Mott the Hoople took their name from the title of a 1966 novel written by Willard Manus, about a man named Norman Mott who called himself Mott the Hoople.
The six months following the release of their self-titled debut album in 1969 found the band working at a ferocious pace, averaging over 20 gigs a month.
The recording of the all-important second album (Mad Shadows) was a long-drawn-out tortuous affair and was not completed until April 1970.
“We would have liked to continue in the vein of the first album,” said vocalist and leader Ian Hunter, “but Island had seen what had happened at live gigs and told us that we had to get more rock & roll. To try and capture that, Guy Stevens insisted on recording the band live in the studio”.
Mott The Hoople had great difficulty transferring their onstage ebullience on to vinyl, and after four albums failed to gather any commercial momentum they disbanded.
They reformed again when David Bowie convinced them that success was only a song away, and then in 1972, he conjured up All The Young Dudes for them. They were soon riding high as overnight stars.
All The Way From Memphis and Roll Away The Stone consolidated their great popularity, which peaked with a week of sold-out concerts on Broadway.
At the end of the band’s 1974 sell-out week at New York’s Uris Theatre, drummer Buffin began trashing his kit, aided by Ian Hunter and Ariel Bender.
Morgan Fisher decided to join in and shoved his piano across the stage, with disaster only narrowly averted by two roadies who grabbed the instrument before it toppled into the audience. Nonplussed, Ian Hunter later signed copies of his book, Diary Of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.
The group released two more albums, Drive On (1975) and Shouting and Pointing (1976), both of which sold poorly.
After Nigel Benjamin quit in 1976, Mott added John Fiddler (formerly of Medicine Head) and changed their name to British Lions.
The new group recorded two albums, British Lions (1978) and Trouble With Women (posthumously released on Cherry Red Records in 1980), before finally splitting up without any chart success.
Hunter and Ronson worked and toured together sporadically until Ronson’s death in 1993.
Ian Hunter went on to cement his reputation as a solo star, and the extent of his influence was revealed when the next generation of new wavers credited him as a major source of inspiration.
A Mott The Hoople 40th anniversary reunion took place in October 2009 with gigs in Monmouth (Wales), Glasgow, and at the Hammersmith Apollo in London.
Drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin passed away in January 2016 at the age of 67 following a struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Guitar, vocals, keyboards
Pete Overend Watts
Dale “Buffin” Griffin