Interview with Glenn Hughes

Hughes Turner Project, featuring rock legends Glenn Hughes & Joe Lynn Turner, did a European tour in spring 2004. In Gothenburg, Sweden late March I caught up with them and managed to squeeze in two separately interviews shortly before the evening’s concert. Welcome to this exclusive Glenn Hughes interview.

Paul: How did Deep Purple find you in the beginning?

Glenn: They found me at the Whisky A Go Go in 1972...I’d say September, October... They came to see me Ian Paice, Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore each individually for a period of three evenings... Just thought they were being friendly, and they came back again three months later when I was at the Marquee in London. They didn’t mention anything too much and we became real good friends and then they flew me to New York where I knew something was strange. I had no idea about what they were going to ask me, but I had a feeling and that was it.

Paul & Glenn backstage 2004 © Paul DeblondWas this during Trapeze?

That was sort of early 1973. This courting period went on for six to eight months. I sad no at first because I thought that I was just going to replace Ian Gillan and sing lead vocals or just play bass but when Ritchie told me he had plans to get Paul Rodgers in the group it interested me.

So they didn’t have to twist your arm or something?

Well, as you probably know I wouldn’t join if I wasn’t going to sing. I would only join if I could sing some parts otherwise I wouldn’t join.

Why did they eventually pick you?

I don’t know you have to ask them. They liked me… I wasn’t too familiar with Deep Purple I wasn’t a fan. I wasn’t really a big fan of that kind of music.

But you became eventually or you still liked to go funky?

Well, you know what I brought in to the band with Coverdale was… I wouldn’t call it funky I would call it more soul full. It would be pointless to replace Gillan and Glover with two identical replacements. So I think looking back at mark 3 it was a good thing for Deep Purple.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondIs it true that you co-wrote Mistreated and several songs of Burn?

Yes, well what we could talk about probably now is that… we can’t really talk too much about it. I was signed to another company obviously there’s no name of mine published but it’s 30 years ago so we could talk about it now. I wrote all the songs except “A” 200… Although I was present when Ritchie wrote Mistreated David wrote the lyric and I didn’t want to… I don’t say I wrote anything unless I was there writing it, but most of the album obviously Burn and Sail Away. All of them except Mistreated and “A” 200 I was involved with.

Music and lyrics?

Oh yes, Coverdale and I wrote with the exception of Mistreated all the lyrics together, he wrote that alone.

You and Tommy Bolin were very close.


Did you know him before his Purple days?

No, from the first audition when he got the job he came to my home after the audition and he basically moved in. Until we found Tommy a home, so he lived at my home for about six weeks where we became extremely close as friends. We had the same musical styles which is not just rock music it’s music in general. I wouldn’t consider me to be as you well know a “rock”, although I’m known as this “voice of rock” and a great rock bass player and singer I consider myself to be a musician that really enjoys music as Blackmore does enjoys his medieval things. I don’t want to be just classified as one kind of music but people may think of me what they want.

You have also done a lot of session works.

Well you know, I get asked maybe...30-40 times a year to guest on albums and I only do three or four because I can’t do everything because it’s too much. So now I have to really look into who I’m going to work with and if it’s going to mean the end in ten years time when you look back at this you know. I’m kind of proud of most of the things I’ve done.

Paul & Glenn backstage 2004 © Paul DeblondWere you surprised that David Coverdale contacted you for the Slip Of The Tongue album?

Oh, very surprised. You must remember now in the late 80s I was not at full steam and I was struggling to get sober… I was trying to and when he called me… he’s a really good friend of my mother and my mother spoked to him for awhile and my mother would call me… I must say that David was very instrumental in helping my recovery in late 80s. His friendship and the communication between him and I became extremely important to my getting sober. Not many people know that. He’s a very good friend to me. He’s the only one I see in Deep Purple still on a regular basis.

You still see him?

Yeah, absolutely we have lunch together. Not that often but once a year we get together and have a really good laugh. We’re from the north of England as you know. We grew up in the same kind of environment and we both have the same weird sense of humour and we both laugh. He’s a very funny man and he thinks I’m funny so all we do is laugh. You can ask him the same question, we just really laugh. I know him from the very first day in Deep Purple so I know all about David Coverdale.

The shy young boy?

Yes, I know that guy. I don’t know the other guy. I only know that guy. So it’s a beautiful thing.

Did you teach him some rock ‘n’ roll stuff?

No, David Coverdale and I were funnily enough…this is crazy but when we joined Deep Purple although we were writing Burn we only listen to black American music. Although obviously Ritchie knew we were doing that but he detests that kind of music.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondShoe shine music?

Yes, that’s what he calls it and that’s kind of horrible to say but Ritchie’s got a great sense of humour as well. The great thing about Dee Purple in all mark 2, mark 3, mark 4 is the tension, the musical tension in the band that’s what makes Deep Purple good. You got one guy who hates shoe shine music, you’ve got one guy who likes to play jazz drumming and you’ve got the classical keyboard player and you’ve got me and Coverdale who likes black American music and Tommy Bolin who likes jazz so you got all this chemistry. That’s the tension that created Deep Purple, if we were all only into heavy metal it would have been boring. The musicianship in Deep Purple was of the highest quality because of the tension. Blackmore made it very clear of the first few gigs, “don’t come across this side of the stage”… I don’t understand. He said, “don’t come over here”. That created musical and personal tension, which is The Who and Deep Purple and like the Stones it’s tension!

Did you cross the line?

Oh yes, twice. First time, he got my bass and played. The second time he came at me with the guitar so it all depends. It’s funny because I like to play around and he call me one night, “come over”. But that’s OK, because that’s Ritchie Blackmore and I’m Glenn Hughes that the tension and the creativity, that is Deep Purple!

Will there ever be a second Hughes/Thrall album?

We recorded nine songs three years ago before 9/11. I did all the vocals… we were going to continue… 9/11 happened, Pat Thrall became extremely busy editing Billy Joel and Elton John, Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Madonna everybody, he edits in New York. The second Hughes/Thrall will probably never be finished because… we live in different coasts. But for three years I’ve been telling fans and press its coming, its coming, its coming and its not coming.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondDefinitely not coming?

No, when I say it’s not coming. If I keep telling people its coming they get upset, and they go “when?” So I can’t tell you when. The songs on the album are very different. Each song is entirely different from the other. They’re like movies, they are very, very different hard rock, jazz, late night New York music, hip hop, rap. There are a lot of things on there that most people will not… but if you’re a Hughes/Thrall you’ll understand how creative it is. It’s very, very good. But it’s very avant-garde in a way, it’s not really marketable. It’s not something that comes and goes “oh, this is perfect for our label”. It’s unmarketable, someone at Sony a friend of mine tells me, “it’s no way a record company can release this because it’s so wild”. You know, one song is so different to the next.

Unfortunately the first record didn’t sell very well. Did it?

It sold quite well funny enough over the years.

But at the time?

Where was no promotion. There was a small MTV promotion, the song Look In Your Eye did get in at the Top 50 I think and very quickly went out again. And there was no back up, no follow up, no marketing campaign. In ’82 when you had Van Halen out there… and the start of the LA rock scene, it should have been really promoted more. At that point we thought we were going to hit it as all did, everyone thought Hughes/Thrall would be… And it wasn’t and it was disasters to me, we were freaked out… So it wasn’t meant to be.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondBut you did a small tour in the US? I got a bootleg so...

Oh God yeah, a very small tour. It wasn’t successful… I think at the time… The 80s were bad for me.

Unfortunately. These days are better right?

Well, 14 years ago I turned my life over to God, so that’s a whole other story.

Will there be any more Phenomena records?

I just recorded three songs but I don’t know when it’s going to be released but a just recorded it two months ago.

With the same guys as usual?

I don’t know I was the only guy there. I must say one thing; it sounds very much a continuation of the last… The first one was done in ’85 this new one sounds very much like a continuation of that. So the thread is still there you know. But when will it get released, I don’t know. It’s very cool… But in a very… How do I say this?... AOR way. The songs are strong but in an AOR way. It has its own definition.

Who’s on it?

No one that you probably… it’s all… I don’t know… The singer is namely Smalls (not sure of the name here). You have to here him to understand that he sounds like Glenn Hughes. In fact, I’ve never known anyone sound like me like this before. So Tom Galley got him to sing at the album and of course eventually got to ask me again and it took a year to negotiate. Tom said “you should at least sing at some tracks”, because I can’t sing on the whole album, it’s impossible… and they’re looking for some girl singers, I don’t know when it will be released.

Regarding HTP, have you considered digging deeper into the set? Rare tracks for the hard core fans?

No, it’s got to be HTP and the old songs.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondThe classics, Burn and so?

Yeah, I want to have my solo career to do one set of music and HTP to be basically… If it was totally all my decision we would only play HTP songs all night. If it was totally all my decision, but it’s… Joe and I have talked about it and the manager and they wanted Rainbow and Deep Purple. First thing, I’m telling you the truth I wanted to do only HTP. I’m here to promote it but certain people were unsure about that and I said, "unsure, why are we making the records?" So… I think we should do some of the cooler stuff like Let’s Talk About It Later, On The Ledge some really deeper, darker, mysterious songs that audiences would appreciate. I like to step on the edge, I don’t want to be too obvious you know.

How has the tour being so far?

It’s been very, very good. Yeah, I mean it’s been lot of people coming you know and I believe the reviews been very good, but I don’t really read the reviews. They have been telling me.

Through your careener you have been working with a lot of Swedish musicians, half of Europe, JJ Marsh and the otherguys. How come?

I find the Swedish musicians to be… I don’t know man… obviously I like them. JJ is the most soulful guitar player I’ve ever played with, him and Pat Thrall. So I’ve nurture him, he’s like family to me. I think the 90s guys were very good but I wanted to move away from that into more… that was AOR for me I wanted to become more groove, funky or so. You know, I think they were great, true musicians. Most of them are very technical and I’m trying to find the ones that are more soulful than technical and I got that.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondHow did you end up working with John Norum?

I got a call from him. I’m going to tell you the truth. Regardless of what I think of the Final Countdown and Europe in general. I’m a Gary Moore fan and when I saw him play a solo on MTV on Final Countdown I went, my God this guitar player is really good. So he called me and I really liked his playing.

Is it true that you might shoot a HTP live show here in Sweden?

No, it was going to happened but it’s not now. Though we are shooting every night in Sweden, yes we are doing that. But not officially for a DVD it’s for files and documents. My friends who always has been shooting with me. One day I’ll see it and we’ll compile it and edit it and get it done. But we are not shooting these particular shows for one event. I think it’s going to be a whole documentary of my career or something. The guys that are shooting me are really nice guys, they’re really great. They are the only crew I let shoot all the time, because they are really nice, they’re honest and they’ll never bootleg anything.

You shot your own DVD recently in LA.

Yeah, it really captures me I think. That’s going to come in the summer.

What kind of songs will it have, only Glenn Hughes solo stuff or?

No, half and half. It’s going to be… solo, three really yearly Trapeze songs which signifies who I am as a singer/songwriter. The rest is... the big Deep Purple songs which you see now, Chad Smith on drums, JJ of course. It’s my band in LA whereas my band when I tour the world is the same band as this. The DVD have to tell me yourself, but everybody who has seen it and heard it are really impressed with it.

HTP live 2004 © Paul DeblondSounds good. Are you into movies?

Yeah, I go to the movies all the time, once a week.

What kind of movies do you like?

All kinds, anytime I can go for two hours and have my head closed down, ‘because I write ten hours a day. It’s crazy, I can’t stop writing I need to go to the movies or do things with my wife. My brain will not stop writing it’s continuously writing. I asked God years ago to get my creativity back and in his time he gave it to me and the last to’s been crazy.

Both music and lyrics?

I write them all.

Which one comes first?

Both. I mean a title might come first a groove might come first a bass line it goes around.

The interview stops here on Glenn’s request. As he has to rest his voice (some tea is getting prepared) and get ready for the show, which is only about 40 minutes away. I want to thank Sebastian Eder at MTM Music, Carl Swann and of course a special thanks to Glenn Hughes for his kindness and generosity. Since the interview took place the DVD 'Soulfully Live In The City Of Angels' has been released. More info on Glenn Hughes can be found here and more info about HTP can be found here. You can’t stop rock ‘n’ roll...

© 2004 Paul Deblond


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