Last November, blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa invited former Deep Purple and Black Sabbath vocalist Glenn Hughes to jam with him at the Houses of Blues in Los Angeles. The two had been plotting a collaborative project for some time, but didn’t know what shape it would take. Producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Rush, Aerosmith) caught the show and ran backstage afterward. Says Hughes: “He said to us, ‘I have a vision. Form a band with Jason Bonham on drums and Dream Theater’s ex-keyboardist Derek Sherinian.’ Derek and I looked at each other and went ‘O-o-kay,’ and then Kevin said, ‘You’ve got six weeks to record an album and you gotta come up with a name. Go!’”
Hughes and Bonamassa have different musical backgrounds, and were initially unsure what the album would sound like. “Joe is the new blues-rock guy,” says Hughes. “I come from the classic rock thing with Deep Purple, but my background is a lot of funk stuff as well. The longer we stayed in the studio, the louder we got. The Marshalls came out, the Les Paul’s were hung a little lower, and we started to make rock music.” The album — which hits stores today — was cut in just four days, with very little overdubbing. “I think the greatest records we’ve ever heard, from Zeppelin to Purple to Sabbath to The Who, were all recorded in the studio live,” says Hughes. “I’m the elder statesmen here and I’m really enjoying playing in a band again. I played with John Bonham a lot in my old band Trapeze, in 1971, and now I’m getting to play with his son thirty-nine years later.” After struggling over the right name, they settled on Black Country Communion, because Hughes and Bonham were both raised in the area of England known as Black Country.
Hughes knows that comparisons to other new supergroups Them Crooked Vultures and Chickenfoot are inevitable. “Those are my mates,” he says. “We’ve all had this dang ‘supergroup’ tag. I was around for early supergroups Blind Faith and Humble Pie. Labels don’t matter to me. Call it what you will, it’s just the right ingredients for a rock and roll band.” Things have gone so well, the band are already making plans for their second album even as they plot their inaugural tour for 2011. Hughes has no plans to revive Deep Purple or other old songs in their concerts. “We might do two or three stellar covers, and maybe a Zep song for the heritage of the Bonham name,” he says. “But I’d like to think we can do this on our own merit.”