Gillan, Ian – Highway Star (Book Review)

Reviewed: December 2017
Released: 2017, Lesser Gods
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP


The newly updated, re-titled version of Ian Gillian’s 1993 autobiography, originally called, ‘Child In Time.’

Lesser Gods is a relatively new publishing firm in the US. They seem to specialize in bringing forward some interesting titles, older titles, out-of-print stuff to a North American market. This is a prime example of the great job they are doing getting cool books out there.

HIGHWAY STAR is actually a re-issue of a book originally titled CHILD IN TIME which was first published in England in 1993. It is the autobiography of Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame. It was pretty hard to find and now I have a copy of my own! The 220 page paperback has a cool and reverent Foreward by Lars Ulrich and has a smattering of photos on colour plates in the middle.

If I had to choose one word (or maybe two words) to describe the life-story of Ian Gillan it would be ‘exotic’ and ‘cosmopolitan’. I like Deep Purple but I’m not the world’s largest fan. I have almost all the studio albums but my knowledge of his life and side-projects is minimal. I learned a lot about the man. The conventional and relaxed story-telling style is chronological as he walks us through his life story. I use the word cosmopolitan because there are so many interesting stories; stories about about Greek belly-dancers, touring Lebanon in the early 70’s, a Spanish gypsy-dancer who wanted to kill Gillan because he (mistakenly) thought Gillan was sleeping with his wife, stories about getting a handjob in the back of a military airplane in Russia from and many, many more. All the classic, more well-known stories are also covered; The Butterfly Ball, Montreaux and the creation of ‘Smoke On The Water’, Jesus Christ Super-Star, and for course all the shenanigans of Deep Purple. Gillan had quite an entrepreneurial streak in his wealthy prime, he owned and ran a hotel and ran a motorcycle manufacturing/racing business among other things. He has had one amazing life and seen the world in ways most of us can only dream about, or read in books. Gillan is honest and sincere he talks about his drinking problems, his money problems, his failed relationships and his on-again, off-again relationship with Richie Blackmore.

My one main criticism is the book still seems pretty out-date. Not only does he start to skimp on detail of his later years, the book just sort of ends. It is ostensibly updated in 2016 but that amounts to two-thirds of the last chapter. The book really ends in about 1993 and there are about pages that cover from 1993 to 2016! He really should write a book covering the last quarter century of his career!

I’m so glad to finally have HIGHWAY STAR/CHILD IN TIME in my library. My admiration of Gillan and appreciation of Purple has only grown, as well as my desire to really go and check out his prolific solo career as well.

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Publisher: Lesser Gods
Pages: 220