Hailing from Surrey, Mud had their origins in several Carshalton or Mitcham bands of the 1960s: Guitarist Rob Davis and drummer Dave Mount first played together in The Apaches, followed by The Barracudas (not that one) and Remainder. Bassist Ray Stiles joined Remainder while singer Les Gray’s original jazz band, The Mourners, recruited Davis to join them during their conversion to rock ‘n’ roll.
Mud bumbled along for a bit playing clubs and ballrooms and releasing a few hippie-influenced singles before being taken under the wing of Mickie Most at RAK and the Midas-like Chinn and Chapman songwriting partnership. They’d already done wonders for The Sweet, what could they do for Mud?
In 1973, RAK and Mud were a partnership made in heaven. RAK was interested in scoring hits and Mud were interested in being on Top Of The Pops and having a laugh.
The partnership suited both sides and it worked a treat. They scored a total of 15 hits between 1972 and 1976 – beginning with Dyna-Mite (a song already rejected by The Sweet) and the tigertastic Tiger Feet was top of the charts for six glorious weeks in 1974.
“That’s right, that’s right, that’s right, that’s right, Really love your tiger light
That’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, Really love your tiger feet”
(Cue two-note Woolworth’s guitar solo)
It’s the sort of song that could have been written while awaiting the result of the steward’s enquiry on the 3:20 at Haydock Park . . .
There was, however, a cloud on the horizon – they wrote their own b-sides. But that was for the future.
In the early seventies, Mud (a bunch-of-lads-on-the-make type of band who were strictly of the ‘right time, right place’ variety) knew where they stood.
“We owe so much to the faith that Nicky, Mike and Mickie had in us at the very start”, said vocalist Les Gray, “We were virtually an unknown group when we met them”.
Mud were in it for the fun. Have a laugh, have a bit of a giggle and then get out. They used to appear in stretchy Dra-lon trousers and did the cheesiest dance imaginable to the worst song this side of Lieutenant Pigeon.
But it got a bit carried away with itself, and the band found that they were a bit more popular than I suspect they ever figured they would be. But Mud were so of their time that a long-term career was never an option.
After the Glam bubble burst in 1976 they disappeared, jettisoned by their public like an empty fuel tank. Sir Les kept going (in his tight white lurex trousers), with new musicians, renaming the band Les Gray’s Mud.
The band continued touring until 1997 when ill health tapped Les on the shoulder – a bill from the early Seventies. He died of a heart attack on 21 February 2004 in Portugal where he had lived for the past 12 years. He was only 57.
Drummer Dave Mount died on 2 December 2006.