Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan was distraught over the tragic destruction of the COLUMBIA Space Shuttle earlier this year (01FEB03) after striking up a friendship with one of the astronauts.

KALPANA CHAWLA had been a massive fan of the long-running rockers, and had been in contact with Gillan until just before she launched off on the ill-fated mission, which ended when the NASA aircraft broke up upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, killing all those on board.

Gillan says, "She was a big fan and listened to our song SPACE TRUCKING on the Shuttle. I still have an e-mail sent from her the day before she died.

"After the disaster, I played one of our new songs, HAUNTED, and her death gave it a completely new dimension. It really choked me up."

04/09/2003 13:37