When Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Glenn Hughes visits Whitesburg tonight he will attract a sold-out audience of 150 at the Appalshop Theater, at least 120 of whom will be making their first visits to Letcher County.
The appearance by Hughes, the founder of the early Seventies soul-rock band Trapeze and bassist/vocalist for Deep Purple between 1973 and 1976, proves once again that if you offer something that people want they will travel to Letcher County from far distances to see it.
“In addition to Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee, we have people coming from Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Mississippi, Georgia and Florida,” said concert promoter Greg Napier of Hazard. “Ninety percent of these folks are first-time visitors.”
While Hughes, who was inducted into the Rock Hall with other members of Deep Purple earlier this year, is the big draw, Napier says many of the ticket-buyers told him they were looking forward to seeing the Appalachian Mountains and the place that is home to the headwaters of the Kentucky, Big Sandy and Cumberland rivers.
“Some came in Tuesday and some are staying for a couple of days after the show,” said Napier, an independent promoter who rents space to hold concerts at Appalshop and Summit City, also in Whitesburg.
Hughes, a native of Cannock in the West Midlands region of England, was a member of the British rock band Trapeze from its founding in 1969 until he joined Deep Purple in 1973 as a replacement for bassist Roger Glover. Along with David Coverdale, Hughes would also become one of two lead vocalists to replace legendary Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillian, who had quit the band just before Glover.
Hughes stayed with Deep Purple through what has become known as the band’s Mark III and Mark IV lineups. In addition to Hughes and Coverdale, the Mark III version of Deep Purple consisted of guitarist Richie Blackmore, drummer Ian Paice, and keyboardist Jon Lord. The lineup produced two of the band’s most successful albums, Burn and Stormbringer, both released in 1974.
Deep Purple’s Mark IV lineup consisted of all the Mark III members except Blackmore, who left to form Rainbow. After Blackmore was replaced by former James Gang guitarist Tommy Bolin, that lineup released the album Come Taste the Band in 1975. Deep Purple broke up after Bolin’s death in 1976.
The last band of which Hughes, who turned 65 on Sunday, was a member was California Breed, a trio that also included guitarist Andrew Watt and drummer Jason Bonham before breaking up in January.
From 2009 until 2013, Hughes was a member of Black Country Communion, a super group that also included drummer Bonham, blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa, and keyboardist Derek Sherinan.
The tour that brings Hughes to Whitesburg is his first solo tour of America. From here, he goes to Chicago for two dates before winding up the tour’s current leg in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.