Colin Towns replaced the brief tenure of Mickey Dee Soule who had replaced Mike Towns and Mike Moran on keyboards for the release of several more experimental albums on the 'Island' label titled Clear Air Turbulence (1977) and Scarabus (1977). The two albums that failed to make the grade on the charts so a line-up change ensued with himself retaining only Towns and bringing in Steve Byrd (guitar), John McCoy (bass), and Pete Barnacle (drums) to release the Japan-only album Gillian - The Japanese Album (1978). It would prove to be the band'snamesake for Gillian was now assumed by the band as a whole. His international debut proper was Mr. Universe (1979) with Bernie Trome (drums) and Mick Underwood (ex-Episode Six/ex-Quartermass/ex-Strapps) replacing Barnacle. The album managed 11 in the UK But Gillian managed to benefit at the turn of the decade with the arrival of the New Wave Of British heavy metal movement managing to attract many fans to his compatible sound and the resulting Glory Road (1980) managed a 3 UK Future Shock (1981) managed to top it's predecessor by making a 2 on the same chart but the love-affair was wearing out by the time his Double Trouble (1981) live album was released. He was pushed farther down the slide with 1982's Magic album making only 17 after which he joined Black Sabbath, then the revamped the Deep Purple line-up and closed his solo operation. Not surprisingly these relationships fell apart and after his brief collaboration with Roger Glover (of Deep Purple) resulting in the one-off album Accidentally On Purpose (1988), released only in the UK, by 1990 he was cruising the solo circuit again.
Assuming his full name again, his comeback was Naked Thunder (1990) with Steve Morris (guitar), Chris Glen (ex-Michael Schenker Group (M.S.G.)/ex-Sahb; bass), Ted McKenna (ex-Michael Schenker Group (MSG)/ex-Sahb; drums), Tommy Eyre (ex-Sahb; keyboards), Mick O'Donaghue (guitar) and Dave Lloyd (vocals/percussion). Toolbox (1991) followed hot on its heels to become an acclaimed hard rock effort featuring Brett Bloomfield (ex-Starship; bass), Leonard Haze (ex-Y & T; drums) and Steve Morris (guitar) that led Gillian's return toDeep Purple in 1992 Trouble - The Best Of Gillan (1991; best of...), Cherkazoo and Other Stories (1992; re-released in 1999 by 'Spitfire Records'), The Best Of Ian Gillan (1992; compilation) with another left-over solo effort, Dreamcatcher (1997), taking up the rear years later. By the time Dreamcatcher was released, however, his solo act had long since gone again and these albums, and the subsequent compilations were simply left-overs and cash-in projects by various record companies and promoters like The Rockfield Mixes (1997), BBC Tapes Live: Volume 1: Dead Of Night (1998; live), BBC Tapes Live: Volume 2: Unchain Your Brain (1998; live), Gillan Tapes, Vol. 1 (1998), Live At The Rainbow (1998; live), No Fire Without Smoke 2CD (1998), The Japanese Album (1998), Live at the BBC: 1979-1980 2CD (1999; live), The Gillan Tapes, Vol. 2 (1999), The Gillan Tapes, Vol. 3 2CD/CD (2000), Live Wembley 17th December 1982 (2001; live), Live: Tokyo, 23rd October 1978: Shinjuku (2001; live), Live: Yubin Chokin Hall, Hiroshima, 1977 (2001; live), Bedrock in Concert 2CD (2002), On the Rocks (2002), Poor Boy Hero (2003), Rarities 1975-77 (2003), Dreamcatcher (2004; re-release).