Even when he’s not making his own music, Glenn Hughes is chasing after the rock ‘n’ roll sounds of his youth. Today, the fix is his pals in Def Leppard.
“I’m going to see them play at an afternoon show here in LA for their fan club,” said the British Hughes, talking recently from his adopted California home and sounding more youthful than his 60 years. “They’re really good friends, and I just want to pop in and say hello to show my support for them.”
Hughes, a bass player and vocalist extraordinaire, boasts his own musical pedigree with stints in Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and other hard rock units over the last four decades. And he seems to have a lot of musical friends who have shown their support for him as well – younger artists who look up to him, such as blues guitar giant Joe Bonamasso and secondgeneration drum monster Jason Bonham, his partners in genrebusting Black Country Communion.
The future and the present haven’t always looked so rosy for the lifelong rocker who, after scaling the heights of stardom, hit bottom in the 1970s and 1980s in a haze of drugs and alcohol.
““I became well known in musical circles, along with people like Keith Richards, as a drug addict. It was so uncomfortable and shameful, but I couldn’t stop,” said Hughes, adding that by the end of the 1980s, thanks to a new-found religious belief, he cleaned up and returned to music for inspiration.
For the last 20 years, his career has been on an upswing and, as demonstrated by collaborations with everyone from The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith to Rage against the Machine’s Tom Morello, he is considered a respected elder statesman to a younger generation.
That doesn’t mean he’s a museum piece, though. His solo show next week at the Tel Aviv Opera House featuring a trio of young, spunky Scandinavian musicians on guitar, drums and keyboards, delves into every aspect of Hughes’s back catalogue – from his first successful late 1960s band Trapeze to Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, his solo work and Black Country Communion.
“I want to give my audience for my first time in Israel a real sense of the history of my music,” he said. “It’s important to paint a clear picture of my career.”
He’s not only playing with youngsters but is still teaming up with the friends from the past, such as Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, who’s been battling lymphoma.
“Tony and I have been friends since 1970, and we’ve made three albums together. He’s like family to me, and we all pray that the completely recovers,” said Hughes. “We always work together very efficiently – he writes the riffs, I write the lyrics, and it’s great.”
Gravitating toward fellow musicians is second nature to Hughes, and he knows enough of them to pick and choose who he decides to play with.
“The music scene is really a small clique of people that hang out and have dinner parties and get together with wives and girlfriends,” he said. “These are my good friends, and I’m really happy to play and share my life with my friends. Joe [Bonamasso] will tell you the same thing – we only want to play with people we love.”
In that case, Glenn Hughes must feel very loved.