When Joe Elliott did his interview tours with his band Def Leppard’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he didn’t want to talk about him. Instead, he used the platform to evangelize for his favorite band, British glam-rock heroes Mott the Hoople. He even asked Mott frontman Ian Hunter to join Def Leppard for the final 2019 Hall of Fame ceremony performance of Mott’s most famous song, the anthem written by David Bowie “All the Young the Dudes “.
âThis is our all-star jamâ¦ it’s come full circle,â Elliott told Yahoo Entertainment as he recalled his thoughts on Hall’s special performance, which also included Brian May, Steven Van Zandt, the Zombies and Susanna Hoffs. âThis is the song that really made me want to do all of this, and now we’re closing our Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction – with this song. It’s like licking the envelope, closing it.
You could say Elliott is on a rock ‘n’ roll mission when it comes to Hoople and Hunter. âIt has become a mission. Yes, I am definitely on a mission, âhe says. âI don’t have to sit here and talk about myself. Def Leppard takes care of himself. I’m happy to talk about it, but I’m not me, me, me, me, me. I prefer to talk about other groups.
Elliott, indeed, is talks about his other group, the Down ‘n’ Outz supergroup – which initially formed in 2009 specifically to open a Mott the Hoople reunion concert at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. The one-off event was so well received that it turned into a side project in its own right, with the Down ‘n’ Outz – whose current lineup includes Paul Guerin, Guy Griffin and Keith Weir of the London Quireboys, Share Ross of Vixen, and esteemed veteran drummer Phil Martini – are now releasing their third album (and debut album of almost all original songs), This is how we ride.
âThe passion for Mott the Hoople came when I was 10 years old,â says Elliott. âI heard Ian sing a song called ‘The Original Mixed Up Kid’ on one of these compilations, and I fell in love with the story, the lyrics, the vocals. And then I realized he looked a lot like Bob Dylan. But for some reason I hate Bob Dylan, but I love Ian Hunter’s version of Bob Dylan. Ian was just Dylanesque – but better, I thought. And he just had that kind of lonely vibe. There was something about him.
âIt was a great cacophony that [Mott] made; individually, they weren’t necessarily the best musicians in the world, but they made a hell of a sound. But the important thing was that the songs were great. They made great songs, and they commented five years before the hour. Many people will hear a song like ‘Violence’ from the 1973 album and realize that it was actually about what would happen in London three years later when the punk movement started to take off. â¦ Rumor has it that when a young Freddie Mercury was watching Mott on tour, they would play that song âMarionetteâ, and because it’s considered a mini-opera, it’s quite possible that – and even the guys from Queen have says, ‘Yeah, I can see that’ – that was the inspiration behind ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ So there is a lot of leakage in the other stuff. But I can’t really explain why I love Mott the Hoople, I just do. â¦ For me, it was the melodies and the chills.
Elliott made it his mission, even when he was young, to educate people about Mott the Hoople, but his classmates in Sheffield, England were unimpressed – until “All the Young Dudes “so.
âThe thing is, I told all those kids in school about Mott while they were still signed to Island Records, like ‘You miss that thing!’,â He recalls. “And then, unbeknownst to us because it was happening under the radar, [Mott the Hoople] had moved to [Tony] DeVries [David Bowieâs manager]. Bowie gave him their song, they recorded âAll the Young Dudes,â and all of a sudden the whole world changed. Everyone’s world has changed. You can have this conversation with Morrissey, Boy George, Duran Duran, me, half the punk bands on the planet. When they heard ‘All The Young Dudes’ it was a wake-up call: ‘There is something for us out there.’ â¦ At the age of 12, when I first heard âAll the Young Dudesâ, that and that of T. Rex Electric warrior a year before put me on my way. (By the way, if Elliott could encourage any other artist besides Mott to enter Rock Hall, it would be Marc Bolan and T. Rex.)
Elliott is no stranger to performing cover songs – along with the Down ‘n’ Outz he has also performed in Bowie’s cover band The Cybernauts with his bandmate Def Leppard Phil Collen and former members of Spiders From Mars Trevor Bolder and Mick “Woody” Woodmansey. In fact, Def Leppard made his Sheffield club debut doing covers of their favorite artists, ranging from Bowie’s “Suffragette City” to the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant”, out of sheer necessity.
âWe had no choice but to play a few covers, because you couldn’t get into theaters unless you did. Some places we played with you were supposed to be a cover band, because the clientele needed to hear stuff they knew, âElliott says, adding with a laugh,â We ââused to get around that by saying: “Here’s a song from …” And then do one of the ours! You know, we’d say it was by Des O’Connor or Foreigner or whatever. We’d say, “This is a song from a Tony Orlando and Dawn,” and we’d blow up in [Def Leppardâs] âHello, America. And the guy would pay us and say, “I didn’t know a lot of those songs, but it looks like it went pretty well, so we’ll get back to you!”
Moot the Hoople embarked on a high-profile concert tour earlier this year, but now that the remaining dates have sadly been canceled due to Hunter’s severe tinnitus, it seems more important than ever that the bands get their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame due. Elliott is honestly not sure why this didn’t happen 30 years ago, when Hunter, known for his solo song popularized by Drew Carey “Cleveland Rocks”, played a role in 1989 to help build the Rock & Museum. Roll Hall of Fame. . Elliott traveled to Cleveland to join Hunter for the concert, which also included Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols. ” It was a Fundraising for the Museum, so you’d think he’d be in it, you know what I mean? Elliott shrugs. “So it’s like, bring him in now! “
Elliott has long complained that Hall’s voters tend to be more US-centric, but five of this year’s seven inductees were British, which is an encouraging sign for future polls. And the fact that all inductees of Def Leppard can now vote for the 2020 class further improves Mott’s chances. âIf there is a problem with the Hall of Fame, it is that it does not have a branch in London. I think [Mott the Hoopleâs] it’s the very Britishness that stands in the way, because there aren’t enough Americans who realize how important it was in 1972 in the UK, âhe says. âJust because they haven’t sold billions of records in America, they’re still valuable. “
In another full development, Def Leppard and Mott the Hoople now share the same management, so Elliott and Hunter have had plenty of opportunities to hang out together lately. So, have they had any conversations in which Hunter has expressed his gratitude or amazement for all the campaigns Elliott and Def Leppard have had for him?
“He looked me in the eye and he went – well, through his sunglasses – ‘I know what you’re trying to do,'” Elliott laughs, recalling a recent encounter. “And I’m like ‘What? ” And he says : ‘You try to make me famous. ‘â
Watch Yahoo Entertainment’s extended and very musical interview with Joe Elliott, which looks practically like a rock’n’roll Ted Talk, below.
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