During their time together in Deep Purple, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singer Ian Gillan always had a strained relationship. The growing tensions between the two eventually led to Gillan’s departure from the band. In a recent interview with the Spanish RockFM radio station, Gillan recalled that turbulent period and Blackmore’s determination not to work with him.
“So, it became difficult. And in the end, there was this antagonism,” the vocalist explained. He then continued, revealing how their different plans and visions regarding the band’s future caused him to have a sharp disagreement with Blackmore. “I got fired from the band because I wanted to do more touring, and Ritchie wanted to do less.”
The singer shared the ultimatum the guitarist gave the band, recalling, “We had a meeting one day, and I said, ‘Why don’t we go to South America, Russia, all over the world, we’re a live band,’ and the next day Ritchie went to the management, and said, ‘Well, it’s either him or me.’ So, they chose him, and that was fine.”
“And they made a record with another singer [1990’s ‘Slaves and Masters’ with Joe Lynn Turner], and the record label said, ‘Either you get Ian back in the band, or we’re tearing up the contract,” Gillan noted before revealing Ritchie’s reaction to his return. He said, “So, I went back to Deep Purple, and Ritchie went crazy; he didn’t like it. So, eventually, he walked out.”
Gillan continued, sharing how Blackmore wanted to have a voice over the band even after his departure, “So, in normal terms, in a family – because we are a family, we think it was like a divorce – he walked out, and he’s gone. But he wanted to keep control of the band after having walked out. And he’s been a pain in the ass ever since [laughs].”
Ian also shared elsewhere in the interview that he has been getting along much better with Blackmore in recent times. The vocalist thinks that the problems they had at the time were partially related to the guitarist’s then-manager. However, Gillan still closed the door for any possible reunion with Blackmore in the near future, as it wouldn’t be sincere but just for money.