Ian Gillan led Deep Purple to a triumphal return with 2013’s Now What?!, but that doesn’t mean questions about his longevity haven’t persisted.
The 68-year-old rocker joined Deep Purple in 1969 as it rebuilt for its most celebrated era, remaining through a series of career-defining discs through 1973, including 1970’s Deep Purple in Rock, and both 1972’s Machine Head and Made in Japan.
There followed two more terms with Deep Purple, including 1984-89 and this on-going stint beginning in 1992. Along the way, Gillan was also part of the celebrated Perfect Strangers comeback release, and then led the group through the departure of founder Ritchie Blackmore — who was replaced by current member Steve Morse.
Morse, however, remains the baby of the group, at 59. Roger Glover, like Gillan, is also 68. Don Airey and Ian Paice, the latter of whom has been part of every Deep Purple lineup down through the years, are both 65.
All of that history might have led someone else to thoughts of retirement. Someone who’s not named Ian Gillan.
Instead, his response to such questions is as timeless as it is blunt.
“We have been called old rockers, rock pensioners and dinosaurs,” Gillan tells Cicero. “I understand that, of course, if the young ones say: ‘Step aside, Grandpa! Die at last!’ I think to myself then stop: ‘Fuck you.'”