Interviewed by Robert Cavuoto
Glenn Hughes is the newest member of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame for 2016 as he was inducted earlier this month with members of Deep Purple. He now joins the ranks of many of his peers like members of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper to name a few. It is a well deserved honor for his time with Deep Purple and in my opinion for his work with Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, Hughes/Thrall, Trapeze, Gary Moore, Black Country Communion, California Breed and his solo career. Glenn is and has always been in his own realm of excellence. In his 60’s he still exulted more energy, charisma, and vocal strength than any of the young bands he has inspired and influenced. He is a consummate professional and the epitome of a frontman.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Glenn at a bitter sweet moment in his life, he was inducted in the HOF and on the same day his father passed away. In this interview Glenn discuss his parent’s sacrifices to buy him a guitar, his time with Deep Purple, and reason why he did not perform with his band at the induction ceremony.
Robert: Congrats on the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction; it’s well deserved and I’m sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing.
Glenn Hughes: Thank you, everybody has been respecting the passing of my father. I have received the greatest achievement I could possibly receive with the HOF and on the same day my father passed away. It was the most joyous occasion to the most unsettling occasion. He passed away before my induction and my mother didn’t want to tell me until I landed safely back in LA. That’s a mother son thing for you. She wanted me off the plane and in the car so she could talk with me privately. My father was gravely ill last week with pneumonia, and suffered with dementia for 18 years.
Robert: Such a bitter sweet time in your life?
Glenn Hughes: When somebody in your family has Alzheimer’s or dementia for as long as he did, there is a certain dismissal when you put them in a home. You are saying goodbye because I didn’t see him regularly. They are alive inside but can’t relate. The end result is only when they stop breathing. I’m glad I’m sober and responsible. I’m glad I’m a loving son to my mother, and I’m glad I can be of service. Anyone who has a family member with cancer or dementia please love them and tell you love them. Hold them as they are alive inside and you won’t regret it. You need to love your family, take it from me!
Robert: That is a great sentiment thank you for sharing. Can tell me where you were and what your reaction was when you got the news that you would be inducted?
Glenn Hughes: I was touring in Tokyo on December 9th and 10th when I got the call. We had been nominated three out of four years so I knew I would get a call either that we got in or didn’t. I sort of thought we would get in this year. I then got the call that we got in with a huge amount of votes. The fans are the ones that get hurt when you don’t get in; not the band members. I thought when you are in a band like Deep Purple, or Sabbath or Zeppelin and sold in excess of something like a billion albums, you’re going to get in at some point. Unfortunately one of us didn’t get in and that was John Lord as he died. That was the only bummer for me. The HOF didn’t go out of their way not to induct John; they didn’t know he was going to die! There is nothing we can do about it and we have to live in the moment. John was looking down at us from the Royal Box in heaven that night and the same goes for Tommy Bolin as well. May they rest in peace!
Robert: There is always some sort on internal band conflicts at these events, tell me about what went down with you and David not preforming with Deep Purple?
Glenn Hughes: Let’s get right to it, there is a band out there called Deep Purple featuring Ian Paice, Ian Gillian, Roger Glover which was essentially Mach 2. Every artist gets to do three songs. Now let me talk to you openly as there was a 99.9% chance that Hughes and Coverdale would not be invited to sing. I’m not going to name names, as there is a member who didn’t feel it was appropriate that we should sing. So David and I braved it together as we were arm and arm all the way through. But I knew by the end of the night it would not happen. Cheap Trick closed the show and they invited us to play with Cheryl Crow and Grace Potter. Am I upset about not singing with Deep Purple? Not at all. Everybody knows that David and I can sing. Everybody knows that we were in the band. All that mattered to me was accepting the award on behalf of Deep Purple and the fans.
Robert: What happened to Richie Blackmore, was there ever a chance he would attend?
Glenn Hughes: I can say that David spoke to Richie in 2012 during the first nomination. David asked him, “When we get in are you going to attend?” He said, “Oh no, not at all.” David is my brother and he would have no reason to fib to me, but Richie had no intention of attending the HOF. It had nothing to do with him and Gillian not speaking. He just didn’t want to show up. Nobody stopped him, and you can’t stop an artist from getting inducted unless the chairman of the HOF bans you. The Chairman of the HOF reached out to Richie with both hands and Riche gracefully declined. He didn’t say anything bad. He just said, “Thank you I’m not going to attend.” People need to know it was a gracefully done. There were two guys that didn’t show up, Richie who declined and John who had passed.
Robert: How will this change your personal life, do you get a pass from doing chores around the house or get special privileges?
Glenn Hughes: [laughing] No, the only bummer about this honor is preparing the details of my father’s funeral. My life has been affected as I’m in a state of grief, then leaving town in the next few days to go back to London, plus I’ve been going through hundreds of emails from friends and fans. He was the man that bought me my first guitar. He and my mother went without for me to have that guitar. He is the man responsible for me talking with you now. Keep in mind that we grew up in a working class family. The bathroom was outside in the garden and no hot water. My parents had to pay for that guitar over a two year period. My parents had to go without so I could have something.
Robert: Tell me about that belief that your parents had in you allowing you to pursue a career in music.
Glenn Hughes: When I was young I was really good soccer player. I played for the school, the town, and the county. I was hoping to continue further with this sport. That was 1963 and at that same time I saw The Beatles on TV. It was almost as if I put my soccer ball in the closet and my Dad bought me the guitar. It was if I traded my athletic possibilities to be mentored by Lennon and McCarthy. I think I turned out to be a better musician than I would have been a soccer player.
Robert: I’m not familiar with the story of how you got into Deep Purple, did you have to auction?
Glenn Hughes: I never auditioned; they had been checking me out for a good six months as they had seen me play six times in the later part of 1972 and the early part of 1973. They all came to see me separately and then Blackmore, Paice and Lord came to see me together for the last time in London after seeing me three times at the Whiskey in LA. I had no idea what they were up to; I just thought they were fans of my band. I woke up one morning as it was all over the news, that Ian Gillian was leaving Deep Purple. When they asked me to join the band at the Essex House in New York, I thought they were going to ask me to sing. They said they wanted me to play bass and sing, and Paul Rodgers was going to sing. I’m like “Count me in! Paul is one of my favorite vocalists.” David Coverdale was the only auditions we held.
Robert: What a huge compliment being handpicked by Richie Blackmore.
Glenn Hughes: When you are coming on the back end of Machine Head and Made in Japan, if Burn would have been a stinker, David and I would have been out of that band, there wouldn’t have been a Whitesnake, there wouldn’t be a HOF induction for us, and I could go on and on. Thankfully Burn was a top 5 album in 43 countries.
Robert: Not to mention the countless musicians that have been influenced by you and Deep Purple like Metallica.
Glenn Hughes: If you talk to Lars Ulrich you’ll get your ears bent [laughing]. Lars is the definitive Purple freak. Same if you talk to Gene Simmons, Yngwie Malmsteem, and Steve Vai, I can go on and on. They are fanatical about Purple. I have to pinch myself that I’m “Glenn Hughes Hall of Famer.”
Robert: You need to get that on a license plate!
Glenn Hughes: If I was still drinking and doing drugs I’d probably do that [laughing]. All the fame, money and the things I received; I never bowed down to the God of Money – never! You know why? When you see the people that have, they are miserable old fuckers. I’ve always bowed down to the God of Art.
That musical chords I play or sings when I get out of bed in the morning is the thing that keeps me going. I have a great life. Not the almighty dollar which we need to survive. If I put the God of Money before any note I played, I would be doomed. Everyone who is wise enough and old enough would give you the same answer, with the exception of Gene Simmons, he would probably give you something completely different [laughing]
Robert: Can you shed some light on what happened to California Breed, it was a phenomenal band on the start of something big, I loved the CD and saw you play at the Gramercy Theater in NYC?
Glenn Hughes: You were one of the special few 1200 people that got to see us that night. It was the end of the show and we just played “Burn.” Jason Bonham gets in his limo and the next day we get back to LA and he hands his notice in! After the NY show we thought that we would go to play with Slash in Europe and Alter Bridge in the US. He just said, “Can we do this later, like next year?” I said, “What? Tickets are on sale already; our names are on the tickets!” Broke my fucking heart! And replacing him was a nightmare. We got the wrong guy with the wrong nature. It affected the way Andrew and I went about our business. I handed in my notice four months before the tour ended. If tickets weren’t already on sale when Jason handed in his notice, I would have left with him.
Robert: What was Jason’s rationale from walking away from the band?
Glenn Hughes: I know but I’m too close to the Bonham family to share. He made a decision that he thought was appropriate for himself. I’m the type of guy that if you put my name on the ticket, Ill fucking be there.
Robert: There was a very good chemistry between the three of you and I hope someday you can make it work.
Glenn Hughes: Andrew is a very talented young man, I think people will remember my love and gratitude I have for Black Country Communion that will be last band I’ll ever want to be in! Because that’s more “Glenn” than anything else.