50 Years of Deep Purples ‘Burn’
In the annals of rock history, few bands have left an indelible mark quite like Deep Purple. The British rock legends have undergone various line-up changes throughout their illustrious career, each iteration contributing to the band’s evolving sound. One of the most celebrated line-ups featured the remarkable Glenn Hughes.
Hughes, born on August 21st, 1951, in Cannock, Staffordshire England, began his musical journey in the vibrant landscape of the ’60s. Influenced by a diverse range of genres, his formative years saw him honing his craft and mastering both vocals and bass guitar. This period laid the foundation for what would become a storied career in rock. Hughes’ musical trajectory gained momentum when he joined the rock band Trapeze in 1969. His soulful voice and dynamic bass playing became integral to Trapeze’s distinctive sound, blending hard rock with elements of blues and funk. The albums “Trapeze” (1970) and “Medusa” (1970) showcased his versatility, hinting at the musical prowess that awaited in the years to come.
The third incarnation of Deep Purple emerged in 1973 following the departure of vocalist Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover. The band sought new blood to rejuvenate their sound, and at just 21, that’s when Glenn Hughes entered the scene.
“They’d asked me a few times if I wanted to join them on bass and backing vocals. I thought it was just Gillan who was leaving the band. At first, I said no, I saw myself as a lead singer. They then dropped the bomb that they were going to ask Paul Rodgers to join on lead vocals. I loved the idea of singing with Paul, I let them know, yeah I’ll join, only if I can sing some things with Paul, or whoever the singer you choose”
The new vocalist turned out to be a complete unknown from Redcar in the North East of England, called David Coverdale.
“David and I were 6 or 7 years younger than everyone else in the band, we connected straight away, and we’re still close friends today”
Now with two singers in the band, Hughes brought a soulful and dynamic vocal range, which complimented David Coverdale’s richer and deeper blues approach. This expanded Deep Purple’s sonic and songwriting palette, and the perfect example of this was the album ‘BURN’
“Before Coverdale joined, he wasn’t even in the frame. I went to Ritchie’s house. There were two guitars in the kitchen, well a bass and a guitar. He said ‘I want you to listen to this one idea I have’, for what was to become the BURN album. He started to play the opening to what was to become ‘Mistreated’, I immediately started to play my style of bass playing, which is half time, it’s the swagger, it’s not the notes I play, but the notes I don’t play y’know. I knew then at that point we were going to make a record more suited to what I was hoping it would be. I’m sure you’re the same when you hear, see and feel something and you go ‘everything’s going to be ok”
Fifty years later, Glenn and the team are embarking on an 18-month celebratory tour, visiting Europe, the UK, South America, and then the USA in February 2024. Earlier in the year, I reached out to Glenn’s manager, Jimi, to ask if there was any interest in collaborating for the Holmfirth show to mark the first date of the UK tour. Amazingly, Jimi extended the invite and asked if I would be interested in shooting several UK dates on an AAA pass. Who in their right mind is going to say no to the opportunity? There were ideas thrown around of travelling with the band on the tour bus, but as it turned out, I had other commitments, which was a shame. Instead, I put forward three doable dates: Huddersfield, Nottingham, and Manchester.
I arrived at the Picturedrome around 4 pm and met up with Jimi and promoter Chris (The Gig Cartel). I’ve been acquainted with Jimi online since 2019, and I’ve bumped into him at two or three previous Hughes / Dead Daisies gigs. He’s also the bassist for The Dead Sea Skulls who opened for Glenn a few years ago, so this would make sense now I think about it. Originally from Birmingham and now living in Sweden, he has a passion for high-end cosmetic fragrances and Vespas. He worked with Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi to develop Tony’s signature blend. He’s one of the most stylish, laid-back people I know. In fact, in Nottingham, we were chatting. After noticing his look that day, it was a wonderful collision of styles. Controlled chaos that worked beautifully. I said, “You’re one of those people who’s irritatingly cool, you can wear anything and pull it off” I assume whilst on tour you only have a limited amount of clothes that you can mix and match.
In his quietly spoken, deadpan Brummie accent, he simply replied, “I just don’t give a fuck”. I noticed he was also wearing odd socks – hero.
As it was the band’s first date, I agreed with Jimi to not shoot the soundcheck and let them get up to speed. In the meantime, I dropped my gear in the changing room, collected my pass, and went for a walk ‘n’ talk with Jimi to the local printers to get some merch posters for that night. It was probably an hour after I arrived before I was introduced to Glenn. A quick handshake and a “How are you?” I reassured him that any backstage shots would be authorized by either himself or Jimmi before release. “Thank you, it’s great to have you on board,” he said. I left him to go and do his thing, whilst I went to get reacquainted with the venue. Standing in front of the house, seeing the stage being prepped and set for the night’s show, I quickly went around and introduced myself to the crew – so many names to remember. By this point, the tour support band, The Damn Truth, had rocked up, unloading their van to set up for their soundcheck. I could see they were busy, so I just left them to it. From Canada, I had seen them perform in Leeds the year before. I was hooked by their look, performance, and sound, so knowing they were also on the tour made it more special.
I watched about 15 minutes of their soundcheck before returning to the main dressing room. Some of the band were in there milling around; long-time Drummer Ash Sheehan (The Dead Sea Skulls) and the new face on keys, Bob Fridzema, were already in there. Long-time guitarist Soren Andersen had hired a day room in the hotel next door so was yet to turn up. The main dressing room at the Picturedrome isn’t the biggest; however, there is another much bigger room attached that I never knew about. This room was Glenn’s for the evening, with a full-sized snooker table included. There isn’t much that happens in dressing rooms; no partying, no boozing, or anything you might imagine. Instead, it’s a place of calm, a place for people to hang out and relax. Conversations, phone scrolling, and fridge raiding are the three main things that happen during this time.
There was a scheduled 6pm meet and greet with Glenn with his fans, which was a signing, photo, and Q&A opportunity. I was asked if I’d do some shots of the meet-and-greet. I think I misunderstood. I ended up taking photos of the fans with Glenn, despite them using their phones, etc. This resulted in Jimi’s DMs blowing up, and handling the fans chasing their shots. Fair enough, I kept this in mind for the upcoming dates and maintained a little more distance for the next two dates. It was great watching the fans interact with Glenn; each had their own story of how he and music have enriched or helped them during certain times. Glenn was always humble and gracious in the conversations he had with them, collectively or one-on-one. There was a huge amount of respect and love in the room.
The doors opened at 7 pm, with The Damn Truth set to hit the stage around 7:45 ish. I nipped over to their dressing room to say hello before it was too late. Well, I say dressing room, the support rooms at the Picturedrome are pretty much box rooms with no windows, no daylight, just four walls. I didn’t stay too long, as the five of us quickly overcrowded the room. I did let the guys know I was around for three dates of the tour, so if there was anything they needed, I invited them to let me know.
I returned to the main dressing room, by which time Glenn’s on-stage wingman, Soren Andersen, had arrived. He was perched on the edge of one of the sofa picking away on his his guitar. Soren has been performing with Glenn for around 15 years or more. They have a great rapport on stage, and Soren’s dynamic style compliments Glenn’s performance on so many levels. Glenn returned shortly after, and I figured I’d take some shots once he was show-ready, rather than in his civvies.
The time came for The Damn Truth to open the show, and indeed the UK leg of the tour. Naturally, I wanted to get some shots. I was quickly reminded how to navigate the maze that is the Picturedrome in regards to accessing the front of the stage or indeed the wings to get shots. Ross, one of the sound technicians, had set up his mixer ‘stage right’; this prevented any access from that side of the stage, with a handwritten “do not enter” sign on that particular door stage door. with one vantage point removed, the room was still workable.
Glenn had a separate dressing room directly attached via an open door. He was given a separate room for all the days I was there; this was purely logistical, as all the main rooms were not that big, especially as it was already designated by the band, direct crew, and myself. I went to see Glenn to check out what was happening, and if there was anything worth capturing. He looked great; his stage look was complete. The room was a fair size, and while fitting Glenn’s monitor, Jimi suggested maybe using the full-sized snooker table as a setting or anything else as an idea as he left. My original interest in this project was reportage, aiming to capture moments or situations to tell a story.
“So what do you want to do then Simon? Where do you want me?” I’ll be honest with you; I hit a blank. I looked at the snooker table and the hanging light that sat over the table and suggested trying something there. “Yeah, Simon, whatever you want.” He was incredibly kind and gracious, considering I was a stranger with a camera in his space. For the three days I spent with the tour, he was always hospitable and generous with his time.
I tried some overhead lighting shots with the table. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t working. The juxtaposition of ‘Glenn Hughes’, ‘The Voice of Rock,’ and a snooker table was just too random and weird in this context. I didn’t send any of these shots forward, instead, they just got trashed. Despite the size of the room, it was dimly lit over where the couches were; only the snooker table light was the strongest source.
“What shall we do next?” he asked.
“Shall we get the band in or let’s go next door?” I suggested.
“Yes, that’s right; you mainly want to capture fly-on-the-wall shots,” he remembered
Maybe it was a missed opportunity, but I was conscious of time and his preparations. I didn’t want to turn the moment into a tenuous photoshoot for the sake of it and potentially waste time. By coincidence, Jimi brought the rest of the band to join us at that moment. He suggested taking a group shot. I lined them up against the wall, and Glenn naturally stepped forward a little as the main focus, everyone just knew their position in the line-up, which made it much easier. It wasn’t long before showtime; everyone went back next door for final preps. Lots of energetic chat, laughter, and psyching up. I could hear Glenn warming up his voice in the shower room; his voice is still powerful with a full range too, amazing.
For the show, Glenn was to enter the stage via the “Do not enter” door, so I never got to shoot him in those critical moments, but that’s fine. I’ve learned not to fight against things; not everything goes to plan, and things change. Just roll with it. I left him to it, making my way to the opposite side stage. As I passed by his window, he noticed me and quickly threw me a peace sign with a smile. I think this may have been my favourite shot, to me it encapsulated the man completely, total rock n roll.
Later, I’m hanging out in the wings, right? I love snagging those reverse shots, you know, capturing the crowd in the background while the stage action unfolds. It’s like this whole dance with lights and shadows, sometimes you can capture cool shots. It was time for Ash Sheehan to play his infamous drum solo. Still lurking in the wings, I’m peeping through the viewfinder, hunting for that perfect close up action shot. And then, bam, he accidentally kicks over his snare. I’m so into the performance via the viewfinder that I didn’t catch it at first. Suddenly, I notice Ash signalling to me. So, there I go, playing drum tech, picking up the fallen snare and placing it back into position. The crowd cheered on Ash’s cue. Feeling a bit flustered my cover blown, I made a quick exit – though mission accomplished!
As the gig continues, Hughes is giving it everything he’s got, his fans of all ages are totally in the moment with him. The band are on point, – Soren’s guitar is doing all the talking, Ash is hitting those drums like it’s a personal mission, and Bob’s fingers dancing all over the keys. It’s like this perfect storm, and together they’re resurrecting the BURN album most epically… often I would just find myself standing and watching, rather than shooting the performance.
On October 15th, we found ourselves at Rock City in Nottingham – a familiar spot for me, but this time with full access. I rolled in around 2 pm, not long after the band had arrived. Glenn was still on his way; turns out, he didn’t travel on the bus. Instead, he had a driver who shuttled him to each venue separately. I figured he must have crashed at a nearby hotel.
First order of business: check in with Jimi. He was either floating around or holed up in the ‘production office,’ doing his thing. We chatted about the Huddersfield show and spoke about some of the backstage shots I’d taken. Ideas for the next couple of gigs were also discussed. With that sorted, I dumped my gear in the dressing room and took a stroll around the venue. Checked out the layout, and scoped the stage access points – running through the mental drill for the show.
Meanwhile, Soren was up on stage, doing the basics. He’d wander around the auditorium with his guitar, tuning in to the sound coming out of the speakers as the crew hustled to set up. It wasn’t the full soundcheck deal yet; the main man, Glenn, hadn’t rolled in yet.
later, I spent some time chilling by the loading doors with the crew. The sun unexpectedly cranked up the warmth factor. Then, out of the blue, Ash showed up on his little urban bike. Where he snagged these bikes from, I had no clue, but later in Manchester, he’d picked up another one. He’d been riding around the city, maybe running errands or just blowing off some steam – you never really knew with Ash. Hailing from Birmingham with traveller roots, he couldn’t care less about anything. The most adaptable road warrior, always rocking that happy vibe.
We didn’t have to wait too long before Glenn arrived. From the loading bay, I watched as he stepped out of his car, greeted by a small group of eager fans. I have no clue how they knew he’d be there, but they caught him off guard. Despite that, Glenn was gracious, taking the time to chat, snap photos, and sign their stuff.
“Hey Simon, good to see you,” he said as he approached. he remembered my name, despite me still trying to remember everyone else’s. I even had a mental block on Jimi’s name once. I admit, I’m pretty useless in that department.
Soon enough, everyone gathered on stage for the soundcheck. They went through a few tracks, not quite the same without the full-on energy and signature moves, visually, it’s pretty flat. So, I shifted my focus to capturing glances and interactions within the band. With everyone in their spots, it was also my chance to freely roam the stage, scouting angles for the upcoming show. It was pretty chill and relaxed, but still fun as always.
Any show at Rock City is an experience; the venue is legendary, and the atmosphere certainly backs this up; it’s electric. On a photogenic level, it’s well-lit front and back, with a low enough stage which helps avoid too many ‘up the nose’ shots, and Glenn utilised the whole space brilliantly, even on a few occasions showboating for the camera. Perfect. Pre-show, the only complaint that Glenn had with Nottingham was that he felt the water in the Midlands fucked with his hair; he was concerned it looked flat and limp. “What do you think?” he asked. I could only laugh; I assured him, “Glenn, you look cool”
Manchester Academy marked the grand finale of the UK tour – the usual drill of arriving, sound checking, the 6pm meet and greet and then showtime. Of course, there’s a lot of hanging out in between, but this never felt like an issue to me.
Before the gig kicked off, I had a cool chat with Glenn. We got into the topic of photography, and he asked if I was happy with the shots from the past three days. I was more than happy; this was an amazing opportunity regardless.
“I’m not brilliant posing,” he admitted. “For backstage stuff, you catch me at my best when I’m not aware you’re there, or if you catch me off guard, like you did during soundcheck. I noticed you hiding and pointing your lens at me” he said smiling, “That’s when my reaction is always natural, and I much prefer it that way,” he explained.
Our conversation naturally flowed into the tour, his time in the UK, and his overall career. When I asked about his nickname, ‘The Voice Of Rock,’ he dropped an interesting nugget.
“Everyone sees me as this heavy metal god-like figure. I can’t sing traditional rock; my brain doesn’t operate that way, and to be honest, I find it tedious. Yes, I was once in a hard rock band, but at heart, I see myself as a soul singer.”
I found this fascinating, considering his career, including his brief time with Black Sabbath. Hughes was brought in to contribute to the “Seventh Star” album. His vocals and bass-playing expertise, combined with Tony Iommi’s signature guitar sound, remain an intriguing intersection of two iconic forces in rock music.
So, as they say, “That’s a wrap.” The UK leg was complete, and I bid my final farewells. The band and immediate crew were set to fly out to South America the next day to continue the tour, and The Damn Truth was heading back home to Canada.
My final drive home was a strange one. Reflecting on the shots, this blog, and how lucky I was for the time spent with them. My mind was still buzzing from the show and the whole experience. To be trusted and given that level of free access, was a privilege I’ll never forget, and I have a pile of shots to prove it.
I thank both Jimi and Glenn for making it happen.
Note: All quotes attributed to Glenn Hughes in our conversations are original and based on personal interactions. Other quotes referenced in this text are derived from previously conducted interviews and sources, and due credit is given to the respective publications and platforms.