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Stage Buzz: Q&A with Glenn Hughes of The Dead Daisies

| September 14, 2022


The Dead Daisies

Sometimes — especially over the last couple of soul-trying years — it just feels great to be alive. Or, as Dead Daisies/Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes recently put it in an online posting on his 71st birthday, August 21, he was just “Thankful for another trip around the sun, grateful to see the sun each morning” and content to be “Living in the present moment.” A philosophical credo made all the more poignant by his having just survived a particularly vicious case of Covid-19, which hit him so hard he had to bow out of the current Daisies tour, supporting its powerchord-punchy new Radiance manifesto. “But I had a damn good birthday, actually — it was a nice day,” the slim, healthy-looking rocker enthuses on a Zoom chat on August 22. “I spent it with my lovely wife and some friends — we had a lovely lunch at the beach, and it was a beautiful day. But my wife always tells me that the day before my birthday every year, I have a meltdown, and I had a major meltdown when I turned 50 — I had a bit of a panic attack, actually. But look — 71 is a good age to be, especially for anyone that travels the world like I do, so I’m in good shape, and long may that continue.”

And the Dead Daisies — anchored by former Whitesnake members Doug Aldrich and David Lowy — is only the latest outlet for Black Country Communion mainstay Hughes, who — as part of Deep Purple — was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. It was a forum he was quite happy to accept in 2019; Radiance is his second full-length album fronting the outfit, following “Holy Ground” in January of 2021. “Actually, they were looking at me for quite some time,” he says of the nearly decade-old Daisies collective. “I took a meeting with David Lowy, and they asked me if I would like to come in on bass and vocals, and I am, as you know, a lead singer and a bass player, so I agreed, and it was fun. And I’d met Doug for the first time at Ronnie Dio’s house in 1999, I think, millennium times, and then I asked Doug to tour with me on my solo tour in August of 2015.” Many musicians have spun through the group’s revolving doors since 2013, but the sound, as exemplified on “Radiance,” remains the same: huge, bone-crunching riffs with a bluesy lineage dating straight back to vintage AC/DC, topped with serpentine guitar filigrees and Hughes’ time-tested gravelly snarl. Songs are all stadium-pleasing singalongs and — thanks to the singer’s thoughtful, more existential lyrics — are a cut above many of their peers. Hughes was more than willing to break it all down.

IE: Given that the road is your life — which you sing about in your new song “Roll On” — what was it like for you when the pandemic hit? Did you go stir-crazy? Suffer through an identity crisis? 

GLENN HUGHES: The pandemic? Look, it’s affected every person on this planet. But as musicians, entertainers, and actors in the entertainment industry, it’s affected everything for us because people didn’t get to interact, didn’t get to film, and didn’t get to play. It was a difficult moment. But for me, as a songwriter, it kind of helped me express my concern and love for the human condition. As a writer, I got to express myself even more. I mean, since I got sober all those years ago, three decades ago, I decided that I would only sing about the human condition and not so much fairy tales or anything to do with that. It’s about us, as people, and that’s what I write about. And “Roll On” is a great (album) closing song that’s different to the rest of the album because its lyrical content is about someone — not so much me — being out there on the Great Highway, carrying on with their life. And me, at my age? I’m just grateful to still be doing that.

IE: In light of this, then, what is the song “Not Human” about? With the line “I feel so lost in the atmosphere,”?

GH: You know, for me, the entire record is about…dreams, really. So it should put oneself in this crazy, difficult time period — we’re going through this…whatever you want to call it — and I’m just trying to express myself as a songwriter in the only way that I know how to, and that’s in talking about letting go, overcoming fear, and stepping into the light.

IE: Who are you addressing in “Hypnotize Yourself”? You seem very angry.

GH: It is about coming to the realization that nothing is real, really. Everything is an illusion. In the last 20 years of my life, more so than ever, I’ve realized that what you believe is not real. It’s that voice in the head — the voice that we all have, this dark strange voice — it’s not me. So “Hypnotize Yourself” is about that. And in “Face Your Fear,” fear is also an illusion — all that we think about is really not real, so for me, overcoming fear is not listening to what that narrative in the head is talking about. Which was a big thing for me to realize — that that voice in the head is not my voice. So that’s where I’m at these days.

IE: Is there a daily ritual that you perform to keep you grounded, then?

GH: You know, you’re the first person to talk about this. And yes, I do have affirmations. And again, for me, it’s simply about gratitude, realizing before I hit the floor every day, getting out of bed, that I’m very grateful and thankful to have been given one more sunrise. I sing about the sun a lot in these songs, and it’s a huge thing for me. I mean, with what I’ve been through in my life — illnesses, overcoming drug addiction so many years ago, heart operations, a couple of new knees — they were typical times, personally, but you know something? I’ve always had faith that music will set me free. And I sing about that on the albums that I make. And I’ve made, what? 20 albums in the last 30 years? And I’m always singing about these things, these feelings, and I always talk about letting go, always continually letting go. Of everything. So being thankful is a big component for me that. I live in this time of great difficulty when people have lost their jobs or are having difficulty surviving. My aim is to still be here, helping others.

IE: And you just caught Covid.

GH: Yeah. I got it in Paris. My wife came to visit me, and I got tested in Paris — we get tested all the time, as you can imagine — and I got it! I wasn’t feeling great. I didn’t tell the band I wasn’t feeling great, but I said, “I’d better go and have this checked.” And lo and behold, I had five tests that day, and I just couldn’t continue, so I had to come home. I had difficulty with my heart last year, so I had to make sure that I was okay. But I took a tremendous amount of inspiration from my doctors. So I got home and took care of myself, and I’ve been doing the right thing ever since.

IE: And you and David Coverdale are still pals, and he just went through some respiratory problems, too. How’s he doing?

GH: Yes. I spoke to him yesterday, and he’s doing good. He’s in Malibu right now and doing much better. So I think he will resume his schedule in November.

IE: Where in your house do you keep something like a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trophy?

GH: I have a room in my house where all the plaques and awards are, and they’re not in a place where I actually see them. I don’t want them in front of me, so I can go visit them if you will, but they’re not something I can actually see. But I’m very fortunate to have all these treasures — I’m very, very grateful.

IE: You were friends with Dio and Ritchie Blackmore, who were both interested in the metaphysical. Did you ever get into any spooky stuff?

GH: Ronnie was in Elf and touring with Deep Purple when Ritchie was in the band, and I did see that friendship that they had. So when Ritchie left to form a band with Ronnie (Blackmore’s Rainbow), it wasn’t shocking because I really did rate Ronnie as a great singer and writer, so I was glad that he could find some sort of fame with Ritchie. But there were some strange things that happened with Ritchie and I when we were making the album Burn—we were staying at this 15th-century castle in the English countryside, and one of the crew had seances for a few nights. And it was very, very scary — it wasn’t a fun episode for me.

IE: Was there a deep, booming disembodied voice growling, “Glenn! Get out!”

GH: Not really. But the whole essence of it was that we were sitting in a dungeon, in a 15th-century castle, and we were just asking for trouble. Because obviously, people had died in that castle all those years ago, and here we are, three men in the middle of the night, messing around with a ouija board — it was not a fun experience.

IE: Do you think you contacted something from beyond?

GH: Apparently so. Apparently so. And I have witnessed and felt and seen other things before. When Kevin Dubrow passed away, well, it’s a long story, but I was the guy that had the paramedics go and break the door down at his house. He was supposed to be at my home that weekend, and he didn’t show up. So after a few days of him not taking my call, I had the paramedics go and break the door down at his house, and they found him. But the morning of his funeral, we were sitting in my dining room, and the light bulb above my table kept flickering, I mean really flickering, nonstop for five minutes. And in my opinion, it had to have been Kevin. Kevin’s girlfriend was with us at the table, and it was a message to all of us. So I’ve seen a few things in my life, I’ve seen a few shadows, and what have you. But I’m open to that, and I’m not frightened to have witnessed things that maybe other people wouldn’t have seen. I mean, I’m not searching for things on ouija boards anymore. But when my mom passed away in 2017, I saw some things and heard some things with her that I keep private. I was with her for 18 hours at the end, and I witnessed some things, along with my cousin and assistant, that were actually quite beautiful. And I was very alert — I haven’t been drunk in so many years, so what we were seeing was real; it wasn’t an illusion. So I do know, in my heart and soul, that there is the other side, and I know there **is an afterlife. I do sense an afterlife, for sure.

IE: In light of all this, what’s next for humanity? At the beginning of lockdown, I had high hopes for a collective reset — we were all on the same page about climate change, and maybe we had a chance to turn things around. But we have learned nothing, it seems, and now we’re just hurtling towards our own extinction.

GH: Well, I do think that we are at the beginning of the awakening at the moment, for those people that are open to it. So I’m sure that a lot of people on this planet are realizing that we are awakening now, and the Fifth Dimension is here now, and we’re hurtling away from the Third Dimension, and I am welcoming this. And I am living my life the best I can, so I can remain grounded. And I’m not afraid to die anymore. Maybe I was years ago, but I’m not afraid at all. Do I want to die? Of course not, because, of course, we all want to live forever. But having seen what my mom went through in those last few hours, I have absolutely no fear of death at all. Zero fear.

-Tom Lanham

Dead Daisies appear at the Arcada Theatre Thursday, September 15. Tickets are still available at

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