Black Sabbath Covered “Smoke On Water” With Ian Gillan Singing

Black Sabbath Covered “Smoke On Water” With Ian Gillan Singing | I Love Classic Rock Videos

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Black Sabbath’s album “Born Again” is often criticized, with its chaotic creation and controversial cover. However, the band’s decision to bring in Ian Gillan, former lead vocalist of Deep Purple, revitalized their sound during this tumultuous time. Gillan’s brief but influential stint with Deep Purple and his subsequent collaboration with Black Sabbath added a new dimension to their music. A standout moment during their Born Again tour was their unexpected encore: a captivating rendition of Deep Purple’s iconic track, “Smoke On The Water.” This article explores the significance of this performance and its lasting impact on heavy metal history.

The Arrival of Ian Gillan

Following the departure of Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath faced a challenging period. They managed to secure the talented Ian Gillan as their new lead vocalist. Gillan, previously renowned for his work with Deep Purple between 1969 and 1973, brought a fresh perspective to the band. He joined forces with Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, and a returning Bill Ward, creating a formidable lineup that combined the best elements of both bands. Gillan’s involvement injected renewed creativity and enthusiasm into Sabbath’s music.

Ian Gillan’s tenure with Black Sabbath was short-lived, but impactful. He contributed to the creation of the Born Again album and actively promoted it alongside the band during their subsequent world tour. Gillan’s iconic vocals and stage presence brought new life to the group. Reflecting on this period, Gillan fondly stated, “We did an album and world tour and I loved every minute of it. It was the longest party I’d ever been to” (Classic Rock, 2018).


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The Unexpected Encore: Smoke On The Water

During the Born Again tour, Black Sabbath surprised their fans by including a cover of Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water” as an encore. This choice celebrated Gillan’s musical roots and provided a crowd-pleasing moment during a time when audiences were still adjusting to the new material from Born Again. The decision to incorporate this iconic track into their setlist showcased the band’s respect for Gillan’s previous work and demonstrated their versatility as musicians.

For almost 40 years, an audio recording of Black Sabbath’s live performance of “Smoke On The Water” remained hidden in a vault. The track was finally released in August last year as part of the Sabbath live album Deep Black. The rarity of this recording made it a novelty for fans, while its exceptional quality made it a memorable addition to the band’s discography.

The Enthralling Performance

In this live recording from the Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts, on November 4, 1983, Ian Gillan is in top form, capturing the essence of the song with his distinctive vocal style. His energetic performance demonstrates his showmanship and mastery of the stage. Tony Iommi, widely regarded as a guitar god, effortlessly takes on the iconic riff created by Ritchie Blackmore, another legendary guitarist. The synergy between Gillan, Iommi, Butler, and the touring drummer Bev Bevan is evident, as they flawlessly deliver a graceful yet gritty rendition of Deep Purple’s classic.

Black Sabbath’s interpretation of “Smoke On The Water” remains a hidden gem, deserving of wider recognition among heavy music enthusiasts. Tony Iommi’s seamless execution of Ritchie Blackmore’s riff adds to the allure of the cover. This rendition represents a significant moment in the history of heavy metal music, showcasing the collaboration between two iconic bands and highlighting the enduring influence of Deep Purple’s music.

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