Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Book Review - Glenn Hughes, The Autobiography

Glenn Hughes - a bit of an enigma to me until recently.  In our house musical interests were a little partisan between my brother any I.  He bought the Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, Deep Purple records.  I bought Supertramp, Rush, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Led Zep - just the way it was.  I listen to his stuff and he listened to mine.  So Glenn Hughes was the bass player and second singer in the later versions of Deep Purple to me.  He then disappeared off my radar for years, although I remember Hughes/Thrall, his collaboration with Gary Moore and that he was briefly the singer for Sabbath during the wilderness years for that band sadly.   The rest of Purple I knew about - I'd been into the early Whitesnake stuff where Coverdale, Lord and Paice were and of course there was Rainbow with the revolving door on lead singers trying to work with Ritchie Blackmore.  But Glenn Hughes...  where'd he go?

About 3 or 4 years back a friend in the USA and I were talking about music we liked, he worked with me and was a recovering alcoholic (which bizarrely my wife picked up on first before me when we went to a meal with him and his family and some other colleagues).  He also was into a lot of the same music as I.  I was talking various bands etc. and he suddenly said "Hey - you should listen to Fused by Tony Iommi".  On trust of his judgement I bought it on spec in a record shop and found that whilst under the Iommi banner it was really a collaboration with Glenn Hughes who sang throughout and had had a significant input to the material.  I was impressed and through my friend found Glenn was a man who had walked the dark path of addiction and come out the other end.  Skip a year or two and I've found and really got into Joe Bonamassa in a big way.  I then hear on the internet and in guitar mags that JB was forming a "super group" with Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham (son of the legendary Led Zep drummer) and Derek Sherinan (ex Dream Theatre).  They have banged out two really good albums in two years, the second one especially being very very good.  Classic heavy blues tinged rock at it's best, really noone has done it so well since the legendary midlands bands from the 70s in the UK.  The name Black Country Communion is a nod to that heritage.

So we arrive at me picking up Glenn's autobiography.  Firstly it is a miracle the guy is here - he fully admits he has put more than enough cocaine up his nose to kill anyone, add to that crack, ecstasy, speed and a lot of drink and this lad has pushed the boundaries.  In a way the book is very like Slash's story where you keep wondering how much worse it will get - well it did get to a heart attack but even then he didn't totally stop.  Several rehabs and many mad situations with people with guns and stuff.  Here Glenn lays it all out.  One thing that shines throughout however is his total devotion to music, it is a real real shame that a lot of years through which he really should have been productive he was too loaded to achieve anything and slowly through disasters like being so ill, and having been beaten up by the tour manager and therefore broken bones and internal bleeding in his head, he was fired from Black Sabbath in the middle of tour.  But frankly he should never have been in the band - it isn't what he is good at, he and others knew it but that band itself was in bad shape then anyway.  

His recovery story is interesting and I give him credit as he outlines a bunch of slips through his early sober years which he admits were pretty secret and he could have kept it that way but he shares what he did, what he felt at the time and my congratulations to him for doing so.  Finally he ends up again in an ambulance heading to A&E and is abused as a "low life addict" but the paramedic.  You can argue that health professionals should be professional and also would treat addiction as a disease but we all know the truth out there - they are generally sick to the back teeth of wasting time and resources on people who simply don't really want to shape up themselves.  Anyway this guy tells Glenn to shut up and suddenly Glenn realises what and who he is has his final rock bottom and final moment of clarity - to date at least and I hope it continues that way.  This got me thinking...  

My rock bottom was in the middle of stupid row with my wife that was all my fault through again drinking way too much.  I gave up, lay on the floor, curled up and cried and cried.  I just wanted it all to end I couldn't fight any more.  My wife said in the row and then gently as I calmed down afterwards that she couldn't go on like that and I needed to sort myself out.  I've always maintained that I was so beaten then that I was already in my heart committed to a recovery.  Glenn's assertion that this guy bawling at him made him see clearly made me re-evaluate my side of that story.  I think my wife feels her threat to me got me to sober up - I'm now thinking it was probably 50/50 - I'd had enough , she had too and that combination got me to the steps of a rehab days later.

Back to the book.  A fast and good read if you are into recovery stories or interested in the music - I have to say it is probably of limited interest outside of those categories.  A thumbs up on my review scale.  However I have to say I was a little deflated at the end of it - I read this story and was pleased for Glenn and I should be pleased with my recovery but I can't deny the jealous little monkey on my shoulder looking at this guy who is now in his 60s - probably looks 10 years younger than me, has an amazing singing voice and bass guitar skills and has formed one of the best bands on the planet... there is that little thought "Well you would think everything is great"...   Jealousy not a nice trait of mine, and also the ingratitude.  I'm sober, healthy, have a fantastic family, write my own music, have a job that pays very well etc. etc.  I have much more on the positive side of the scales to worry that my life didn't give me the opportunities his did... and let's be honest if I'd have been that young guy in Deep Purple with all that money and fame ... I'd have been dead a long long time ago and totally forgotten about.


  1. Wil Harrison and Heff are currently digging the Black Country Communion our damnselves.

  2. So many bright, talented folk never survive their success, and yes, back then, you may well have been one of them. I smiled when you mentioned Supertramp, they played at my friends wedding (I can't now for the life of me remember which one of them was her brother - he sang and played guitar?) That was some do!

    1. Supertramp!! They were my number one band for a few years in the mid 70s before punk and heavier rock took over - I still love their stuff and Give A Little Bit is known to appear in my set from time to time.

      Singer/Guitarist would probably have been Roger Hodgson