There’s no denying the significance that British rock band Deep Purple had in the history of rock music. They were among a small number of pioneering heavy rock bands of the era in the late 60s/early 70s, delivering numerous hits that became classics not just for that generation but to this day. And former Deep Purple bassist and vocalist, Glenn Hughes is in Australia this month bringing those songs back to the people who grew up with them, the people who remember them and to a new generation who are just discovering them. On his second visit to our shores this year, Glenn Hughes performs Classic Deep Purple Live and I had the chance to talk to the singer as he prepared for this tour.
“I’m so blessed to be able to continue on my path,” Glenn tells me over the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “I’ve never really stopped working.” He pauses for a minute to reconsider that statement. “I take that back. I don’t remember the 80s. Somebody would have to tell me what I did then.” Point taken. We won’t talk about the 80s then, I promise.
Glenn was last in Australia just a few months ago. “I was a guest of the children of the members of Cream, Jack’s son and Ginger’s son (that’s Malcolm Bruce and Kofi Baker respectively). They wanted me to come and sing with them in Australia, which I love by the way.” That was for the Music of Cream Tour featuring Malcolm Bruce (son of Jack Bruce), Kofi Baker (son of Ginger Baker) and Will Johns (Eric Clapton’s nephew). “When I was in Australia in May, I was cornered by many fans wanting this kind of scenario so I’m very proud to say that the Aussies are going to get it first.”
Since Deep Purple disbanded in 1976, he admits that he has never done a whole show celebrating Deep Purple. While he often includes a few Deep Purple tunes in his shows, this is the first time he will perform a whole set built around the classic rock band’s songs. “I’ve said many times that I’ve always been one to embrace the future more than the past so that’s what I do. Let’s be clear, I’ve done a few songs but I’ve never done an evening of Deep Purple featuring Glenn. I’ve never done a tour and now the time’s right and I’m really glad the first port of call is Australia.”
In fact, his band on this tour includes one of our country’s finest musicians, keyboard player Lachy Doley and Glenn can’t praise his work highly enough. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he’s the greatest living keyboard player on the planet. I met him ten years ago when I was writing with Jimmy Barnes in his house in Sydney. I heard him play and I said ‘Oh my God! Who is that?!’ so I got Lachy to play with me.” They played an unplanned gig at The Basement in Sydney. “So ten years later, he played on my new solo album, ‘Resonate’, last year.”
Also joining Glenn on this tour are a couple of other superb musicians. “Jeff Kollman has been with me for about fifteen years. Jeff is a virtuoso guitar player and that’s what I need for this particular tour. I think everybody I play with are virtuosos. Deep Purple were very guitar and keyboard influenced so it’s very important to have extremely good guitar and keyboard players so I’m very lucky to have them with me. And Pontus Engborg my Swedish drummer who’s a mountain of a guy, truly bringing the love all the way over from Europe and America to Australia.”
Looking back at his time in one of music’s classic heavy rock bands, Glenn recalls “It was basically a very fast and furious account of a young man in the biggest band in the world in 1973 and ‘74. 100,000 people a night; sometimes there was a quarter of a million a night. It was crazy good and crazy wild and a lot of insane jamming, a lot of great musicians. David Coverdale and myself got to share the vocals which was a new thing for Deep Purple because Ian Gillan had been the lead singer and David and I were kind of dual singing the songs. That was the difference.”
With so many classic songs in their back catalogue, narrowing down the choice for a Deep Purple show would be a bit of a challenge. I ask Glenn if he has any special favourites. “It would be a sin to say I didn’t enjoy ‘Burn’ because ‘Burn’ is one of the greatest rock songs ever written,” he responds. “It’s a pleasure for me to have been on that track and be part of that song. That song is a huge song for many, many people. And, of course, ‘You Keep on Moving’. Tommy Bolin and I wrote that song with David Coverdale of course. ‘This Time Around’ I wrote with Jon Lord, which I performed at Jon Lord’s tribute concert at The Albert Hall a few years ago. ‘Getting Tighter’, I wrote with Tommy Bolin. ‘Mistreated’ from Burn… I could go on. There’s so many songs that are classic songs from the mid-70s so I’m so honoured to be still doing what I do and bringing the love to Australia.”
With this current tour being his second Australian tour this year and a number of other projects on the boil, Glenn Hughes is clearly a very busy man. “I’m a multi tasker,” he admits. “I’ve got three or four different scenarios in my life that I do and I’m really happy to be able to do what I do. I’m still writing of course. I’ve never stopped. It’s the one thing I’ve never stopped doing so long may that continue. I write 365 days a year. My new band is bringing out their fourth album this month. I’m so damn busy but I’m so grateful to have been given the wings to do this and to give these songs back to people who loved these songs.”
The Glenn Hughes Performs Classic Deep Purple Tour kicks off tonight in Sydney at The State Theatre. Click here for a full list of tour dates and ticketing info.
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2017. All rights reserved