Gillan (band)

Gillan was a rock band formed in 1978 by Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. Gillan was one of the hard rock bands to make a significant impact and commercial success in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s, with 5 albums in the Top 20.

Ian Gillan in Barcelona
Ian Gillan, frontman and leader of the band in 1983
Background information
OriginLondon, England
GenresHard rock, heavy metal
Years active1978–1982
LabelsVirgin, RSO, Acrobat, Edsel, Angel Air
Associated actsDeep Purple, Ian Gillan Band, GMT, McCoy, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, White Spirit
Past membersIan Gillan
John McCoy
Colin Towns
Steve Byrd
Liam Genockey
Pete Barnacle
Mick Underwood
Bernie Tormé
Janick Gers


1978: The Ian Gillan new band

In July 1978 Ian Gillan had become dissatisfied with the jazz fusion style of his band Ian Gillan Band and dissolved it, retaining only keyboard player Colin Towns, and formed this new band entitled Gillan. He added Steve Byrd on guitar, Liam Genockey on drums and John McCoy on bass, and initially pursued a progressive rock direction, releasing their eponymous debut in September 1978, although they could only get a record deal in Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This recording has subsequently become more widely available as The Japanese Album as a CD re-issue by RPM Records in 1994. However, the RPM CD issue replaces the original opening instrumental "Second Sight" with another instrumental, "Street Theatre". Genocky was unable to commit to the band beyond the recording of the album and the band's live debut at the Reading Festival in 1978. He was replaced for the subsequent tour by Pete Barnacle.

At Christmas 1978, Ian Gillan turned down an offer from Ritchie Blackmore to join Rainbow, but Blackmore did make a guest appearance for Gillan at their Christmas show. It was the first time Ian Gillan and Blackmore had performed together since 1973.

1979–1981: The Glory Era

The album was sufficiently successful to attract more attention and in 1979 the band secured a European deal with Acrobat Records. Before a new album was recorded, Byrd was replaced by Bernie Tormé and Barnacle by drummer Mick Underwood, Ian Gillan's former colleague in Episode Six. Torme's "screaming guitar" sound fundamentally altered the dynamics and Gillan took a more heavy metal direction. This line-up's first album was released as Mr. Universe and contained many re-worked songs from The Japanese Album. The album went straight into the UK album charts but stalled as Acrobat Records went bankrupt. This led to a multi-album deal with Virgin Records.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Australia and New Zealand a version of Mr. Universe was released with a different track selection to avoid repeating the Gillan tracks used on the Mr. Universe album. Several of the alternative tracks are included on the Japanese Album release.

The band caught the rise of the NWOBHM at just the right time and the group gained popularity in Europe.

In 1980 Gillan reached the peak of their success, releasing the album Glory Road, with initial copies containing the free album For Gillan Fans Only. However, the band remained unknown in North America and were unable to raise any interest there despite a long and difficult 1980 tour there.

By 1981 the band members had become disgruntled that their European and Japanese success was not translating into increased financial rewards, and after the Future Shock album, whilst on tour in Germany, Torme left just before the band were due to fly back to the UK to appear on Top of the Pops.

1982: Struggles and final shows

Tormé was replaced by White Spirit guitarist Janick Gers (who would later join Iron Maiden) and this line-up released the live/studio double album Double Trouble at the end of 1981. In August 1982, the final album Magic followed. By this time, tension over money had reached fever pitch and Ian Gillan needed time to have nodes removed from his vocal cords. After the Magic tour, the band performed a final show at the Wembley Arena on 17 December, and then Ian Gillan dissolved the group while he underwent surgery. He then accepted an offer to front Black Sabbath to the incredulity of the Gillan band members, particularly McCoy, and the acrimony remains to the present day.

McCoy subsequently released compilations of studio out-takes to which he had the rights, known as The Gillan Tapes, and ensured that revenues were distributed fairly amongst the band. Bernie Tormé and John McCoy collaborated on the GMT band project, releasing two albums in 2006 and 2009.

According to at least one interview, Gillan did not have nodes removed as British doctors recommended, as he was afraid that would adversely affect his voice. A German doctor diagnosed infected, enlarged tonsils with nodes on them, and Gillan had a history of that. He had a complete tonsillectomy instead, which also removed the nodes on the tonsils. Prior to surgery, he asked the German doctor if the surgery would affect his voice. The doctor said "Yes it will make it better, since the sound was having to come around the tonsils before then".

Band members


Studio Albums

Year Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1978 Gillan (aka The Japanese Album) Date: September 1978
Label: East World
1979 Mr. Universe Date: October 1979
Label: Acrobat
1980 Glory Road Date: August 1980
Label: Virgin
3 BPI: silver[2]
1981 Future Shock Date: April 1981
Label: Virgin
2 BPI: silver[2]
Double Trouble Date: October 1981
Label: Virgin
1982 Magic Date: September 1982
Label: Virgin
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.
  • All Gillan albums recorded between 1979 and 1982 (excluding The Japanese Album) have been re-released as remastered editions with bonus tracks in 2007

Live Albums

  • Live at Reading '80 (1990), Raw Fruit
  • The BBC Tapes Vol 1: Dead of Night 1979 (1998), RPM
  • The BBC Tapes Vol 2: Unchain Your Brain 1980 (1998), RPM
  • Live At The BBC - 79/80 (1999), Angel Air
  • Live Tokyo Shinjuku Koseinenkin Hall (2001), Angel Air
  • On The Rocks Live in Germany, June 1981 (2002), Angel Air
  • Live Wembley 17 December 1982 (2002), Angel Air
  • Mutually Assured Destruction Glasgow 1982 (2006), Angel Air
  • Live At The Marquee 1978 (2008), Angel Air
  • No Easy Way CD:Live Hammersmith 1980, DVD:Live Edinburgh 1980 (2008), Angel Air
  • Triple Trouble (2009) (Recorded live 1981/1982), Edsel

Compilations Albums

  • The Gillan Tapes Vol. 1 (1997), Angel Air
  • The Gillan Tapes Vol. 2 (1999), Angel Air
  • The Gillan Tapes Vol. 3 (2000), Angel Air
  • Unchain Your Brain: The Best Of Gillan (2007), Music Club
  • The Gillan Singles Box Set (2007), Edsel
  • The Vinyl Collection 1979-1982 (2016)


  • Live Edinburgh 1980 (2006), Angel Air
  • The Glory Years (2008) (Recorded live 1981), Eagle Rock


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1979 "Vengeance" / "Smoke on the Water" Mr. Universe
1980 "Sleeping on the Job" / "Higher and Higher" 55 Glory Road
"No Easy Way" / "Handles on Her Hips" / "I Might As Well Go Home (Mystic)"
"Trouble" / "Your Sister's On My List" / "Mr. Universe" (live) / "Vengeance" (live) / "Smoke on the Water" (live) [Double Single] 14 Non-album single
1981 "Mutually Assured Destruction" / "The Maelström" 32
"New Orleans" / "Take a Hold of Yourself" 17 Future Shock
"No Laughing in Heaven" / "One for the Road" / "Lucille" / "Bad News" 31
"Nightmare" / "Bite the Bullet" (live) 36 Double Trouble
1982 "Restless" / "On the Rocks" (live) 25
"Living for the City" / "Breaking Chains" 50 Magic
"Living for the City" / "Purple Sky" [Picture Disc]
"Long Gone" / "Fiji"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.


  1. ^ a b "Gillan". UK Top 40 Hit Database. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 2013-12-30.
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

Bernie Tormé

Bernie Tormé (born Bernard Tormey, 18 March 1952, Dublin, Ireland) is a rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, record label and recording studio owner. Tormé is best known for his work with Gillan, as well as his brief stints with Ozzy Osbourne's backing band and Atomic Rooster.

Child in Time (album)

Child in Time is the debut album by British jazz-rock fusion band Ian Gillan Band, released in 1976. The album took its title from the Deep Purple song "Child in Time", a version of which appears on side two of the LP. The album reached No. 36 on Swedish charts and No. 55 in UK.This was Ian Gillan's first release after leaving Deep Purple, and also features his former Deep Purple colleague Roger Glover. Before Ian returned full-time to the rock music industry, he made one brief, but significant, live appearance on the performance of Roger Glover's "The Butterfly Ball", on 16 October 1975 at Royal Albert Hall, London. Ian sang "Sitting in a Dream". A film of the event was originally shown in UK cinemas in 1977. Later released on video, it was quickly deleted.

Although Ian Gillan Band went on to produce material more suited to their jazz-rock label, this first album has much more of a harder rhythm and blues style.

Clear Air Turbulence (album)

Clear Air Turbulence is the second studio album by British jazz-rock fusion band Ian Gillan Band, released in 1977 with cover by Chris Foss. The album was initially worked on during the period July 1976 to September 1976. A UK tour was promoted, though all of the dates were cancelled until April 1977 in order that the new album could be rerecorded and remixed at Kingsway Recorders, London.

The album was reissued in 1989 by Virgin Records on CD, and in 2010 by Edsel Records.

Colin Towns

Colin William Towns (born 13 May 1948 in West Ham, London) is an English composer and keyboardist. He was noted as playing in bands formed by ex-Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan, and later worked extensively in composing soundtracks for film, television and commercials. Learning piano as a child, by the age of 13 he was earning money playing at weddings and birthdays in his neighbourhood of the East End of London. He went on to play in numerous dance bands, jazz ensembles and also became a session musician. His main musical passion is jazz and he has made several well-received albums together with his big band, the Mask Orchestra. He has also founded an independent record label, Provocateur.

Gillan (album)

Gillan is the first album by British rock band Gillan, released in September 1978. It was only released in Japan, Australia and New Zealand, but the album sold well in the UK as an import, aided by positive press reviews. The sleeve notes of the original release credit Liam Genocky as playing drums and percussion, while the 1993 release "Gillan – The Japanese Album" instead credits Pete Barnacle.

Glory Road (album)

Glory Road is the third album by the British rock band Gillan, released in October 1980. The album reached No. 3 in the UK album charts.

Ian Gillan

Ian Gillan (born 19 August 1945) is an English singer and songwriter. He is the lead singer and lyricist for the rock band Deep Purple.

Initially influenced by Elvis Presley, Gillan started and fronted several local bands in the mid-1960s, and eventually joined Episode Six when their original singer left. He first found widespread commercial success after joining Deep Purple in 1969. He resigned from the band in June 1973, having given a lengthy notice period to their managers. After a short time away from the music business, he resumed his music career with solo bands the Ian Gillan Band and Gillan, before a year-long stint as the vocalist for Black Sabbath in 1983. The following year, Deep Purple reformed and two more successful albums followed before he left in 1989. He returned to the group in 1993, and has remained its lead singer ever since.

In addition to his main work—performing with Deep Purple and other bands during the 1970s and 1980s—he sang the role of Jesus in the original recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, performed in the charity supergroup Rock Aid Armenia, and engaged in a number of business investments and ventures, including a hotel, a motorcycle manufacturer, and music recording facilities at Kingsway Studios. More recently, he has performed solo concerts concurrently with his latter career in Deep Purple, and his work and affinity with Armenia, combined with his continued friendship with Tony Iommi since his brief time in Black Sabbath, has led him to form the supergroup WhoCares with Iommi. His solo career outside of Deep Purple was given a comprehensive overview with the Gillan's Inn box set in 2006.

Ian Gillan Band

The Ian Gillan Band were an English jazz-rock fusion band formed by Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan in 1975.

Janick Gers

Janick Robert Gers (; born 27 January 1957) is an English musician and one of the three guitarists in Iron Maiden. He was also previously a member of the bands Gillan and White Spirit.

John Gustafson (musician)

John Frederick Gustafson (8 August 1942 – 12 September 2014) was an English bass guitar player and singer, who had a lengthy recording and live performance career. During his career, he was a member of the bands The Big Three, Ian Gillan Band, Roxy Music and his own group, Quatermass, among others.

John McCoy (musician)

John Matthew McCoy (born c. 1950, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England), is an English bass guitarist, who is best known for his work with Ian Gillan and Mammoth as well as numerous other bands and sessions since the late 1960s. He currently plays in British rock trio Guy McCoy Tormé with former Gillan/Ozzy guitarist Bernie Tormé and Bruce Dickinson/Sack Trick drummer Robin Guy. He is also an accomplished guitar, drum, trumpet, cello, and double bass player. Nearly as well known as his music is his appearance: he is always pictured wearing sunglasses, with the striking contrast of bald head and robust chin beard. Along with guitarist Vic Elmes and ZZebra colleague Liam Genockey on drums, McCoy can also be heard playing in the intro and end titles theme of the 1970s cult TV series Space: 1999.

Liam Genockey

Liam Genockey (born 12 August 1948) is an Irish musician, who is the drummer with British folk rock band Steeleye Span.

Live at the Budokan (Ian Gillan Band album)

Live at the Budokan is a live album by the Ian Gillan Band, recorded live on 22 September 1977 in Tokyo, Japan. Originally it was released in two volumes in Japan in late 1977 and early 1978 by EastWorld Records. In July 1983 it was re-issued as a double album in the UK by Virgin Records. CD editions followed in 1989 and 2007. The latter features the full setlist including "My Baby Loves Me", which had been omitted from the previous releases.

Magic (Gillan album)

Magic is an album by British rock band Gillan, their final collaboration, released in October 1982. It features eight original songs, mostly co-written by Ian Gillan and Colin Towns, and a cover of Stevie Wonder's 1973 hit single "Living For The City". This cover was released as a 7" single, in both picture-bag and picture-disc editions, and was accompanied by a promotional video.

Although the album was generally accepted by Gillan's staunch UK following, it failed to achieve the chart success of Glory Road or Future Shock, peaking at No. 17 in the UK chart.

Magic was reissued in 1989 and in 2007 with seven bonus tracks, including cover versions and B-sides.

Mark Nauseef

Mark Nauseef (born June 11, 1953), in Cortland, New York, is a drummer and percussionist who has enjoyed a varied career, ranging from rock music during the 1970s with his time as a member of the Ian Gillan Band and, temporarily, Thin Lizzy, to a wide range of musical styles in more recent times, playing with many notable musicians from all over the world.

Micky Lee Soule

Micky Lee Soule (June 6, 1946 in Cortland, New York) is an American musician. He was the keyboard player for New York hard rock band Elf and a founding member of Rainbow.Soule had a band in the mid-1960s until he was drafted into the army. After his honorable discharge he joined The Elves after the band's original keyboardist, Doug Thaler, was severely injured in a car accident that killed guitarist Nick Pantas. In the first years of the 1970s, The Elves (after 1972 known simply as Elf) enjoyed minor success as a consistent opening act for Deep Purple. That connection to Deep Purple opened up the opportunity for Soule (and vocalist Ronnie James Dio) to participate in Roger Glover's 1974 concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. In addition to co-writing credits on two songs, Soule also sang the lead vocals on the song "No Solution". Soule and Glover would work together sporadically in the years following.

In early 1975, Soule and the rest of Elf (minus guitarist Steve Edwards) transformed into Rainbow, featuring Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. During this time the third and final Elf album, Trying to Burn the Sun, was recorded when the former Elf were not in the studio recording Rainbow's debut album. Elf had effectively dissolved by the time that album was released as the members hoped to continue with Blackmore. However, following the recording of the Rainbow album, Blackmore gradually fired the entire line up with the exception of Dio before Rainbow had begun to tour.

In 1976 Soule toured France with the Ian Gillan Band.Soule continues to play locally in New York. In 1996, Mickey Lee Soule started working as a keyboard tech for Deep Purple's Jon Lord, later he became bass tech for Roger Glover until he retired from touring in 2014. He began working for Roger Glover and Deep Purple again in 2016.

Mr. Universe (album)

Mr. Universe is the second album by the British rock band Gillan, and the first with the classic line-up with Gillan, Towns, McCoy, Tormé and Underwood.

Released in October 1979. The album reached No. 11 in the UK album charts, and sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

Pete Barnacle

Pete Barnacle is a drummer who has played for various bands including Gillan, Girl, Broken Home, Spear of Destiny, Theatre of Hate, Yngwie Malmsteen (on the 1990 Eclipse World Tour), Sheer Greed, and Soldiers of Fortune. Barnacle now lives in Japan, teaching English, and occasionally working as a drummer.

Ray Fenwick

Raymond John Fenwick (born 18 July 1946) is an English guitarist and session musician, best known for replacing Steve Howe in the Syndicats, and as the lead guitarist of Ian Gillan's post Deep Purple solo project, the Ian Gillan Band.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.