Glenn’s regret over bandmate’s drug death 35 years ago – and pain over two other band burials in same year

Glenn Hughes, David Coverdale and Tommy Bolin

Best friends: Hughes, left, with Bolin, right, and Purple singer David Coverdale

Glenn Hughes says he wanted Tommy Bolin to join him in Deep Purple so he could have a drinking buddy in the band – although he didn’t realise that was his motivation at the time.

The guitarist died of a drugs overdose in 1976, just 18 months after he and Hughes became close friends. And the bassist, now with Black Country Communion, still feels the pain caused by three deaths in the Deep Purple camp that same year.

Hughes tells I Heart Guitar: “Unbeknownst to me, I wanted to have a relationship in the band with somebody I could drink with and get high with. Tommy was that guy.

“Before he played a note with the band I said this to him, because he had the green and yellow and red hair: ‘I don’t care if you get the gig or not – you’re coming home with me.’ Because he looked so cool.

“We were both born in the same month of the same year, both Leos, both with the same kind of composure and nature. Two very working-class boys. We hit it off, and he lived at my home for three months when he joined the band. The night he got the gig he just moved right on in.

“When we lost Tommy it was really beyond sad for me. To bury a 25-year-old from this hopeless addiction…”

Hughes talks more about the issues surrounding Deep Purple MkIV in the new DVD Phoenix Rising, a tumultuous period in the band’s career which saw the deaths of two other people along with Bolin.

Guitarist Richie Blackmore’s tech was killed in a car crash while Hughes’ bodyguard died as a result of a hotel room brawl in Indonesia, leading to the bassist’s arrest and 48 hours in jail.

“We were burying three people from the Deep Purple organisation within one year,” he recalls. “I was 24 and all of a sudden I’d lost three of my best friends, all from the same organisation.”

His escape from his own addiction issues has led him to want to tell his story as often as possible, in the hope it will help other people avoid the problems he faced.

He says: “I’m not an angry man. I’m not a man full of remorse. I’ve made my amends to the people who are still alive, but I’m a man who tells the truth because the truth has got to be told, whether it hurts me or not.”

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