In a new interview with Tales From The Road, DEEP PURPLE singer Ian Gillan addressed his longstanding feud with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.
When asked if he is still in contact with Ritchie and whether there is any chance at all of the guitarist ever sharing the stage with DEEP PURPLE again, Ian responded: “No. The answer to your question is yes, we are in touch. Tensions eased quite a lot after we got hold of our business affairs and sorted everything out. There were previous managers from the past who had not done things exactly as you would like. I didn’t get paid for 10 years when I was with DEEP PURPLE — in the big years — and goodness knows what happened to all that. And there were other tensions too. And needless to say, it was all pretty nasty when we finished and Ritchie walked out.
“But we’re too old for that now. We’ve both written some pleasant notes via our managers. I can’t write to Ritchie or phone him because he doesn’t have a telephone, he doesn’t have a computer. He lives in a world of greensleeves — he lives in a medieval world, and he has messages given to him and that sort of thing. But he’s sent some pleasant words to me, and I’ve sent some pleasant words to him. There are still issues; there are still bones of contention. I’ve seen a lot of rubbish being spoken — it’s not worth even rising to the occasion — but I hear [former DEEP PURPLE singer] David Coverdale and others talking about what happened at the Rock And Roll Of Fame. Well, we were very kind to everybody, the current band. And we did invite Ritchie to play ‘Smoke On The Water’ with us at the ceremony, but he declined. So, [those] are just opportunistic remarks from the others.
“We’ve never had any antagonism towards Ritchie,” Ian continued. “He has his own interpretations, and the rest of us have our interpretations, so it’s really not worth being fired up about it. But I think probably this late in our career, and with things moving along so pleasantly for the band, it would naturally enough — we discussed this years and years ago when it was first talked about — it would be a circus and it would be a distraction to everything we’re doing, to be honest. It would be no fun at all, because we don’t work that way anymore.”
Last year, Coverdale discussed how he and and Glenn Hughes were treated by DEEP PURPLE ahead of their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction in 2016.
He said: “[Ritchie Coverdale and I] had been talking about it. We’d been nominated before and never got in, and I said, ‘Are you going to go?’, and he said, ‘Nah.’ I said, ‘Well, I won’t go then.’ [Laughs]”.
“But what had happened in 2016, literally, once it had been announced that we were officially being inducted into it, the current DEEP PURPLE refused to go if Ritchie Blackmore was going to be there,” he continued. “And this was, like, 72 hours before, when I was ready to fly with my family. And this cost me, like, $75,000 or $85,000, because you have to pay for all the tables apart from the one you’re on, and I had my daughter fly in from Germany, my son came out of college. It was a family affair.”
“Suddenly, Glenn Hughes and I were told, ‘Well, we don’t want you singing with us.’ Initially, I’d spoken to Ian [Gillan] about coming up and singing the backgrounds of ‘Smoke On The Water’, because originally they were going to close the show. So, that suddenly was pulled, the plug.
“They tried to stop us doing speeches, and my wife was f*cking furious, apart from the fact she spent a fortune on posh dresses. [Laughs] And I said, ‘F*ck it! Nobody’s going to keep us off.’ I got in touch with Carole, Ritchie‘s manager, and I said, ‘Tell him to come with me. Nobody’s going to f*cking touch him. Tell him to come with me,’ and he didn’t want to do it.”
“The first thing I said when I was up there, was, ‘None of us would have been standing here without Ritchie Blackmore,’ and I made sure of that point,” Coverdale added. “Steve Morse and Don Airey [current DEEP PURPLE members] were more complimentary to Glenn and I than the other guys. We had a blast; we had a f*cking great time. I’m very happy that I am who I am, and I just talked to Glenn the other day about it: ‘What the f*ck was up their a—s?!’ “So we didn’t get to jam, which was fine. We were back doing press while they were performing, just having a good old time like the unrighteous brothers always do.”
He said about Ritchie Blackmore: “He doesn’t give a sh*t, and he knows he was responsible for the majority of the music there, and it’s true — none of us, none of us would have been on that stage without Ritchie Blackmore. None of us.”