The name “Glenn Hughes” is synonymous with the great history of British rhythm and blues. The first recognized band Hughes played for was Finders Keepers, where he was brought in by the great Mel Galley. His first bass was a Salmon ’62 Fender J bass. However it was with Trapeze, a soulful hard rock band from England that shot Hughes into the limelight in the year 1969. The band’s early 70’s albums included Medusa, Trapeze and You Are The Music… We’re Just The Band. It is from here that his rise came and he was quickly picked up by Deep Purple, which was the center of attention at that time. Counted among the best rock bands of the late 60s, Deep Purple however was in dire need of someone like Hughes to fill in the shoes of bassist Roger Glover.
In the halcyon days, Purple headlined at the famous California Jam in 1974 in front of quarter of a million people. World tours via Purple’s own jet plane, “The Starship” and two more studio albums later, (the Hughes influenced Stormbringer and Come Taste the Band), Deep Purple finally split in 1976.
Being almost out of options and without any steady gig by the same year, Hughes started working on his own and released his solo album “Play me out” in 1977. The album has an instant hit, attracting big names such as David Bowie and Ozzy Osbourne, who expressed strong desire to work with him. Hughes, however, went on working with his funk and soul roots, singing and playing solo for the next few years. He later claimed that he “went on a bit of a ride with the drugs” which prevented him from developing a harmonious mentality with other musicians and working in a team with them.
The late 70’s saw his return to his previous genre of work and he formed the Hughes/Thrall with ex Pat Travers guitarist, Pat Thrall. The combination was magnificent, but due to the severe drug addiction and unavailability of both for publicity, their first self-titled album together went unnoticed. In the mid-1980s, Hughes recorded several different albums with bands and artists including Phenomena(Phenomena, Phenomena II: Dream Runner), Gary Moore (Run For Cover), and Black Sabbath (Seventh Star; originally a solo album by Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi that was released as a Sabbath album due to record label pressure).
Hughes can be taken as an epitome of inspiration for the all artists who fall into the hands of drug addiction and can then never recover. Glenn Hughes, on the other hand, sobered up in a stunning manner and started cranking out one hit after the other in the 90s. Since 1992, Hughes has toured extensively in Europe, Japan and South America in support of solo albums such as Blues, From Now On…, Burning Japan Live, Feel, Addiction, The Way It Is, Return Of Crystal Karma, Building The Machine, Songs In The Key Of Rock and Soul Mover. One of the most important collaborations in Hughes’ career occurred two decades ago when he began working with Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi on the legendary guitarist’s first solo album. The result, 1986’s vastly underrated Seventh Star, was officially credited as ‘Black Sabbath Featuring Tony Iommi to satisfy the record company’s marketing desires. (Technically, this makes Hughes a former member of Black Sabbath too.) Hughes and Iommi remained friends and, in 1996, they began writing songs and recording together again. Those recordings were widely bootlegged, but they were eventually finished and released in 2004 as the 1996 DEP Sessions.
2005 saw the release of two albums that were greeted with commercial and critical success; Fused with Tony Iommi, and another solo album Soul
Soul Mover saw the continuation of the successful creative partnership with Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith that began with Glenn’s live DVD Soulfully Live in the City of Angels (2004). Soul Mover was voted 12th best album of the year by highly influential magazine CLASSIC ROCK.
Glenn’s next album – Music For The Divine – was a rich tapestry of the soul, funk and rock, which have always influenced his music. Again, featuring Chad Smith on drums, (and fellow Chili Pepper John Frusciante on guitar for an incredible rendition of the perennial classic ‘Nights In White Satin’) it was commercially and critically well received, and the album again made Classic Rock magazine’s top 20 albums of the year. In collaboration my big names of the era such as Gary Moore and Lynn Turner, Hughes wrote funk music and toured expansively. His publicity and marketing efforts was seen when he promoted his latest CD, First Underground Nuclear Kitchen or simply FUNK, in 2008.
Hughes says that his guitar playing is influenced from many Motown bass players from Detroit. The gritty Stax/Volt sound from Memphis left their mark on him. His style was kind of funky in the beginning though he improvised and innovated a lot during his large and expansive career. He also adds that he feels happy and truly in his elements while performing live and cites Marvin Gaye, Sly and the Family Stone, and Stevie Wonder as inspirations.
Having played the bass professionally for almost half a century, Hughes used many high precision equipment all through his career. Of them, the most notable were Fender Precision Bass, Rickenbacker 4001 and Vigier basses (with HTP). The Fender Precision Bass was designed by Leo Fender in the 1950’s and was one of the first bass guitars used by Hughes in professional studio recordings and live shows. The Rickenbacker 4001 was an upgraded and improved version of Rickenbacker 4000 and was manufactured extensively from 1960-1980. It is believed that Hughes had the best fluidity and has even nominated this model as one of the stepping stones of his success as a young bass player. The amp Hughes usually toured with in his Deep Purple days was “Hi Watt”.
After the 1980s, Hughes started practicing and performing at live shows with bass models from Vigier guitars, a French company founded in the 1970s. Many people say that Hughes took up Vigier basses after being recommended of the same by the man he replaced in Deep Purple, the great Roger Glover. Nowadays, the maestro prefers to use an AD200 Bass MK III rig from NAMM sometimes. He says that it gives him the feel of the 1970’s sound he loved so much.
Presently, the “Voice of Rock” uses a DigiTech bass synth WAH bass envelope filter. He prefers to use two of them – one for that left-handed Mini Moog sound, that low-end bass Moog – and then the one that is more of a neutral WAH and provides a sort of intense groovy effect , like the ones used during the live performances in ‘Purple such as the California Jam.
Currently, Hughes owns two Bill Nash ’57 Ps, one red and the other white in color. He also uses a Blue 1979 Rickenbacker that he got in St. Louis after his solo album debut. It is one of his prized possessions, since he sold his red one from Deep Purple to Geezer Butler some time back. He has also got a ’62 J Bass and also the original hardware which he uses often in his shows even nowadays.
The versatility of the musician is undoubtedly extremely noteworthy having churned out hits in various style of music, such as Hard rock, funk rock, progressive rock, heavy metal, pop rock, blues rock, soul, funk, blue-eyed soul. Having worked for prestigious labels such as Yamaha, SPV GmbH, Frontiers, Zero Canyons etc., Hughes has enthralled many generations of people with hits such as “Stormbringer”, “Soldier of Fortune”, “Man in the middle” and “Hallelujah”.
THIS IS VERY WRONG.
Though not that active these days, Hughes has delivered some notable live performances. Among them, his act in July 2010 where Hughes appeared as a guest vocalist (together with singer Jorn Lande) fronting Heaven & Hell at the High Voltage Rock Festival in London as a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio, deserves special mention. Hughes’ autobiography was published in May 2011 by British specialist limited edition publishers Foruli and famous artists such Osbourne, Coverdale, Iommi and Morello contributed to a large extent to the success of the book, titled “Deep Purple and Beyond: Scenes from the Life of a Rock Star”. Later on, this book was retitled “Glenn Hughes: An Autobiography”. Hughes has been making audiences speechless with his antics with the bass guitar for decades and his fans hope that he will carrying on with the same in the years to come.