Why Ian Hunter made his second solo album without Mick Ronson

The big question: after a successful partnership with Mick Ronson for his first solo album, why did Ian Hunter make his second post-Mott album with an entirely different band?

In April 1975 Hunter moved to New York stating that it would be his home for at least a year. According to Campbell Devine’s biography of Mott, the reasons were partly that he didn’t like Britain’s politics at the time, and partly that New York was “a fast place to live” and one that inspired more lyrics at a time when he felt artistically dry.

Hunter-Ronson did a US tour in May, after which the band broke up. “I couldn’t keep the group together,” said Hunter. One of the issues was the complexity of the partnership with Ronson where the band’s salaries were meant to be paid half and half but in reality this did not work out.

In summer 1975 the two worked together on the next album – which was meant to come out under Ronson’s name because of a deal worked out with Mainman, Ronson’s management company. However, Ronson’s first two solo albums had not sold well (despite a big push behind his second, Play Don’t Worry), and RCA, Ronson’s label, wanted to cut their losses and not release a third.

Why not make the next album another Ian Hunter solo album? The first one had done OK and Hunter’s label, CBS, was happy with the idea. Mainman however demanded favourable terms for such a project, so that Ronson would have got more from it than Hunter. Hunter said to Ronson, according to Devine, “I can’t work with you any more as long as you’re with Mainman.”

Hunter blamed Mainman, and especially its boss Tony Defries, for breaking up his partnership with Ronson. “I lost three years when me and Mick could have been working.” Defries would be the object of Hunter’s ire on some later songs.

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