After 20 years away, rock artist Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, returned to Armenia to once again give back. Gillan, along with Tony Iommy of Heaven and Hell and Black Sabbath, Geoff Downs of Yes, and Guitarist and Songwriter Jon Dee, led two benefit concerts at Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall on March 26th and 27th to raise money for the reconstruction of the FAR's Octet Music School in Gyumri.
Gillan, along with members of Pink Floyd, Queen, and Yes, came to Armenia more than two decades ago in the wake of the devastating 1988 earthquake for the benefit concert Rock Helps Armenia, where he recorded the famous song “Smoke on the Water.”
In October 2009, Gillan, Iommy, Downs, and Dee returned to Armenia. One of their stops took them to FAR's Octet Music School, where they were immediately struck by the students’ work and decided the organize the donation of musical instruments. Shortly afterwards, the idea for another benefit concert was born.
Over the years, FAR has supported the school by providing the children with musical instruments and covering the cost of their tuition fees.
The March concerts were a success. Guests were mesmerized as they watched the musicians sing along with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Armenia, led by Czech Conductor Frideman Rile.
Performing hits like Highway Star and Woman from Tokyo, the performers absorbed the energy of the crowd and delivered a great show.
After the Smoke on the Water finale, Gillan faced the crowd an ended on one last stunning note: “Armenia is my spiritual homeland.”
The remix of Smoke on the Water will be available on iTunes. Proceeds from sales will also go to the reconstruction of FAR's Octet Music School.