||BETTER LIVING WITHOUT CHEMISTRY – HUGHES KEEPS ON MOVING
Glenn Hughes – Storyteller Session: Café de Paris, London
7th March 2017
Words: Andy Rawll, Pictures: Eric Duvet
In the wake of his recent and rightly acclaimed 'Resonate' album and a tour that many declared to be his best in recent years, Glenn returned to London last week for a special Storyteller's session attended by the 200 lucky fans that were able to secure tickets for this exclusive event.
Hosted by renowned broadcaster Nicky Horne, whose knowledgeable and relaxed style was ideal for this type of event as he put his subject at ease as he delved into Glenn's life and career story. Having lost both his father and mother within the last nine months, Glenn was in reflective mood, but never maudlin, emphasising his lifelong pride and gratitude for his parents' role in his success as a musician and as a man.
Although many of the anecdotes were familiar to those that had read his excellent 2011 autobiography (co-written with Joel McIver), they acquired a deeper resonance when related by the man himself. It was interesting to hear about how his folks named him after band-leader Glenn Miller and how his musical education began, Miller-style, on the trombone.
He soon migrated from brass to bass, but retained a well-exercised set of lungs that were put to good use in powering his fast-developing vocals. It was also fascinating to learn that this Cannock lad swung over to the US with Trapeze for the first time, thanks to the patronage of Brummie label-mates, the Moody Blues.
Tales about his time in two of the classic line-ups of Deep Purple may be well-worn, but the format of the session allowed for audience interaction and the resulting questions enabled him to provide heartfelt and direct answers, in particular relating to his personal relationships with band members, past and present. This included a surprising admission that, with the exception of long-time friend David Coverdale, he feels enmity towards the surviving members of that band, seemingly based the impasse on which alumni would participate in the band's performance at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
I particularly enjoyed the post-Purple patch of the interview, with some cracking stories about cracked actors and wonderful soul singers, as he settled into the surreal 1970s madness of life as a semi-retired rock star in Beverly Hills.
With much of his recall of the 80s clouded by chemistry, Nicky navigated around that forgotten decade and gave Glenn the opportunity to focus on his spiritual and physical rebirth in the 90s that began with his Valhallan vocal contribution to that very special KLF song: 'What Time Is Love'. The prodigal Voice of Rock had indeed returned.
As well as the Q&A, the audience were also treated to archive footage from a planned Deep Purple documentary focusing on the post-Mk2 years, which provided a nice visual embellishment to many of the topics covered during the interview. This included rare clips of Glenn with Finders Keepers and early Trapeze as well as audio from audition tapes and demos of a certain chubby, loon-panted, boutique assistant, with a remarkable voice.
Introduced by long-time Deep Purple International Associate and Producer, Dr Drew Thompson, the footage was raw but fascinating and should form the basis for a great film. Unfortunately, rendering issues with the latter part of video meant that the screening finished earlier than planned. However, this provided an extended period for the meet-and-greet, which worked pretty well, as everyone had more than enough time to speak to Glenn, who was gracious and charming, despite his punishing schedule.
As evidenced on the recent tour, this clean, fit and healthy son of the Black Country continues to belie his age with passionate performances and with that stormbringing voice still pitched to perfection. Better still, with the excellent 'Resonate' still on playlists, a new Black Country Communion album is already waiting in the wings and expected to take centre stage within a matter of months. All indications are that it promises to be huge.