The recent news that Dale Griffin, drummer for rock group Mott The Hoople, had died brought into sharp focus what a good band Mott The Hoople were, but how they never fulfilled their potential.
Mott The Hoople recorded eight albums during their five-and-a-half year existence. They won a record contract in early 1969 and went to London to record under producer Guy Stevens, who renamed the band Mott the Hoople after a 1967 novel by Willard Manus.
Although Mott The Hoople created a strong fanbase and cult following, they struggled commercially and were on the verge of breaking up in 1972, until David Bowie stepped in and persuaded them to stay together, under the guidance of his manager Tony De Fries.
David Bowie also very generously offered them the song Suffragette City, which amazingly they declined. Refusing to give up on them David Bowie then wrote the anthemic All The Young Dudes for Mott The Hoople. The narrative of All The Young Dudes forms part of the story of Bowie’s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust.
All The Young Dudes reached No2 in the UK charts and the top 40 in America, giving Mott The Hoople the new lease of life they required. Later albums produced UK hits such as Honaloochie Boogie, All The Way From Memphis, Roll Away The Stone the Record Press author’s personal introduction to the band – the Golden Age of Rock’n’Roll.
Sadly no sooner had I been introduced to Mott The Hoople in 1974 and the band disintegrated when lead singer Ian Hunter, suffering from physical exhaustion, cancelled their entire European tour. When rumours then spread that he was making a solo album with David Bowie’s guitarist Mick Ronson, it led to an irrevocable rift in the ranks of Mott The Hoople.
The sad thing for me is that unlike their mentor David Bowie, Mott the Hoople didn’t make the most of their talent. And that’s a great pity. They never quite reached the heights their talent and charisma promised; they regrettably left a void of unfulfilled potential.
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