips and correspondence.
www.gillan.com



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Ian Gillan Biography

Born on the Nineteenth of August, 1945 in Hounslow, England.

Ian Gillan is a singer.

His unique voice is instantly recognisable. In early days IG was heavily influenced by the young Elvis Presley, as well as Little Richard, Buddy Holly and others of that dynamic era. During his formative years he absorbed the wide range of musical genres that were flooding Britain in The Sixties.

IG met Roger Glover when he joined the harmony group Episode Six in 1965. They learned their trade touring with Dusty Springfield and performing five shows a night - eight on weekends - at joints like The Storyville Clubs in Köln and Frankfurt, as well as a long stint at the Casino du Liban near Beirut.

In 1969, both went on to become forty per cent of Deep Purple when they were enlisted as singer, bass player and nascent song writing team.

IG emerged at the beginning of the next decade as 'the voice' of Deep Purple; his approach to singing on 'Deep Purple in Rock' set new standards.

IG played the interpretive role of Jesus Christ in JC Superstar, the original London studio recording on MCA Records, 1970.

In a recent questionnaire IG chose new Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe and pop icon Britney Spears to be guests for a desert island weekend; figuring on '…a decent conversation with Putin whilst Mugabe explained himself to Spears.'

IG broke new ground in the '80s with his famous tours in previously unexplored territories (check out the gigography on his website). Sting, after going solo, requested a tour schedule 'just like Gillan'.

IG played the role of Charles Darwin in the Bolland and Bolland recording, Darwin - The Evolution, 1991.

IG has twice duetted the aria Nessun Dorma with Luciano Pavarotti, 2001 and 2003.

IG is still performing to sold-out audiences in major arenas all over the world - 48 countries last year - with Deep Purple and is currently on tour supporting the most recent album 'Rapture of the Deep', as well as recording his new album 'One Eye to Morocco'.

His interests outside music are: his family, walking, drinking in good company, scribbling his thoughts, current affairs and following the fortunes and misfortunes of QPR, the West London football club he has supported all his life. And…like all fans, he is a philosopher.

Periods of professional interest:

1962 - 1964 The Javelins

1964 - 1965 Wainwright's Gentlemen

1965 - 1969 Episode Six

1969 - 1973 Deep Purple

1976 - 1982 Various Gillan bands

1983 - 1984 Black Sabbath

1984 - 1989 Deep Purple

1989 - 1992 Solo work

1992 - (current) Deep Purple

Significant Recordings:

Deep Purple

Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Deep Purple in Rock
Fireball
Machine Head
Made In Japan
Who Do We Think We Are
Perfect Strangers
House of Blue Light
The Battle Rages On
Purpendicular
Abandon
Bananas
Rapture of the Deep

Black Sabbath

Born Again

Various Gillan Bands

Clear Air Turbulence
Scarabus
Live at the Budokan (1&2)
Mr. Universe
Glory Road
Future Shock
Double Trouble
Magic

Solo Albums

Naked Thunder
Toolbox
Dreamcatcher
Gillan's Inn (Dual disc w/DVD)

With Roger Glover

Accidentally on Purpose

The Javelins

Sole Agency and Representation

Books:

The Candy Horizon (poems 1969)
Autobiographies - Child in Time (1 & 2) - 1990's
Smoke This! (recent)

DVDs:

The Highway Star (Universal)
Gillan's Inn
Live in Anaheim

Collections:

Singles, Gillan A and B sides plus all the videos (Demon Records) Boxed sets of re-mastered Gillan albums (Demon Records)

Website:

You will find historical tour dates as well as other information when you explore this labyrinthine website, which includes Ian's famous articles (Dear Friends), video clips and correspondence. www.gillan.com

Management:

Phil Banfield - London, England.
Tel: +44 (0)207 456 8888,
phil@codaagency.com

Creative Management:

Michael Lee Jackson - Buffalo, America.
Tel: +1 716 362 0237
mj@lawjackson.com

 

Ian Gillan

- by Jeff Miers

Overview

Ian Gillan is a singer widely held to be one of the finest proponents of the British rock movement that emerged during the tail-end of the 1960s. As the throat behind Deep Purple, Gillan helped set the standard for the heavy blues- and rock & roll-based sound that dominated the 70s.

Gillan has also been widely praised for his work on the original cast recording of the Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice vehicle Jesus Christ Superstar. Gillan stole the show on this recording with his interpretive role of Jesus. Ironically - and some years later - he was asked to do a similar job in the role of Charles Darwin, for the conceptual work - The Evolution - by the brothers Bolland and Bolland (from Holland).

In addition to his continued work with Deep Purple, Gillan has fostered a successful solo career.

Early days

After three years a semi-pro - most notably with his beloved Javelins - Gillan commenced his professional career as part of the band Episode Six, which also featured vocalist Sheila Carter and bassist Roger Glover. The band excelled at an eclectic mix of folk and rock, much of it performed with a psychedelic bent. Gillan gave early evidence of his diversity as a singer, as well as his burgeoning mastery of light/shade dynamics, on Episode Six's interpretations of the Beatles' Here, There and Everywhere and the Tim Rose chestnut Morning Dew, both of which are still available on the twin-disc compilation Cornflakes and Crazy Foam: Episode Six 1964-1968 (Pure Records.)

Deep Purple: The Mk II years

During this period, Gillan and Glover began a writing partnership that endures to this day. This was a fortuitous move, as in mid-1969, Deep Purple's Jon Lord (keyboards) and Ritchie Blackmore (guitar) caught the pair in action during an Episode Six pub gig in London. Sufficiently blown away, Lord and Blackmore actively recruited Gillan and Glover. It was probably the smartest move they ever made.

Out went original Purple vocalist Rod Evans and bassist Nicky Simper; in came Gillan and Glover. Overnight, Deep Purple morphed from an interesting experiment in then-nascent heavy rock, into a lithe, versatile and incredibly powerful band able to blend the influences of classical music, the blues, jump-swing, Little Richard-esque rock & roll, and pre-Beatles pop.

Gillan and Glover dived in at the deep end, appearing with the band and the London Symphony Orchestra to perform Lord's Concerto for Group and Orchestra before a capacity crowd inside London's Royal Albert Hall. Gillan was a beacon in the midst of this ambitious work, his vocals adding indelible emotion and considerable drama to a piece that, nearly 40 years on, still stands as the most successful pairing of heavy rock and classical motifs.

The real business at hand, however, was the recording of Deep Purple in Rock. One of the defining moments in British heavy rock, the album leapt from the speakers with intent, its visceral blend of instrumental virtuosity, indelible songwriting, and Gillan's jaw-dropping vocal performance combining with a force that could peel the paint from your walls. With Speed King, Gillan's love for Little Richard's Speciality Records-era work was in full evidence, while Child in Time was nothing short of an epic, its dramatic pacing and emotional cadences punctuated by Gillan's genre-defining vocal. Into the Fire laid the template not only for the work the Gillan-led version of Purple would do in the '70s, but for heavy rock of the era in general.

Fireball followed, by which time Purple had established itself as one of the most mercurial, intense and musical live acts of the day. This album quite possibly trumped its predecessor, as the songwriting became a more cohesive force, and Gillan's rapier wit and lyrical acumen began to assert themselves. It didn't hurt that each member of Purple was a virtuoso - guitarist Blackmore forged a wholly unique style out of the raw materials of Scotty Moore's work with Elvis Presley, Cliff Gallup's searing solos behind Gene Vincent, and the classical music he so loved; Lord was equal parts Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and the composer who'd made Concerto for Group and Orchestra possible; Ian Paice was that rarest of beasts in the world of heavy rock, a drummer who could swing and whose subtleties were as commanding as his ability to drive the whole thing forward; Glover created one of the deepest pockets in rock, and proved quite handy in the songwriting department.

Atop all of this, Gillan managed to shine like no other, his magnificent, authoritative voice agile enough to move from a whisper to a scream with conviction.

Machine Head solidified Purple's place at the head of the class, and was a massive worldwide hit. We all know the story of Smoke on the Water, but that infamous, evergreen tune shared company with some incredibly ambitious, genre-defying rock in the form of Highway Star, Pictures of Home, Maybe I'm A Leo and the jump-blues burner Lazy.

Alas, Who Do We Think We Are would be Gillan's last Purple album of the '70s, but what a way to go out. Woman from Tokyo managed to boast both an infectious pop hook and a mighty, meaty riff. Rat Bat Blue proved no one could out-riff Purple, and Gillan's vocal dripped with soul and bluesy swagger. Our Lady and Super Trooper were downright Beatle-esque, and found Gillan layering vocal harmonies to sublime effect.

And then it was over. Unable to work with the increasingly bull-headed Blackmore, both Gillan and Glover left Purple. The band would soldier on, but only made one truly worthwhile album without the Gillan-Glover team, in the form of Burn.

Solo years

After taking a few years off to pursue business interests - including the purchase of a recording studio in London - Gillan formed the Ian Gillan Band. In 1977, the band released the albums Clear Air Turbulence and Scarabus, the latter of which solidified the group's progressive blend of fusion and hard blues. When the Ian Gillan Band broke up, Gillan settled into a strong groove with the albums Mr. Universe, Glory Road, Future Shock and Magic, all of which charted in the UK Top 10. These were more direct rock records than the IGB efforts, and perhaps offered a more suitable setting for Gillan's immense voice.

In 1983, Gillan hooked up with the post-Ronnie James Dio version of Black Sabbath to record the album Born Again which, though suffering a bit from murky production, found Gillan in top form on the barn-burning near-punk Trashed and the decidedly haunting title tune. Keep It Warm was a witty and charming love song as only Gillan could write it, and benefited from a lovely double-tracked vocal. The ensuing tour featured the famous Stonehenge stage set, immortalized - albeit in miniature - by the movie This is Spinal Tap.

Gillan's next move was more than welcomed by the legion of Deep Purple fans hungry for a reunion of the band's strongest lineup. Gillan, Glover, Blackmore, Lord and Paice reconvened in Stowe, Vermont for sessions that would yield the mighty Perfect Strangers, a record that more than ably picked up where the band had left off a decade previously. The record sold quite well, but more importantly, it was an artistic triumph and boasted some of the finest work of the band's career.

The House of Blue Light followed, and like Perfect Strangers, was full of strong Purple material. Things were not all roses in the band, however. Blackmore had become increasingly difficult regarding inter-band relations. This time Gillan was fired.

Teaming with Glover at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas, Gillan recorded Accidentally On Purpose, a widely variegated collection of tunes that, though it didn't sell particularly well, brought back to the singer something he'd been missing in Purple - a sense of joy in the collaborative process of music-making.

The solo years Part II

Gillan bounced with a vengeance, launching into a prolific and productive period of his solo work, and releasing the albums Naked Thunder and Toolbox in rapid suggestion in 1990 and '91 respectively. Toolbox in particular found Gillan at yet another peak, as he and guitarist Steve Morris dropped a raw, raucous collection of tunes into an environment seriously sullied by the dreadful shenanigans of hair-metal, which was then enjoying its last gasp.

Recognising the terrible mistake, the Deep Purple (band and management and record company) dragged Gillan back into the fold, against the wishes of Ritchie Blackmore. Sadly, the artistic merits of Toolbox were not to be matched by Gillan's third effort to make the Mark II version of Deep Purple a workable entity. The Battle Rages On has the dubious honor of being the only Purple album that Gillan and Glover participated in to fall short of hard rock genius. This could only be because they had to resuscitate tracks pre-written for someone else. The record has its moments, but is a conflicted affair, its aural presence echoing the inter-personal difficulties within the band. Purple toured behind the record, but Blackmore had grown increasingly distant from the others, and his live playing during this period became self-indulgent to the point of narcissism.

This time, it was Blackmore who split, eventually entering into a Renaissance music project with his girl friend, which operates today beneath the banner Blackmore's Night. The rest of the Mk II lineup remained committed to each other, however, and with the unanimous decision to recruit former Dixie Dregs/Kansas guitarist Steve Morse on the table, experienced what can only be described as a rebirth.

Purpendicular was the product of this new post-Blackmore union, and it measures up to every album Purple made prior to, even surpassing several of the classic efforts. Morse brought a new fluidity to the proceedings, and happily, played nothing like Blackmore. His jazz-informed virtuosity blended beautifully with Lord's classical leanings, the Glover-Paice rhythm section found a new take on the groove, and Gillan outdid himself, both in terms of lyric and performance.

The band has not made a sub-par record since, with Abandon (1998) Bananas (2003) and Rapture of the Deep (2005) documenting an ensemble at the peak of its powers, even as Lord retired from the road following Abandon, to be replaced by the eminent Don Airey.

Ian Gillan has twice duetted with the late Luciano Pavarotti, singing Nessun Dorma at benefit shows in Italy. In a touching tribute on Gillan's recently released DVD Highway Star - A Journey in Rock, the maestro says of Gillan…Some people say he's crazy, and some people say he's a genius…personally I think he is a genius.

Gillan's Inn

In 2006, Gillan celebrated his 40th year as a recording artist with the boldly ambitious Gillan's Inn, recorded largely in Buffalo, NY, and featuring a veritable who's-who list of the rock elite, among them Joe Satriani, Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Uli John Roth, Jeff Healey, Joe Elliott, and Purple cohorts Morse, Glover, Lord, Paice and Airey. For this album, Gillan recast his favorites from throughout his career in a modern setting that served them well.

Currently, Gillan is fitting work on the follow-up to Gillan's Inn between touring and recording dates with Deep Purple.

 

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