Fri, May 07, 2010 - Page 13 News List

Hues of Deep Purple

British hard rock legends Deep Purple perform tomorrow night in Taipei, one stop in their six-month tour of Australia, Asia and Europe

By David Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER


He has sung with Pavarotti and Black

Sabbath, and was the voice of Jesus on

the original recording of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

But Ian Gillan is best known as Deep Purple’s frontman.

The legendary British hard rock group makes its first appearance in Taiwan with a concert tomorrow night at the Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall (台北世界貿易中心南港展覽館).

Gillan joined Deep Purple in 1969 and was the voice behind some of the band’s biggest hits, including Smoke on the Water, Space Truckin’ and Highway Man.

Concertgoers can expect to hear the 64-year-old belt out these classic tunes, backed by a band that includes two other long-standing members, bassist Roger Glover and drummer Ian Paice.

There will be rock nostalgia in the air, to be sure. But for Gillan, the experience of a live Deep Purple show is as fresh as ever.

“The guys are always finding a new way to playing a song,” he said earlier this week on the telephone from Perth, Australia, where Deep Purple was wrapping up the Australian leg of its 2010 tour. “You never know what’s going to happen. Somebody suddenly kicks off every night and that’s what makes it exciting.”

Deep Purple has undergone so many personnel changes in its 42-year history that you need charts to keep track (the fan site has a “family tree” diagram that lays everything out nicely).

The current lineup has been the most stable, and includes keyboardist Don Airey, who joined the band in 2001, and guitarist Steve Morse, who joined the band after founding guitarist Ritchie Blackmore quit in the early 1990s.

Hard-core fans might miss Blackmore, who co-wrote many of the band’s best-known songs, but Gillan says the band has been better off without him.


WHAT: Deep Purple

WHEN: Tomorrow at 7:45pm

WHERE: Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall (台北世界貿易中心南港展覽館), 1 Jingmao 2nd Rd, Taipei City (台北市經貿二路1號)


ADMISSION: NT$800 to NT$4,000, available through 7-Eleven ibon kiosks or at

“[Blackmore] would just get in a temper and walk off [during shows],” said Gillan. “People were getting fed up with it. So, long gone. And the day he left, the rain stopped and the sun came out. And everything’s been fine ever since.”

Today, Deep Purple has proven to be more than an aging rocker’s band, says Gillan. “The general age of our audience around the world is now 18 years old — and the energy we get from kids is just unbelievable. It’s a kind of magic cycle that goes round and round and the show is extraordinary for me.”

The above conversation with Ian Gillan was a follow-up to this e-mail interview from last week.

Taipei Times: When Deep Purple began in the late 1960s, a lot of rock bands were influenced by blues and R ’n’ B. What artists in particular inspired you to sing and make music?

Ian Gillan: I grew up with classical music, jazz (well boogie woogie — my uncle was a pianist) and was a boy soprano in the church choir. Then I was touched by the young Elvis, Little Richard and moved on to Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald, somehow learning to play blues harmonica and absorbing everything from field laments to Delta blues and up the big river to Chicago. With Deep Purple we had the chemistry of [former keyboardist] Jon Lord’s orchestral composition and his Jimmy Smith-inspired Hammond organ and [drummer] Ian Paice’s big band swing influences to put into the equation. That’s just a part of it though.

TT: Everyone knows the song Smoke on the Water, and fans expect to hear it at shows. Do you ever get tired of performing it? How do you keep old material fresh?

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