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Back To The Front:An Exclusive Interview With GLENN HUGHES

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Thursday, May 12, 2016 @ 9:11 AM

“I have returned to that ‘voice of rock’, if you will. More grounded in rock. Instead of the overly funked-up black dude. I love that guy, by the way. But I’m not going to get played on black radio.”

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Red Carpet Photo By Charlie Steffens

On April 8, 2016 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, DEEP PURPLE was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This was recognition that was long overdue, since the band had first become eligible in 1993. Though it was the current lineup of DEEP PURPLE (vocalist Ian Gillan, bassist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice, guitarist Steve Morse, and keyboardist Don Airey) who performed onstage that night, other members, both living and dead, were honored. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, an integral member of the first and second DEEP PURPLE lineups, did not attend the ceremony. Although they did not perform onstage, inductees (and vocalists) David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, members from PURPLE’s Mark III-IV era, gave speeches that acknowledged their respect and gratitude for the band and its members, past and present.

It was an emotional moment for Glenn Hughes in more ways than one: “I was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and on the very same day my father passed away.” During the induction ceremony, Hughes appeared to be in high spirits, keeping his emotion under wraps. “I needed to be in acceptance of what was going on.”

“I let my speech fly out of my mouth as I always do,” Hughes says, claiming to not have used the aid of a teleprompter. “Sometimes I get into trouble. I just was grateful and was able to thank Roger Glover for me replacing him in DEEP PURPLE. Some of those people who replaced people in DEEP PURPLE, like Tommy Bolin, didn’t get inducted. Roger said to me, ‘Why did you thank me?’ I said, ‘Well, I took your place, and you gave me the opportunity to make an album called Burn, which was a huge album, and I want to thank you for it.’”

“We weren’t blowing smoke up each other’s asses, but when you’re in a band like DEEP PURPLE—I don’t get to see Ian Gillan or Ian Paice that often—it’s nice to have a group hug. And DEEP PURPLE are not a band of huggers, let me tell you this. It’s not like we don’t like each other—us British guys don’t hug. We’re weird sons a’ bitches (laughs). But me and David are very much Americanized.”

Regarding original guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s absence from the ceremony: “I reached out on social network,” Hughes explains. “I was told by an informant on the DEEP PURPLE overseas company, a company of which I’m a board member, that Ritchie was attending. I spoke too soon and I was reprimanded by his wife publicly. She said, ‘Why didn’t you come to the source?’ And I said to her, very nicely, ‘Well, Ritchie doesn’t answer the telephone.’ In fact, I had sent some carrier pigeons to him, asking him the same question… because Ritchie just doesn’t use the telephone. I wished him all the very, very best. I just thought it would be nice for his fans—he’s got some great fans, as we all do. I have nothing but love and respect for Ritchie. Nothing. An iconic guitar player. At a point in my life when I really needed his company, he was really gracious to me and very helpful.”

Hughes’ relationship with David Coverdale (WHITESNAKE, DEEP PURPLE) has withstood the ages. “We are the closest of closest friends. I think we’re both besotted with one another as friends and I’m really, really happy for his great success.”

2016 has been a year of significance in Hughes’ life, personally and professionally.

“I’ve had an opportunity now, since my resurgence into the rock community from BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION (the defunct supergroup that featured Hughes, guitarist Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonham, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian). I can actually play wherever I want now. In some countries I’m playing huge venues. In America, I’m playing the clubs, which I’m going to really enjoy. I’m also finishing up the writing of the next Glenn album,” he adds, “which will be recorded after my shows in Europe in June.” The album, which will be recorded in Copenhagen, marks the first Glenn Hughes solo album to be released in eight years.

The breakup of the short-lived CALIFORNIA BREED, a trio made up of Hughes, guitarist Andrew Watt, and drummer Jason Bonham, was the impetus which started Hughes pursuing his solo career again.

“I would still be in that band if Jason had not have quit. It was difficult for me to continue with the young lad Andrew. He’s very, very talented,” he adds. “After that band disbanded I just thought to myself, ‘I got to get back to my solo work.’ I have great representation and management, and I can play anywhere I want now.”

In August, Hughes will start his rescheduled North American tour, a string of dates postponed due to surgeries in both knees. (One operation was in December 2015, the other followed in January.)

“I wasn’t quite ready to do the shows in early March. It wouldn’t have been appropriate so we rescheduled the dates. I wanted to be ready to skip around onstage a little bit, and some of these stages will be slightly smaller than others. When you‘ve had surgeries on your knees you have to be very, very careful on how you maneuver yourself around monitors and drum risers. I never was a jumper like (Pete) Townshend or a skidder on the knees like Townshend, but I am a bit of a mover. I’m sure there will be some activity.”

Hughes’ style is an amalgam of rock, blues, funk and soul. “You know that I never make the same album twice. I don’t want to confuse people. I got to go sleep at night. I write every day. But what I have done since BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION made a big, big success, is that I have returned to that ‘voice of rock’, if you will, more grounded in rock. Instead of the overly funked-up black dude. I love that guy, by the way. But I’m not going to get played on black radio.”

A sought-after singer and bassist, he has recorded and toured with the biggest names in music. These days he’s looking forward to hitting the road and with his band of hard rockin’ gypsies, touring the States and abroad.

“Prior to BLACK COUNTRY I had Soren Andersen, a Danish guitar player and a good looking young man, too. Pontus Engborg, a Swedish drummer, Lachlan Doley on keyboards (whom he says will be in the same class as Keith Emerson and Jon Lord in the next ten years). If anyone has seen the Glenn Hughes Live In Australia DVD--he’s just insane! So he’s going to Copenhagen and will be on the album with me in June. LIVING COLOUR are coming out on tour with me in November and December. Lachlan will be joining me on that, too. Then I’m going to take a minute, pack another bag and go down to South America. I do sell a lot of tickets in South America. So that’s the skinny on what’s going on with me in the studio and live.”

“Of course, all these years later I’m back on my feet, as I should have been years ago. I can’t change the way things are, but the thing is I am a fully-recovered man spiritually. Having an open heart surgery (in 2013) and two new knees it pretty much grounded me, if you will. The word ‘calm’ and ‘Slow it down, Daddy. Don’t forget to breathe,’ it’s so important, you know, for me. As we get older.”

“Rock ain’t dead, people. Rock is not dead. We will keep it alive. Rock music is alive in our hearts and our souls because it is a genre that is visual. You can smell it, you can feel it… it’s vibrant. It’s vital. It’s energetic. It’s sad, it’s happy, it’s joyous, it’s anger, it’s resentment, it’s love. It’s all of those key words. And it will never die.”


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