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Mott The Hoople

Mott the Hoople are one of the great also-rans in the history of rock & roll. Though Mott scored a number of album rock hits in the early '70s, the band never quite broke through into the mainstream. Nevertheless, their nasty fusion of heavy metal, glam rock, and Bob Dylan's sneering hipster cynicism provided the groundwork for many British punk bands, most notably the Clash. At the center of Mott the Hoople was lead vocalist/pianist Ian Hunter, a late addition to the band who developed into its focal point as his songwriting grew. Hunter was able to subvert rock & roll conventions with his lyrics, and the band -- led by guitarist Mick Ralphs -- had a tough, muscular sound that kept the group firmly in hard rock territory, even when flirting with homosexual imagery and glammy makeup. However, their lack of success meant that they inevitably splintered apart in the '70s, with Ralphs forming Bad Company and Hunter launching a cult solo career.

Mick Ralphs (lead guitar, vocal), Verden Allen (organ), Overend Pete Watts (bass), and Dale "Buffin" Griffin (drums) formed Silence in 1968 and began playing around their hometown of Hereford, England. Early in 1969, the band added vocalist Stan Tippens and landed a record contract with Island (Atlantic in the U.S.), heading to London to record with producer Guy Stevens, whose first move was to change the band's name to Mott the Hoople, after a Willard Manus novel. By the summer, Tippens was fired, later becoming the band's road manager, and was replaced by Ian Hunter. The eponymous debut album Mott the Hoople was released in the fall of 1969 and it became an underground hit, known for its fusion of Blonde on Blonde-era Dylan and heavy metal, as well for its straight cover of Sonny Bono's "Laugh at Me" and its pounding instrumental version of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me."

Despite all of the attention, Mott the Hoople received, it didn't sell well and neither did its poorly reviewed 1970 follow-up, Mad Shadows. The band returned in 1971 with the country-tinged Wildlife, which was its least popular record to date. Despite their lack of sales, 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. More than any of their previous releases, Brain Capers (1971) demonstrated the band's live power, but when it failed to sell, the group was prepared to disband.

Just as the band was about to split, David Bowie intervened and convinced the group to stay together. Riding at the height of his Ziggy Stardust popularity, Bowie agreed to produce Mott's next album and offered "Suffragette City" for the bandmembers to record. They refused the song, asking for "Drive-In Saturday" instead. They eventually settled for "All the Young Dudes," which became the group's breakthrough hit. An explicitly gay anthem recorded by a heterosexual band, "All the Young Dudes" became the anthem for the glam rock era, becoming a number three hit in the U.K. and a Top 40 hit in the U.S. in the summer of 1972. An album of the same name was released on Columbia Records in the fall, and it became a hit in the U.K. and the U.S.

Allen left the band before the recording of the group's follow-up to All the Young Dudes, citing Hunter's reluctance to record his songs. A concept album about a rock band struggling for success, Mott, released in the summer 1973, expanded the band's success, receiving good reviews and peaking at number seven in Britain and number 35 in America. "All the Way from Memphis" and "Roll Away the Stone" became Top Ten hits in the U.K., confirming the band's status as one of the leaders of the glam rock movement. In the summer of 1974, Hunter published Diary of a Rock Star to great acclaim in the U.K.

While the bandmembers were finally experiencing the success that they had desired, the group was beginning to fall apart. Frustrated with Allen's departure, as well as the fact that his song "Can't Get Enough" was out of Hunter's range, Ralphs left Mott in late 1973 to form Bad Company with Paul Rodgers. He was replaced by former Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor, who changed his name to Ariel Bender upon joining the band; keyboardist Morgan Fisher also joined the group. The new lineup toured in late 1973, and the concerts were documented on 1974's Mott the Hoople Live. The live record was released after The Hoople appeared in the spring, peaking at 11 in the U.K. and 28 in the U.S. on the strength of the singles "The Golden Age of Rock & Roll" and "Foxy Foxy." Former Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson replaced Bender in the fall of 1974 upon Hunter's request. Within a few months, the pair left the band to begin working as a duo. The remaining members of Mott the Hoople added guitarist Ray Major and vocalist Nigel Benjamin, truncating their name to Mott. The new incarnation of the group released Drive On (1975) and Shouting and Pointing (1976) to little attention before adding John Fiddler as their lead singer and changing their name to British Lions. They split up two years later.

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" was covered by Barry Manilow in 1975, while Great White took his "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" into the Top Ten in the early '90s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Saw this band live in 1971 at Hereford Utd Football Ground...14 then...still lives in the memory as one of the best live acts ever!!
After the Rolling Stones the best rock and roll band that ever lived there I said it
all the young dudes saw them at masonic temple in Detroit Michigan in the 70's. I even remember what I wore, Harley Davidson muscle T, ripped bell bottom jeans and platform boots from flag brothers in Detroit oy yeh
Lou Reed covers Sweet Jane, yes?
Joe Elliott from Def Leppard has a solo band called the Down 'n' Outz who have two albums dedicated to the brilliance of this band.
I was amazed I could add them to my pandora feed. Fell in love with Mott the Hooople in the late 70's, first to be different from everybody else that was listening to Boston and Kiss. Caught Hunter and Ronson in Cleveland about 78 or 79 for my fist concert ever (was 15). Awesome fun show.
this is raw rock n roll the way it was meant to be heard no production , no overdubs,thi s is faces, humble pie,stooges, jgeils,stone s , aerosmith,tr e x , n e i l young, black crowes, kings...mott mick ralphs very underated guitarist bluesy mutha f er
Who names a band Silence? Best move was changing to Mott the Hoople...lov e these guys!
At The Crossroads-- - - w r i t t e n by Doug Sahm of the Sir Douglas Quintet. Great tune.
Some of the coolest
They were a great band, deserve more airplay.
One of my favorite driving tunes is All the way from Memphis
I wish I could be an also ran like the Hoople....on e of my songs played on a hit tv show for years and THE DUDES could have done the same.....Ian Hunter's Never alone with ....holds it's own too.....who did these guys piss off in the first place ???
saw Mott the Hoople's reunion tour in London in '09 greatest two nights of my life. They carried Buffin on stage for the encore. He couldn't walk but he could kick the s**t out of those drums.
i luv MTH!#1 fan from 1972.
moderately succesfull solo career? I guess we base everything on sales, then, and not quality of music. Please. Ian Hunter is one of the greats in Rock and Roll, and should be in the Hall of Fame. He's one of the most intelligent songwriters the genre has ever had, and his work has gotten better as he's gotten older. His albums in the last ten/twelve years-- starting with 2001's RANT-- are perhaps his finest work. Ian Hunter is one of the greats.
crash street kids another keeper
I saw aerosmith open up for mott / arial bender was fighting for the front spotlight , sliding across the stage bumping ian hunter. they played marionetts the show was fabulous.act u a l y the second best concert i ever saw. i also saw ian hunter a few years back (2007) ? alsome!
i love mott the hoople
@dbrackvitch : Their harder/heavi e r songs would have been considered as heavy metal for that time period--if you've ever heard the Rock n Roll Queen compilation by the band, then you should understand the h.m. label.
Albert Hall 1971 - still got the ticket!
Sweet Jane was never sweeter until Mott.
Love this band. Not necessarily all of its music but the musicians in it. Wish Pandora had albums from Ariel Bender's band Widow Maker. Great live band, great first record. Never saw Mott the Hoople but got to see 'Mott open for Kiss in 1976. Also saw Mick Ronson on Dylan's Rolling Thunder Reveue Tour.
mott the hoople... it says it in their name... whatever. i was lucky to live it live!!! people don't GET IT! niiiice.God bless america
Also Rans? Screw you Jack
"Mott the Hoople Live" - One of the best LPs EVER. Along with Led Zeppelin and Alex Harvey live.
I would never consider a band with such great songs and deep influence as also rans. I never got to see Mott the Hoople but did see Mott open for Kiss on 11/6/76. Really fun. Also had the privilege of seeing some of the Hoople members in other bands (Including Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue) or as solo artists (Ariel Bender's Widow Maker).
Saying that Mott's version of Sweet Jane was better than Velvet Underground' s is lunacy. Seriously, stop it.
One of the best shows I ever saw was these guys, the Kinks and Grand Funk Railroad, 2 nites in a row. Mott the Hoople blew the Kinks away doin You really got me. Awesome
How/why do they describe this band as part heavy metal? Are you kidding???
sweet jane by mott the hoople was sooo much better than lou reed. location, location, location. just say...mott the hoople.. mott the hoople.. what was that??? that was the 70's.
I remember Mott the Hoople's early days: strange stuff but very powerful (kinda like a car wreck you drive by, it was pretty bizarre, but you couldn't look away).
Been listening to them for 36 years now and I still love their music.
Alice and Pearl and Roy are favorites.
Mott was awesome, and Ian Hunter put out some killer solo stuff. Check out Short Back n Sides with The Clash playing on some tunes(sans Joe).
rock-n-roll queen probably the least played greatest album ever made
Mott the Hoople weren't also-rans! They were big stars when I was a kid.
Their version of American Pie off the Concert Anthology album makes me laugh every time. Ian Hunter's vocals were obviously not schooled -- but also are the main reason I love this band.
One of my favorite bands of all time. I have an entire station dedicated to them.
oh yeah, all the young dudes, by bowie,but they rocked and ruled in their short lived time.mott the hoople will be a big influence in brit rock and oh boy they were so cool live in the states in 73 or so. loved them in Philly at the spectrum.15$ ticket and saw them and frampton and zappa and the winters bros and alice cooper and bowie and j. giels and faces and and and get it?
It's in there John, fourth paragraph.
It's to bad this bio does not include David Bowie's contribution to the band. All the young dudes was their most popular tune. Please get with it.
why doesn't pandora list the album "Mott" - their best album after "All the Young Dudes"? This band was way under-apprec i a t e d back in their day
Funny Rubie Sukie... must be an Indianapolis thing, but I was 16 and took my younger 12-year old brother to see Kiss open for Uriah Heep in Indy around 1974 and it was my only Who-in-Cinci - l i k e experience of getting crushed in the wait to get in... and seeing the glass broken in the front doors. I actually put my brother on my shoulders so he could breathe... was scary for a few minutes. But we did stand in the front row and almost got our hair burned off....
rod stewart
only recently have i discovered mott the hoople by digging through records at the local record store, Stan's. i really have grown to love mott

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