Blackmore quit Deep Purple for the first time in 1975, returning in 1984 to reform the band’s classic Mk. II line-up alongside Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord and Ian Paice for the Perfect Strangers (1984) album. He left the band for good in November 1993, following the release of the quintet’s fourteenth studio album, The Battle Rages On… which has never stopped journalists and radio presenters repeatedly asking Ian Gillan about the possibility of the mercurial guitar one day returning to the fold.
Last week, Tales From The Road podcast host Vikram Chandrasekar became the latest media figure to enquire if Gillan kept in touch with Blackmore and if the guitarist might ever be welcomed back into the family.
“No,” Gillan replied. “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,” the singer continued. “I can't write to or phone him because he doesn't have a telephone, he doesn't have a computer. He lives in a world of Greensleeves… 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 [in 2016]. 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,” Gillan insists. “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.”
Listen to the interview in full below.
Last week, Deep Purple posted mocked-up mugshots of the band members on a new website alongside the words ‘Turning to crime’ and a countdown timer to 3pm on October 6, 2021.