deep purple

Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Black Sabbath) interview


Before auto-tune, MTV and million dollar deals for mentioning your favorite skin care product on Twitter, bands were just a group of guys with long hair, guitars and lots of drugs. Musician Glenn Hughes spoke to Groove Guide magazine about being in Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and living to tell the tale.

By Jimmy Ness

Despite dodging a drug-fuelled death, bass player and vocalist Glenn Hughes is completely honest about his time with two of most infamous rock bands.

“Along came the birds, and then came the dealers, then the dealer comes along with something called Cocaine, which nobody knew about, and it was kinda like a party favorite on a Friday night. Have a couple of lines,” Hughes recalls in his strong British accent.

“Some of us didn’t make it. Some of us got addicted. Some of us ended up dead. And you’re talking to one guy that survived. That’s really my story in a nutshell."


Deep Purple recruited Hughes in 1973 and he brought a unique funk sound to their next four albums. Legendary 'Smoke On The Water' guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was reportedly unhappy with the new direction and quit two years later.

Hughes says he was unaware of any issues with his Motown-influenced style.

"It was bizzare because you know we never really discussed the funky stuff until he left the band. They knew what they were getting into when they asked me to join. I'm a very groove orientated bass player."

Ex-vocalist David Coverdale and the other band members remain friends with Hughes, but he isn't exactly on sociable terms with Blackmore.
"The bizzare thing is, I haven't spoken to him since 1977. And people scratch their heads at that.

"He's unapproachable and unreachable. I can't control the way he thinks or whatever he does, but he's just not a happy go-lucky kind of guy."
The band split in 1976 due to the overdose of guitarist Tommy Bolin and fighting between band members.

They reunited with their original line-up in 1984, but Hughes had moved on to other projects.
Shady music manager Don Arden aka "The Al Capone of Pop" recruited him into Black Sabbath for their 1986 album 'Seventh Star'.

"He came to me in this big Rolls Royce and told me he was going to make me a star," Hughes jokes in his best gangster-sounding Arden impersonation.

"He wanted me to be in Electric Light Orchestra but I actually got out of it because he tried to force me in, I was frightened of him."

Seventh Star was intended to be the first solo album by guitarist Tommy Iommi, but Arden pressured them into calling it a Black Sabbath record with Hughes substituting Ozzy Osbourne as lead singer.

Replacing a legendary front man is anything but easy, Glenn says.

"Of course it's difficult stepping into Ozzy's shoes because I don't sound like him.

"He sounds very monotonous and very one tone, while my voice is sort of multi-coloured."

Only a few shows later, Hughes was fired because he lost his voice from throat injuries he sustained while fighting their tour manager.

After decades of being sober, he says he's a different person compared to his younger self.

"I lived below a dark cloud... I don't remember the eighties. Let's just say I've become involved in my own life."

Glenn crashed into the music scene at full pace, but he's not a burnt-out former addict.

His revitalized career has produced 18 solo albums amongst other projects including Tommy Iommi's 2005 Fused, this time without the forced Black Sabbath moniker.

As our interview shifts to other subjects including modern music and Glenn's fascination with Twitter, it becomes more obvious this old rock-star still has plenty of energy.

And despite any mistakes, Hughes is adament he wouldn't change a thing.

"I think I've sort of come out of the trenches pretty well. I've never been someone who has regrets."