– Welcome to the latest in a series of entries outlining some of what we feel is ‘essential ‘ Jeff Healey, be it a particular performance on a television show, album, song or guest session…
‘When A Blind Man Cries’ (from the album ‘Gillan’s Inn’ by Ian Gillan )
In 2006, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan released ‘Gillan’s Inn’, an album containing songs spanning Gillan’s then 40 year music career and featuring various guest artists to help give the songs a new spin.
Jeff was invited to play on several tracks on the album, including a remake of the Deep Purple song ‘Demon’s Eye’, a version of ‘Smoke On The Water’ (for the bonus DVD) and the subject of this ‘Essential’… ‘When A Blind Man Cries’.
Written in Montreux back in 1971, it was originally recorded by Deep Purple during the ‘Machine Head’ sessions. Though it was only originally released as a B-Side, it became a live staple for them on and off over the decades and always remained a fan favourite. It seemed like an obvious choice for ‘Gillan’s Inn’ and for Jeff’s particular talents.
Jeff was more than flattered by the invitation and quickly agreed to play on the album, telling Ian that the only catch was that he had to come down and sing at Jeff’s club. Gillan happily agreed and made his way over to Toronto in the summer of 2005 to oversee the recording of Jeff’s parts at Metalworks Studios…
The end result? ‘When A Blind Man Cries’ is a great, blues soaked tune and Jeff’s solo on this version is quite simply one of the best he ever committed to tape. Powerful, passionate, soaring… it still gives me goose bumps when I hear it…
(Our dear friend Michael Lee Jackson is not only Ian Gillan’s manager, he’s also a stellar guitar player in his own right and he plays rhythm guitar on ‘When A Blind Man Cries’…)
Michael Lee Jackson: “I am fairly certain that it was (producer) Nick Blagona’s suggestion to give Jeff a call, and Ian and I thought it was a fantastic idea.”
*Ian Gillan: “For me, the really interesting contributions on this recording of ‘Blind Man’ are from Jeff Healey on lead guitar and Jon Lord on Hammond organ. It’s hard to describe really and though their parts were recorded thousands of miles away from each other, at different times, they sound as if they were both there, physically and spiritually on the same day. It’s quite poignant and very moving.”
MLJ: “(Jeff) was such a gem to work with in the studio. He didn’t want me to send the tracks ahead of time. He came in, sat down, plugged in… we tinkered a little with his tone for him, and he just let it rip. He was such a gifted player and a diamond guy. He came out and played with us at the Phoenix in Toronto on that tour as well, again totally unrehearsed, and just played brilliantly on a few songs. Very fond memories indeed and his playing was stunning on that (When A Blind Man Cries). Simply amazing.”
IG: “Jeff… just being in the studio watching him play is an amazing thing, when you look at the character of the guy and what a fantastic blues player and jazz player he is and his style that he’s developed of putting his guitar in his lap and playing it in a distinctive way it’s just incredible to watch and it’s a great honour and a privilege to be in a studio with Jeff. …a fine wonderful man.”
MLJ: “We consider ourselves quite blessed for having been lucky enough to meet Jeff and make a little music with him.”
Jeff Healey’s stunning performance on ‘When A Blind Man Cries‘ makes ‘Gillan’s Inn’ a must-have for all Healey fans. ~Rog
*Note: Ian Gillan quotes taken from the audio commentary on the bonus DVD from ‘Gillan’s Inn’.
– Studio Version…
– Ian Gillan with special guest Jeff Healey, live in Toronto…