Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 3 June 1946, Shrewsbury, England) Rock vocalist, guitarist and songwriter. The band Silence was formed in Hereford in '68, its first vocalist Stan Tippens replaced by Hunter, who soon became the cynosure; others were guitarist Mick Ralphs (b 31 March 1948, Hereford), bassist Overend (Peter) Watts (b 13 May 1947, Birmingham), Verden Allen on keyboards (b 26 May 1944, Hereford), drummer Dale 'Buffin' Griffin (b 24 October 1948, Ross-on-Wye). They moved to London '69 and met disc jockey Guy Stevens, who suggested a name change to Mott the Hoople, after an obscure novel by Willard Manus. Mott The Hoople '69 was very much an album of its time, its guitar balance influnced by The Band and with a striking Escher cover; Hunter's Dylanesque delivery and driving rock'n'roll established them on the London club circuit. Mad Shadows '70 and Wildlife And Brain Capers '71 along with touring made them favourites, but real mainstream success eluded them until David Bowie chanced upon them at a gig and produced All The Young Dudes '72 just as Mott were on verge of splitting up. The title track (a Bowie song) gave them a no. 3 hit '72 and established them as a major draw. Album Mott '73 included 'Ballad Of Mott' and the exuberant 'All The Way To Memphis' (UK no. 10 '74). When his 'Can't Get Enough' wasn't accepted by the band, Ralphs left to form Bad Company and had a transatlantic top 20 with it; he was replaced by ex-Spooky Tooth Luther Grosvenor; ex-Love Affair Morgan Fisher replaced Allen. 'The Golden Age Of Rock'n'Roll' was a top 20 hit, but The Hoople was patchy; poignant single 'Saturday Gigs' sounded like an epitaph, but they persevered with excellent souvenir Mott The Hoople Live, all in '74.

Former Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson had gigged with and/or sessioned with the band, but Ronson and Hunter left to work together as the band shortened its name to Mott for Drive On '75 and Shouting And Pointing '76; they changed the name again to British Lions for The British Lions '78 on Vertigo and Trouble With Women '80 on Cherry Red before calling it quits.

Ronson made two albums on RCA with Hunter; Hunter took over as leader on CBS with changing lineups but always with Ronson, according to Terry Hounsome's Rock Record. The albums were Ian Hunter '75, All American Alien Boy '76, Overnight Angels '77 (and compilation Shades Of '78); on Chrysalis You're Never Alone With A Schizo '79, live Welcome To The Club '80 and Short Back And Sides '81; and back to CBS for All The Good Ones Are Taken '83; reunited as Ian Hunter/Mick Ronson for Y U I ORTA '89 on Mercury. They had a loyal following; nearly all the albums charted. Hunter's solo The Artful Dodger '97 on Citadel showcased his sense of humour and his soulful voice, including 'Michael Picasso', a tribute to Ronson.

Hunter published the hilarious Diary Of A Rock And Roll Star '74 (reissued '96) about a US tour in late '72, its observed detail well above most such books. In the '90s he was living in Connecticut, still married to Trudy after 25 years; when a newspaper wanted to do a feature on them both, she flatly refused, saying 'Why should I tell everybody what an idiot you are?' With a partner like that and given his own intelligence, Hunter was never going to have any illusions. See also Ronson's entry.