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Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan Didn’t Smoke Pot until He Was 38

Ian Gillan
Jo Hale, Getty Images

Although they’re considered to be one of the definitive bands for head-exploring stoners, Deep Purple weren’t really ones to partake in the sweet leaf, according to lead singer Ian Gillan. In a new interview, he reveals that his personal discovery of marijuana didn’t begin until he was well into his career.

“I smoked my first joint when I was 38 years old,” he told 100 Percent Rock, which would put the date for his first toke in 1983 or 1984. “And that was with some buddies because I really was intrigued to see what the effect was, and I thought it was great, to be honest. But it’s never been my cup of tea.”

Gillan said that the band’s roots in pubs meant that their indulgences leaned more towards alcohol, and that learning how to handle their liquor at a relatively early age has kept them from the pitfalls that has trapped many of their friends. An exception, of course, was Tommy Bolin, who replaced Ritchie Blackmore in 1975, and died of an overdose on Dec. 4, 1976.

Gillan also had poignant words to say about founding keyboardist Jon Lord, who passed away on June 16, 2012 after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. The singer says that Lord’s influence will always be a part of the group.

“I don’t think he’ll ever be away from it really,” he continued. “Because he created the foundation of Purple. I mean… there was so many influences coming in but his… a bit of rock and roll, soul, blues, folk music and all that sort of thing but his input of orchestral composition and jazz were profound, to say the least.”

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