Ian Gillan on his humble beginnings with Deep Purple: ‘A jumble of jamming and endless racket’

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Ian Gillan, fresh off a triumphal return in Now What?! with Deep Purple, looks back at his lengthy career — beginning with his very first appearance with the band.

That came on July 10, 1969, at a music venue called the Speakeasy, located in the West End of London. Gillan had only had a few weeks to get acclimated, having just come over from the group Episode Six with bassist Roger Glover.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Guitarist Steve Morse takes us inside Deep Purple’s stirring comeback release ‘Now What,?!’ and how he’s worked to put his own stamp on the legendary band.]

“The rehearsals were a jumble of jamming and endless racket,” Gillan tells Amp Rock TV in the video below. “The gig was pretty much the same, but there were some kind of beginnings and endings (to the songs). The rest was all improvised. I looked at Roger, and I thought ‘well, this is it. This is what we’ve been dreaming of.'”

Together with Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice, they would quickly form the band’s classic-era lineup.

The early highlights were many, including the celebrated albums Machine Head and Made in Japan, though by the release of the uneven Who Do We Think We Are in 1973, Gillan was ready to bolt. “It’s like having babies,” Gillan admits. “Some of them are good, and some of them are not so good — but you love them all anyway.

Gillan subsequently formed his own bands, and even had a stint in Black Sabbath, before returning to the Deep Purple fold in 1984, where he remains to this day. Now What?!, a huge international hit, is the group’s first album since 2005.

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