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Ian Gillan (born 19 August 1945 in Hounslowmarker, London) is an Englishmarker rock music vocalist and songwriter, best known as the lead singer and lyricist for Deep Purple. During his career Gillan had a year-long stint as the vocalist for Black Sabbath and sang the role of Jesus Christ in the original concept recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

Early life

Gillan's father was a storekeeper at a factory in London. He grew up moving between council flats before settling in a three-bedroom semi-detached on a council estate in Cranford, Hounslow.


Early years

Between 1962 and 1964 Gillan was in a band called The Javelins. He then joined Wainwright's Gentlemen until 1965. Between 1965 and '69, when he joined Deep Purple, he achieved minor success with Episode Six.

Deep Purple

After Deep Purple members Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore saw one of his lead vocal performances with Episode Six, they approached him to replace Rod Evans in Deep Purple.

Gillan was a member of Deep Purple from 1969 through to 1973, appearing on such now-classic Deep Purple albums as In Rock, Fireball, Machine Head, Made In Japan and Who Do We Think We Are. During these years, he also was the voice of Jesus on the original 1970 album recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. He was offered the lead role in the 1973 film adaptation. Ian demanded not only to be paid for his role in the movie but insisted, without the consent of his manager, that the entire band be paid because filming would conflict with a scheduled tour. The producers declined and Ian continued on in the band.


Gillan joined a reunited Deep Purple in early 1984, recording the highly-acclaimed comeback album Perfect Strangers. He was sacked in 1989, but rejoined in 1992 to record the album The Battle Rages On. During the 1993 tour for this album, Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple for good. The rest of Deep Purple carried on, eventually replacing Blackmore with Steve Morse, and Gillan remains in the band to the present day.

Relationship with Blackmore

Gillan was room-mates with Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. In a 2006 interview, Gillan said Blackmore "turned into a weird guy and the day he walked out of the tour was the day the clouds disappeared and the day the sunshine came out and we haven't looked back since."
He added that "there are certain personal issues that I have with Ritchie, which means that I will never speak to him again. Nothing I'm going to discuss publicly, but deeply personal stuff."

In March 2009, Gillan claimed that prior to the 1993 reunion of the band, Blackmore had requested $250,000 be deposited in his bank account in order for him to continue with the reunion. The other members of the band did not receive anything. This claim was subsequently denied by Blackmore's solicitor in a statement released soon after.

Away from Deep Purple

Namesake groups

After his first departure from Deep Purple, Gillan retired from performing to pursue business ventures. However, encouraged by his reception at the Butterfly Ball in 1975, he decided to resume his singing career. He formed the Ian Gillan Band. The early band sound had a distinct jazz-rock aspect which proved unpopular and was replaced by a more high powered hard rock sound as Gillan changed the lineup and shortened the group's name to Gillan. Writing the bulk of new material with keyboardist Colin Towns, the release of Mr. Universe saw Ian Gillan back in the UK charts, although the independent record company the album came out on – Acrobat – folded soon after the album was released, prompting a contract with Richard Branson's Virgin Records. Through several more lineup changes the band released a string of UK hit singles and successful albums including Glory Road, Future Shock, Double Trouble, and finally Magic.

In 1982 Ian Gillan announced the band would fold as he needed to rest his damaged vocal cords. The tone and style of his singing changed considerably when he eventually returned. His voice had a more nasal tone and this can be heard on albums he has made from 1983 to the present day. His use of multi tracking backing vocals also became highly prominent.

Black Sabbath

In 1983 he joined Black Sabbath (replacing Ronnie James Dio) for a year to record the Born Again album and tour (on which Black Sabbath played the Deep Purple standard "Smoke on the Water" as an encore). He was largely dissatisfied with his stint in Sabbath, notably the final mix of the Born Again album (though he liked the songs and their original mixes), and its cover, which featured a demonic-looking baby. He was quoted in Kerrang! in 1984 as saying "I looked at the cover and puked." In an interview on Part 2 of the VHS, The Black Sabbath Story (1992), he said, "I was the worst singer Black Sabbath ever had..." However, he stated in the same interview that he liked the members of Sabbath personally: "I love Tony, love Geezer."

2000s solo activity

In June 2004 Gillan performed guest lead vocals on Smokescreen as part of Dean Howard – Volume One. Dean Howard (T'pau/Gillan/Repo Depo) co wrote some of the material that went towards Gillan's Dreamcatcher album.

In February 2005 Ian Gillan guested at Jeff Healey's concert in Toronto, Canada and was also among artists performing at the House of Rock concert in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In April 2006 Gillan released a CD/multimedia project to document his 40-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 includes a re-recorded selection of his Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and solo tracks.
Ian Gillan at the Sunflower Jam, London, 2008.
It was produced by Nick Blagona. In a recent interview, Gillan announced that his solo albums from the 1970s and 1980s would be re-issued late in 2006 through the Demon record company. These albums began to be released in early 2007.

Also, on September 11, 2006, Ian Gillan promoted the Gillan's Inn tour by having local guitarists compete through local radio stations to play on stage with the band during the famous song "Smoke on the Water". The promotion was titled "Smoke This!". On the September 11th show, Lars Ulrich from the band Metallica joined Ian Gillan on stage for the song "Smoke on the Water" along with the local contest winner David Gizzarelli. Joe Satriani was scheduled to join the lineup as well, but was called to the studio for last minute revisions.

In 2006 a single called Eternity was released for the Japanese Xbox 360 game Blue Dragon, composed by Nobuo Uematsu and featuring the vocals of Gillan. That same song was reused in the fan-made, freeware RPG game Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden for battles against VinceBorg2050 (a combination of cyborg & Vince Carter). The Eternity file in the Barkley game music folder is labeled "jesus christ the guy from deep purple sang this".

On 31 March 2006 Gillan appeared at the Tommy Vance tribute concert in London. He was accompanied by Roger Glover, Steve Morris, Dean Howard, Michael Lee Jackson, Harry James, Sim Jones and Richard Cottle.

Also in 2006, 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 April 2007, Gillan released a DVD Highway Star: A Journey In Rock. The DVD has 6 hours of footage including documentaries and music clips.

In June 2007, he sang with the group Sed Nove and Ann Wilson in the Festival of Music in Paris.

In February 2008 Gillan released a double live album on Edel Records, Live in Anaheim that features Gillan and Deep Purple classic songs and several rarities. A companion DVD was released in May 2008.

On 3 May 2008 Ian Gillan performed at the Jeff Healey memorial concert in Toronto, Canada.

He released a new studio album entitled One Eye to Morocco in March 2009.

In recent years Ian Gillan has been performing occasionally with orchestras in Europe singing mainly Deep Purple hits (2007: Greece, 2008: Italy, 2009: Germany, Poland). During his visit in Poland, in August 2009, Ian Gillan was presented with the plaque at the Gdansk Walk of Fame.

On 2 October 2009 ,in honour of the 20th anniversary of 'Rock Aid Armenia', Gillan together with Tony Iommi, Geoff Downes, and the project organizer Jon Dee were received by the Prime Minister of Armenia who awarded them with the republic's Orders of Honour.

Personal life


In 1984, Gillan married his girlfriend Bron, to whom he had dedicated "Keep It Warm" from Black Sabbath's 1983 album Born Again. They have twice since renewed their marriage vows. The couple have one daughter, Grace. Gillan currently lives in southern Portugalmarker, having moved there in the late 2000s.

Gillan's mother, Audrey Parkinson, often visits him while he is touring with Deep Purple in the United Kingdommarker. She can often be seen sitting to the side of the stage.


He is a passionate football fan, supporting Queens Park Rangers F.C. He is also a big fan of cricket.

Gillan is well-known for his intolerance of aggressive crowd security personnel at concerts. On 15 August 1998, he was charged with assault after striking a security guard on the head with a microphone.

In 2004, he was banned from driving for 16 months and fined £500 for being twice over the legal alcohol limit.

His surname is often misspelled as "Gillian". Gillan himself made light of this in the lyrics to "MTV", a track from Deep Purple's 2005 album Rapture of the Deep.


With Episode Six

  • Put Yourself In My Place (1987)
  • BBC Radio 1 Live 1998/1969 (1997)
  • The Complete Episode Six (1991)
  • Cornflakes and Crazyfoam (2002)
  • Love, Hate, Revenge (2005)
Compilation albums of songs recorded between 1965 and 1969

With Deep Purple

Studio albums

Numerical values indicate highest position achieved in the United Kingdom album charts.

Live albums

As Ian Gillan Band (1975-78) and Gillan (1978-82)

With Black Sabbath


With The Javelins

  • Sole Agency and Representation (1994)

Guest Appearances

  • Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)
  • Rock Aid Armenia (1990)
  • Pretty Maids – In Santa's Claws (1990)
  • The Bolland Project – Darwin The Evolution (1991)
  • Mihalis Rakintzhs – Getaway (1993)
  • Ray Slijngaard & Ian Gillan – Smoke On The Water Rock 'N' Rap Extravaganza (1998)
  • Jill Towers – Welcome to Dreamfields (1999)
  • Dean Howard – Volume One (2004)
  • Rock School – Movie Soundtrack (2005)
  • Leslie West – Guitarded (2005)
  • Blue Dragon – Video Game Soundtrack (2006)
  • Michael Lee Jackson – In a Heartbeat (2006)
  • Hoochie Coochie Men & Jon Lord – Danger. White Men Dancing (2007)


  • Gillan, Ian (1980), Candy Horizon, book of poems
  • Gillan, Ian (1998), Ian Gillan: The Autobiography of Deep Purple's Lead Singer. Blake Pub, ISBN 1857823206. (2nd ed./1st ed. – 1993)
  • Gillan, Ian (2006), Smoke This!: The Warblings, Rants, Philosophies, and Musings from the Singer of Deep Purple. Immergent, ISBN 0978825403.


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