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Ian Gillan Recalls Manager's Intimidating Response to Request for Money

Ian Gillan Recalls Manager’s Intimidating Response to Request for Money

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Ian Gillan has shed light on the financial tensions that plagued Deep Purple in their early years, particularly involving their manager John Coletta.

Deep Purple, one of the most iconic British rock bands, boasts global album sales of over 100 million. The band was managed by Coletta, in collaboration with London clothier Tony Edwards, from 1968 until 1976, when they disbanded.

At 78, frontman Ian Gillan recounted the dire financial straits he and bassist Roger Glover faced upon joining the band in 1969. The duo was so financially strapped that they had to share a single set of clothes. When Gillan approached Coletta asking for an advance to buy clothing, he was confronted with a harsh rebuke.

Speaking to The Times, Gillan, who was raised on a council estate in Hounslow, recalled: “The response from our manager John Coletta was, ‘I knew you were trouble the moment I set eyes on you. If you ask me for money one more time, I’ll throw you back in the gutter where I found you.’”

Coletta’s stinging words left a lasting impact on Gillan. “I had never heard anything so horrible in my life,” he admitted. “If you can ride through crap like that and come out the other side, you can cope with most things.”

Due to their financial situation, Gillan and Glover had to take turns going out as they only had one set of clothes between them, and Glover didn’t even own a pair of shoes. Often, they could barely afford food, forcing Gillan to sometimes steal dog biscuits just to get by.

Reflecting on the financial constraints of 1969, Gillan mentioned that gigs were smaller back then.
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On top of that, the Seventies had a whopping 75 percent income tax. After paying managers, agents, and roadies, they were left with just a couple of hundred pounds a week.

“Purple is not mainstream – never has been, never will be,” he remarked. “And if we were worried about the money we would have done something else. If I had enough to buy a beer and do what I wanted to do, I would be happy.”

Gillan left Deep Purple in 1973, subsequently building his own band and joining Black Sabbath for a brief period in 1983, before reuniting with Deep Purple in 1984. He was fired from the band in 1989, but they reconciled in 1992.

On Friday, 19 July, Deep Purple is set to release their latest album =1, following WHOOSH! in 2020, inFinite in 2017, and NOW What?! in 2013.

Source: The Times