Mott The Hoople frontman Ian Hunter is BACK on the road at 80 | Music | Entertainment


Mott The Hoople faced the United States in 1974. (Image: GETTY)

The hunter smiles. “Seventy-nine is cloudy,” he said, “eighty sounds fresh and clean! “

The tousled-haired rocker, his eyes still hidden behind his iconic sunglasses, scoffs at any suggestion that the band was part of the ’70s glam rock scene. “We were too ugly to be glam!

They have toured in the United States before and are now filling theaters in Great Britain, starting last night in Manchester.

The group’s groundbreaking success came with All The Young Dudes in 1972.

It was written by David Bowie and later performed by him and many others.

Mott The Hoople was held in high esteem by other musicians. Queen has performed in support before, the only time they’ve opened for another group.

And Hunter still does a lot of shows. In March, he led a star jam in front of 19,000 people (and millions of viewers) at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame ceremony in Brooklyn.

Invited by fans (and new inductees) Def Leppard, he performed band-backed All The Young Dudes with Queen’s Brian May and members of The Zombies.

Mott the hoop

The group’s groundbreaking success came with All The Young Dudes in 1972. (Image: GETTY)

Since then, Mott The Hoople has toured the east coast of the United States.

However, despite all of these efforts, Hunter remains the one who enjoys peace and quiet in his Connecticut home with his 47-year-old American wife, Trudi.

“I live a quiet life – besides being on the road,” he says.

“It’s great living in New York and it’s great living in London and I’ve done both. But you can’t move, you can’t breathe. I moved after being with my youngest son Jesse in Manhattan and we saw a guy shoot someone. I tried to cover his face before he saw it.

“That’s when I thought I was out of here. I didn’t want my kids to grow up like this – it was probably 1995.

The working-class boy from Oswestry in Shropshire now lives a very little rock and roll lifestyle.

“Trudi hired me and she’s really responsible for my presence here,” he says. They share “a beautiful five acre house,” convenient for New York business but away from the pressures of the city. “Time flies,” Hunter says casually of his impending birthday which will mark him in his ninth decade.

He’s a workaholic, both with Mott and with his own Rant Band, even now thinking about his birthday party (“I’m going to do four nights at the City Winery in New York with the band”).

Far from being a fitness freak, he does a little preparatory work nonetheless.

“I feel good, but I’m not very good at taking care of myself,” he says.

I never thought we were glam, I thought we were flash

Ian Hunter

“You work on it – the voice, the body – for a two hour show. At my age, I do half a day of those boring stuff that no one wants to hear about.

In the ’70s Mott The Hoople was everywhere, a Top Of The Pops staple with wild wedge shoes and outrageous, glam clothes, of course, but with the cheeky insolence of the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen.

“I never thought we were glamorous, I thought we were flash,” says Hunter in the quiet West Midlands twang of his early days that more than a half-life in the US can’t mitigate.

And, indeed, Hunter’s roots run much deeper than All The Young Dudes, which Bowie gave them when, striving for success, they were willing to call it a day.

“I was a fan first,” says Hunter, whose father was a police officer in Shrewsbury, where they got “free housing, free coal, free electricity”.

He reflects: “I worked in factories. I learned to play bass and joined a guy named Freddie ‘Fingers’ Lee who had been the pianist for Screaming Lord Sutch, much like Jerry Lee Lewis.

“This is how I caught the virus. We played in Hamburg, all that. Then I played with Billy Fury, Mike Berry, big names. Slowly, I found myself in a group.

He lived through the ’60s in relative obscurity until he auditioned for the lead vocal in a band from the backing band of reggae star Jimmy Cliff… and Mott The Hoople was born.

“I was 29 when I joined Mott. Nowadays, you have to be 21 to join a group. Someone said, ‘Tell them you’re seven years younger. Say you’ve been to the hospital, that doesn’t count. So I took seven years off for a while!

Loud and wild, they went through four albums that inspired heavy rockers Def Leppard but also a generation of punks, notably The Clash.

“They say we influenced them. I’m not sure how – maybe it was just that we had the rock’n’roll spirit, ”he reflects. We didn’t really have an attitude, we came straight from Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee. There was excitement about us.

This excitement (which didn’t result in sales at first) is captured in Mental Train, a recent 6-CD and book box set. But after Bowie’s patronage, the hits kept coming: Honaloochie Boogie, Roll Away The Stone, The Golden Age Of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Mott The Hoople performed Roll Away The Stone in 1974

The current line-up brings together a trio from the band’s latest album and most successful era – Hunter, keyboardist Morgan Fisher who was in the 1960s hitmakers Love Affair, and guitarist Luther Grosvenor, who had been in the Folk group Stealers Wheel as well as Scary Tooth rockers.

Mott The Hoople faced the United States in 1974, the first group to play a weeklong season in Times Square.

“We followed Sammy Davis Junior! We had white limos and they played the wedding march as we drove through Manhattan every night. “

Hunter enjoyed solo success, documented on the extraordinary 30-CD Stranded In Reality box set. He worked with former Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson with members of the Springsteen E-Street Band, and even toured with Ringo Starr.

Hunter never got tired. His most recent album, Fingers Crossed, featuring his longtime Rant Band (with a touching tribute, Dandy, to David Bowie) is highly regarded – and Hunter is bubbling with excitement at the wealth of material he wrote for one. new record later this year. .

His critically acclaimed 1972 book, Diary Of A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star, was reissued late last year – with a preface by fellow fan and pal, Johnny Depp.

Has he never been tempted to retire?

“It would be fatal, I would end up going to Walmart! “

Mott the hoop

The group were the first to play a weeklong season in Times Square. (Image: GETTY)

So, is this tour the grand finale of Mott The Hoople?

“Well, I said it … but if there was a chance that we were playing on the West Coast of America, and if Japan and Australia showed up …”

Meanwhile, I ask again what it feels like to sing All The Young Dudes weeks before you turn 80.

Hunter just laughs, and laughs …

* Mott The Hoople tour dates on mottthehoople.com


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