Classic Rock Corner

Rock Survivor Glenn Hughes: "The Kids Went Apeshit!"

Legendary rocker Glenn Hughes is on the phone, ostensibly to talk about California Breed. It's the new band he has with drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Andrew Watt and who have just released a loud, crunchy, self-titled debut CD. But before he gets to that his rapid-fire mouth has something he wants Rocks Off to know.

"Look, man, you need to know this off the bat. Houston, and the reaction the city has given to my music, is the reason I'm probably talking to you now!" he offers. "Talking to anyone from Houston brings back all the love, and I'll never forget it."

As Hughes tells it over the phone, as well as in his autobiography, his band Trapeze had finished a tour in 1970 opening for the Moody Blues. But nowhere did they get the frenzied reaction they did during their set as at the Sam Houston Coliseum.

After that show, a Texas promoter quickly booked them for a two-night stand at a Houston club whose name is now lost to memory, and both nights sold out. Hughes has never forgotten it.

"We had kicked off a vibe in Houston, which loves its bluesy rock trios playing for very vocal audiences. And it was so crazy. I remember the balcony almost came down. The kids went apeshit!" he continues. "So it was in Houston that we in the band knew that everything was going to be all right."

REWIND: Glenn Hughes' California Breed Redefines the Power Trio

And while Hughes' career (so far) is bookended by his time with Trapeze and California Breed, he is also known for stints with both Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, and more recently Black Country Communion.

One of the most famous tales from his time with Purple was the band's disastrous 1975 shows in Jakarta, Indonesia. They were bullied into playing more shows to more people than agreed by government thugs, who also let trained attack dogs loose on concertgoers.

Most tragically, road crew member Patsy Collins was either pushed or jumped down what turned out to be an empty elevator shaft in a hotel after an intense argument with their Indonesian "hosts."

Bizarrely, Hughes and some other crew members were thrown in jail for suspicion of murder. The band finally made it out of the country alive, but only after paying a huge amount of extortion money.

"That shit was flying in Jakarta, we were in a time bomb in the midst of war that had just started in the country. All of us were lucky to escape alive," Hughes says today. "It was just the worst. And they wanted more money on the plane before we could go. Machetes were drawn, and grown men were crying!"

Hughes and band members David Coverdale and Jon Lord have already recounted the harrowing time in the Deep Purple: Phoenix Rising documentary, and Hughes says that another one just on the Indonesian trip is currently in production.

One band member not around to give interviews anymore, of course is guitarist Tommy Bolin. After leaving the Mark IV lineup of Purple, the troubled player died in 1976 at age 25 from an overdose of heroin, though it could have easily also been the booze, coke, or barbiturates that did the trick.

Story continues on the next page.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero