well known as the Voice of Rock, Glenn Hughes has the very rare ability to
flutter from one genre to another seemingly effortlessly. With his first love
being funk, Hughes has released albums that have ranged from rock to AOR to
metal to even smooth jazz. In fact one track on his smooth jazz Christmas
album even included the opera influenced “Ave Maria”. His success
rate is largely due to his utter strength and powerhouse as a vocalist and
should perhaps be renamed simply The Voice.
early years began with the rock funk band Trapeze that were critical darlings.
Unfortunately, with the exception of the seminal “Coast To Coast”
ballad that Glenn continues to exhibit in his concert sets, there was very
little commercial success for the band. As a hungry young artist, on the surface
it must not have been a difficult choice when he received the call from Deep
Purple in 1973 to ask him to replace Roger Glover as their bass player.
Deep Purple Mark III only put out two albums in the form of “Burn”
and “Stormbringer”. It was then that Ritchie Blackmore departed,
angry at the funk influences that Glenn and David Coverdale had brought to
the musical banquet table. As a result, Purple hired American Tommy Bolin
and Deep Purple Mark IV released “Come Taste The Band”. The critics
in general were ruthless and Bolin’s confidence was undermined as he
struggled through the tour that supported the album. And by 1976 Purple was
no more. Which is a shame as in my eyes “Come Taste The Band”
is one of the best rock-funk albums of all time. No scratch that it is also
one of my top ten albums of all times. There is not a weak track in the batch.
co-wrote the phenomenal “Gettin’ Tighter” and the soulful
“This Time Around” with Tommy Bolin. The thought of collaboration
with these two souls of funk would have been astronomical. Sadly, Bolin lost
his life at the tender age of 25 to a drug overdose. Meanwhile, Hughes fought
with his own demons, but still managed to release his first solo effort “Play
Me Out” in 1977 and the Pat Thrall collaboration the “Hughes/Thrall”
album in the early 80’s. Then he slowly slipped out of the public eye.
did the occasional project, for about ten years he laid low, though in 1992
a rebirth occurred. With Hughes now addressing his addiction issues, Ken Ciancimino
hooked Glenn up with producer Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records and convinced
Hughes to come out with the LA Blues Authority project simply entitled the
“Blues”. Belting out songs of a different genre with great strength
and dexterity, Glenn immediately let the public know that his return was imminent.
Since then Hughes
has released a platitude of material that it makes one dizzy. It would be
impossible to cover the entire spectrum of his work but his first solo outing
upon his rebirth was the AOR influenced “From Now On” that features
Unruly Child’s Bruce Gowdy at the production board. And of course there
is the superb live set “Burning Japan Live” released back in 1994
that deserves the accolades of sitting next to the other fine live albums
of our time such as Thin Lizzy’s “Live & Dangerous”
or for that matter UFO’s “Stranger In The Night”.
In 1994, Hughes
utterly changed gears and presented us with his funk filled “Feel”.
Equally as drastic was the ultra heavy and brooding “Addiction”
in 1996. For the fans that wished to pigeonhole Hughes it was a frustrating
ordeal. Fortunately, Hughes’ vocal acrobatics and sheer strength always
made his genre benders an interesting album even if the music was not what
the majority of his fans preferred.
has focused more on his rock roots that began with “Return Of Crystal
Karma” in 2000 and most recently his latest solo effort, the solid “Songs
In The Key Of Rock”. It seems Hughes has come full circle as the “Songs
In The Key Of Rock” is probably the album that comes closest to a “Come
Taste The Band” appetite. Though definitely in the key of rock there
is an underlying tone of funk allowing Hughes to fulfill his first love of
soul and appease the fans at the same time that will forever associate him
with the color Purple.
Speaking of the
color Purple, Hughes most recent collaborations, and the most successful one
to date, has been his teamwork with former Rainbow/Deep Purple vocalist Joe
Lynn Turner. Frankly, this project had disaster written all over it. How do
two front men with huge lungs successful share the spotlight? Obviously the
team effort is working as we have already seen two very strong studio efforts
complimented by a raw live set that features their collaborative, solo, Purple
and Rainbow material. This would appeal to the rock heads that were reluctant
to explore like Hughes does.
in the Southern California area, I have been fortunate enough to see Hughes
only twice in concert. My first experience was his gig at Billboard Live (now
known as the Key Club) where he was featured with Marc Bonilla. The second
concert was via the 3 Voices gig with Robin McAuley and Alex Ligertwood at
the cozy Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Believe me when I say that the
studio effects have nothing to do with the utter strength of the Voice of
Rock. On stage his towering height is equal to his massive lungs capable of
doing vocal acrobatics that I have never heard any front man capable of duplicating.
Recently I had the opportunity of completing a Q & An interview via email
with which I will simply refer to as The Voice.
Mike: It was
1973 and Deep Purple was about to play at the California Jam that was to be
televised to a nationwide audience. By the time this gig arrived how long
had you been playing with Deep Purple and what emotions did they involve?
joined Purple in '73. I was looking forward to playing for that many people."
Mike: While to
most hungry young musicians your calling to the Purple machine must have seemed
like an easy decision. However, musically you had been invested in Trapeze
that was immersed in funk and boogie. Were there any difficulties in making
first there was. Yes, I did not want to leave Trapeze but in the end I thought
it may be a good career move."
is apparently receiving a 30th Anniversary makeover. Will there be any bonus
material? Your website indicates that you have heard the finished project.
Though the production has stood up well how much improvement has been made?
think it sounds good. I was invited to come to the studio while it was being
worked on but as I was not in the UK. I was unable to be there."
Mike: I am more
excited about “Come Taste The Band” receiving possibly the same
treatment. Unfortunately, neither the critics nor the fans were very kind
and Mark IV only produced the one album. In my humble opinion this was the
ultimate merging of rock and funk and almost 30 years later this album would
rank as one of my top ten-desert island discs. Has there been any preliminary
discussion of a 30th Anniversary celebration of “Come Taste The Band”?
to me. But I do love this album."
Mike: If so to
your knowledge is there any vault material that could be added to such a celebration?
don’t know really."
Bolin self destructed way too early in life, you continue to help celebrate
his life courtesy of the anniversary tribute shows. The “1997 Tribute”
was a wonderful accolade to the guitarist and it is amazing to hear you render
his solo material. “Gettin’ Tighter” and “This Time
Around” were the highlights of the “Come Taste The Band”
and were the only two songs that featured you and Tommy co-writing. Do you
think that you would have collaborated with him had he managed to overcome
his struggles? And if so what do you think the musical experience would have
Bolin was a great person and a great guitar player and I am sure had he lived
we could have written more songs together. If he had lived, he would have
had to overcome his demons as I have mine, something that I hope he could
have done, but it is a moot point now, isn't it? A real shame, losing Tommy
the way we did."
Mike: After Purple
disbanded, you released the overly soulful “Play Me Out”. While
Geoff Barton, then of Sounds raved about the album, it was poorly promoted
and overlooked. Did you purposefully want to radically return to your roots?
loved “Play Me Out”. It is my favorite and it is too bad more
people haven't heard it. I wanted to do something that I felt inside. So if
that is a return to my roots then yes, you can call it that."
Mike: With the
exception of the Hughes/Thrall album and working with Tony Iommi and a few
other projects, the late seventies and entire eighties were not a very prolific
time for you. Apparently, you continued to struggle with your drug addiction.
When did you realize that powerful addiction and how did you manage to overcome
day I had just had enough and I ended it. I went to [the] Betty Ford [Clinic].
It was the best thing I ever did. Anyone who has an addiction has to decide
for themselves when they are going to stop, and usually you have to reach
Mike: In 1992
an artistic rebirth of Glenn Hughes was delivered courtesy of the project
“Blues”. I would never have imagined you covering this genre yet
you co-wrote every song. Were your contributions lyrics, music or both?
ha ha! That was so long ago and I have not listened to that in so long, I
can barely remember it."
Mike: I understand
that Ken Ciancimino was the instigator of this project. How did it evolve?
was my first record deal after being sober. Someone could have told me to
play a polka and I might have done it I was so ready to work."
Mike: Not much
later you released the difficult to find “From Now On” which is
a bit of an oxymoron considering that musically it has been your most accessible
album to date. Not that the album was crying sellout but was the AOR approach
a reflection of where you were or an attempt to appeal to the masses?
was where I was at the time."
Mike: You appeared
on a Marc Bonilla album and then continued to work together on your material.
But you changed gears again and in 1996 you presented to the public the very
heavy, dark and brooding “Addiction”. With song titles like “I’m
Not Your Slave”, “Addiction”, “Death Of Me”,
“Down” and “I Don’t Want To Live That Way Again”
was the lyrical theme a celebration of breaking free or a reflection of a
continued struggle to resist the bondage of drugs?
album was a reflection of where I was in my personal struggles in life. Since
then I have really overcome a lot."
this is a very personal question, the “Blues” and “From
Now On” credits thanks to Jesus Christ and since then you have given
gratitude to your Higher Power. Was there a religious transformation during
your rehabilitation period? If so what role does this play in your life today?
always asks this and really, higher power is just meant to convey the fact
that everyone in recovery has got to realize there is a higher power, whatever
that may be to them, or they can not recover. You have to embrace this idea
or you can not get well. You have to believe that there is a force in the
universe greater than you: you are not the universe. You can't control everything.
It doesn’t matter if your higher power is Buddha, Allah, Mother Nature,
Jesus or God; you just have to believe."
Mike: Five years
after releasing “American Matador”, in 1998 Marc Bonilla made
an appearance at the Billboard Live (now known as the Key Club). What an all
star line up it was including Keith Emerson, Ronnie Montrose, Jeff Porcaro
and of course you. Live, “Cover Me” was absolutely huge as was
your performance, which was the first time that I heard you out of the confines
of the studio. And certainly your voice is not limited to the wizardry of
the studios and justifies your nickname the Voice of Rock.
I have heard rumors that this concert along with the San Francisco gig was
recorded and the production is of high quality. Any indication that these
gigs will ever be released to the general public?
any time soon I am afraid."
Way It Is” was a mixed bag and saw the last of your written material
with Marc. Since then he has disappeared from the face of the earth. Was there
a falling out or had the working relationship just maximized its benefits?
is working on TV and movie projects."
Mike: Are you
and Marc still in contact with each other?
resulted in the arrival of an unknown guitarist by the name of JJ Marsh. He
has now worked with you for over 8 years. How did you meet?
were both at the same wedding and a mutual friend introduced us."
Mike: With an
8-year working relationship in existence both the longevity and results from
the partnership seem to indicate a very successful one. How does the writing
and I connect musically. We understand each other. It just flows. We don't
have to think too much about it."
Mike: Your most
recent solo efforts “Return Of Crystal Karma” and “Songs
In The Key Of Rock” show a return to your rock roots. However, it is
a known fact that your first love is funk. Apparently, your name will be forever
associated with the color Purple. Is this both a blessing and a curse?
course, but there could be worse curses I suppose!"
Mike: Which brings
me to your most recent activities with Joe Lynn Turner. What a great avenue
to explore your rich heritage of the Purple and Rainbow connections. Frankly,
when I first heard about you guys getting together I thought it had disaster
written all over it. How do you get two legends to share the stage? What is
the secret of the Hughes Turner Project?
and I have known each other for over 20 years so we have no problems with
each other. There is no ego. We are relaxed together."
Mike: In large
the box office smashes are the renaissance tours of well-established groups
such as the Stones, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen to name
a few. With the combination of hungry Deep Purple and Rainbow fans why not
a Hughes Turner Project USA tour?
is not enough interest. These other bands you mention had huge #1 hits on
the chart and they sell out stadiums now. America is a huge very costly country
to tour. It wouldn't be financially smart to do it. However, if there is some
promoter out there with a big enough wallet, they should give a call."
Mike: I met Joe
Lynn Turner backstage after his Southern California appearance when he sang
with the Alan Parsons Project. He spoke very highly of you but also shared
some very fond stories. One is you calling him from Japan forgetting about
the time difference wanting to share your joy of a Wolverhampton Wanderers
victory. Would it be fair to say that this is much more than just a business
course. We are close friends."
Mike: I reviewed
both of your HTP albums and like most of the critics they are receiving high
praise and rightfully so. Will there be a 3rd one? If so, like the previous
projects do you and Joe have any guest star appearances in mind?
we do another one, I have no plans for a guest artist at this time."
Mike: You continue
to be very prolific collaborating with other artists, the most recent being
the Dario Mollo project Voodoo Hill. Your website reported that you and John
Sykes jammed but the only thing we have heard on disc to date is “Heaven’s
Missing An Angel” on the Hughes Turner Project album. The lethal combination
of John’s most distinctive vibrato guitar and your lungs was for the
lack of a better word angelic. With the exception of this song was there anything
else put on tape? Or better yet any chances of an official full-length formal
project being released?
is the only song John and I did together."
one year ago I had the opportunity to see you in concert again under the moniker
3 Voices. You were featured with Robin McAuley and Alex Ligertwood. I thought
it was impossible to outshine your Marc Bonilla performance. I was so wrong.
While it was great to see Robin in action and to be introduced to Alex your
set though short was nevertheless magical. If there is not going to be any
HTP USA tour do you plan on touring solo anytime soon?
play in the USA whenever I can, but this usually seems to be in Florida. I've
tried to tour the USA. It’s impossible."
of live gigs I unfortunately did not make the limited seating for the live
recording of “Soulfully Live In The City Of Angels” due out in
September of this year. How did you go about picking the song set that would
effectively express an effective overview of your career to date?
picked my favorites and what I thought would be a good representation of my
Mike: Your website
also mentions that you are in the process of completing your next solo album
that will once again include Chad Smith on drums. Would you like to share
any further insight as to the flavor of the album?
than “Play Me Out”, this is my favorite album to date. This is
where I want to be. This is going to rock your world. That is all I can say.
The proof will be when you hear it. I am very excited. Chad is a monster drummer
and great friend. He is a brother to me. When we play together, things just
happen. There is no better drummer for me."
on a totally unrelated note I am aware that you are a huge fan of the football
club Wolverhampton Wanderers. How do you guys look for the up and coming season?
too good I am afraid. But I am going to be in the UK working with Tony Iommi
this fall and I hope to catch some games."
HRH: Being that
I am a transplanted Geordie boy living in the LA area, I still bleed black
and white. So if the Wanderers make it to the Premier League we could watch
the Magpies play the Wanderers at a Santa Monica British pub. The beer will
be on me...Newcastle Broon Ale of course! But seriously thank you for taking
the time to answer my questions and cheers to both your career and yes even
Mike Debbage, Hardrock Haven staffer ...