The Secret Method Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan Used To Sing Black Sabbath Songs

Black Sabbath’s most known and original lineup consisted of Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer, Tony Iommi as the lead guitarist, Bill Ward as the drummer, and Geezer Butler as the bassist. However, despite its popularity and success, the band had to go through several lineup changes because of creative differences and personal disputes between the band members. Working with other singers after Osbourne got fired from the band due to his alcohol and substance abuse was challenging.

Following Ozzy Osbourne’s departure, the remaining Black Sabbath members recruited Rainbow’s Ronnie James Dio in 1979, and he was the voice behind ‘Heaven and Hell’ and ‘Mob Rules.’ However, he couldn’t stay in the band for a long time and left Black Sabbath in 1982 to form his own band. Therefore, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler needed to find their new lead vocalist and started inviting various singers to the auditions.

Ian Gillan’s Career As Black Sabbath’s Frontman

The Black Sabbath members considered recruiting many singers such as Deep Purple and Whitesnake’s David Coverdale, Lone Star’s John Sloman, and Samson’s Nicky Moore. However, they agreed to hire another Deep Purple singer, Ian Gillan. After Deep Purple’s breakup, Gillan had focused on his solo projects and formed two bands, Ian Gillan Band and Gillan, but he accepted Black Sabbath’s offer to join them.

The band released their eleventh studio album ‘Born Again’ on August 7, 1983, and it was the only album including Gillan as the lead singer. The record received mixed critics, and some of the critics and fans felt the former singers Osbourne and Dio’s absence while listening to the album even though ‘Born Again’ hit the charts and became commercially successful. The band decided to promote the tour through their new tour.

Gillan was supposed to perform older Black Sabbath songs released before he joined the band during Born Again Tour. The tour began on August 18, 1983, in Drammen, and ended on March 4, 1984, in Springfield and some of their fans spotted a different prop on stage. The band’s brand new frontman didn’t know most of the band’s previous songs’ lyrics, so he had to find a method to perform them.

During Loudwire’s Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction? Ian Gillan revealed that he wrote the lyrics on a perspex folder and put it on the floor during his live performances with Black Sabbath. He was turning the pages with his feet, but sometimes it was impossible to read it from the folder because of dry ice melting on the stage. Thus, the hardcore fans noticed Gillan’s mistakes while listening to his performance and the former Black Sabbath singer admitted that it was very ‘unprofessional.’

In Gillan’s words, he said:

“It was on a floor actually not a wedge monitor. It’s easy, but I’m sorry ‘Iron Man’ wouldn’t sink in, and I couldn’t grasp it. My head was just not tuned to this. It wasn’t the notes or style, it was the actual words. So it was a bit unprofessional of me, but I had myself covered by this book, and I was able to turn the plastic sheets with the lyrics in all the prompts; they were prompts basically.”

The musician explained the reason behind it, saying that he couldn’t understand the words, making it very hard to memorize them. Furthermore, shortly after their tour, Gillan parted ways with the band to reunite with Deep Purple, which was reforming in 1984. Deep Purple’s classic Mark II lineup included Gillan, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Roger Glover, and Ian Paice went back to performing and creating together.

You can watch the interview below.