Tag Archives: mott the hoople

Ian Hunter talks to BBC Radio 1’s Johnnie Walker

Ian Hunter is in the UK for a Mott the Hoople reunion gig and did an interview with long-time BBC DJ Johnnie Walker, on the nostalgia show Sounds of the Seventies. If you are in the UK you can listen to it here for a limited time. The show is two hours long but the actual interview only around fifteen minutes (excluding the music).


Hunter does a few interviews and I find them somewhat frustrating in general, because he always tends to get asked the same questions, and especially about the time when David Bowie gave Mott the Hoople a song (All the Young Dudes) to revive their career. Hunter is always patient but I wish he would be quizzed more often about the rest of his long career. Still, he is promoting a Mott the Hoople reunion so I guess it was not inappropriate on this occasion.

The Ian Hunter section opened with Wizzard’s See My Baby Jive, a hit single in May 1973 and chosen by Hunter. Why? “It was at a time when there wasn’t too much good stuff about,” he said. “I was getting disenchanted when all of a sudden that came out, it was brilliant, absolutely brilliant.” You can certainly hear the influence in songs like The Golden Age of Rock ‘n Roll on Mott the Hoople’s 1974 album.

Walker asked about Hunter’s early years, when he won a talent competition in Butlin’s holiday camp, which kicked off a spell in a band called the Apex Group in the fifties. Then Hunter mentions performing in Hamburg with Freddie Lee, who told him he might have a future as a songwriter but “don’t ever sing ‘em”. Ha ha.

Then Bob Dylan came along, says Walker. “Bob was like the character singer,” said Hunter, “if it hadn’t been for him a lot of people like myself would never have got a shot. It was like a personality way of singing.”

We move on to the beginnings of Mott the Hoople and how Guy Stevens chose Ian Hunter as the singer of a band he was signing to Island Records, in place of Stan Tippins who became tour manager. “Guy was amazing. He was frustrated because he couldn’t do it himself, but he had the taste.”

Skipping a few years, we move on to Bowie and how Mott turned down Suffragette City, then went to hear All the Young Dudes. “David sat on the floor and he played All the Young Dudes on acoustic guitar”. Why did Bowie give away such a great song? Apparently he had been tinkering with it and it was not quite working. “He kinda got fed up with it,” said Hunter, “it needed new blood.”

A chat about the new reunion with Ariel Bender and Morgan Fisher follows. “We got together twice before but it was the original band. This is the second part of the band and they never got a shot to play on those two reunions. I always felt it was a shame, so now they get their moment in the sun,” said Hunter.

The Mott the Hoople and Ian Hunter Story

I’ve been a fan of first Mott the Hoople and then Ian Hunter solo since way back when. I decided to embark on an album-by-album discussion of the band and of Hunter’s solo career over on the Steve Hoffman Music Forum. I started in October 2016 and have not finished yet, but I will.

There are a couple of reasons why I have decided to repost the content here – my own content, not the entire discussion. One is that I cannot edit any old posts there so errors, additions, fixing broken links etc cannot be fixed, other than by emailing moderators. Another is that it is hard to navigate a long thread, for example if you are looking for a review of a specific album.

Therefore I’ve posted the key posts on this site. You can find an index in the first post and continue from there.

Comments are welcome, especially if you have your own recollections of seeing the band (or one of Ian Hunter’s bands).

Ian Hunter and the Rant band at the Stables, 30 Sept 2014

The Stables is a delightful small venue near Milton Keynes, and when I saw that Ian Hunter was due to play there with his Rant Band I grabbed one of the last remaining tickets.


He came on shortly after 9pm, following an energetic set from support act Federal Charm, and told us in a croaky voice that he wasn’t feeling too good. In that case he is a true star (he is anyway) since he went on to give a great performance; his voice was a little gruff at times, but hear him belt out Sweet Jane and you discover that he has no problem delivering powerful vocals when it counts.

I am a fan: I loved Mott the Hoople from the first time I heard them (it was the cover of At the Crossroads on the famous Island compilation Nice Enough to Eat); and both with Mott and on his work since, Ian Hunter is able to achieve a musical texture that is rich and evocative, as well as being able to rock out on occasion.

Hunter is a great songwriter too, coming over as an honest and thoughtful voice in an industry full of decadence and plastic.

I enjoyed every minute of the concert, even though I felt that Hunter’s voice was mixed too quiet and that the sound overall could have been better. I have not seen him perform since Hunter/Ronson days; it has been far too long.

Highlights for me included When I’m President (a more recent song), Irene Wilde performed from the keyboard, a powerful rendition of Bastard, All American Alien Boy with its sharp reflections on life in the US of A, Once Bitten Twice Shy of course, Sweet Jane and the closing medley including All the Young Dudes, I Wish I was your Mother, and a strong performance of Boy. “Genocidal tendencies are silly to extremes” – I wasn’t expecting to hear Boy (my hunch is that the lyric refers to Bowie’s Diamond Dogs) but it was great.

Thank you Ian for keeping on keeping on; it was a wonderful evening.