Joe Elliott’s love letter to Mott the Hoople


Mott The Hoople in 1974. Ian Hunter is on the far right. (Photo from their Wikipedia page)

At the end of each Def Leppard concert, Joe Elliott said to the jubilant crowd, “Never forget us, and we will never forget you!” These words come from the bottom of Elliott’s heart. These were the fade in lyrics to his favorite band Mott The Hoople‘s farewell single, “Saturday Gigs”. This latest song tells the story of the band from their concerts at the Roundhouse in 1969 to their weeklong engagement on Broadway in 1974 in New York (with Queen opening act) and their European tour which collapsed the same. year.

From Hereford / Worcester, England, Mott the hoop had a unique solidarity with their fans. In 1972, as the discouraged band broke up, Mott’s career was revived by a big fan, David Bowie, who gave them their hit single “All the Young Dudes”. Bowie also produced their All the young guys album. Joe Elliott was one of a determined crowd of young members of the Mott The Hoople fan club which included Mick Jones of The Clash, Morrissey and future Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

In the early 1970s, Mott The Hoople was all flash and crash. When they crashed for the last time, singer Ian Hunter went solo in 1975. Hunter teamed up with his buddy Mick Ronson (guitarist for Bowie’s band the Spiders From Mars), who had been a very brief member of Mott, at the end.

After Hunter left, the remaining members of the Hoople – Overend Watts, Dale (Buffin) Griffin, and Morgan Fisher – with the addition of vocalist Nigel Benjamin and guitarist Ray Major, formed a band called (simply) Mott.

Joe Elliott performing at his "day job" with Def Leppard.  Photo © Mark Weiss via  Used with permission.

Joe Elliott playing his “day job” with Def Leppard. (Photo © Mark Weiss via; used with permission)

Thirty-five years after their split, Mott The Hoople reunited for a triumphant week of concerts at Hammersmith Odeon in October 2009. Elliott joined the recalls. His side group, Down N ‘Outz (performing songs by Mott and solo material by Ian Hunter) was the opening act. For the momentous occasion, Elliott presented Hunter with a Maltese Cross Guitar, reproducing his iconic Mott ax. Hunter claims he sounds a lot better than the old one!

Best Classic Bands spoke to Elliott about Mott in 2016.

Best classical groups: When did you first hear Mott The Hoople on record and where and when did you first see them live?
Joe Elliott: The first time I heard Mott The Hoople on record was on an Island Records compilation album called El Pois in 1971. Twenty titles for £ 1.99, a bargain! The first time I heard them was on Radio Luxembourg when [MTH’s] “Downtown” was the record of the week, meaning it was played every hour after 7pm for a week! Great exhibition, but unfortunately no one bought it. The first time I saw them live was in 2009 at the first of two warm-up (reunion) shows in Monmouth, Wales. I missed them the first time around, but made up for it by seeing all the reunion shows in 2009 and 2013!

When did you meet the group? Was it when you climbed up a gutter to get backstage?
I : No, the waste pipe incident has been somewhat exaggerated! Yes, we (me and my three concert mates) sneaked in and timidly knocked on the locker room door, to be greeted by [guitarist] Earl Slick, but as the name may indicate, it was in 1977 and the [Ian Hunter] Night angels to visit. So in fact, I’ve met them all individually over the years. I first met Ian Hunter in New York in 1980, and I met Overend at a party in 1983 and hung out with him a lot at his flea market in Acton. We also played postal chess for a while! He and Buffin came to see Def Leppard at Wembley in 1988. [MTH organist] Verden Allen and I met at the Mott The Hoople convention in Dudley, with [MTH guitarist] Luther grosvenor [a.k.a. Ariel Bender] in 1999 and Ralpher [guitarist Mick Ralphs] I had met him here and there throughout his career. All the right people!

What intrigued you about Ian Hunter as a songwriter and leader?
I :
I wouldn’t know what you would have called him when I was 11, but now I would say it was his distinctive vocal delivery, the ‘better than Dylan’ lyrics and the fact that he didn’t appear like anyone. one of inaccessible. All three still ring true for me.

Ian Hunter and Joe Elliott on Speakeasy

Ian Hunter and Joe Elliott on PBS ‘ Speakeasy

Are you as big a Bob Dylan fan as Ian Hunter is?
I : I am in the camp “the others make their songs better”.

Related: Hunter was among those who joined Def Leppard for a celebrity jam when they were inducted into Rock Hall 2019

The wild and tumultuous concerts of Mott The Hoople were incredible. Why have they had such disappointing album sales?
I : Ah, the $ 64,000 question! Maybe because if everyone who saw them live bought an album, it wasn’t enough to rank at the time. You needed the massive thrust of a sudden, which they didn’t have until “Dudes”.

Where did the band initially fit into the music scene in England, and how did that change after Bowie (and Mick Ronson) got involved?
I : They were musically everywhere until [1971’s] Brain capers, which was very charming. After that, I think the dynamic changed when Bowie suggested Ian go ahead, which apparently didn’t go very well with the rest of the group. Verden & Ralpher ultimately resigned.

Did you enjoy Ariel Bender as much as Mick Ralphs (originally) on guitar?
I : Not back then cause I never heard that [on the live album]. If I had seen it as my comrades had done, I might have had a different opinion. At The hoop, there’s not much to judge it, as it’s such a keyboard heavy album, but it does have its moments on “Marionette” and “Crash Street Kidds”.

What do you think of Overend Watts (bass) and Verden Allen (keyboards)?
I : Overend Watts is a great guy. He’s always been great to me. In 1984 he gave me about 12 cassettes with all this unreleased stuff on them (a lot of which came out on the 1999 box set, a lot that didn’t) with handwritten notes, which was super cool of him. . He gave me a piggy bank from his flea market that I obviously still have, and when I saw him in 2009 at the reunion concerts, we picked up where we left off a few years earlier. The people in the groups seem pretty good at doing this. I first met Verden at the MTH convention in 1999. He was playing with his own band that night so the opportunity to converse was limited but he is very sympathetic. My favorite Hammond organ player!

What did Mott The Hoople teach you?
I : Don’t break up when the going gets tough! They could and should have been huge, but they weren’t.

How much did you enjoy playing their material in your Down N ‘Outz side band?
I : Oh, so much! We didn’t have much luck doing MTH until album number two but it was worth the wait!

What is your relationship with former Mott members now?
I : Well, to be honest Ian is the only one I have regular contact with, but I saw Mick at the Bad Company concert in Dublin about a month ago. I love him, a great person and a great player.

What are your three favorite Hoople albums and songs?
I : The albums are Mott (1973), The hoop (1974) and Wildlife (1971). The songs are “All the Young Dudes”, “Marionette” and “Roll Away the Stone”. It was impossible! It will change tomorrow.

To concern a live version of “Roll Away the Stone”

Hunter turned 81 on June 3, 2020. On September 30, 2019, he announced that he was suffering from a “severe case of tinnitus.” The group leader was advised by his doctors to “stop happening until this condition goes away.”

Madeline Bocaro
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