THE music world mourns the death of Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin, drummer for iconic Herefordshire band Mott The Hoople, at the age of 67, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Griffin was a founding member of the pioneering glam rock group which had a string of hits in the 1970s and topped the charts with the track Bowie. All the young guys.
Mott’s guitarist and friend Mike Ralph called it the band’s “engine room”.
In the 1980s he became a producer for John Peel, coaxing performances for young groups – an estimated 2000 sessions he worked.
Last night, Billy Bragg was among those in the music world who paid him homage.
He said he was “sorry” to hear the news and recalled how Griffin produced some of his sessions.
Queen’s guitarist Bryan May also paid tribute to him, calling him an “old comrade”.
Griffin died in his sleep on Sunday night according to Pete Purnell, Mott’s manager.
Keyboardist Verden Allen had only spoken to the Hereford Times last week, paying tribute to Bowie – he said he was shocked to hear about another sad loss much closer to home.
“I can’t believe it – Dale was like family, we were very close – we went through a lot together,” Allen said.
“I got a call from our manager Pete Purnell this morning and he told me.
“Dale was a nice man, who spoke well and a brilliant drummer, it’s amazing that he left.”
“I remember we signed in 1969 and traveled to London together for the first time – seeing the big city was a great time.”
Griffin had suffered from Alzheimer’s since being diagnosed at the age of 58 and lived in a care home near Brecon, his partner Jean Smith was taking care of him.
Allen said that despite his illness, his old friend and colleague from Mott managed to join the band on stage at London’s Apollo in 2009 for the band’s 40th anniversary concerts.
“He played three songs with us, including All the young guys,” he said.
“I guess in some ways it’s a release for him now – he had suffered for many years.
“Our sincere condolences go out to Jean and the family at this time.”
Mott’s guitarist tweeted this message:
Thank you Dale for the years of friendship and for keeping the pace. Mott’s engine room. Rest in peace, old friend.
– Mick Ralphs (@realmickralphs) Jan. 18, 2016
The core of Mott the Hoople came from Herefordshire – guitarist Mick Ralphs is from Stoke Lacy, while bassist Pete Watts and Dale Griffin were from Ross, both of whom grew up together and attended the town’s Ross Grammar School.
The band consistently recorded and toured throughout the late 1960s, but it wasn’t until their fifth album that they saw any real success.
As Mick Ralphs told The Hereford Times in a previous interview, “I think we were very frustrated, the tours and the concerts were great, and we had a real cult following, but we really wanted success. ”
And the band made that wish come true when David Bowie, learning that they were about to go their separate ways, offered them a few songs.
Bowie seemed to be a bit of a fan. He told the band not to go their separate ways and offered them a choice of two songs – All the young guys Where Suffragette City.
Mott clicked instantly with the first one and the rest is history, although success comes at a price.
The original line-up split after the band’s hit album of the same name in 1972, Ralphs joining Paul Rogers in Bad Company, while Allen joined future Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, also from Herefordshire, for work on other projects. Chambers took Griffin’s place at meetings as the latter’s health began to deteriorate, including the 40th anniversary concerts in 2009.
Mott in action in Worcester in 1973
Hunter left the band in 1974, after canceling their entire European tour, and rumors spread that he was recording with Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson.
Griffin, Watts, and Fisher continued to perform and record under the Mott name, but went their separate ways two years later.
During the 1980s Griffin and Watts formed a production company and produced albums for Hanoi Rocks and The Cult. Griffin then joined the BBC and produced numerous John Peel sessions on Radio 1 from 1981 to 1994, including Pulp, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark.
Rolling stone reported: One of these sessions, an October 1990 studio visit by Nirvana, Incesticide tracks “Molly’s Lips” and “Son of a Gun” (originally by Vaselines) as well as a cover of “Turnaround” by Devo.
Billy Bragg paid tribute to Griffin last night:
Sorry to hear that Mott the Hoople drummer Dale Griffin produced some of my BBC sessions for Peel and Jensen, has passed away from a long illness.
– Billy Bragg (@billybragg) Jan. 18, 2016
Queen guitarist Bryan May paid tribute – also referring to Glen Frey who died on Monday.
So now our old comrade Buffin – from Mott the Hoople – is gone. What about Glen Frey of the Eagles? My God. The sound of our own wheels … Bri
– Dr Brian May (@DrBrianMay) Jan. 18, 2016