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Old Sep-28-2010, 2:02 AM
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Icon34 Glenn Hughes seeks his Black Country Communion

Excellent article as featured on Wales Online today and printed in the South Wales Echo newspaper

Deep Purple star Glenn Hughes seeks his Black Country Communion

Sept. 28th 2010 by David Owens, South Wales Echo

Glenn Hughes has been a rock star for 40 years, but with his new outfit Black Country Communion he’s rolling back the years, as Dave Owens discovers...

THERE’S something refreshingly old school about Glenn Hughes. He is in every sense the archetypal rock ’n’ roller.

With his thick black wraparound shades, gravity defying quiffed coiffure and regulation leather jacket he looks every inch the rock star - which he is, of course.

Having carved out a massively successful career that’s included 80+ gold and platinum albums and collective sales of over 100 million units to his name, the former Deep Purple frontman dubbed ‘the voice of rock’ for his incredible vocal gymnastics is still going strong.

In fact, he may well have produced one of the best albums of his career as frontman of Black Country Communion. The band is something of a rock supergroup in that it also features the hottest blues guitarist in the world today Jo Bonamassa, Led Zeppelin drummer Jason Bonham (son of original Zep sticksman John Bonham) and ex-Dream Theater keyboard player Derek Sherinian.

The outfit is named after the industrial area of the Midlands from which Glenn and drummer Jason Bonham are from and which spawned such legendary British rock legends as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.

In that sense the album - titled Black Country - is a throwback to a time when these rock monsters ruled the earth. The 12 track collection reverberates with the sort of monster riffs and vocal power that drove the aforementioned rock gods back in their ’70s heyday.

"I wanted to pay my respects to the blue collar birthplace of all these amazing bands," says Glenn. "I’ve been living in America for over 30 years but you never forget where you’re from."

The 58-year-old singer and bass player admits the concept for Black Country Communion came together incredibly quickly.

"The band is the brainchild of producer Kevin Shirley who has worked with the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes and Aerosmith," explains Glenn.

"He saw myself and Joe Bonamassa play together on stage in Los Angeles in November 2009 at the Guitar Center’s King of the Blues event."

"He came backstage and said, ‘You guys got to cut an album’. We were like, ‘Yeah OK’. But we got Jason and Derek on board straight away and the whole thing just took off.

"It was pure synchronicity," he adds. "It was the right place, the right time, it was fun, rock ’n’ roll, lots of coffee and long hours!"

Despite Glenn and Joe coming from different backgrounds, the master and his young apprentice quickly gelled.

"Joe is the new blues-rock guy," says Glenn. "I come from the classic rock thing with Deep Purple, but my background is a lot of funk stuff as well. The longer we stayed in the studio, the louder we got.

"The Marshalls (amplifiers) came out, the Les Paul’s (guitars) were hung a little lower, and we started to make rock music."

These were whirlwind sessions that stayed stridently true to original recording techniques - the album being knocked out in just four days.

"I think the greatest records we’ve ever heard, from Zeppelin to Purple to Sabbath to The Who, were all recorded in the studio live," muses Glenn. "I’m the elder statesmen here and I’m really enjoying playing in a band again."

Glenn, whose voice perched is somewhere between a California beach house and a working class Midlands terraced, talks animatedly about the cross-generation - and none more so when he enthuses about working with fellow Black Country boy Jason Bonham.

"I played with John Bonham a lot in my old band Trapeze, in 1971, and now I’m getting to play with his son, 39 years later," he says.

"Jason’s dad was a dear friend to me and used to come and play with Trapeze before I joined Deep Purple."

"I used to visit John’s house and see a four-year-old Jason being tutored by his father. I’ve been Uncle Glenn for a long time and I’m super protective of him."

"I guess it’s a nice soundbite for the fans but there is genuinely a lot of love here. We’re very close. It’s back to synchronicity again, it’s just the right ingredients for a rock and roll band."

The rock collaboration has been so well received that there are plans afoot for a second album, but not before the band head out on an extensive tour next year.

Despite the Black Country Communion heritage, Glenn says there are no immediate plans to revive Deep Purple or other classic songs in their concerts.

"We might do two or three stellar covers, and maybe a Zep song for the heritage of the Bonham name," he says. "But I’d like to think we can do this on our own merit."

It’s shaping up to be an eventful year for Glenn, who is set to release his autobiography - Deep Purple and Beyond: The Life, Near Death and Rebirth of a Rock Star.

The musician, who spent a fair chunk of the ‘80s battling drug addiction, promises a warts and all expose of the incredible highs and crushing lows of life as a rock star.

The singer, who is now clean and in incredible shape thanks to a rigidly healthy lifestyle and a California beach house, documents the moment when, on Christmas Day 1991, aged 40, he resolved to turn his life around after looking in the mirror and being shocked at what he saw.

"It was frightening, it just wasn’t me," he recalls. "Call it what you will, divine intervention maybe, but it was a case of either jumping off and seeking help or crossing the line and never coming back like so many of my friends in bands that I’ve lost over the years."

"I’ve been working on this book for the last three years and I assure you you’ve never read anything like it," he adds. "It’s the true story from my childhood via my career in Trapeze and Deep Purple to my addiction and recovery."

"I wanted the readers to know just how evil and bad it got. I didn’t want there to be any skeletons left in the closet that could come back to haunt me, so it’s all in the book."

"I’m now on top of the world and after so many years of sobriety, I can hardly believe that I survived. I spent a million dollars on cocaine and, when you’ve read the book, you won’t believe it either!"

Glenn Hughes plays a solo show at The Millennium Music Hall, Cardiff on Sunday. Tickets priced 20 from the box office on 029 2023 0130 or via www.millenniummusichall.co.uk

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