The Glenn Hughes Interview

Glenn Hughes & Chad Smith
By Shawn Perry

Whenever the subject of great British rhythm and blues singers comes around, two names invariably pop up. One is Paul Rodgers. The other is Glenn Hughes. Rodgers, of course, enjoyed success in the 70s with Free and Bad Company, and continues to dazzle the ear drums as a solo artist and singer with Queen. For Hughes, the rocky road to success has been paved with a series of exhilarating highs and bottom-feeding lows.

Hughes first came to prominence in 1969 with Trapeze, a soulful hard rocking group from England. His big break, however, came when he received an invitation to join Deep Purple. At the time, Purple was considered one of the best hard rock bands in the world, and could have easily filled the slots vacated by vocalist Ian Gillan and Roger Glover with sound-alikes. By bringing in Glenn Hughes, a singer and a bass player, they could have cut their losses. Instead, they hired an unknown singer by the name of David Coverdale, and Deep Purple became a new band with two lead singers and a funky edge.

Unfortunately, the new Deep Purple was short-lived, and Hughes found himself without a steady gig in 1976. He returned to his funk and soul roots on his 1977 debut solo album, Play Me Out. Everyone from David Bowie to Ozzy Osbourne wanted to work with him, but Hughes, in own words, "went on a bit of a ride with the drugs." The plight of substances and booze continued to dog the bassist/vocalist throughout the late 70s and 80s, but he still managed to make brilliant records with Pat Thrall, Tony Iommi and countless others.

By the 90s, Hughes sobered up and started cranking out solo records, as well as collaborating with everyone from Gary Moore to Joe Lynn Turner. Healthy, enthusiastic and ready to work, Hughes is squarely focused on writing new music and touring these days. From the summer of 2008 well into 2009, he'll be traveling the world promoting his latest CD, First Underground Nuclear Kitchen, or simply FUNK. When Glenn Hughes plays live, he is truly in his element.

I've seen Hughes on a few occasions over the years. I witnessed his first American concert at the California Jam. I wandered into the Reseda Country Club in the early 80s where he sang like an angel before a captivated audience. In 1986, I was invited to a dress rehearsal where he fronted Black Sabbath on a Warner Brothers soundstage. He sounded fantastic that night, but as I would later learn, he ended up bowing out of the subsequent tour.

More recently, I've seen Hughes at various music biz functions with a spring in his step and a renewed sense of urgency. During the 2008 NAMM show, we chatted briefly and he agreed to an interview. Three weeks later, our schedules coordinated, I got him on the phone, and the man answered my every query with pronounced thought and conviction. I can hardly wait to hear that energy come blasting out of my speakers when I get my copy of FUNK.

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