Responding to a Facebook post from Blackmore saying that he had been banned from participating by current band manager Bruce Payne, singer Ian Gillan released a statement Friday (Feb. 19) clarifying the band's position. Disappointed that current members Steve Morse and Don Airey were not to be inducted with the band, Gillan says that he, Deep Purple Mk. II bassist Roger Glover and founding drummer Ian Paice presented "a compromise" to the Rock Hall that "DP inductees will accept the awards and then the living breathing Deep Purple will perform." In addition to Gillan, Paice and Glover, original vocalist Rod Evans, the late founding keyboardist Jon Lord and Mk. III frontman David Coverdale and bassist Glenn Hughes are to be inducted, through original bassist Nick Simper has been left out with no explanation from the Rock Hall.
Gillan's statement adds that, "It should be stressed that there is no slight intended nor any desire to upset anyone regarding this decision; it is purely a mark of respect to Steve and Don. I spoke with David Coverdale last week and he expressed complete understanding of the way it was being handled; thanks David you're a Gent. Outside of this event there are no circumstances under which a 'reunion' could or would take place. So, let's all get up there, shake hands, smile for the cameras and get it done with dignity and respect for all the existing and past members of a very special family."
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Blackmore posted a message on his official site Thursday that the guitarist was "honored" by the induction and "was discussing the possibility of attending, until we received correspondence from the President of the Rock Hall of Fame who said that Bruce Payne...had said 'No'.......!!!!! Therefore Ritchie will not be attending the ceremony. He sincerely thanks all the fans that voted for him for their support."
Payne, who's been managing Deep Purple since the mid-'70s, told Billboard on Friday that Blackmore "wasn't banned. They just wanted to play with the current band. There's a difference." Back in December, Paice told Billboard that he, Gillan and Glover were upset about the exclusions, particularly of Morse, who's been with Deep Purple since 1994, and Airey, who replaced Lord in 2001.
"The lineup we have now has been together the longest of any incarnation," Paice said. "Quite honestly, they should've included Steve and Don." And perhaps short-lived guitarist Tommy Bolin and frontman Joe Lynn Turner? "Everybody who's ever been involved with the band, even for a short time, is instrumental in making it work and insuring it still exists to this day," Paice acknowledges. "So I think if you're gonna do it everybody should have been invited to join the club."
Deep Purple is currently working on a new album with producer Bob Ezrin in Nashville. Blackmore, who quit Deep Purple for a second time in 1993, released a new album, All Our Yesterdays, with Blackmore's Night -- the Renaissance band he leads with wife Candice Night -- in September and is planning to play three Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow & Guests concerts this summer in Europe.