The first really
famous person I
met – at least as
far as I can remember –
was Ian Gillan
from the band
I was super exited, too,
I loved Deep Purple (still do).
Great band. Great singer. And
it seemed kinda odd, kinda brilliant
to be meeting him on the set of
the Good Morning TV show.
Not very rock’n’roll.
I was out there to do my usual
CD-review segment, but the show’s
host had called me up the day before
and asked me to come out and sit in
on the interview.
So there I was live on TV chatting to
the guy that sang Smoke on the Water
and Highway Star and Child In Time. Those
songs that blew my fucking mind when
I was a teenager.
The conversation on the show was just fine.
Easy. It went as well as it could – I think.
But after we talked backstage – and that’s
where he told the real good yarns. He was
happy and keen to be listened to – and
he was down to earth and relaxed, no
show-pony, just the good stories. Talking
about writing Smoke, talking about playing
to thousands, and the time he filled in
for Black Sabbath and had to have
words on the autocue but the dry-ice swirling
at his feet blocked out the lyrics and he froze.
And then he signed my copy of Machine
Head. (Well if you’re going to get one album
by Deep Purple signed, that’s the one right?)
He made some comment about being impressed
to see that it was vinyl – and as he opened up the
gatefold I panicked at the thought that he’d read
the birthday inscription to anyone else in my
Finally, I asked him the one question I wanted
Something about Ritchie Blackmore. Were they
friends at all? Was it likely? What was it about Ritchie
that was so problematic. (Okay, so it was a cluster
of questions – but one general theme).
And he paused. And he looked angry for a second.
Then he said, with his eyes closed, “we’ll never be
friends. Never ever again”. Another big pause.
And then finally. “Not after what
he did to my daughter”.
I heard the three big piano chords in my
I was trying to summon some journalism.
But it was too late. And I was too shy. And
it didn’t seem right.
And his driver arrived to take him back
into town to get ready for that night’s
The gig was a blinder – but I watched
it with the feeling I was balancing
on a cliffhanger.