Ian Gillan says that a DEEP PURPLE reunion with Ritchie Blackmore would be a “circus” and “it would be no fun at all.”
Blackmore is a co-founder of DEEP PURPLE and wrote many of their most memorable riffs, including “Smoke On The Water”, but he has not played with the group since his 1993 exit. Steve Morse effectively took over Blackmore‘s slot in 1994 and has since been in the group longer than Ritchie.
Gillan addressed his long standing feud with Blackmore in a new interview with Vikram Chandrasekar of Tales From The Road. 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 said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “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 clarified. “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.”
Blackmore previously suggested that PURPLE‘s manager had blocked him from joining his former bandmates onstage during the 2016 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, and he used that as an excuse for not attending the event.
Despite Blackmore being a no-show at Rock Hall, he was given several shoutouts during the induction speeches of the DEEP PURPLE members in attendance. In addition, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich, who inducted DEEP PURPLE into the institution, praised “Ritchie fucking Blackmore” for one of the most memorable guitar riffs of all time on “Smoke On The Water”.
Late last year, Coverdale expressed his exasperation at DEEP PURPLE for how he and Glenn Hughes were treated by their former band ahead of their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction. The singer, who played with DEEP PURPLE along with Hughes from 1973 to 1976, said: “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. 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.”
He continued: “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 fucking furious, apart from the fact she spent a fortune on posh dresses. [Laughs] And I said, ‘Fuck 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 fucking touch him. Tell him to come with me,’ and he didn’t want to do it.”
Coverdale added: “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. Steve Morse and Don Airey [current DEEP PURPLE keyboardist] were more complimentary to Glenn and I than the other guys. We had a blast; we had a fucking 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 fuck was up their ass?!'”