Questions - you got 'em; answers - we got 'em

13 - US tour, Lennon, flamenco, IG's instruments & Perfect Strangers

From: (Jessi LaVay)

Dear Ian,
I am a big fan that lives in Alaska. I am going to make the journey to a few of the shows in the midwest. Is the set list going to be like the one you did in OZ? Or will we get just the big DP hits. Can't wait to see ya in the States.

I was recently turned on to Deep Purple music.I was looking thru my older brother's record collection. DP and everything connected with you dominated it. Now I can't get enough of it. I live in Alaska and one of my questions is. Has DP or any of your solo bands made it to Alaska?? Any chance in the future? I know Alaska must be a small market to do a show here.

Were the lyrics to Puget Sound true?? Would you rather tour a country on a bus or fly around by plane? You and the and the rest of DP have brought a lot of enjoyment to me and my friends.

Thank you so much,
Jessi LaVay-Birchwood Alaska USA
PS:You look great with the short graying hair.

Dear Jessi,
Thanks for making the journey. I've stopped over in Anchorage a couple of times but have never been lucky enough to play there. Maybe one day. The words to Puget Sound are true, yes. I much prefer to go by road and a tour bus is a great way of getting around. You see much much more countryside. I sit for hours writing, reading or just gazing out of the window. For long journeys we normally do overnighters. After the show we sit and have a drink until the adrenalin runs down. Then it's time to climb into your bunk, but many times I've watched the sun come up. I remember one time sitting up all night with Jon Lord and Joe Satriani. Joe hit the sack and as the dawn was rising I said to Jon, 'shall we have just one more glass of wine'. The bottle was nearly empty so I had to uncork another. We can't do it all the time unfortunately, because of logistics and personal choice, i.e. not everyone in the band feels the same as me about buses.

I'd like to explain something about the philosophy or the ethos of Deep Purple. You know, in simple terms, we really enjoy our work. We don't look back much because it's challenging to be expressive and the band is in a dynamic phase (it happens from time to time). I could never imagine hearing Jon, Steve, Ian, Roger or myself saying 'let's just do the hits'. The only limitation on this tour is time. Both DP and Lynyrd Skynyrd will be doing 75 mins, so we'll just have to be more creative than usual. The band attitude is very confident right now so if we need to space out on 'Fools' or get lyrical on 'Mary Long' or get down on 'No-one Came' then I'm sure we will, with those songs or similar, right along with 'Smoke' and 'Highway Star', 'Ted the Mechanic' and 'Perfect Strangers' and I'm sure that if Steve gets his way (as usual) there will be 'Hush' (Oops, that's a big hit). There will be horses eyes and bits of improvisation. In that sense I suppose you could say the show will be like the one in Australia, and by that I mean in essence.
Cheers, ig

From: "Sommer" (

G'day Ian,
I was just wondering how the death of John Lennon affected you? I was not even alive when John died, yet I can still feel that he was a very special man. Did his death have as big an effect on you as Elvis's death? Elvis was a bigger insipation for you wasn't he? But you could see his downfall from miles away, wheras John's was out of the blue.

Did you ever meet John Lennnon, or have any contact with him? What is your favorite John Lennon song, and why?

Paul Sommer, Sydney - Oz

G'day Paul,
John's death affected everyone I believe, in the sense that here was a man who said a lot of things for us. He was brave and foolish and tender and his songs embraced those very qualities. My favourite John Lennon song is 'Twist and Shout' I know it's an Isley Brothers song and he did it with the Beatles, but I'd never heard an English singer let go like that before and for me it's pure John Lennon. I met John a couple of times, once in a club in London in the late sixties and once in Tokyo where we were next door neighbours in the same hotel. I think it was the New Otani Hotel. I got conned into doing a naff version of 'Get Back' on a TV show, John was most amused. Elvis was a bigger inspiration, that's true. I wrote a song called 'Poor Boy Hero' just before he died. It told the sad story of his musical demise and how I vowed never to follow that route. I think it was Dame Kiri herself who said that the young Elvis had the most beautiful voice she had ever heard. I would agree with that. I don't miss Elvis or John however because thay are powerfully present.
Cheers, ig

From: Gajic (

Hello, Ian.
I would like to express my thanks for your influence on me as a musician. I've been a musician for 30 years and have been exposed to a variety of music in my formal training as a classical and jazz guitarist. I taught music in several high schools in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, for the past 14 years and have used examples of your vocal melodies to teach students composition of melody.

I remember listening to "Child in Time" and "Fireball" for the first time when they were released, it still is great to spin those CDs - I never seem to get tired of them. I met you at the Elmacombo in Toronto when you had your solo band. I was a committed rocker with long black curly hair in a Deep Purple cover band who inspired to play in your band after Purple broke up, but I didn't express this to you at the time of our meeting. Thanks for being very receptive and positive in your conversation with me. It was most impressionable and left me with a very positive image of who you were.

Keep singing to us all, I'm sure that there are hundreds of thousands of us out there who feel the same as I do toward your melodies. You are the fireball male vocalist of the twentieth century!

Sing On!
Vas Gajic

Hello Vas,
Thanks for the letter and the memories. I've been listening to a lot of flamenco guitar lately and now I'm ready to get into some classical and jazz guitar. So your e-mail came at a good time. Any recommendations?
Cheers, ig

From: Frank Fitzgerald

Hi Ian,
I would like to know what instruments you can play and which one you enjoy most. You always seem to have a great time with the congas and harmonica but I think I have seen you with a guitar as well. Also, thanks for all the great songs both old and new. I just watched the "Concerto" DVD and I really like the way the band and orchestra sound together. Very powerful but also very musical, cool!

I was at the concert in Mansfield MA during the last US tour and it was sooo much fun!

Thanks again,
Frank Fitzgerald

Hi Frank,
Thanks for the comments and question. I do love playing my guitar and I often sit around all night just playing and singing. It's not something that anyone would want to listen to, more of a work out really where I explore rhythms and weird tunes. I have quite a collection of percussion instruments at home and I often sit for ages tinkling away with temple bells or hand drums or claves. The harmonica is another favourite and I was surprised to see how a blues harp could fit so comfortably into a Greek style when I recorded a song called Getaway some years ago with my friend Michalis in Athens. Cheers, ig

From: James Heseltine

To Ian Gillan:
I have wondered for a long time about the meaning to the lyrics of the song Perfect Strangers. A couple of years ago now I posted a theory on the DP website. The response from other users was positive but, well, now I can ask the man who penned those very lyrics. The theory went like this. The song was in fact a tribute to Deep Purple fans, and of the awkwardness of the relationship between performer and audience.

You ask the question that perhaps troubles performers around the world and throughout time as they ponder their mortality and fame and influence: Can you remember my name as I flow through your life. You are aware of the significance of your art, and art it is (I do not mean that as compliment, but as a statement of fact) and how for the die-hard fan the music does indeed flow through their lives. It becomes a point of reference and comparison. The interesting thing is that as a performer and yourself a fan of Elvis, for one, you stand in the position of being able to relate to that admiring "fan feeling", and all that it means, while at the same time being the object of that feeling. A feeling, I guess, that can be both satisfying and uncomfortable when you are on the receiving end of it. In this sense not only is it true that I am the echo of your past, but it is also true that "we are the echo of your past".

The next verse talks of the experience of standing on stage when the stage lights go out across the audience. As a bass guitarist in a small-time cover band, I remember doing a New Years gig in Kalbarri on the back of a flat-top semi-trailer. When the stage lights flashed out across the audience indeed I saw the distant faces shine. And so it must have seemed that a thousand warriors I have known for you. It took a year for me to make the connection between my personal experience and the distant faces shining in Perfect Strangers. But that seemed to give me the key to understanding the song.

And the spotlight, the old Super Trouper as I recently discovered, shining upon you would be like a strand of silver hanging through the sky. And I guess it would be touching more than we see as you go through the all-giving persona of the performer, the blur between who you are and what you do. And for the audience (and the performer), the ambience of a rock concert summons unknown spirits, the voice of ages.

Every time you use the word "you" in the song there is a distinct ambiguity between referring to the audience and referring to yourself.

Finally, as we (the fans) listen to the music, to the words, on the radio, on CD, or at a concert you implore with us giving the melancholic warning "If your hear me talking on the wind, you've got to understand: we must remain perfect strangers. The fact that this song is the only one of the Perfect Strangers era to survive gives a clue as to the significance of this song. There must be a stunning poignancy every time you sing it.

Okay Ian, that's me done. I'm 31 years old, and I have been listening to Deep Purple since I was 11 (or younger) and the band really has become an echo of my past. Thanks for the performances through the years (I saw you in Perth in '84, and in '99). Thanks for the wise lyrics, and the wacky ones, the clever ones and even the dumb ones. All the best for the new Album, see you in Perth in March I hope - haven't bought the tickets yet, but they're still advertising so I guess they're not sold out.


Hi James,
That's pretty in-depth interpretation and I'd say you're about spot-on. You're right about the tickets, there are not sold out yet. They've done around twenty-five thousand so far which I reckon is pretty good but we've still got a bit to do. I'm looking forward to it.
Cheers, ig

Return to:
Back to the Q&a index