Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan Didn’t Like the Black Sabbath Album He Sang On: ‘I threw it out of the window of my car’

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Bringing members of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath together on one album feels like a match made in heaven on paper.

Even though Sabbath may be the godfathers of heavy metal, Purple’s knack for writing some of the most savage riffs in the world of hard rock wasn’t lost on anyone. So when you have the screaming voice of Ian Gillan on a track, it should have gone over incredibly well, right?

Well, if you ask Ian himself, he had a lot of trouble collaborating with Sabbath when Ronnie James Dio left the fold, becoming really disappointed in the performance he made on the album Born Again.

Though the songs were definitely up to snuff, Gillan remarked about the production being trash to his ears, saying:

I was disappointed in the final production mix.

I don’t know what happened between the studio and the factory. But something happened, so that was a disappointment. Having said that, I loved some of the songs on there, and ‘Trashed’ is one of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time. Even more so because it’s a completely true story.

When asked if he destroyed his copies of the album given his distate for it, he said:

“I didn’t break it; I threw it out of the window of my car [laughs]. Look, I was disappointed, I didn’t have the mentality of all the guys in Black Sabbath. I loved it, I had a fantastic year. It was insane. But, when we finished the mixes – I still have a cassette of the monitor mixes, and it sounds fantastic – and that’s the last thing I heard in the recording studio.

When I heard the album, I went, ‘What is this?’ The bass rumble was a bit too much for me. There’s a famous line in a famous movie called ‘This is Spinal Tap’, that has two or three references to Black Sabbath in it.

And I don’t know where these might have come from [laughs], but one of them was, ‘This album is unplayable on American radio’, because of the bass end. And so it was. Unplayable.”

It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the final product was brought together like this, since the actual conversation about him joining Black Sabbath came when he met Tony Iommi at a pub and ended up getting so drunk that he didn’t even remember saying yes to his offer. 

Ian does have a few suspicions about why the album sounds the way it does, saying “Geezer (Butler) will deny it, but he went to London to supervise a remix and that’s what we ended up with. I think he had to fight towards the bottom end of the sound.” 

Things only got worse on the road though, with Ian mentioning how hard it was to do justice to the legacy of Sabbath, saying that he would write the lyrics of classic Sabbath songs on a folder and turn it with his feet on the floor during the set, saying:

“I’m sorry, but ‘Iron Man’ just wouldn’t sink in. I couldn’t grasp it. It wasn’t the notes or the style…just the actual words, like ‘I don’t know how to sing this.’ So it was a bit unprofessional of me, but I had myself covered by this book.”

Born Again might not be anyone’s favorite Sabbath album, but it’s also nice to hear what a collaboration between two of the giants of hard would have sounded like if they continued on for longer.