Glenn Hughes: A Talk With the Prince of Bass
Glenn Hughes-just listen to him. He will tell you that he is original British classic rock. He started out with Trapeze and rose to the fucking heights with Deep Purple. He fronted Black Sabbath in the middle eighties with his bass in hand, and he is a longtime collaborater with Joe Lynn Turner. He doesn’t really have a bad word to say about anybody-which is fucking weird.
-He is an absolute gentleman through and through. I like him and you will to. Here is what he had to say:
MI: What is your birthday?
Glenn: 21st of August. That makes me a hundred and fifty.
MI: Tell me about Songs In The Key Of Rock.
Glenn: Songs In The Key Of Rock is a record I wanted to make a couple of years ago. After 10 years of making solo albums I decided to make a couple of records of classic hard rock. I wanted to recreate a sound and style that people were craving from me. So I buckled under the pressure and Songs In The Key Of Rock is probably more of a vintage classic sound than I’ve ever done before. It’s working and the reviews have been strong.
MI: Tell us about your musical history.
Glenn: I started out in the late 60’s playing in cover bands with major Beach Boys and Beatles influence. We later went on to call ourselves Trapeze and we got signed to the Moody Blues label and the reason we went with Moody is because they were very popular in America and they were touring America. After a while I found myself listening to more black artists in America like Wilson Pickett and Stevie Wonder and I started to have a classic British hard rock background with an amazing musical pinch towards R&B and Motown. The real Glenn Hughes is classic British hard rock with a tremendous amount of listening hours of classic singers like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Otis Redding. That is Glenn Hughes.
MI: Tell me about the most memorable show you ever played live.
Glenn: It all has to come back to California Jam simply because there was over 400,000 people and it was just one of those moments where the white suit, the cameras, the vibe, the interaction with my band members was probably a great showcase for my fans to check out.
MI: Tell me about your record label Pink Clouds.
Glenn: Pink Clouds was formed 3 or 4 years ago by me and Ken Ciancimino, my right hand man, for the reasons that there are other aspects to my music; Late night funk, R&B, smooth jazz, and even a touch of hip hop. It’s for those die hard fans that want to collect everything.
MI: Have you ever inhaled?
Glenn: No, I haven’t.
MI: What do you think about the legalization of drugs?
Glenn: I think it’s the only way to go as far as marijuana is concerned. For me, being an ex-addict, it’s a difficult question because I’ve seen people die and seen horrendous things.
MI: Who do you think the 5 greatest bass players are, including yourself?
Glenn: Number one would be Andy Fraser, the bass player from Free, from 1968 to 1974. Andy Fraser, when I was really into the classic hard rock in the late 60’s, was the epitome of what you what you don’t play and it’s about the groove. Paul McCartney was a genius player. My friend Jack Bruce, his style and cream, just blew me away in his first album song For A Tailor. My friend Stanley Park would be another one from the late 70’s who for me started to change the way bass players thought from jazz to rock.
MI: Where do you get your inspiration?
Glenn: I get it from a higher power. I get all my inspiration from the life experiences that I’ve lived. Maybe things that have happened 5 life times ago, I believe in karma, I believe in everything spiritual you can imagine on the white side. I get most of my feelings from being open to the universe and working it into songs. My songs and the way I play are the way I feel at that moment and let me tell you I’ve lived a wild and crazy life so I’ve got a lot of depth to draw from.
MI: Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
Glenn: It was 6am in L.A. and my wife’s friend Sandy called from the East Coast to tell us to switch the TV on and we turned it on right before the 2nd plane hit. Of course my wife and I are now in shock and we’re on the phone with her parents and then we get Joe on the phone. Joe Lynn Turner was coming to my house that day. I can’t imagine what it was like to be in Manhattan or anywhere near the horrible torture of that day.
MI: If you could design a memorial for the victims of 9-11 what would it be?
Glenn: The very obvious thing to do would be to put it where the towers were and make it a beautiful something that was spiritually inclined in an older way more so than a newer way. It would need to be some sort of thing where people could go to pay their respects inside this building where the whole building was built for that reason.
MI: What do you think of the US involvement in the Middle East?
Glenn: This all go backs maybe a decade or so. Because we are the big grand pop of all nations and pretty much the biggest country and most powerful government in the world there are people across the world that hate us. For me I just wish we could pull away from it. We’ve gone in there and started something in which the cleanup is going to be 10 to 20 years, if we’re lucky. We are looked upon as the bad guy. It’s not easy traveling.
MI: Do you think Private Jessica Lynch is porn for the Bush Administration?
Glenn: I wasn’t prepared for that question. It doesn’t surprise me and it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case. I’m not a big Bush fan.
MI: Give me your thoughts on Arnold becoming governor.
Glenn: Money talks bullshit walks. Arnold, bless him, is probably a very staunch Republican. I think that he steamrolled in there. That whole recall thing was a little too much for my taste. We’ve now got an action hero for our governor. It’s just too damn weird to know that this chap is governor. I don’t have a problem with anyone becoming our governor as long as it’s not comedic and it’s not stupid.
MI: Tell me a joke.
Glenn: I’m terrible at jokes and I’m awful.
MI: How has the music industry treated you during your career?
Glenn: The music business is steam rolling along quite nicely. People who don’t know anything about the music run the music business. I must say when I first started out in the 60’s and 70’s that knew about music. We all used to hang out together and talk music. Now some guys in New York run it. Some of the things that are represented in the Hip Hop and Rap world, it’s probably run by a drug fueled industry. Remember now, I have had multi platinum success. I have over 70 platinum and gold records on my wall, I’m not chasing that elusive dream. I’ve done it, been there, and got the T-shirt. I don’t have sour grapes of what’s on the TV today, it’s just that music has now become a corporate world and the music business has gone right down the toilet.
MI: What do you think of Ozzfest and Lollapalooza, and all these festivals going on?
Glenn: Well I’ve always said that Sharon Osbourne is a great gal. Ozzy is one of my oldest friends; she transformed his career in to probably the biggest rock star in the world at the moment. Ozzfest will steam roll right along, even without Ozzy actually. It’s an affiliation with the young American teenager to go out and party. Lollapalooza was that event in the early 90’s.
MI: What do you think about MTV?
Glenn: When I look at MTV I look at what is the current bubble gum flavor of the day. Occasionally I’ll see something really cool musically that gets me. I may turn on and watch a reality show like The Osbournes or Viva La Bam or Rich Girls. I think those shows are tremendously funny.
MI: What do you think it would take for true metal to come back?
Glenn: What it would take would be for me, David Coverdale, and Ritchie Blackmore to get back together with Deep Purple and reshape the way people think about hard rock. Would that ever happen? Very doubtful. Do I ever think about it? Not really. I’m so happy where I am with my life.
MI: What do you think about the brand of metal coming out these days?
Glenn: The only thing I find interesting in the newer breed of hard rock would have to be Linkin Park for the simple reason that it’s very hard driving music with tremendously harmonic melodic choruses. I like that. When somebody is shouting at me and basically I can’t hear a word they’re saying and they’re not singing melodically, I find it to be offensive. Call me old, but I want to be moved singing that is sung from the heart. I don’t want to be yelled at by someone on the radio.
MI: Tell us something nobody knows about David Coverdale.
Glenn: David is a very sensitive guy that is not ashamed to shed a tear. He’s a very, very, very funny man. When I see David, which is not that often, we just howl with laughter.
MI: What’s in your CD player right now?
Glenn: Miles Davis.
MI: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the music business today?
Glenn: I would want them to be told what to play. I’d like them to find their way into music their own way. Music is an art form. Music will choose you.
MI: If you were stuck on a desert island and could bring 1 person, 1 book, and 1 CD, what would they be?
Glenn: It would have to be my wife and I’m not saying this because she might read this. I was in my 40’s when I met my wife. For a book I would have to take Lord Of The Flies and the CD would have to be The Beatles.
MI: How did you and Joe get together on the Joe Lynn project?
Glenn: He was doing a tour in Japan 3 years ago. At the very last second he asked me to see if I would play with him. I said sure and we went over there and people’s mouths just dropped to the floor when they saw Joe and I on the stage together. It caused a lot of media freak out in Japan. Then his record label asked us to make a record as a group. We wrote music for the classic hard rock fan.
MI: What pisses you off in the world right now and why?
Glenn: Ignorance and hatred. I think everybody has some point in his or her life felt that. I don’t have any time in my life for people that are not nurturing and loving. I think when you become 40 or 50 you want to start giving back to your family and the world.
MI: If you were God for a week what would you do?
Glenn: I wouldn’t change a thing. If everything in life was rosy and perfect we would not be able to learn and grow as human beings.
MI: Do you believe in psychics?
Glenn: I would love to tell you I do, but I’m not sure.
MI: Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
Glenn: Yeah, I mentioned it in my show. I wrote a song called Blue Jade on Addiction. It’s about a ghost that comes into my room. I was sober…. Over a period of a week a lady came into my room. I know there’s another world out there. IT could have been a dream but I just think it was real. I open my mind to everything.
MI: Do you believe in reincarnation?
MI: Who do you think you were in your past life and who would you have liked to been in history?
Glenn: I may have been a painter. I can’t say a famous person, but I really love colors and the things I see on earth. I would like to have been Laurence Olivier and lived his life on stage.
MI: What person would you like to bring back from the dead?
Glenn: Tommy Bowlin because he was my brother. Not a blood brother, but we lived together, played together, partied together, and he passed away when he was only 25. I still play some of our songs we wrote.
MI: Name 5 groups from the 60’s or later that you feel have been important to the evolution of music.
Glenn: Sly And The Family Stone, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and RadioHead.
MI: Growing up who was your hero?
Glenn: Billy Wright. He was the captain of England’s soccer team in the 50’s and he was the captain of Wolves, which is my soccer team in the UK. I still am a fanatical Wolfs supporter.
MI: Who do you feel influenced your vocal and playing style?
Glenn: Stevie Wonder influenced my vocal style and Andy Fraser and Paul McCartney influenced my bass style.
MI: What are your thoughts about the European Union?
Glenn: I think it’s great.
MI: What do you think the best thing to happen to Rock ‘n’ Roll was?
Glenn: When Elvis came into the picture it took it from the country to Rock ‘n’ Roll. And that transformed into The Stones and The Beatles. It’s an evolution. Frank Sinatra was all pissed off about Elvis coming in and then Elvis was pissed off about The Beatles coming in and then The Beatles broke up and then you have Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple…. The Lim Bizkits, in 10 years time no one will remember that. They will remember
The Beatles songs, Satisfaction, Smoke on the Water, and U2. Rock ‘n’ Roll for me is an evolution. Some of it we don’t like, some of it we do like.
MI: What else do you do besides listen to music?
Glenn: I do a lot of jogging, meditating at the beach, I do yoga, I write an awful lot of music, and I write poetry…. It’s something that I do to sustain me personally. I write a lot of feelings down.
MI: What do you think about Kurt Cobain’s diaries being released?
Glenn: It doesn’t interest me too much because it’s a sham. I think that Kurt was a very sick puppy. I think his first cry for help was when he had the OD in Amsterdam. I think this whole “Lets bow down to these druggie people” is all bullshit. Courtney Love is a very smart woman that needs to be put away for a while.
MI: What do you think your greatest achievement is, besides your music?
Glenn: Christmas day in 1991 when I surrendered to a higher power and checked myself in to a hospital, without a question of a doubt.
MI: If you had a million dollars to donate to charity, what would it be?
Glenn: Animals. Animal shelters, saving dogs off the street, finding them homes… Anything having to do with animals. In fact, my wife and me give a lot of money away to charity every year. We really love animals.
MI: What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Glenn: Worst job I ever had was fronting Black Sabbath for those 5 concerts in the 80’s where I had no business fronting them without a bass guitar and fronting them when I was not in my top form. I was not well and it wasn’t great.
MI: If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would they be?
Glenn: David Beckham the soccer player, he is very high profile right now. I love soccer. Jimmy Hendrix and Jack Lemon.
MI: If you could be a super hero who would it be?
Glenn: I’d have to be Recovery Man. That would be a guy that went out and helped a people recover from a hopeless tragedy of drug addiction.
MI: What message would you like to send to your fans about yourself and the new album?
Glenn: Thank you for giving me the blood to write my songs and allowing me to be the person I am.
MI: What is your favorite quote?
Glenn: Let there be light.
Thanks Glenn. Hey, how hard was that bass line in Smoke On The Water anyway?
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