The British-born, California resident singer, songwriter and bassist Glenn Hughes must have a streak of immortality somewhere within him. Now 69 years old, he appears on Holy Ground, the new album from the Dead Daisies—an American, Australian and British supergroup—and sounds all of 25 years old. Hughes has been nicknamed the ‘Voice Of Rock’ for decades with good reason, although that phrase undermines the soulful, funky nature of his vocals, and also takes the focus off his amazingly adept bass playing, the reason why we’re interviewing him today.
For those not in the know, Hughes was born in Cannock in the British Midlands in 1951, honed his chops in the underrated funk-rock band Trapeze as a teenager and then sprang into the limelight in 1973 when he was recruited into Deep Purple, then one of the biggest bands ever formed. Recording and touring with Purple for the next three years, Hughes was enveloped by a blizzard of drugs and alcohol from which he only fully emerged in 1997, by which time he was a solo artist, having worked with a range of musicians and bands such as Gary Moore, Pat Thrall and Black Sabbath.
You can read about all this crazy stuff in Hughes’s 2011 autobiography—full disclosure; I was his co-writer—but today we’re here to look back at his last decade or so, when he’s recorded as a solo musician, alongside guitarist Joe Bonamassa in Black Country Communion, and now with the Dead Daisies.
Of the current band, he muses: “When the Dead Daisies asked me to come in—and this is 18 months ago, before COVID—I’d done the Glenn Hughes Sings Deep Purple tour for two and a half years, and I wanted to do something more. When this came up, I thought ‘Let’s give it a go’. They brought me in for the songwriting, bass, and vocals, so I got to do what I normally do—and it worked out well.”
One song on the new album is called ‘Like No Other (Bassline)’ and starts with a monstrous slab of overdriven bass—and is the obvious place to start, in our case. “On that song, we went in to cut it live,” recalls Hughes. “I was singing and playing bass, and there was a mic set up. We do that with Black Country Communion as well, because sometimes we use the live vocal. I kept singing ‘Can you feel my bass-line? You’re like no other’ and I’m thinking ‘This could be a hook here, you know’. The rest of the band loved it, and now it’s my favorite song on the album.”
Glenn recalls his first major band—the long-lost Trapeze
“I was in Trapeze for four years, during which time the band switched from a quintet to a trio—which was me, Mel Galley, and drummer Dave Holland, later of Judas Priest—and we released three albums. We could have gone a long way; I think the band never got the success they deserved in the UK.
“America loved us. Get this snapshot from my early career. Trapeze played three nights at the famous Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles in December 1970, and we did great. We did 15 more shows in 15 days and ended up back in LA. We didn’t have enough money to get home, though, so we phoned our agency and they said, ‘Well, you can’t play in New York again, because you’ve just played there’. So we said ‘How about somewhere in between?’ because we didn’t have any money. They came back to us the next day and said ‘There’s a club in Houston that really wants you to play’, so we went to Houston and they sold out the first night, with 600 or 700 people. Then they asked for a second night. That one gig broke Trapeze in America.
“This was long before any drugs: We were drinking Cold Duck, which is a cheap, wine-type beverage. We’d opened for the Moody Blues and we’d been working hard: The strength of our show in Houston, Austin, and Dallas supporting the Moodies had made us big in Texas, which has always loved rock trios. That was the turning-point for me, when I knew that we’d achieved something big.
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