DEEP PURPLE’s IAN GILLAN Praises New Guitarist SIMON McBRIDE: “He Is a Genius. We’re So Lucky To Have Him”

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In a recent conversation with Tony Gonzalez of Made In Metal, Deep Purple‘s frontman Ian Gillan shared his thoughts on the band’s current guitarist, Simon McBride. When asked about McBride playing songs originally crafted by Ritchie Blackmore, Gillan’s praise was effusive.

“Oh, first of all, Simon is a genius. He’s absolutely fantastic. He’s got all the energy and articulation and musical skills and creative skills that you could ever dream of. You can’t compare Ritchie with Simon or with Steve Morse or with Joe Satriani, the players that we’ve had in a band. And I think that Ritchie has to have all the credit in the world. He’s a genius. He was fantastic. I thought he was brilliant. He was my roommate and we partnered and we shared a lot. And then things, for some reason, went wrong later on. And I’m sure half of it was my fault, so those days were dim and distant. But as far as the guitar is concerned, Simon interprets these songs very, very brilliantly.”

Gillan elaborated on the challenges that come with performing well-known tracks, explaining that the key is to balance fidelity to the original with creative expression. “For a start-off, when you’re playing… Steve Morse had this same difficulty. When you’re playing a well-known solo or a well-known guitar part, or any part for that matter, the thing you have to do, the trick is to play the recognizable parts, the parts that everyone knows that are significant in that solo, and then you can freeform in between. But you’ve gotta pick up and show respect for the song and the original record because that’s how people like it. If you meander around a bit in the solo, that’s also fine, but you’ve gotta start and end and do the bits that people know. Apart from that, Simon’s approach to every song has just been to throw himself at it.”

Reflecting on the transition between guitarists, Gillan recounted a comment by Steve Morse: Steve Morse said a good thing when he joined the band and somebody said, ‘How does it feel like stepping into Ritchie Blackmore‘s shoes?’ And Steve said, ‘I think Ritchie took his shoes with him when he left.’ And that, that applies to everyone — that applies to Simon now.”

Gillan could not be more appreciative of McBride’s contribution to Deep Purple: Simon‘s unbelievable. We’re so lucky to have him. He’s just amazing.”

Finally, when asked about the possibility of Steve Morse returning to the band, Gillan was clear: “No, no. Simon is our permanent guitar player now. And we’ve just finished making a new record, which will come out later in the year. But Simon is a fantastic contributor to the band. It’s one of the best things that could have happened.”


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