Posted February 2017
I don’t know what songs kids play air guitar in their rooms these days but “back when I was their age” (did I just say that?!), one of the bands on my air guitar short list was most definitely Deep Purple. Their Made In Japan album was, by far, THE album (if a kid couldn’t play anything else on guitar, they could play the intro to Smoke On The Water) and when their studio album, Burn, came out, Purple fans emptied store shelves of it.
The band has had four different line-ups (referred to as Mark I, II, III, or IV) and have reportedly collectively sold over 100 million LPs globally. The bassist in Marks III and IV was Glenn Hughes who, along with other members of Deep Purple, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.
While on the subject of the RRHOF, I contacted its CEO, Greg Harris, for some comments about the legendary bassist.
“An overall thought is what an incredible rock and roll life and what an incredibly warm and open person. It says a lot to be such a great stage presence in rock and roll, through and through and having been so well traveled. He relates to people. I’m very impressed with his friendship and generosity to everybody. If you think about his lineage in the bands he was in before Deep Purple itself and then afterwards, it’s just amazing. So, whether or not you knew the name of the guy playing bass in some of these bands – that unmistakable sound is Glenn Hughes.”
When I asked Greg if Glenn had been involved with the Hall with regards to contributing any memorabilia, he said, “He has. He’s been, first and foremost, involved with the induction. Then, subsequent to that, he’s actually served as our Hall of Fame ambassador at a few events. He’s such a great spokesperson for the museum. He was generous in providing items for the exhibit. With such a long career and so much movement, he doesn’t have a lot of things left from those early days. But he shared with us a real period piece: a pair of platform shoes that he wore during the Deep Purple era.”
Mr. Harris closed his comments about Glenn by adding, “Not only is Glenn an inductee into the Hall of Fame but he has also become a member of the Hall of Fame family. He truly has been a great ambassador and he and his wife, Gabby, are just terrific individuals.”
Glenn not only played in the Deep Purple, but he was also part of Trapeze, California Breed, Black Sabbath, and super group, Black Country Communion (with Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham, and Derek Sherinian), along with scores of others over the span of his lengthy career.
In addition to working with so many great bands and artists, Glenn has also recorded solo projects of his own. It was for his latest CD, Resonate, that I called him up at his home to chat about it.
We started out by chatting about his induction into the RRHOF and his thoughts about it and the Hall.
“I’ve been watching the Hall of Fame since it first started out thirty-three years ago. It’s been something I’ve been doing living in America every year. It’s a grand and glorious event, you know. And to finally be inducted with my friends in Deep Purple was a momentous occasion for rock fans, in general, not just people on stage but in general. When you think of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it really is about rock and roll – or it’s supposed to be for the bands you would think of from the seventies: The Who and the Stones and the Beatles and Zeppelin and Sabbath and, now, Purple. Then, of course, a grand splattering of newer artists. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pearl Jam gets in this year (he was correct in that prediction). The door opens for other artists from Seattle and New York and London. It’s a case of longevity and records sold, fan base and whatever grand scale of things happen.”
“Because I wanted to call the album something that meant something to me. It’s not very often that I will call an album after a song. I’ve only done it a couple of times. The album title, for me, is about what it means; about how I’m feeling and the recording and the songs. That word, ‘resonate,’ kept popping up in my head and it spoke to me. So, I was happy to call the album, ‘Resonate’.
With recording methodology and technology changing radically over the years, I asked Glenn how this album was different for him to make than all of the other albums he has worked on.
“It’s the first album where I went into my home studio and wrote each song in its entirety – both musically, arrangement wise, and lyrically – and then I’d sing it so that the demo would be completely done before I would turn to the next song. And, then, in the studio recording the album a couple of months later, what I did with my band is I played them one song at a time and we would do the song in its entirety and finish the song and then move to the next song. I had never had it in my head to do that before but it worked really well – to actually complete a song. Therefore, you can move freely to the next one.”
When asked what led him to work with the group of guys that he did on Resonate, Glenn said:
“Because they’re guys in my live band and they’re great musicians that I love working with. It’s so important for me to play live with the people I have on the record. Chad (Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) has actually been on five of my solo albums and he’s my best friend. It’s always a pleasure to have him around not only – in my opinion – that he’s the greatest rock drummer but he’s funny, kind, considerate young man. Really amazing.
To ask an artist what song of theirs is their favorite is much like asking them who their favorite child is. However, I did ask Hughes which song would he point to as a calling card for “Resonate” for people to listen to in order to entice them to purchase it.
“Oh my god. It’s so difficult because they’re all little movies in their own right. But I think when you hear ‘Heavy,’ I mean, it’s got it all in there, you know? But then, again, people are saying that about ‘Long Time Gone.’ They’re saying that about ‘God of Money.’ They’re saying that about “Let It Shine’ and they’re saying it about ‘Flow.’ There are so many song titles that comes to mind that I’m so engrossed in what the songs are. They’re so meaningful to me and, hopefully, they will translate to everyone.”
Is there one that is any more personal than the rest?
“They’re all autobiographical. Every single one is something that happened to me. I say ‘autobiographical.’ These things are about the human condition. Every song I write is about what happened between birth and death and what happens in between and the seven deadly sins that involve faith, fear, hate. It’s all hear. There’s some angst on this album. There’s a moment there where I’m really upset. I left it on tape. I don’t want to erase something that people need to hear. The way that I feel is important so I don’t want to cover up my feelings. I want people to know or feel the real emotional side of who I am.”
As for tour plans this year and other career items on his radar, Glenn shared:
“We’re touring next Spring. We will play throughout America in August, coming back in the Spring and we’ll come back again next September. Oh, another album from me that will be recorded late next year. Black Country Communion are making another album in January. Joe Bonamassa is at my home tomorrow. We’re almost done writing that album. Then we go into the studio in January to record that. It’s going to be a very busy year next year for me. I’m very, very busy touring. I like to tour as much as possible. A lot of my friends that are my age have stopped touring or they’re slowing down. But, for some reason, my career seems to be picking up some speed so I’m just going to go with it.”
Wrapping out up our chat, I asked the legendary bassist how he hoped to be remembered what he hoped his legacy would be.
“I am a messenger. That’s what my message is. I continue to be a messenger throughout the last few decades about giving love to people and giving music back and making people feel free. I like to think that my music can heal people and help give people comfort. So, at the end of it, then, I was a messenger – I AM a messenger – and I’m a healer. That’s the most important thing to me, is to carry that message.”
You can keep up with Glenn at www.glennhughes.com.