Ian Gillan Rules Out Reunion with Ritchie Blackmore if Deep Purple Is Elected to Rock Hall
There’s always a fair amount of fuss when bands refuse to reunite with former members for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performances, but Deep Purple‘s Ian Gillan knows exactly where those groups are coming from.
Using Gene Simmons‘ and Paul Stanley‘s decision not to do a set with ex-bandmates Ace Frehley and Peter Criss following Kiss‘ induction into the Hall as an example, Rolling Stone asked Gillan if, should Deep Purple be inducted, they’d be willing to play with former guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. “This is the longest that any lineup has ever been together in this band,” he responded simply. “And it would be unconscionable to think about bringing Ritchie in.”
Gillan’s stance regarding Blackmore, who left in 1993, is nothing new, but he stopped to note that his point of view has more to do with honoring the work done by the current version of the band — and the talent of Blackmore’s replacement, Steve Morse — than old grudges. “I don’t have an issue with Ritchie, nor does anyone. I’ve been in touch with Ritchie recently and everything’s cool, so there’s no bitter, personal problem. We’re too old for that and everything’s in the past, but no. That would be out of the question.”
While he made a point of staying as diplomatic as possible about the Rock Hall in general, saying the band doesn’t “really understand it, but if I treat it with respect, we’ll see what happens,” Gillan made it clear that if Blackmore’s involvement in a ceremony set was required for their induction, he’d turn it down. “If that’s the stumbling block, fair enough,” he shrugged. “Never the twain shall meet.”
Of course, Deep Purple isn’t exactly crying out for the extra help — their most recent release, 2013’s ‘Now What?!,’ was well-received, and Gillan was speaking with Rolling Stone on the eve of the band’s biggest U.S. tour in years. But most importantly, he sees Blackmore’s departure as a crucial turning point in the group’s ongoing development.
“Let’s get the record straight: I was just as much of an a–hole as Ritchie was,” Gillan admitted. “But Ritchie carried it on for a little longer. Had Ritchie stayed with the band, it would have been all over. It would have just ended. Without any doubt in anyone’s mind — it was all over. So the day he walked out was the day we had to rebuild. … It’s good to go through those crises. It doesn’t do your heart any good, but that was the spirit of the band. So to go back to the question of ‘Would we do the show with Ritchie?’ I think that would be hugely disrespectful to what I call the living, breathing, Deep Purple. There’s always been a living, breathing, Deep Purple, good or bad at any stage of our evolution, and how it is now is particularly healthy and it wouldn’t be right.”