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The story of when Ian Gillan saw the Stones live for the first time

Ian Gillan and Rolling Stones


The story of when Ian Gillan saw the Stones live for the first time

The Rolling Stones started their career in 1962, in London, England, so many future British musicians were lucky enough to have seen them performing in the early days in small clubs and even in churches! One of those lucky people is the legendary Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, who simply saw the Stones performing for the first time in a festival which happened at the Catholic Church.


He recalled that story in an interview on a BBC Radio special (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), saying he was impressed by Mick Jagger‘s harmonica playing. He also noted that when he saw Bill Wyman playing his bass guitar he thought he was holding the instrument like he usually did because there was no space.

The story of when Ian Gillan saw the Stones live for the first time

“That was another big part of our era in West London. Before they had their first hit record the Stones were creating quite a reputation for themselves. They used to play at the Station Hotel in Richmond. They were a Richmond band. Station Hotel and The Castle, those two places. I remember when they came to Hayes and I got the chance to see them at the Catholic Church (laughs).”

“They had a very progressive priest, they used to put on Rock festivals and stuff like that. The Stones came and I remember Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman holding his (bass) guitar up. I thought it was because there wasn’t any room on stage. But it wasn’t, it was just his style (laughs). Then this guy (with) snake hips, I mean, Jagger came on and the first thing that impressed me was his harmonica playing. Because we had all grown up with Cyril Davis and Country Line special and that kind of stuff.”

He continued:

“Music had mutated from Trad Jazz through Skiffle and homemade stuff through to the early influences of the Blues, Rhythm and Blues, and that thing. It was all very exciting. One of the songs they played that night was a Chuck Berry song called ‘Come On’. Chuck recorded that in 1961 and they covered in 1963 and it became their first hit record,” Ian Gillan said.

Not many years later he had the chance to be on the same bill as the Stones when Deep Purple played in the same festivals they were playing. Gillan joined the Hard/Progressive Rock group in 1969 and left in 1973 for the first time. The classic line-up reunited in 1984 and Gillan left again in 1989.

But he returned to the band three years later, in 1992. Since then he tours around the world alongside the bassist Roger Glover and the drummer Ian Paice, both classic members of the group. Nowadays they are accompanied by the legendary keyboardist Don Airey and the guitarist Simon McBride.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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