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Glenn Hughes – Still Burning

Just before Glenn Hughes kicked off his “Burn” 40th Anniversary tour in Gothenburg, we sat down with him face to face at the venue and chatted about how he got involved with Deep Purple, singing with David Coverdale on the “Burn” album, why he wishes he had stayed with Trapeze, and how Phil Lynott called him looking for Gary Moore right after Moore left Thin Lizzy.

Text and photography: Anne-Marie Forker

Hi Glenn! Nice to meet you here in Gothenburg. Was there a particular reason you chose to begin your Burn Anniversary tour here?

I love Sweden, and I used to live in Stockholm for a while – so Sweden has been very good to me. I have great memories of Sweden.

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did you get involved with music?

I was listening to a lot of music when I was a child and then I played trombone in the orchestra at school – I learned how to read music when I was twelve – and then piano and then guitar. So, I started playing a few instruments very early on, before I was a teenager. And then The Beatles came, so it was very natural for me to listen to pop music in the ’60s, which was very popular, as you know, in Liverpool, and I fell in love with pop music, which later turned into rock music.

And later that band evolved into another band, Trapeze?

Before Trapeze, there were a couple of other small bands, from school, like The News, and The Intruders, and then Finders Keepers, and then Trapeze.  And that was my love – my big musical love for me – Deep Purple were the biggest band for me, but the musical love of my life were Trapeze, because we were young, teenagers, working class in the North of England, playing music because we loved it, before the money, before the women, before the drinking. It was all about the writing of this great music. So, it’s always been songwriting for me, and then the voice, of course, you know, and staying the moment, staying happy, joyous and free, just being free.

The title of the Trapeze album «You’re the music, We’re just the band», what’s behind that title?

The audience were, and still are, a very big part of my world. Without the audience, I don’t feel there is anything. I can make music on record, which I do, but I’ve got to play this music and they, the audience, are a massive part of it for me, they are very, very important. I’ve been making music in that way all my life.

After that, almost immediately after that, I think it was, how did you get involved with Deep Purple?

They were coming to see me play for one year, in America, in L.A. and in New York, and I did not know they were looking at me to join, and they were, but I didn’t know it. I became friendly with Jon [Lord] and Ritchie [Blackmore], and then, all of a sudden, I was in New York and they were there, and they asked me if I would like to join the band, and I was unsure, because I didn’t want to leave Trapeze.  I didn’t want to leave my family, my boyhood love. Trapeze is very important to me, and I’m only telling the truth. I really shouldn’t have left.


No, I should have stayed.

It meant that much to you?

I should have stayed, because I believe that music was very important to me, and I should have developed it more, and I should have been able to grow into it more and to express myself with my own work. I don’t talk about this very often.

Thank you for talking about it here.

I want people to know that that band is – when anyone mentions Trapeze in an interview, I get very happy, because you’re talking about the beginning of Glenn, the beginning of a songwriter, the beginning of that voice that we all now know, and that is everything to me.

Wonderful. The vocals you shared with David Coverdale on the Burn album work so beautifully together. How did that relationship work?

David had never really recorded before. I’d done five albums before then. So, when we started working together, I gave him some inspirational ideas about what we maybe should do as a vocal duet, who should sing here, who should sing there. So it was interesting, because David was very good to me, David has always been very good to me, good with me, and we’re good friends. And you can hear it, that we were very close, and we still are. It was easy working with him. And people think «Was it difficult?» and it was not at all. We had one microphone, two men standing together, singing together, very close, very, very close.

I heard that during the recording of Burn, that Richie liked to pull a few pranks. Can you tell us about one or two of them?

We were in a castle built in the fourteen hundreds, seven hundred years old, and the castle was haunted, and Richie put speakers in my bedroom, and with a microphone at night time he would «woooo – wooooo – woooo», and it was really scary.  He loved that, you know, he loved that. That’s the kind of guy he is, I think he’s hilarious.  I never was angry – I thought he was funny; I still do.

Did you find it funny at the time, or did that come afterwards?

Not at that particular moment – I was asleep! And when you’re asleep, you don’t really know. You’re in this castle which is hundreds of years old, you know – but I realised when I woke up it was him. I could hear his laughter.

Speaking of pranks by him, that infamous concert at California Jam, with two-hundred thousand people, and the camera incident and the guitar cabinets, was that planned or did that just happen spontaneously?

Wasn’t planned! What happened was, the festival was running early, we were supposed to go on at 7:30, and it was 6:30 and they wanted us to go on, and Blackmore refused, so he locked himself in a trailer, and basically they had to break the door down and take him out and lead him to the stage, and he was really pissed off. So he had his roadie put petrol on the amps, and set them on fire in the show. And we knew – he mentioned something was going to happen. But it’s very dangerous, because when you’re working with petrol, and lighting the fire, it could have been a disaster. And it was a spectacle, and if you slow down the filming, you’ll see the stage was on fire – everything.  I was jumping, it was very dangerous.

But you were okay?

We were okay, and we can laugh about it now.

It’s gone down in rock’n’roll history, that’s for sure.

It was a big moment, you know. I was in the white suit, and he was wearing black.

Was the idea of those suits to be opposite to each other?

No, but I wore that suit on that tour, I didn’t think about black and white, but people ask me about it «Were you doing it because you were white and he’s black?» Well, not really. I think I’ve always been crazy about clothes. I was going through my white period.

Fair enough. You’ve worked with, and you were good friends with a musician very dear to my heart, also from Belfast, Gary Moore. How did you meet him?

Well, I loved Gary in Skid Row. I knew all about Gary. And he was a Trapeze fan. So, I met him when he was with Phil Lynott in 1979, in L.A. – and this is a good story. It’s a bad story for some people. They were making a record in L.A. Gary contacted me and I went down to see them and met him and Phil and Scott, and Gary and I became very good friends. They were there in L.A. for a couple of weeks, and then Gary calls me and says «Can I come and spend a few days with you?», and I said «Sure», and then he came over, and I said «When are you going to go out on the road again?» and he said «Well, I’m going to leave the band and I’m not going to tell them, and can I stay here?» and I said «O-kayyy…». So, he disappeared. This is a true story, you have to believe me.

Oh, I do.

And they couldn’t find him. Then, one night, I got a call from Phil in the middle of the night [convincing Phil Lynott impression] «Is he over there?» and I went «Er, what?» and I had to lie and I felt so bad.

He was quite menacing at times.

He was angry at me, and I didn’t do anything. I was the one – when Gary left the band, he was at my house. I didn’t take him away from Thin Lizzy – he wanted to get away. Gary was a complex guy. A genius, a genius…


…And in my opinion, the greatest – and I’ve played with every guitar player – the greatest guitar player I’ve ever played with was Gary Moore. But I adored him, I adored him as my friend. We were very close friends.

That’s wonderful to hear.

I have nothing be love for Gary. Now, later on in life, we had a little bit of a falling out. I was not the man I am today – I’ve been sober thirty-one years now – but I wasn’t at the time and it was difficult, and we had a bit of a falling out, but we got over that. And before he passed, I saw him again in Stockholm and we made amends and we had a nice chat and a laugh, and it was good.

I’m glad to hear that. And you’ve also worked with Tony Iommi on Fused, which is a great record.

Yeah, great player, one of my best friends.

How did that come about?

I’ve known Tony since 1970 because we’re both from the Birmingham area. I’ve done three albums with Tony now, Bootleg, Eighth Star, and Fused.

Is there anything simmering with Black Country Communion?

We start 1st June, in L.A., for number five.

Recording it? It’s already written?

Joe and I wrote the album six weeks ago at my home.


I have to do lyrics now, but the music is done. I get back on the 22nd May and Joe’s coming over on the 23rd to run over the songs again, and we meet 1st June in L.A. to make album number five.

That is great news. I saw you live at a home gig in the Black Country for my birthday on the 2nd January.

2018, right? That was a great show.

Yeah, best birthday I ever had. It was, fantastic, honestly.

That’s great.

I’m delighted to hear there’s going to be more music. Is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you would like to work with?

Good question! My answer to that is, at this point in my life, and I’ve worked with a lot of people, but I’m at an age right now when I have really – and I say this with respect – no time for people who aren’t happy or free and liberated, and centred. I don’t want to work with people that have any mental problems or drinking. I’m at a point where I’m slowing it down and I have no rush to do anything. I don’t want any strange behaviour again. I’ve done enough of that myself and I’ve been walking a spiritual path for a long time now. I’m in a place of peace – I’m in a really good place. I don’t do anything unless I really love it. The reason I’m back with these guys  – my band, my crew, my people – is because they are my family, as Trapeze was.  And all these years later, I have my freedom with my kids again, and I have that a lot.

Finally, do you have any more solo work coming up, any solo albums in the works?

There may be something next year. I can’t say for sure, but I keep getting asked to do another album. I haven’t decided yet. The offer is there – I don’t know. I only want to do albums when I have something to say. I haven’t done one in seven years. I thought it would be my last, Resonate. I love it. If I have something to say next year, I will do one. That’s the honest answer.

Originally published in Norway Rock Magazine #2/2023