Glenn Hughes: The 13th Floor Interview

Glenn Hughes is a rock and roll survivor. In addition to forming early 70s funk-rock pioneers Trapeze, Hughes was a member of two of the biggest bands on the planet…Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.

Having experienced the stereotypical rock and roll lifestyle, and lived to talk about it, Hughes is still rocking…with his own solo project, with Joe Bonamassa and Black Country Communion and now, coming to New Zealand very soon, The Music Of Cream 50th Anniversary Tour.

The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda spoke to Glenn Hughes recently, and in addition to discussing the Cream tour, Glenn was happy to talk about his days with Deep Purple, his thoughts on Black Sabbath’s retirement and he revealed who his ideal guitarist and drummer would be.

Click here to listen to the interview with Glenn Hughes:

Or, read a transcription of the interview here:

MD: You’re about to make your way down to this part of the world for this Music of Cream thing; is that right?

GH: Yes, really looking forward to it. I’m really, really excited by this: to honour my friend, Jack (Bruce), of course, who was a dear friend of mine, and to sing some of the songs I sang with him, and to sing songs that I learned how to play when I was a teenager. For me, it’s a win-win, because I not only get to be part of this, but I get to go back to the start of it all, for me was learning how to play these songs as a kid. I get to honour my friends, and do this with their children; so, it’s a pretty interesting story.

MD: How did this thing get started? Who put it together? Whose idea was it?

GH: … He’s another Kiwi guy, called Simon – he was the promoter – contacted me – because he’d been talking to Malcolm (Bruce), Jack’s boy – and they wanted me to come and be part of this. I immediately wanted to know more about it, and I met with Malcolm in London in February, and I decided that I’d come on board, because I dearly loved the music, and I dearly loved Jack’s friendship. It’s like going back to the beginning, and sometimes it’s good to go back; and on this occasion, it is.

MD: Have you guys done your rehearsing yet?

GH: The guys have done some of their rehearsals, because they’re all in London – well, the guys are, but Robben and I live in LA – so, we’re going to be coming to Australia a few days earlier and getting some work done; so, yeah, it’ll be great!

MD: You mentioned Robben, that’s Robben Ford, who’s just come on board with this thing; is that right?

GH: That’s right, and I think it’s great!

MD: How did that happen?

GH: We thought it would be ideal to have another guitar player come in to round it off – someone who had some credentials – and Robben’s name was on the list. We contacted him, and he was in, and now he’s coming with us; so, it’ll be an interesting scenario.

MD: Have you played with him before?

GH: I have not.

MD: It seems like you’ve played with just about everyone! You’ve just finished doing your own solo thing – Resonate is your most recent solo project – and you went on a tour of the US, which, from my understanding, was your first solo tour of the US that you ever had, right?

GH: Yeah! It’s crazy to think of: I’ve had so much success in other parts of the world. I lived in America for forty three years, but I decided, last year, I was going to do a tour; and it was sold out, and it was incredible; and there’ll be more American shows and tours coming. I’m so busy within the realms of music, with other people, and still maintaining a solo career – and of course, Black Country coming with another one in September – so, my life is very, very full.

Black Country Communion

MD: So, Black Country’s still a going concern?

GH: It’s still going. We just finished album number four, and it’s all ready to go.

MD: Everything I’d read had suggested that that had run its course.

GH: It may have read that four years ago. We never really broke the band up; we just went on holiday. We all knew, at some point, we’d get back together, because we’re all good friends. It’s just that the four of us have got four careers – Joe’s very, very busy, and I… work and write with other people, and I’m always making music with other people, and I’ve got my own solo career – so, a year ago, when I got inducted into the Hall of Fame, Joe called me up, and we had a lovely conversation about a reunion; and now it’s all done, so it’s coming out in September.

MD: When you were touring the States I’m wondering how does that compare to when you used to tour the States with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath? What is the difference between touring now and then?

GH: It’s still kind of the same; it’s just that I’m older now. You can’t fight the fact that I’m sixty five, but I’m in good shape: I don’t drink and smoke, and don’t do drugs, and I’m in great mental and physical shape. I am very much aware of what not to do and what to do, and I’m very health conscious and spiritual. I do five shows a week, and I take care of myself: I warm up, I warm down, and do the appropriate things to maintain a touring schedule.

MD: And are those things that you did back in the… ‘70s and ‘80s?

GH: My God! I did everything the opposite! I ran myself into the ground; I didn’t sleep, and I managed to pull it off; but it’s not attractive to continue drinking and using drugs when you get older. How many people have we lost because of that? Twenty seven years ago, I changed all of that around, and found a way out of that hell; and that’s why I’m still here talking to you right now.

Glenn Hughes with Black Sabbath

MD: Very good! One band that’s recently retired – that you were obviously a member of – was Black Sabbath. I was wondering if you had any comments or thoughts about how they handled coming to a close, and if you had any discussions with any of them about what they were up to?

GH: … Terry and Geezer live right next to me here, and I’ve known Ozzie forever, and I’ve done three albums with Tony. I don’t think they’re completely finished; I think you’ll see more of them. I don’t think they’ll be touring, but I think you’ll see an occasional festival, or you might hear one song somewhere, or a movie track. I don’t think it’s completely over; but I think because of Tony’s health, they can’t really continue touring, because it’s too debilitating for him to do that.

MD: How is Tony doing? Do you know?

GH: He’s doing fantastic. I know Tony really well. He’s a musician, and I know he’ll want to work again, but I don’t know what it’ll be; I think he will record…. He’s taking some time off right now, because they’ve been doing that tour for two years.

MD: You referred to when you were inducted into the Hall of Fame for your work with Deep Purple – you and David Coverdale were a part of that. You had this unique situation, when you guys were in the band, where you were both sharing lead vocal duties. I’m just wondering if you can give me any insight into how you guys worked that out when you were doing it?

Glenn Hughes with Deep Purple

GH: We really, honestly, truly had no problem, because David and I were in that castle in Gloucestershire, making that music, and we knew that we had to share vocals. We never had a problem. It was like, “Oh, no, after you, sir.” “Oh, no, I insist, after you,” it was just like that. There was no fighting; it was very great, harmonious team, to be vocalists that really shared the microphone appropriately. Nobody tried to out sing one another, and if you listen back to those records, you’ll notice that there was a lot of team work on that album, vocally; those albums were team work.

MD: You’ve worked with both Richie Blackmore and Tommy Bolin. How did the band differ with those two different guitarists?

GH: Tommy was, in all senses, a very Americana also South American flavoured tribal guitar player, and Richie was absolutely all about Paganini and all about Bach, and all about the 16th century type of music; and Tommy was the complete opposite: he was all new age and new world, and he was just completely different. Those two guitar players were completely different!

MD: It must have turned the band on its head when you went from one to the other.

GH: Look, I love Come Taste the Band; it’s a great album. It’s just that… when Richie left the band, it was a really difficult decision to continue – because he was a very big player – but Tommy was incredible; a very talented man.

MD: Like I mentioned before: you’ve practically played with everyone. If you had to pick a drummer and a guitar player, and you could only work with those musicians, who would you chose to work with?

GH: Now or then?

MD: Over all; just so long as they’re alive. A drummer and a guitarist of your choice.

GH: … My best friend is Chad Smith – I’ve done seven albums with Chad – but remember, I’ve played with Jason Bonham in Black Country – I’ve also with Jason’s father, John, who was my best friend in 1972 – so, I have a long lineage of great drummer friends; guitar-wise, I’ll have to say Jeff Beck, because Jeff is the keeper of all things that are completely on point – very blues orientated and no fear, very harmonious, and very… ethereal.

MD: Excellent! Well, I believe my time is coming to an end. I just want to get back to the Cream thing: if you can give folks here in New Zealand an idea of what they can expect….

GH: What I’m going to do is, I’m going to be coming down there with the guys and I’m going to select some songs that I think would be good for me to sing and play… and I want to select some songs that Jack sang – because he was a close friend… I Feel Free and We’re Going Wrong – things that speak to me, personally, so I can get my ‘want’ behind what I do in this project. I’m really looking forward to bringing my game to this.

The Music of Cream 50th Anniversay Tour comes to New Zealand…

Christchurch – May 31

Wellington – June 1

Auckland – June 2

Click here for more details.