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THE VOICE OF ROCK: Glenn Hughes On His Past, Present & Bright Future In Music!

Vocalist/bassist/songwriter Glenn Hughes is a true original. No other rock musician carved such a distinctive style blending the finest elements of hard rock, soul and funk. He’s a man with a sound and presence all his own — so much so that Stevie Wonder once called Hughes his favorite white singer. Hughes first tasted notable success as a member of Trapeze. In 1973, Hughes joined Deep Purple. The trailblazing hard-rock legends had just weathered the departure of vocalist Ian Gillan and bass guitarist Roger Glover, but guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice continued with the addition of Hughes and David Coverdale. He spent key years of his career as the beloved bassist and vocalist of the group, recording on the classic albums: “Burn,” “Stormbringer” and “Come Taste the Band.” Since 1992, Hughes toured extensively in Europe, Japan and South America in support of solo albums, but more recently has been involved with award winning supergroups Black Country Communion, with guitar star Joe Bonamassa, keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) and drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin legend John Bonham, and California Breed, which also features Hughes and drummer Jason Bonham. Glenn Hughes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the Mark III line up of Deep Purple on April 8, 2016.

Upon the recent completion of a successful South American and European festival tour, rock and roll legend Glenn Hughes is bringing the Classic Hits of Deep Purple Live tour to the United States. The 18-city trek kicks off August 25, in Westbury, NY, at the NYCB Theatre and travels around the Northeast before wrapping up in Tarrytown, NY on September 22. The tour will make stops in Asbury Park, NJ; Lancaster, PA; Cleveland, OH; and Boston, MA to name a few. Hughes will perform various hits and deep cuts from the illustrious Deep Purple catalog including “Burn,” “Stormbringer,” “Sail Away” and “Smoke On The Water.” Glenn will focus on arrangements from the live albums – not studio recordings – for these songs, giving fans more insight as to what it was like seeing a Deep Purple show during the 1970s. Once the US run wraps at the end of September, Hughes will return to Europe to continue to bring his interpretation of the legendary music of Deep Purple to fans worldwide. All tour dates, VIP packages and ticket info can be found at www.glennhughes.com.

Glenn, it’s always a pleasure to hear your voice, no matter if it’s on stage, on an album or on the phone. Thanks for taking time out to talk to me today!

I always enjoy talking to you, Jason. It’s good to see you, man! Good to hear your voice!

I followed your story through the years and find you to be a tremendous inspiration. You have an incredible energy and unrelenting drive. You’re busier now than ever! What’s kept you driven through the years?

Simply put, it’s my love of the craft that was so freely given to me as a child. I was never a multitasker and I knew exactly what I would do moving forward. I knew that I would be a musician. I didn’t know anything about star power back then. All I wanted to do was learn my craft! Then I was plunged into the mainstream of being in a band like Deep Purple and being surrounded by my friends in The Who, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. As a child, I weathered the storm and here I am all of these years later a little bit blustered and weathered but I’m still doing my thing!

Do you think drive is a generational thing or something instilled in you at an early age?

I come from a working-class family. My parents went without so that I could have. I’m the only child. I took care of my parents before they passed away and that’s when I became the parent and became the one that loved and took care of them as they couldn’t do it any longer. I was damned if I was going to let them down! Me being sober and clean all these years, all I wanted to do was continually give back to people who genuinely cared about music, rock music, how to play and how to write. I have people ask me, “How do you write?” Or “How do you warm up your voice?” I have to answer them! I can’t have some guy that I am employ answer these questions. This is going to freak you out, but I may spend four to five hours a day talking about this stuff to people! I know it’s not healthy to do that but dammit I have to do it at this moment!

Where do you look for inspiration? Your creative fire is burning hotter than ever!

I’m one to change! David Bowie lived with me for quite some time and he always told me, “Keep changing. Don’t be afraid to change.” I may have gotten into trouble over the last four decades, but I’ve never been one to sit in the same spot. I’ve always looked different, sounded a little bit different and I’ve never made the same album twice. Long may that continue!

Glenn Hughes – Photo by Neil Zlozower

When we see you on stage we see the culmination of raw talent and experience. When did you come into your own as a performer?

I think that was before Deep Purple. That would be when I was selling a lot of tickets with Trapeze. We started breaking out of clubs in 1970. By the time we hit 1972-1973, we were playing arenas in some parts of America. When that happened to me, kids were buying the music I had written as a teenager. So, when I joined Deep Purple I felt that I had earned my stripes! Yes, I joined Deep Purple when “Machine Head” had come out and they were megastars. Yes, we all know that, but I have been selling tickets and notching my way up the ladder, if you will. I think I was ready for that next step!

Take us back to those early days in Deep Purple. What was your headspace like and what impact did your time in the band have on you moving forward?

The guys in Deep Purple weren’t a glossy group of really pally, huggy type of chaps. They were men that didn’t like to hug each other — they liked to hug women! I’m a bit of a tree hugger and I like to hug men! There was a not a lot of camaraderie in Deep Purple. David [Coverdale] and I coming into it together brought a Northern English approach to it. We came in and sort of lambasted our way into it. We became the new guys and we gave the band, which I consider to be Ian [Paice], Jon [Lord] and Ritchie [Blackmore], a new lease on life. What happened with me and Deep Purple, as you probably know a bit about my life, is that I was a social butterfly. I did write a lot of those songs and sing them. Let’s just say, I was over served at the bar a little bit. Maybe things were going wrong behind the scenes that were not just drug-related. Maybe things were not going so well. It was difficult to replace Ritchie Blackmore. We had Tommy Bolin come in, bless his heart and soul. It was a beautiful thing but, as you know, it was also disastrous and a tragedy. The band somehow fell apart because it just couldn’t work. What I learned from it is how I became the person you’re speaking to now. As you know, I’ve done it all! I’ve got the T-shirt, I’ve had the heart attacks and I’ve gone through it all. Bro, I’m being a bit dramatic here but a lot of my friends, and you know who they are, didn’t make it. Bowie, Bonham and so on; an endless supply of my friends that are not here any longer and it’s devastating.

You’re about to launch a U.S. tour playing the music of Deep Purple. What made now the time to bring this tour to the masses?

I didn’t want to bring this to the stage with uncaring musicians. I asked myself, “Are these dudes going to give my audience what I would consider to be a great show?” Do I still have the Glenn Hughes Band playing Deep Purple songs? The answer is no! I’m changing it up and bringing people in that I think are more suitable to Deep Purple sounding songs. Look, do I like letting people go? No! I’ve been a guy who keeps a band together for at least five to six years. This thing is a two-year tour that basically takes us around the world twice. I wanted, if I may be so bold, to bring a band that sounds as close to Deep Purple Mark III and IV as possible. I’m being a little facetious here but why would I want to bring the band that didn’t sound as close to the original band? I just want people to maybe close their eyes a little bit and go, “Wait a minute! This is damn close here!” That’s the way it should be! This isn’t just something that came off the top of my head. When we talk about these kids Greta Van Fleet, forget about the way they look, when you hear that sound you go, “Dammit, that’s as close as you’re going to get!”

I’m bringing in an incredible guitar player named Jeff Kollman. He was with me 10 or 15 years ago and is an aficionado of the Stratocaster. I’m also bringing in a Hammond organ specialist from my band Kings of Chaos with Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Gilby Clarke and Joe Elliott. His name is Mike Mangan and he is a Hammond organ specialist as Jon Lord was. I have Ian Paice-style drummer, Eduardo Rivadavia from São Paulo, Brazil. They are all coming to bring that vibe into my band. I want to bring a band onto the stage that’s going to make people fuckin’ sit up and take notice! I don’t want everything to be tied up into a pink little bow where it’s all pretty and it sounds just like the album. No, no, no, no! It ain’t going to be like that! It’s can be blustery, organic, soft, loud, celebratory and in the raw!

For me, I’m not trying to have people look like Blackmore, Paice and Lord, but I would like people to say, “Dammit that sounds fucking close!” Wouldn’t they want that, and wouldn’t they want me to sound exactly like I did in 1974? Because that’s what’s going to happen! Bro, that’s what I’m bringing! I’ve never been in this fine a shape. I don’t think I’ve been in this kind of shape for a very long, long time. It’s a good time for me to expand, travel, take care of myself, get a lot of sleep, a lot of water and do what I have to do to bring my show across the planet!

I can hear the excitement in your voice! Like you said, you’ve been through it all, so it’s cool to know you are anxious to bring the best to the fans.

Bro, I’ve never been this excited! Let me just say this to my diehard fans across the world — there are three Glenn Hughes tours happening in the next 15 months. The first part will be the East Coast and in the Midwest, the second part will be the West Coast and Southwest in the third part will be more Midwest and Southeast. Of course, Canada will happen in April. I’m hitting every market in the next 15 months. Guess what? In 2020, I will do it all again!

I’m curious about the set list for this upcoming tour. What are you most anxious to sink your teeth into?

People reading or hearing this must know, if you’re coming to see me, I’m not phoning this shit in! If I’m going to sing “Burn,” I’m going to sing “Sail Away,” “Mistreated,” “You Keep On Moving” and “Smoke on the Water” with “Georgia On My Mind.” I’m going to be singing the songs and delivering them better than I delivered them in 1974? Ya know why, Jason? Because I ain’t drinking and using anymore! I’ve had my fill of it. I have been told that I have the same kind voice that I had back in the day. I say that with humility; it’s not an ego thing. Listen, you may be speaking to the most grateful artist that you will speak to this year. I’m bringing this show to rock fans to celebrate the music of my band, Deep Purple.

One of the things I admire about you is your connection to your fanbase. You have your finger on the pulse. How has a connection to the audience impacted you in recent years?

I’ve got a lot of fans on social media, I think I have a half-a-million at least. I don’t know if you follow what I do but I have a team. Most people wouldn’t believe it but when I talk to the people, it’s actually me. People say, “Is this really you, Glenn?” And, of course, it is! I’m inclined to speak to those people who may need help. Maybe they have been having problems with their health or had one too many drinks and want to talk about recovery. There might even be someone who wants me to teach them how to tune a guitar! I’m blessed to have a great relationship with my fans. My wife thinks I’m crazy and I shouldn’t be on the phone that goddamn much! [laughs] I spend a lot of time talking to my fans. I know a lot of my fans are out there listening or reading this, I want them to know that they can contact me if they need to. I’m here! Show up! Let me give you a hug! I ain’t going anywhere but to see you! You’re not coming to see me because I’m coming to see you! Just remember that!

You are outspoken on your struggles with addiction in the past. It’s no secret there’s an opioid crisis happening in America. As someone who struggled and overcame the odds, what advice do you give to those struggling right now?

Pick up the phone and call someone who is reaching out. Please don’t be frightened. This disease is waiting in the carpark doing push-ups and waiting for one of us to fall. I’m really concerned about the opioid thing right now and the lack of focus we put onto it. I’m involved with a group of people in Los Angeles that really do help people. I’ve seen so many people that I know not make it. These are very, very smart people but alcohol and drug addiction take out the most illustrious, educated people on the planet. It’s a disease that says, “It’s OK, Glenn. You can have one more drink.” Well, brother, let me tell you — that one more drink may kill me! So, anybody out there who is reading this or hearing my voice while struggling with a problem, let me be your agony aunt. Contact me and maybe I can give you a little advice. I love you all and please keep coming back!

Glenn Hughes: An unstoppable force in rock ‘n’ roll!

You live your life like an open book. What do you think most people would be surprised to know about Glenn Hughes?

That’s an interesting question. I think a lot of people will be surprised by the stamina I have at my age. I’ve got a good regime of athletic regiments going on. As I’ve said, David Bowie was my houseguest for six months in 1975. I learned from him that every time I step on stage that I become an actor. Jason, we are all actors, darling! All musicians are, in my opinion. I’ve had some reservations with certain girl singers who don’t agree with me, but I feel that I have to put on that actor role in order to step onto that stage and deliver the set of songs that will be the way it should be delivered.

You always look to the future, so where does that leave us in terms of new music?

I’ve got two things on hold at the moment. I have a vocal album with Joe Satriani and another Black Country Communion album with Joe Bonamassa. For those people who are deeply concerned about Glenn Hughes and my career, and you can understand this, what I can’t have happen over the next couple of years is to make commitments to other people and have them fall through. If I say to you I’m going to confirm a show, I’m damn sure going to show up! All the people buying tickets to Glenn Hughes shows across our planet must know that I’m going to show up! I’m going to be the first one in the building and I’m going to be the last one to leave!

Is there something musically you hope to experiment with in the near future?

Orchestra is a thing that you may be hearing about me doing. I’ve done Royal Albert Hall with two big orchestras to great success. I’ve also done some stuff in Germany and we’re looking at going to the Sydney Opera House and doing an orchestra there. I like to have my music transcend into different areas, as well as doing cover songs with orchestras. We have been offered a lot of touring schedules with an orchestra. I don’t travel with the orchestra, I will just use then in the cities that they are because it would take too much damn money to do it any other way. I do have a great director and conductor who will travel with me. So as for what you may see in the future, it may be Glenn Hughes’ Classic Deep Purple. You may see a Satriani-Glenn Hughes, you’ll see a Joe Bonamassa-Glenn Hughes album and a Black Country Communion album but what you are going to see, for the next 18 months at least, is Glenn Hughes performing classic Deep Purple live — blood, sweat and tears!

Last time we spoke, it was days before the 2016 elections in the United States. You stated in the past how much you love this country and what it has meant to you. What is your take on America in 2018?

I don’t know if you know this, but I became a US citizen in March! My mother and father-in-law are decorated Vietnam veterans, so you know who they support. My wife is not a Republican! [laughs] I don’t want to discuss politics specifically because it’s a little bit over-the-top for me and I think that artists should really stay out of it. People tend to get on soapboxes and anger people. I think it’s a situation in America where all Americans should vote. There’s a lot of bickering and anger between us Americans about who we should vote for, who is bad and who is good. All I know and all I care about is global warming, people starving, jobs and how we can prevent illness. I’m concerned with how can we solve these problems. Is it going to be a certain politician that is going to help us? I’m not quite sure. But I do know that as Americans we must stick together. We must be firm, strong and support one another because we are the greatest country in the world. Sometimes we think we’re not, but we are. At this very moment, there’s something happening that is unreal, and we have to make sure that changes. I’m very, very proud to say that I’m very honored to be an American citizen!

Glenn Hughes – Photo by Neil Zlozower

You’re making new fans each passing day. For the younger generation who are discovering your work, where is the best place for them to dive in?

Start with Trapeze, simply because that’s where it all started for me as a teenager. I was a teenager, 17 years old, writing songs that would result in me selling lots of records and 10,000 tickets a night in the Southern part of America. This was all before Deep Purple. Like I said, I made a name for myself before I actually got to play with this mega-band. Those were the moments for me when I could barely rub two stones together. I had no money, one pair of jeans and maybe two T-shirts. I had nothing except for the love of my craft. I would sleep with my guitar! I made sure it was polished and cleaned. I always made sure I would always show up on time, suit up and give my all to the audience! That is something that has never faltered!

Are there bands out there who excite you these days?

I’ve been saying this for five years and say it again! There are a bunch of kids who grew up down the street from me in Long Beach who are now signed to Atlantic records. That band is Rival Sons! I had a radio show five years ago at Planet Rock in the UK. These kids were unknown, and they came to me at a party I was hosting for my friend John Varvatos in Los Angeles. Jay Buchanan came to me and said, “Glenn, could you play one of my songs on your show?” I played “Pressure and Time” and I said, “Holy shit!” I’ve been campaigning for that band to go all the way. That’s the band I want to see succeed and hopefully they do. They have Dave Cobb producing them, who’s is a three-time Grammy Award winner and one of my producers. Anyone who hasn’t heard Rival Sons should go out and check them out! They are fantastic!

A few years back you mentioned the possibility of working on another book in the next several years. Any update there?

I’m going to do a book but what you need to know is that I’m filming now. I’m filming something in documentary form, so that’s going to continue for a year because there needs to be a story on film. I think that should come before the next book. I’m going to be 67 in the next few days. I’m healthy but I really want to start getting things down on film. It’s time to do that!

You set the bar high in the past few years, Glenn. I’m not sure how often you hear that or get a pat on the back but — well done!

Thank you! My manager does. I have a group of people that I have surrounded myself with that are all Glenn people. I’ve let people go that weren’t on the same page as me because we are the ferocious fighting team of pirates going around the world! All sober men, all family men and we are fuckin’ ready, let me tell ya!

I know our time is short, Glenn! I can’t wait to see the show when you roll into Annapolis, Maryland in the next few weeks.

Are you kidding me? Ram’s Head is going to be heaving with my fans. That’s a very small club. That was my first show in 2016 and it was fantastic! All those kids at Ram’s Head On Stage must know that I’m bringing you the show of the year. You’ve got to believe me when I tell you this. You were also kind to me last time, so let’s double the fun this time!

Sounds great! Thanks again for your time today and I wish you continued success!

Thank you, Jason! I look forward to talking to you again soon!

For all the latest news and dates for Glenn Hughes, visit his official website at www.glennhughes.com. Connect with him on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


August 25th Westbury, NY NYCB Theatre
August 26th Hamden, CT Space Ballroom
August, 28th Asbury Park, NJ The Stone Pony
August 29th New York, NY Sony Hall
August 31st Wilmington, DE The Queen
September 1st Lancaster, PA Chameleon Club
September 4th Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage
September 5th Warrendale, PA Jergels
September 7th Glenside, PA The Keswick Theatre
September 8th Jim Thorpe, PA Penn’s Peak
September 11th Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance
September 13th Saint Charles, IL Arcada Theatre
September 15th Westland, MI The Token Lounge
September 16th Cleveland, OH House Of Blues
September 18th Derry, NH Tupelo Music Hall
September 19th Boston, MA The Wilbur
September 21st Providence, RI Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
September 22nd Tarrytown, NY Tarrytown Music Hall