On April 3, British rockers Mott the Hoople will perform their first show in Chicago in 45 years. This is one of eight cities where the band – presented as Mott the Hoople ’74 – will perform on their return to America.
At the head of the group are a trio of lead members from a memorable 1974 tour: vocalist Ian Hunter, guitarist Ariel Bender and keyboardist Morgan Fisher. James Mastro, Steve Holley, Mark Bosch, Paul Page and Dennis Dibrizzi complete the lineup.
“I didn’t expect this to really happen,” Hunter said in a recent interview. “We were on tour in Europe after that and all of a sudden a New York promoter came up with an offer that was good. So we thought, “If there were more offers like this, maybe we’ll do the United States.” ” And there was. So we do it.
Mott the Hoople ’74
When: 8 p.m. on April 3
Where: Chicago Theater, 175 N. State
Tickets: $ 45 to $ 228
As he prepares for the tour, he fondly remembers how special the band’s last US tour in 1974 was. During that year, the band released “The Hoople” and “Live”, the latest albums featuring Hunter at the helm of the group. The first features Mott classics like “The Golden Age of Rock n ‘Roll” and “Roll Away the Stone”.
Many have called the band’s music glam rock, but Hunter thinks “flash” is a better term. “There was a great show on stage, but I wouldn’t say it’s glam,” he says. “I would call it flash. We weren’t that beautiful.
“It was an uplifting sound,” he continues. “We were in there for fun. We did not go into death and destruction. It was a fun group. A positive group, in the vein of Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. Real rock’n’roll.
When the band first started, guitarist Mick Ralphs and bassist Pete Watts were the main songwriters. However, Hunter quickly found inspiration to write his own material.
“I started writing stuff and Pete the lazy one said, ‘Oh you do, you’re better than me,’ Hunter said. ‘I had written songs before, but they weren’t only ‘songs.’ I started writing with Mott. I learned that from them.
In 1974, Mott the Hoople became the first rock band to perform on Broadway in New York City, with a sold-out week at the Uris Theater. They documented it on their live album.
Hunter says the theatrical and energetic performances that year made the tour truly special. “When we had the great Ariel Bender, the show on stage really blew up,” he says. “We had a great live show. Is still.”
This certainly left a lasting impact on Queen, who debuted in the US as the tour opener. Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor both thank Mott for inspiring their own theatrical show.
“Queen was great fun to be with her,” says Hunter. “They opened for us in the UK, then the US… the only time they opened for anyone.”
This whole story could have been a lot different without Mott the Hoople’s signature song and the man who wrote it, David Bowie.
In 1971, the group decided to separate after weeks of dissatisfaction with its management. Watts then contacted Bowie, who was looking for a bass player.
“[He] called him and said, “What about the concert?” And David said, ‘Well, no, you’re at Mott the Hoople.’ And he said, ‘We broke up,’ ”Hunter recalls. “And that’s when David went on this whole crusade to keep us together, which was very kind of him.”
Bowie first gave them his song “Suffragette City”, which they passed on. But by the time he played “All the Young Dudes” to them, they knew they had to record it.
“My first reaction was, ‘I can sing this. And my second reaction was, “It’s a success, it must be a success.” It turned out that he had done it himself but had done it in a lower tone. He had done it in the C key, and he wasn’t quite happy with the way he was doing it, ”says Hunter.
“So we have come to a happy time. And it was a big success and we walked in and did the ‘[All the Young] Dudes’ album, which he also produced. He offered us a few other songs, but we never got around to doing them.
It’s a song Hunter never got tired of playing, even after playing it hundreds of times.
“You don’t have to wear a cross around your neck,” he said. “It’s such a good song.”
Hunter remembers fondly the group’s first Chicago concert in 1970 at the Aragon Ballroom.
“I went backstage and there was an old throne that must have been used for a stage production,” Hunter says. “And there was BB King sitting on that throne.”
Joshua Miller is a local freelance writer.