GLENN HUGHES: “I Would Certainly Work With TONY IOMMI Again When He’s Ready”

GLENN HUGHES (Live at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., October 11, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

He may have only been a member of Deep Purple for three years but bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, helped produce three albums that have stood the test of time almost four decades later. Mick Burgess called up a chatty Hughes to discuss his latest tour celebrating his tenure in Deep Purple and asked about the prospect of a new Black Country Communion album and working with Tony Iommi again.

In October you’re touring the UK are you looking forward to it?

I’ve just finished the festival season and will be going back to LA to start my American tour. The fans have been buying the tickets and it’s uncanny as I’ve just turned 67 and when I look at my peers, a lot of them are backing off and taking things a bit easier. For me, I haven’t done an extended tour for a while for health reasons and many other reasons too but now I’ve decided to start touring like I did in the ’70’s. I’m a health enthusiast now and do so many miles of walking every day and I’m a spiritual person and now I believe I can do it all if I think I can. It’s like Alan Shearer when he walked up to take a penalty, if he was full of fear there’s a chance he’d miss, but he rarely missed. So, when I stride up to the microphone, I know that I can still hit that note because I don’t do fear. I can’t wait to come over to the UK with my show.

You’re in Newcastle on the 10th October too, a place you’ve played many times?

I’m really looking forward to my visit to the Toon. We’re a Rock’n’Roll band, who wouldn’t play in Newcastle? Newcastle is one of the greatest cities in Europe to play Rock music. Newcastle has a really rowdy bunch of girls and guys. I’ve had Geordies coming to my shows all over the world. They’re incredible. I have a great following in Newcastle and I want to bring this show to them and play like I’d play in Tokyo or Moscow.

This tour is a Glenn Hughes Performs Classic Deep Purple Live set. Why did you decide to go out on the road and devote a whole set to Deep Purple?

Big promoters came in and this is what they were wanting me to do. When I’m working with promoters who are deadly serious about my art then I will be dedicating myself to that. When we are talking Glenn Hughes performs Deep Purple this is exactly what it is. I am not Deep Purple. I was in the band, I am not a tribute artist and I am playing songs that I wrote and recorded

Is this going to be a romp through the studio versions of the songs or will you be stretching them out and performing them like you did live back then?

Some of them will be. Stormbringer and Might Just Take Your Life may well be faithful takes on the studio versions but others like Gettin’ Tighter will be more like the Live at Long Beach version and You’ll Fool No One will be like the Californian Jam version. They’ll be elongated versions but songs like This Time Around and You Keep On Moving will be just like the album but if we feel like heading off musically like we did with Blackmore and Lord then that’s what we’ll do. I’m going back to that ’70’s approach to capture the energy of those times.

Will this be purely the Deep Purple Mark III and IV era when you were in the band or do you perform a couple of earlier songs that you used to do live back in the ’70’s?

It will be mainly the songs we did with Mark III and IV Deep Purple with David Coverdale but I will do Highway Star and Smoke On The Water as we did perform those when I was in the band. I’ll add Georgia On My Mind to the end of Smoke like we used to do. I won’t be doing any other Mark II songs as I don’t really want to sing the Gillan songs but as we did perform them and record them on live albums then we’ll do it. I think more people will be happy with that than aren’t. We will be ending the show with Mistreated, Smoke on the Water, Highway Star and Burn. Can you imagine that? Can you think of a better four songs from the ’70’s to end a show than those? It’s going to be great.

You’ve performed a fair few Purple songs in your set over the years, are there any that you are doing that you haven’t played in years or have never played live, even with Purple?

I haven’t done This Time Around in my set for a long time. It’s a special song and a really spiritual song. I’m very much looking forward to doing that one again.

Recreating those parts done by the likes of Blackmore, Lord and Paice will always be a challenge. Who do you have in your band for this tour?

I have a new band for this tour. Jeff Kollman is back on guitar and he has the ability and Ritchie Blackmore knowledge to play these songs perfectly. I also have Mike Mangan on Hammond organ and he plays with me in the Kings of Chaos and on drums Eduardo Balbas who is an Ian Paice style of drummer. If I’m going to be doing a tour of this magnitude then I want the right people in the team. I want the striker to come off the bench and pop one in the corner so that’s why I’ve got these guys in as I know they can do it and I’ll be able to storm down the front of the stage and do my thing. I’m not a tribute artist, I AM the artist so I need people to cover me and be able to take us back to 1974. If Glenn is going to play classic Deep Purple live, Glenn needs to bring the right people in and I think I have the band to do that.

Will you be recording any of the shows on the tour?

I’ll be recording as part of a documentary during the tour and I think we’ll be recording a couple of the big shows like at Moscow and we’ll be recording some of the American shows that people can purchase as downloads soon after the event.

How have you kept your voice in such peak condition?

I am an artist who has put the booze down and the drugs. I’m vegan and don’t do dairy and don’t do cheese. I sleep a lot as I have to rest my voice. If I don’t get 8 hours a night, it’s going to be difficult. I’m a very dedicated sleeper. I am totally focussed on doing my job and that is to sleep, rest, eat appropriately, warm my voice up, get on the stage and do my show, warm myself down, get in the shower, sleep and do it all again. I am a dedicated athlete of the vocals. I don’t have time for drink, drugs or womanizing like a crazy man like I did back in the ’70’s.

When you joined Deep Purple back in 1973, was it always on the basis that you were to be the bassist and also as an occasional singer or did you expect to do more lead vocals?

When they asked me to come to New York they asked me if I’d sing with Paul Rodgers and when they asked if I’d play bass, I said no, I was a singer. When Paul Rodgers was mentioned I said that I’d take it because I loved his voice so much. Of course, Paul wasn’t available and that’s when they auditioned David Coverdale so I was always going to be the second singer. I was happy with that.

How did you view David Coverdale at that time seeing as you all had a lot of recording and performing experience and David had hardly any?

David didn’t really have any recording experience at the time so I took him and eased him in and made him feel comfortable. I actually loved sharing the microphone with David and love singing with other people. I share vocals with Joe Bonamassa in Black Country Communion and you can see how graceful we are together, we have a real rapport. I actually try to get Joe to sing more but he wants me to sing and he wants to play guitar more.

You hit the ground running with Burn. That was such an important album for Purple to have made following such a significant line-up change after Ian Gillan and Roger Glover left the band. Did that put pressure on you or did that pressure drive your creativity?

After Who Do We Think We Are, which was not a great success, we needed a big record. We really worked hard on Burn and it was a great album with some really strong material.

That was very much a classic Deep Purple sound but follow up Stormbringer, saw you spreading your wings wider bringing in Funk influences in songs such as Love Don’t Mean A Thing and You Can’t Do It Right. Were you in a more confident position then to push ahead and exert your influence more strongly?

I love those two songs. Ritchie was basically leaving when we did that album and I had no alternative to writing a lot of music on the spot as Ritchie took his eye of the ball leaving me, David and Jon to do most of the writing and I think they’re really interesting songs that just headed in a slightly different direction to what Deep Purple were used to. I’m actually thinking of doing one of those two songs you mentioned, maybe not on this tour but when I come back in May next year.

What did Jon Lord and Ian Paice make of it. Were they more receptive of moving forward and trying something new?

I’d say Jon was and he went out and bought a Fender Rhodes keyboard after listening to my influences and he wanted to try something new.

Come Taste The Band is arguably the album that has split the fan base more than any and is the only one to feature Tommy Bolin who replaced Ritchie Blackmore. How do you view it now?

I think it’s a great record with Getting Tighter, You Keep On Moving and This Time Around. It was a little different but it’s a very special album for me as I did that with Tommy Bolin.

How different was it with Tommy Bolin in the band compared to when Blackmore was there?

Tommy brought some swagger, some friendliness, laughter and sweetness. Ritchie is different. He’s a beautiful guy but a dark man. Tommy brought a Hippy vibe into the band.

Did you realise when you walked off the stage at the Liverpool Empire in 1976 that, that was it or did you think you’d have a break and get back in a few months and make another record?

I was out of my mind at the time and I hate to say that to you and I was pretty much gone at that time. It was difficult for me but the band broke up then so it was horses for courses.

Looking to the future what’s in the pipeline for Black Country Communion, your solo career and what’s the possibility of working with Tony Iommi again?

Tony is like a brother to me but he hasn’t come to me since Black Sabbath ended. I just want Tony to be in great health but I would certainly like to work with him again when he’s ready. As for BCC, we may make a record sometime after 2020 as we are all very busy until then. There may be a window of opportunity for a new record in 2020. As for my solo work, I won’t be doing one until I finish with the Deep Purple classics.

Glenn Hughes Plays Deep Purple is on tour in the UK starting on 2nd October in Bristol. See for details.

Photos By Eric Duvet


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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