Ian Gillan says that his relationship with Ritchie Blackmore is “quite good,” nearly three decades after the legendary guitarist’s final departure from DEEP PURPLE.
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 longstanding feud with Blackmore in a new interview with the U.K.’s The Guardian.
“We were both arseholes,” Gillan said, adding that he communicates with Ritchie these days albeit with difficulty. “Ritchie has nothing electronic in his house — no computers, no telephones, nothing like that. So he’s completely unreachable. But we do pass messages, and the atmosphere is quite good.”
In the same interview, Gillan defended PURPLE‘s many lineup changes over the years, including his own decision to step away from the group.
“I think loyalty is overrated,” he said. “I’ve seen many musicians who have stayed with a sinking ship when their time has gone. Certain things have a natural lifetime, and unless they’re refreshed by a change in personnel or circumstances, they become tired, and I don’t want any part of that.”
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”.
In 2017, Gillan threw shade at Ritchie‘s recent RAINBOW performances, saying that Blackmore is “not playing rock and roll like he used to.”