The singer Ian Gillan was born on this day in 1945.
While growing up in Hounslow, Ian Gillan wanted to be an actor. He instead became a singer, early on in bands like Garth Rockett and the Moonshiners. By the time he reached Episode Six, he began to make his name for his distinctive voice and impressive range.
Even though Episode Six failed to achieve chart success, it earned him enough notoriety that another band scouted him out when looking for a new bandmate. That band was Deep Purple, and any fan knows the rest of the story!
At around the same time he joined Deep Purple, Gillan was approached by Andrew Lloyd Webber to star as the titular character in his concept album Jesus Christ Superstar. Gillan’s performance showed off his remarkable vocal range, not to mention his unusual emotional range, at its finest. When the album got a movie adaptation, Gillan was asked to reprise the role. He turned it down, however, unwilling to make his bandmates wait while he filmed.
Gillan has spent the majority of his career with Deep Purple, singing for the second, sixth, seventh and eighth lineups. When not with the band, he has enjoyed a solo career, headlining two different bands bearing his name. He also did a short stint in Black Sabbath, appearing on a single album.
Throughout his career, Gillan has become known not just for his vocals and lyrics, but for his bizarre sense of humor, often on display onstage in his interactions with his bandmates and very clear on his website/YouTube channel.
On a Personal Note…
As with some other musicians, Ian Gillan holds personal significance for me. Having seen him in concert in 2018, I didn’t know what to expect. There were many a testimony about how he had lost his touch over the years. From where I stood, he was electric; it was so hard to take my eyes off of him. If his stage presence has diminished as time has gone on, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to see him in the 70s.
I later wrote to him expressing my gratitude for his music and my admiration for him. Imagine my surprise when he took the time to respond to me, despite my being some random fan who’d written to him while he was still on tour. It’s left me with a favorable impression of him, to say the least.
Here at Gotta Hear ‘Em All, we wish Mr. Gillan a very happy birthday and hope he has many more to come.
- Gillan, Ian. Highway Star: The Autobiography of Deep Purple’s Lead Singer.