Pete Overend Watts, the original bassist of Mott the Hoople, died of throat cancer at the age of 69.
Singer Ian Hunter confirmed the news, which had been rumored for much of the day, posting “Oh my God. My adorable and eccentric companion – Peter Overend Watts – has left the building. Devastated.”
Born near Birmingham, England, but his family moved often across the country. He first started playing the guitar, but when he became a professional musician he switched to bass.
His first group was the Soulents who in 1966 reunited with another group, The Buddies with Mick Ralphs, and formed The Doc Thomas Group. This group was signed to an Italian label and performed often in Central Europe but in 1969 they returned to England and replaced their lead singer with Ian Hunter, changing their name to Mott the Hoople.
Their self-titled debut album was released in November 1969 and rose to 66 in the UK and 185 in the US. Their next two albums, Crazy shadows (1970 / # 48 UK) and Wildlife (1971 / # 44 UK) sold relatively well but did not get good reviews from critics. A last album, Brain capers (1971) failed to rank and the original version of the group considered going their separate ways until fan David Bowie stepped in and convinced them to continue.
As they turned down Bowie’s song Suffragette City, they took her All the young guys and turned it into a major hit, rising to 3 in Britain and 37 in America while the album of the same name peaked at 21 (UK) and 89 (US).
The band’s next album, Mott (1973), became their biggest hit 7 in Britain and 35 in the US and gave them two more UK hits, Honaloochie Boogie (1973 / # 12 United Kingdom) and From Memphis (1973 / # 10 UK) while the follow-up, The hoop (1974 / # 11 UK / # 28 US) became their largest in the United States and produced the tubes Roll the stone (1973 / # 8 UK) and The golden age of rock’n’roll (1974 / # 16 United Kingdom / # 96 United States).
During this time, the group experienced many personnel changes as the pressure of fame weighed on the members. Ralphs left to start Bad Company and Hunter left for a solo career. In 1975 Watts, Dale Griffin and Morgan Fisher were supplemented by Ray Major and Nigel Benjamin and changed their name to simply Mott, release of two albums, Drive on (1975) and Shout and point fingers (1976).
At the start of late 1977, Benjamin left and was replaced by former Medicine Head singer John Fiddler. Changing names again, this time to British lions, they released the albums British lions (1977) and Problem with women (1982), none of which has been identified in the UK, although the Lions went to 83 in the United States
Watts retired to the background of the music world, becoming a producer and working on albums for bands like Hanoi Rocks. His only performances came from a reunion of five Mott the Hoople shows in 2009 and a short Mott tour in 2013.