Mott The Hoople returns to Milwaukee, 45 years later

“I don’t recommend retirement,” says Ian Hunter, who turns 80 in June. His card, it seems, was punched very early on. “Nothing can replace the bolt that I felt when I saw Jerry Lee,” he recalls. “Rock’n’roll, by its nature, is a young man’s game. So I think we’re all a little Peter Pan-ish. I don’t feel any different at my elated age.

The history of Mott The Hoople can be neatly divided into two chapters. The original line-up recorded four albums for Island Records, then, on the verge of dissolution, David Bowie came up with the song “All the Young Dudes”. Rejuvenated, the group recorded another series of albums for CBS.

Mott The Hoople played three festivals in Europe last year with Luther “Ariel Bender” Grosvenor on guitar and Morgan Fisher on keyboards, from the band’s second era. They performed on Monday April 1 at the Miller High Life Theater, kicking off their first US tour in 45 years in the same building (then called the Milwaukee Auditorium) where they performed on May 22, 1974. Opening act The Suburbs, as Mott The Hoople , has released some great records and has been more than a handful in concert. Initially active in the 80s, they released new music again.

Mott’s original lineup first reunited in 2009. Since then, bassist Overend Watts and drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin have passed away, and guitarist Mick Ralphs suffered a stroke in 2016. This lineup has passed away. will feature Hunter, Bender and Fisher, fleshed out by members of Hunter’s longtime group, the Rant Band.

Looking back, how does Hunter see the two alignments?

“The second lineup was weaker album wise, but the live show was fantastic,” he says. “It was a great atmosphere on stage. The first line-up (Ralphs / Allen) was more about discovering things, seeing things. “

“Mick grew up with Luther Grosvenor,” Hunter recalls. “They both had electric guitars and played in phone booths together because they didn’t have amps! When Mick left the band, we only had a few weeks to replace him. Luther was on Island Records ”- Mott’s future label -“ so he was there before he knew it ”.

“He was great live but he didn’t write like Mick wrote,” Hunter continues. “He’s a showman. The Luther who was in the previous bands was a pleasant and tasteful guitarist, but something happened (when he joined Mott)! Well, we called him Ariel Bender and it wasn’t just on stage but also off stage. And it’s still the same now!

In 1974, Mott The Hoople toured the United States for six weeks for an album that was not released. “Mick couldn’t decide if he was going to stop or go. We had to go back to England for two weeks, then come back (to the US) to do another six weeks because the record was out. So during those two weeks we had to find someone who would come back. I think the Hollywood Palladium was the first show. I remember Keith Moon being there and he thought we were awesome.

While Hunter occasionally played the piano, Verden Allen’s Hammond B3 organ pushed Mott’s sound into Bob Dylan’s territory of the “mercury savage” era. Enter Morgan Fisher. “Morgan is sartorial and a wonderful pianist,” says Hunter. “He had been in college-type groups, he had a brain. He brought it to the party. The guitar parts weren’t that creative, so Morgan came into the studio with his ideas. The hoop The album was more geared towards Morgan, as Luther began to understand what it must be like to Mott.

Meanwhile, Hunter was getting more creative: “I like the idea of ​​strings against tenor saxophones and I was experimenting with it, much like what Jeff Lynne did (with the Electric Light Orchestra). “

Hunter kept a journal of the group’s tour in 1972 which was published in 1974. Diary of a rock’n’roll star captures an arc from the mundane to the incredible. He also had a keen eye for guitars. Before they were known as “vintage” they were simply called “used”. “They were cheaper here,” he says. “There was a guy named Sid who had a store on Regent Street in London that would give you a list of what he would pay. We would come here and buy Les Paul Juniors for $ 75, Les Paul for $ 150. Well, those things were worth a lot more at home. And we weren’t making any money in the group. (Note: According to legend, Watts bought his iconic white Gibson Thunderbird bass from the pawnshop Stein in Milwaukee.)

Mott The Hoople will perform at the Miller High Life Theater on Monday April 1 at 7:30 p.m. with The Suburbs. For more information and tickets, visit

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