Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan: ‘It’s Always Easy Working With Tony Iommi’
Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan have been friends for years, even briefly bandmates when Gillan took over lead singer duties in Black Sabbath in the mid-‘80s. Now, they’ve teamed up to release WhoCares, a collection of rarities from both of their respective back catalogs.
Last year, Gillan and Iommi recorded two new songs with an ad hoc band that included Gillan’s Deep Purple bandmate Jon Lord on keyboards, former Metallica bassist Jason Newstead and Iron Maiden’s drummer Nicko McBain. Both songs are included on the new release.
Gillan told CBS Local that, though it had been a while since he collaborated with Iommi, “It’s always easy working with Tony – I know exactly what’s expected of me. We wrote ‘Out Of My Mind’ at Tony’s place.” He co-wrote the other WhoCares song, “Holy Water” with Steve Morris, with whom he’s worked with on various solo projects. He said that it wasn’t difficult to get everyone onboard. “I called Nicko, who recorded live with Jon Lord, Tony and myself in London. Tony called Jason who played his part in America.”
Lord, who passed away earlier this year, left Deep Purple in 2002, but Gillan says it was great to work with his former bandmate one more time. “I had been in touch with Jon socially and professionally throughout the years since he left. My favourite memory is a private dinner we had a few years ago whilst coincidentally both in Tokyo.”
After raising money from the two new songs, they decided to put out the WhoCares double CD. “The idea for the compilation came from Max Vaccarro at Edel records,” Gillan says. “He’s a music nut and knows more than I do about my catalogue and Tony’s. We had little time available due to existing commitments, so we readily agreed to a rare and unreleased project. I think it holds up as a record of special interest to those who might be interested.”
Ian’s favorite part of the collection? A Deep Purple outtake. “My favorite track is ‘Dick Pimple,’ a genuine insight into the daily routine with Deep Purple in the studio, always jamming.”
The compilation, and the new songs, were released with the intent to raise funds for a music school in Armenia. The two musicians have visited the country several times over the years, each time witnessing the country’s slow recovery from a major earthquake in 1988.
As for future WhoCares songs and projects, Gillan says, simply, “that’s it for now.” “There’s every chance, but anything in the future will be on an ad hoc basis.”
— Brian Ives, CBS Local