Dear Friends

DF 32 - Bananas & Contact Lost

September 2003

Many thanks for the all the greetings, it was the most exhausting 58th birthday I have ever experienced.

The picture on the back of the Bananas cover is the one (from an Australian newspaper) that was spotted by Roger Glover. He held it up and said…'that's an album cover'. I said 'It's not an album cover; it's a picture in a newspaper.'…but he was right wasn't he…well almost…

…It did in fact end up on the back cover and one of Bruce's brilliantly spontaneous shots is on the front, but it doesn't reduce the nature or importance of the impact of that most evocative original photograph.

Every picture tells a story and the first thought that came to my mind was the sad news that not one of those Vietnamese bananas was likely to find its way into the E.U. I know, I know, I banged on about this in the last DF (July) but the disingenuousness of the Idiocracy (EU regulators) and the Enemy (the owners and royalty collectors of GM products) must always be challenged and resisted, must it not.

Enough of that for now; suffice to say the story goes further than a cheap play on words; yeah we're all mad but that's not the point is it.

The closing track on Bananas, Contact Lost is with respect to the NASA mission STS-107, the crew of which were aboard the tragic final flight of the Columbia.

In particular, Kalpana Chawla was a friend; a Deep Purple aficionado. She had arranged to carry some DP CDs during the mission and one of her wake-up selections, to commence another 12 hour shift, was 'Space Truckin'.

For some time prior to our Bananas recording session we had been carrying a Log on the Caramba website, lovingly written especially for us by Kalpana's husband J.P. Harrison. (You can still find them there in the archives).

During the mission I wrote to Kalpana and she replied from Columbia via Email:

Hello Kalpana and fellow Space Truckers,

We have been following your progress as closely as possible from our recording studio in Los Angeles.

Being aware of you whizzing around up there has added an extra dimension to the fizz in the air down here; I'll make sure you get the first copies of the resulting CD.

Continuing success on your mission, with best regards from all of us in Deep Purple and also the Caramba Team,

Ian Gillan

Dear Ian and Gang,

Thanks so much for your message. Finally, we have our space legs and we are enjoying the axes transitions, the magnificent views, and the work.

Best to you all.

Kalpana

On Saturday 1st February the awful events unfolded in the skies along Columbia's re-entry path.

We stumbled into the studio, unable to speak; the session was not going to happen that day.

Steve Morse arrived and we all hugged. He went straight to the room and asked Mike Bradford to record the music he had just written as he watched Columbia die…he called it Contact Lost.

Music doesn't always need words in order to be lyrical and Steve Morse was able to speak with his guitar when we were all speechless.

I have been blessed with various soubriquets over the years. I've been a pop rocker, a blues shouter, a progressive, hard and heavy rocker, a heavy metal rocker, a dinosaur, a wrinkly and an ageing rocker, a classic rocker, a legend (no…no…King Arthur is a legend), an icon (oh dear) and quite a few other things I have forgotten.

Most of these definitions were not chosen by me. I did not see myself as a category; I never wanted to be bagged and put on a shelf. I had no dreams of celebrity or stardom (well, just once when I was seventeen).

The tags were chosen by outsiders, keen to exploit or invent a new genre every couple of years…nothing wrong with that is there. It's just that we don't see ourselves that way.

I look around my room and everything I can see is a product of human imagination.

And another thing I won't discuss is religion…It always causes a fight.

I'm feeling quite gruntled this week as I pack my bags for the tour, first stop Brazil.

Cheers,
Ian Gillan

Copyright © Ian Gillan 2003

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