Critical estimation continues to rise for Seventh Star, a varied 1986 Tony Iommi solo album that his label wrongheadedly insisted be released under the banner of Black Sabbath. There's no question, however, that the ensuing tour began on a very bad foot.
Frontman Glenn Hughes, then in depths of addiction, was already having performance issues when he reportedly got into a violent backstage altercation. Only a handful of concerts in, Iommi replaced him with the late Ray Gillen – and Hughes looks back now on that period with no small amount of regret.
"The worst and most embarrassing moments for me in my career," Glenn Hughes tells Soundclash, "was when I was with Tony Iommi on those five shows where I had a very bad fight with someone and I had some bones broken in my nose and it consequently stopped me from singing. That was embarrassing for me."
Hughes, who rose to broad fame over a three-album stint with Deep Purple in the mid-'70s, later worked with Iommi again, as well as Gary Moore, members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Joe Bonamassa, in Black Country Communion. (The latter group evolved into the short-lived California Breed.) But, more importantly, he got his life together. Hughes is currently working with a solo band that includes guitarist Doug Aldrich, of Whitesnake and Dio fame.
"I'm not frightened to dream," he adds. "I've worked with the greatest, and I'll probably work with some more. I just think that I don't try to think too much about what's coming down the pipeline for me. All I know is that tonight I'm going to have some dinner with my friends. Tomorrow is not here yet. I'm really being serious with that. I don't know what the hell is going to happen. I just need to get some sleep and the rest is history."
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Rock survivor Glenn Hughes has lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to the full and emerged the other side to tell the tale. As he prepares to launch his warts and all autobiography and embark on a UK tour, he guides Dave Freak through the addictions that almost cost him his life
WHAT’S the weather like over there?” enquires legendary rock bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes down the phoneline from Los Angeles.
About to fly to Britain, he’s all too aware of the horrors of our damp winters.
“I was thinking, ‘Shall I wear my new suede jacket and leather boots?’ but they’ll just get wet and ruined,” he laughs. “In LA, there’s sunshine 325 days a year. When I’m at home in England, it’s a whole different thing. Not bad, just different.”
The US-based musician is returning to his home country for a series of intimate ‘greatest hits’ shows.
“I’ll be playing songs I’ve written that meant something to me, songs from throughout my 40-year career,” he says.
“For me, it’s about being naked on stage, alone with just an acoustic guitar, no effects, vocal and an audience. It’s really being out there without a safety net, it’ll be very in the moment, very spontaneous.
“When you perform like that, something happens. You play the same songs every night, but every night, they’ll be different.
“The first song of the show is the first song I wrote and the last song will be the last.
“So we start with It’s Only A Dream from the first Trapeze album, from 1970, and end with the last song I recorded, which was Cold, earlier this year, with Black Country Communion, and there’ll be all the other songs people know.”
In between tracks, Glenn will also discuss the corresponding periods in his life, touching on anecdotes that appear in his no holes barred new book, Glenn Hughes: The Autobiography.
It’s a tome which begins with Glenn’s youth in the Staffordshire mining community of Cannock. Seduced by rock ‘n’ roll, he initially made his name in Black Country rock combo Trapeze before jumping ship to join Deep Purple in 1973, in a line-up that included David Coverdale. This led to an extravagant and hedonistic life of private jets, groupies, celebrity mates, famous girlfriends, and mountains of hard drugs, which in turn led to a succession of missed opportunities and failed relationships, unforgivable behaviour, complete addiction, drug psychosis and near death.
He’s now back on top and firing thanks chiefly to Black Country Communion, which features the talents of drummer Jason (son of Led Zeppelin’s John) Bonham, blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa and keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Kiss).
The classic rock supergroup have to date already released two huge albums and a DVD, Live Over Europe.
“My life story’s gone from a complete celebrity lifestyle to nearly dying, and back to where I am today,” confesses Glenn. “There’s a lot of dark, brooding, menacing stuff which happened to me. I went from the Black Country to being rich and famous, and then the wheels fell off, and I couldn’t get off, I was loaded all the time, snorting the ‘devil’s dandruff’,” he says, referring to his once huge cocaine habit and spectacular decline.
While much of his excesses have already been well documented – “cocaine was the centre of my universe, I don’t know how I survived,” he recalls, adding there was so much coke in his house at one point, people were tripping over the bags – Glenn wanted his tale to tell all. This was not an easy process for him.
“I started the book five years ago with Joel (McIver), my co-writer,” he explains. “We spoke on the phone at length, he came over to LA, I came over to his home in London, he did the interviews with other people, and after three years, we’d done it. But I’d omitted a couple of stories that were crucial and it took me two years to own up, to grow the balls to tell them.
“A lot of people take their secrets to the grave, but I didn’t want to. All was not well with me when people thought I was well, I dodged a couple of bullets there. Drug addiction is a disease – on your shoulder, you have this devil, this voice that says you don’t have an addiction.
“It’s like demonic possession,” he adds. “It’s dark. It’s decidedly not attractive, and not attractive to see someone really out of their head.
“There were key moments in the ’90s I’d not told anyone about and I could have gone to the grave (with them). But the fact was I was keeping those things from my mum and dad, from my friends, and that was not cool.
“You know what? It was very liberating for me to bare my soul, to show my ass if you will. Someone on drugs and drinking is in denial, and I needed to address that, address the addiction process.
“I thought that this was my only chance and I needed to be absolute, so it goes from celebrity to denial, fear and acceptance. I didn’t want to be a faker.”
While it might at times read like a Hollywood movie, complete with all-star cast, there’s little glamour in Glenn’s fall from grace.
“When I drank, I drank until I blacked out,” he says firmly. “There was a good period in the ’80s that I do not remember a lot of what happened. I was so far out there.
“I never said I wanted to be an alcoholic or an addict, it’s in my genes, it’s a disease like cancer that needs to be treated. If it goes untreated, you will die – maybe not straight away, but you will in later life, and you will lead a miserable life.
“I still have a ferocious appetite for life, and a ferocious appetite for rock’n’roll.
“I keep going and I love life, and the centre of my life is music and my family.”
Glenn Hughes is at The Glee Club Cardiff on Wednesday, November 16. Tickets priced £19.50 are available from the box office on 0871 472 0400 or via www.glee.co.uk