Dear Friends

DF 71 - Socially distanced thoughts triggered, with smiling in unison. (December 2020)

December 2020

Dear F-r-I e-n-d-s,

How you all doing? It has been a while.

With what will be a year or so off the road there is plenty of time to enjoy the other side of life. At least that is what I told myself last March when I got back from Mexico; only to discover that there is no other side to life. It is all intertwined, with music as the driving force and everything else clinging on for inspiration and succour. It so happens that music - being the only common factor - primarily accounts for all my friends and associates as well as prompting m-o-v-e-m-e-n-t and triggering t-h-o-u-g-h-t-s.

I hope you will have noticed the responsibly distanced letters in the three words so far that could most easily be construed in the current climate as DANGEROUS. We must be careful with our enthusiasm. People are watching. Why not write it all down in a notebook instead, that should be lurgy-proof, but make sure to hide it from the vile inquisitors, the manky-wokers; those who see nothing but grey in the spectrum of life. For they aim to extinguish every spark of refreshing thought until each element of social life and altered history is just right-on, except for free speech of course, which they, the manky-wokers, abhor above all and have marked out for special attention. Simply because there is no guidance in the bigots' handbook about how to deal with reason, therefore it must be beaten at all costs; utterly destroyed.

Apart from the secretive activities of the great but mostly invisible global players who are coldly plotting ways to profit from our infected fragility, nothing much is happening. And I notice that we are more reflective at this slower pace.

It is time to think about the future, who knows what might have happened in the past.

Many years ago, I was dragged screaming from a bar in Copenhagen...well not really. Erik Thomsen, our beloved Danish promoter, encouraged me, in his own hilarious and Machiavellian way, to sing along on a Christmas song with a fine band called Pretty Maids. I returned to the bar and forgot all about it, until many years later at the Hard Rock Café in Tokyo (don't ask).

Hopefully, our dear Ed. will be able to provide some mechanism that enables you to hear this song - it's called 'A Merry Jingle', and the voice on it is mine, although you probably knew that anyway.

A few years after that I went on a sleigh ride in Poland with another dear friend, promoter Tommy Dziubinski, and the bells did indeed jingle in my ears for a few days after the almost vertical event which took place up, and then down, a narrow ice-packed trail alongside a roaring river, ensuring certain death for any one of us vodka-soaked passengers who might be thrown off the trailer on a sharp bend, or the lot of us, should one of the horses stumble.

Which reminds me (que?) In the early nineteen-seventies there was a short-lived movement for Free Music which spread across Europe and, to the dismay of fans, musicians and promoters, had activists rampaging and busting up gigs; particularly in West Germany where Deep Purple performed frequently.

The Edgar Broughton Band was on the same Harvest/EMI label as Deep Purple and supported us once or twice at concerts as an opening act. I was witness to a conversation between Edgar and the promoters, Avram Marcel and Marek Lieberberg of Mama Concerts, in the production office prior to one of those shows.

Edgar was on a rant, demanding that music should be free and accusing Marcel and Avram of being exploitative capitalist pigs. It did not make a scrap of sense but on and on he went, until Marek pointed to his watch and said, 'That's all very well Edgar, but you're on in five minutes.'

'OK' said Edgar, 'but we haven't been paid yet; it says in my contract we get paid before the show.'

'But you said all music should be free.' Smiled the promoters in unison.

'Well, obviously that doesn't apply to me.' Spluttered an outraged Broughton.

At another point in that long tour which started in July 1970 we played The Neue Universität in Hiedelberg. The show was good with a lovely audience, but afterwards a rabid hate-mob attacked the venue, scaring off all the security guards as well as the kids and leaving us, the group, stranded in an upstairs dressing room. We built a barricade on the stairs and broke up furniture to give us some chair legs for protection.

Then they came - quite a lot of them - charging up the stone steps until they turned the corner and saw the barricade and us standing behind it, laughing at them. There was a stand-off for a few seconds until they got their mojo back, began roaring again and were about to charge, started raining. Indoors. They stopped - puzzled - and looked up to see one of our roadies, Mick Angus, who had climbed another flight of stairs and was letting loose an impressive parabola of piss on their heads. They retreated without a word.

Police everywhere should note that you do not actually need water cannon to break up a riot.

So, during the winter solstice, I will raise a glass to all the promoters for whom it has been my privilege to work. These are the guys who make huge investments and sometimes make terrible losses, in order to keep live music on the road and on our doorsteps.

And of course, to you Dear Friends, who have really kept us going for the last four centuries.


Ian Gillan

Copyright © Ian Gillan 2020

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