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Biography

1978 to 1980

Noted DEEP PURPLE vocalist IAN GILLAN first struck out with a series of albums, 'Child In Time' and 'Scarabus', credited to the IAN GILLAN BAND upon his split from his former hosts. It would be the release of the 'Mr. Universe' album that saw the band title IAN GILLAN BAND shortened to simply GILLAN and a complete change of members. The line-up for this, the first charting GILLAN album, would be former CURTIS MALDOON and ZZEBRA bassist John McCoy, keyboard player Colin Towns, ex-ZZEBRA guitarist Steve Bird and another former ZZEBRA man in drummer Liam Genocky, who was to be shortly superseded by Pete Barnacle.

The band had switched from the IAN GILLAN BAND to simply GILLAN following completion of a 1978 North American tour and with the new set of musicians installed, the revised roster set to work on the 'Gillan' album throughout July and August. The new band debuted at the 1979 Reading Rock Festival on a bill alongside THIN LIZZY and RORY GALLAGHER. It proved to be a triumphant confirmation that the switch from fusion Jazz Rock to Hard Rock was about to pay dividends. During September the band toured Germany before conducting dates in Japan the following month. GILLAN's success had not gone un-noticed by other ex-DEEP PURPLE members. During Christmas of 1979 Gillan was asked to join Ritchie Blackmore's RAINBOW, an offer he declined. However, RITCHIE BLACKMORE did jam with GILLAN at their Marquee club Boxing day show.

Consolidating the success of the album GILLAN signed to Acrobat Records, but not before Bernie Tormé had replaced Bird on guitar and ex-STRAPPS, EPISODE SIX and SAMMY man Mick Underwood entered on drums. With Ian Gillan on the lookout for a new guitarist, Tormé's solo band had fortuitously acted as support to their January 1979 show at Aberystwyth University. Meantime, the ousted Pete Barnacle joined Glamsters GIRL and SHEER GREED.

The 'Mr. Universe' album surfaced during 1979, promoted by an extensive leg of UK shows, a German tour then a second British round of dates in March of 1980. The band then set to work on the 'Glory Road' opus, taking them up to May. GILLAN soon found themselves on a major world tour embracing Australia, Japan, America and Europe. For the British tour support came from SAMSON and RANDY CALIFORNIA. This line- up was to prove the most popular with fans and GILLAN saw increased chart action in 1981 backed up by lengthy sell out British tours.

The following year saw a record label switch to Virgin and the prominent success of the 'Glory Road' album which peaked at number 3 in the national British charts. Initial copies came with a free album 'For Gillan Fans Only'. A further Reading Rock Festival performance saw the band elevated up the bill to second position under headliner RORY GALLAGHER. The next year GILLAN topped the bill flushed with the success of the 'Future Shock' album.

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