Ritchie Blackmore has confirmed to Billboard that he invited Glenn Hughes to be part of the new RAINBOW lineup before the group's comeback two years ago. "Through a mutual friend, a conversation came up saying it would be good to have him in the band," Ritchie recalled. "I said, 'Would he be up for being just the bass player and we would have another singer singing?' My mutual friend said, 'Of course! I've spoken to him and he's up for it.' I said, 'Fine — as long as he knows he isn't the singer, that's great.' Fast forward to day before rehearsals and we contacted Glenn to see when he was going to fly in, and he wasn't aware that he wasn't going to be the lead singer at all. So I understood his situation and I told him we would have to get someone else, and he was fine. We ended it amicably before it even started."
Hughes told Hardrock Haven in 2016 that Blackmore originally asked him to be part of the RAINBOW comeback but that he declined. "I said no because [Ritchie] wanted to, funny enough, he wanted to use an unknown singer, and I said, 'It's not me. It's not me to do that,'" he explained. "I very eloquently said, 'No, thank you. I really would like to see you, but I can't do this at the point where I am right now.'"
In a 2017 interview with Metal Express Radio, Hughes said about Blackmore's decision to bring back RAINBOW for the first time in 20 years, featuring a brand new lineup that included the Chilean-born, Spanish-based Ronnie Romero: "I wasn't really sure. I'm glad he came back for his own sake, and, obviously, he wanted to make some electric rock music again after so long away. It's been 20-something years. It was his choice and his choice who he had playing with him. I wished him all the best and have nothing but total respect for him and he knows that. I hope he continues along the road he's on as his fans want more electric shows from him."
He added: "All I want for Ritchie is happiness. Although I don't see him very often I still have good memories of him and it's all good between us."
Asked if he has seen any footage of Romero performing classic RAINBOW songs that were originally sung by his close friend, the great, late Ronnie James Dio, Hughes said: "I did. Singing Ronnie's [James Dio] songs needs a special kind of singer and I think the young chap did a reasonably good job and I think Ritchie may well have found the guy for him. He was certainly a good fit for RAINBOW."
Hughes was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2016 along with fellow DEEP PURPLE members Blackmore, David Coverdale, Jon Lord, Rod Evans, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and Ian Paice.