YEREVAN, JUNE 5, ARMENPRESS. Deep Purple’s lead vocalist Ian Gillan, Black Sabbath’s guitarist Tony Iommi are in Yerevan to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Rock Aid Armenia, also known in earlier stages as Live Aid Armenia, a humanitarian effort by the British music industry to raise money to help those affected by the 1988 Armenian earthquake.
International charity campaigner Jon Dee, who initiated Rock Aid Armenia, is also visiting Yerevan for the anniversary event.
Speaking at a news conference today in Yerevan, Ian Gillan said Rock Aid Armenia is very personal for him.
“Here we are again. This project is a very personal experience for me because I believe it was in June 1990 when I was performing at the sports arena when I became aware of the tragic events of the previous year and I took a trip to Spitak and I saw the devastation. There are many vivid images, the main one I remember it was an old lady holding a picture of her 28-men family and she was the only one left alive. I spoke with the Mayor of Spitak and he told me that all music had stopped in the city, on the radio, in the church, even the birds had stopped singing. So we thought that time itself might be a healer and music symbolically would be one way for restarting and we got involved in the music school in Gyumri which I think is absolutely perfect for symbolizing new life,” Gillan said.
Rock Aid Armenia founder Jon Dee thanked Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi and noted that the two legends continue supporting the program during 30 years and personally visit Armenia to see how they can further help.
“On the occasion of Rock Aid Armenia’s 30th anniversary an event will take place in the evening and all tickets are sold out. This shows how important this project is. Next month we will launch a new website that will feature recordings and music videos that haven’t been published until now. Smoke on the Water will be re-released across the world and all proceeds will be directed to Gyumri to supplement the school with musical instruments. We will also release a new album, which won’t contain rock music, but Armenian music,” Dee said.
He said an album featuring 5th century Armenian spiritual music will be released together with Vahan Artsruni and Hasmik Baghdasaryan. The album will be titled Mashtots and the proceeds will too be directed to the school.
Dee said they heard the music for the first time in 2013 during a visit to the Yerevan’s Matenadaran. He called on all Armenians worldwide to acquire the CD because all proceeds will go to the school’s fund.
“I am impatiently expecting to see this school with my own eyes. We will continue this project as long as we are able to,” added Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, who joined the project 10 years ago.
Smoke on the Water, a famous Deep Purple song from the 70s, was already once re-recorded for Rock Aid Armenia.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan