Glenn Hughes Opens Up on Why He Didn’t Get a Gig in Van Halen

While looking back at his career, Glenn Hughes recalled talking to Eddie Van Halen and finding out that he was considered for Van Halen but the band eventually passed on this decision. The former Deep Purple bassist and co-lead vocalist from the Mk. III and Mk. IV lineups already talked about the matter in public. But only recently, in an interview with the 107.1 The Boss radio he revealed what actually went on.

During the chat, he was asked to clarify his recent comments about potentially joining Van Halen in the 1980s when David Lee Roth left. Hughes said (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“I was at Eddie’s house in… Oof, 25 years ago. And we were talking about the ’80s. And he said ‘You know, if you would have been clean and sober in the ’80s, there would have been a possibility that you could have joined Van Halen.’ And I said, ‘Oh, wow.'”

Glenn Hughes live 2023 4K+Audio Valand Gothenburg Sweden

However, as Hughes recalls, he was a different man back then. The musician added:

“But I wasn’t the man I am today in the ’80s. Eddie was newly sober in ’90s when we were hanging out together. So it was something that I never really spoke about.”

Nonetheless, according to Hughes, it’s still an honor to even be remotely considered to front a band like Van Halen. And, as he also adds, he did jam out with Eddie but it was never anything official:

“But the fact of the matter is, to be asked… Look, I’ve known Eddie since 1978, because his manager was my touring manager. Eddie, we miss him dearly. But I am honored to have worked with him. We did play together quite often, but never in public. [Laughs]”

“Burn” - Glenn Hughes Performs Classic Deep Purple Live in CANADA 2019

Speaking of sobriety, these days, Glenn Hughes keeps his voice in check and manages to hit those high notes, even when he’s entered his 70s. The secret to this, as Hughes explains, is a healthy lifestyle, a strict diet, and, of course, a very strict warm-up and practice routine while he’s on tour.

When asked about keeping his voice powerful and fresh at his age, Hughes replied:

“I get a lot of sleep, a lot of water, I am vegan, I watch what I eat, I obviously don’t do dairy…”

Glenn Hughes at Tuska 2023, Helsinki, Finland 30/06/23 (Full Show)

“I am an advocate of warming the voice up. Around three o’clock in the afternoon, I start my procedure of warming my voice up. I go to soundcheck, do three songs at soundcheck, and before I go on stage, I do three or four songs in my dressing room that I’m going to sing at the show.”

“I’ve been doing this a long time. So when people see me on that first song — I’m ready, the engine is warmed up.”

The idea of Glenn Hughes fronting Van Halen does make sense. However, the band went with Sammy Hagar, eventually creating this never-ending debate of whether Hagar or Roth was better for Van Halen.

Black Country Communion - Collide (Official Music Video)

Hughes also reflected on the matter in another recent interview. When asked about all of this, he replied:

“So the story is I was at Eddie’s [Van Halen] house in the early ’90s. And if I may say so, Eddie was newly sober at that point. And we had a conversation about stuff from the ’80s. Eddie’s manager, Noel Monk, was my tour manager in Trapeze back in the early ’70s.”

“So Eddie said they were thinking about me prior to asking Sammy [Hagar] to come in. But the thing that stopped it was I wasn’t the man I am today in the mid-’80s, as you know; we all know that now.”

Glenn Hughes w/ Trapeze LIVE in Wolverhampton, UK 1969

“So he thought maybe it would have been a good idea, but would Glenn be the right guy? Was he steady to do that? And they got Sammy in. So we’ll never know.”

“But it was an honor for Eddie to think that, you know, he would invite me to at least come down and have a sing. So, yeah, it would have been very, very interesting. But Eddie was very close, and I miss him dearly.”

As for Hughes, he was busy doing other stuff during the 1980s. After the demise of Deep Purple’s Mk. IV lineup in the 1970s, he was kind of adrift doing various things. Eventually, he teamed up with Tony Iommi for what was originally planned to be the Black Sabbath guitarist’s solo album.

GLENN HUGHES (DEEP PURPLE) - Sweden Rock Festival June 2018 - 3 Songs (Master)

However, the record titled “Seventh Star” was eventually released under the Black Sabbath name. Hughes also went on to front the band with a completely new lineup but dropped out after only a handful of shows.

Currently, Glenn Hughes is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Deep Purple’s “Burn” album with a tour. Apart from that, he’s also preparing a new album with his supergroup Black Country Communion, featuring Joe Bonamassa on guitar, Jason Bonham on the drums, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, and Hughes on bass and vocals.

Photo: Stéphane Gallay (Guitare en Scène 2017 (35903441472)), Abby Gillardi (Van Halen-8597 (20643101375))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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