Glenn Hughes • The Autobiography
Glenn Hughes with Joel McIver
Published Jawbone Press November 2011
This, only the second history of any kind to come from a member of Deep Purple, has been a long time coming, four or five years in fact. Worth the wait? Kind of. There has been so much written on and about the group by others (and I’m more guilty than many in this respect) that it is always good to get a fresh perspective on events. Having it co-written promised much but in the end the book is a bit of a balancing act. Glenn’s own narrative blasts along, jumping all over the place at times. Amidst this Joel McIver has interviewed people relevant to the anecdotes being told, and then dropped paragraph extracts into the text. So when Glenn tells of an affair with Cherie Currie from The Runaways, Joel has tracked her down for a chat and a quote.
It works on one level, but you can’t help but wish they’d let Joel have a free hand to do the book, to bring a bit more structure and context to it. An authorised biography as it were. Because the interview quotes are generally very revealing and interesting, where the self-penned material is so self-absorbed as to be quite a turn-off at times. Joel has really done a lot of work and spoken to an awful lot of people, but not enough of it gets into the end product.
The first book to emerge from the band was Ian Gillan’s Child In Time, another co-written effort. My lasting recollection of reading it was not the music or the story, but simply of how much of it seemed to centre on how much was drunk on every occasion, as every other story seemed to revolve around it. With Glenn we switch drink for drugs, with much the same result. After a while it just becomes a dull to read about. As a personal catharsis of some sort perhaps there is a place for it, but in the interests of balance could we not have had a little more about what it is that interests most Glenn Hughes fans – the music?
As it is the early part of the book is the most interesting, and while short on detail at times, still sheds light on Glenn’s embryonic career through to Deep Purple. Plenty of nice anecdotes to add colour to the bones of the story which I suspect most of us will know pretty well already.
The second section, which takes up around half the book, didn’t really hold my attention, detailing as it does the minutiae of the serious post-Deep Purple drug fuelled decade and a half. I must admit I skim read most of it. I’ve never been much interested in drugs, though if I had my way they’d all be legalised and properly regulated anyway (let’s face it society as a whole might as well earn from people’s silly behaviour rather than dodgy crims). It is also strange how we are somehow supposed to find it fascinating when it is a famous musician, writer or artist acting this way, but kids on run-down estates are seen as vermin for wanting to do the same to themselves.
Anyhow, once the missing years are dealt with in sometimes gory, or at least scatalogical detail (be warned), the closing section brings the story up to date and is itself guilty of skimming. Glenn gets through the post-addiction years – around twenty in total (and almost as many albums) – in just twenty pages. I wrote more than that for the sleeve notes of Play Me Out. Surely there was more to be said about a series of solo projects which produced some of the best post-Purple tracks out there?
I must also admit to a raised eyebrow when the 9/11 attacks are seen as a problem as they delay the start of the Hughes Turner Project sessions! I’m sure – or at least I hope – that it wasn’t meant to be put in such a way, but where was the editor?
Questions, questions. Not really what should first spring to mind after a good biography. In the end then, a book which certainly could have been a lot more detailed and interesting for us Purple hard cases. After all I can’t really see what other audience there is out there for this book, Glenn not being quite in your celebrity household ‘my drugs hell and back’ league.
A few people have said to me ‘what an ego’ after reading the book, but I’m only surprised that they were surprised. It takes an ego to be able to get up on stage and perform like he does. To balance this Glenn also had and still has a lot of talent to go with it, and it is this which makes him one of the most interesting of all the Deep Purple musicians these days. But perhaps not the best scribe.
Glenn Hughes, The Autobiography is available to buy from the DPAS / Darker Than Blue online store