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Mott the Hoople


Mott the Hoople (1969-1975): a Hard Rock band from Herefordshire, UK.


ounded by Shakedown Sound members, a group that combined the members of two former beat bands from Herefordshire in the early 1960s, Pete Overend Watts (guitar/vocals), Mick Ralphs (guitar/vocals), Verden Allen (organ) and Dale 'Buffin' Griffin (drums/vocals). Original singer Stan Tippin was replaced in short order with Ian Hunter (who also played piano) when they got notice by Guy Stevens at Chris Blackwell's burgeoning 'Island' label, who liked the group but not with Tippins as lead singer; Tippins then assumed the role of road manager. Mr. Stevens had even more influence over the group when they changed their name to "Mott The Hoople" after a novel by Willard Manus that Stevens had read while in prison on a drug offense.

Basic rock n' Roll and Hunter's Dylan-esq vocals highlighted their eponymous debut, an album that got them a minor chart placing of 66 UK in 1969. Mad Shadows (1970), Wildlife (1971) and Brain Capers (1971) quickly followed; the first two barely making it into the mid 40's on the UK charts. Mott The Hoople had gained a cult following in Britain through their constant touring. At a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in July 1971, the band sparked a mini-riot that led the venue to ban rock concerts for a number of years. But the world at large seemed unobtainable for the act until one David Bowie came calling on an attempt to re-establish himself in the songwriting world and offered them what would prove to be their lifeline in the form of All The Young Dudes in 1972, the same titled album featuring said track restarted their career by giving them a 21 in the UK (89 US), the title track itself making 3 in the UK (37 US).

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Shortly after the release, Mike Bolton replaced Allen when Allen left, citing Hunter's reluctance to record his songs. The follow-up album simply titled Mottfared even better getting top 10 in the UK Ariel Bender (Real Name: Luther Grosvenor; ex-Spooky Tooth; assumed the new name on joining the band) replaced Ralphs (who left due to frustration with Allen's departure, as well as the fact that his song Can't Get Enough wasout of Hunter's range, so left to form Bad Company with Paul Rodgers), while Morgan Fisher (ex-Love Affair) replaced Bolton. The Hoople (1974) was released as the direct follow-up to the previous Mott (a concept album about a rock band struggling for success), it managed to chart but the odds were now stacked against it as the oldies movement faded. The band struggled to make even their singles chart. Blue Weaver played organ while on tour but the resulting live set Live (1974), although charting in the top 40 would be their last full set. Mick Ronson would take over guitar duties while Bender took his leave but the changes lead to nothing and the band split shortly after.

In 1975 the ashes of Mott The Hoople were collected and reformed to create Mottfeaturing original members Overend, Dale and Morgan with new members Nigel Benjamin (ex-Royce; vocals) and Ray Jones (ex-Hackenshack; guitar) to release Drive On (1975), an album that made 45 in the UK only, while Shouting And Pointing (1976) followed it up. But the act split again.

They would re-emerge one more time in 1978 under the moniker British Lions with the same line-up of Mott', except John Fiddler on vocals, to release a self-titled affair that same year that surprisingly charted in the US at 83. They completed the follow-up Trouble With Women in 1980 before splitting for good.

Though the allegiance between Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson was short-lived, it was well received and the two would continue to sporadically work together until Ronson's death in 1993. Hunter pursued a moderately successful solo career, highlighted by his eponymous 1975 album and 1979's You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic. Hunter's Ships song was covered by Barry Manilow in 1975, while Great White took his Once Bitten, Twice Shy into the Top Ten in the early '90s.

In 1996 Canada's 'K-tel' released a CD called The Best of Mott the Hoople purporting to be re-recordings of the band's hits and new songs by Hunter and Ronson. Truth is, the recording was by a Danny McCulloch and Gerry Chapman (under the band name of 'The Trybe') and consisted of heavy rock versions of Mott hits and original songs, but had nothing at all to do with the original Mott the Hoople. 'K-tel' was fined for supplying goods with a false description, but the album continued to float around under the name "Mott the Hoople", tracks even appearing on compilation albums. In 2002, the tracks were released again as I Can't Believe It's Not Mott the Hoople!, though this time it was properly credited.

On 16 and 17 April 1999, the first and only 'Mott The Hoople Convention' was held at the Robin Hood Pub in Bilston, Wolverhampton.

In October 2009, the band re-united for two concerts at the Hammersmith Apollo in London.

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Trade ad for Mott the Hoople's single "Roll Away The Stone" (1974).
(Public Domain)

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