Ian Hunter (w/Mick Ronson) In Concert – August 9, 1980 – BBC Radio 1 – 1980-08-09 BBC In Concert (Ian Hunter)
Ian Hunter this week. As many of you may know, the inimitable Mr. Hunter turns 80 on June 3rd. Yes, not a typo – Ian Hunter was born June 3, 1939, and the celebrations have been starting early with a Mott The Hoople reunion and U.S. tour coming up later on this year, 45 years after they first came West.
Those of us who go back a ways to the Mott The Hoople days remember what an influential and groundbreaking band they were – they were part of the perfect storm which became Glam, and as your basic Hard Rock outfit that got started in 1968, their progression and eventual reintroduction as one of the premier entities in the Glam movement was no small deal.
Having been a fan since Mad Shadows (their second album) and Brain Capers (their fourth), their transformation in 1972 with All The Young Dudes was a milestone – and the band properly changed their image to accommodate their change in direction. During an interview with the band, I remarked to Overend (Formerly Pete) Watts that it was great seeing Luther Grosvenor, a former veteran of Spooky Tooth, now with Mott – I was instantly corrected “Bender – his name’s Ariel Bender”. Things were new, things were different. It was the all-new 1972 Mott The Hoople.
Things were going meteroic, with a string of hits. But by 1974, Hunter grew disillusioned and left the band, who carried on, first as simply Mott and then as British Lions before packing it in and calling it a day.
In March 1975, Hunter joined forces with Mick Ronson, his most frequent collaborator until Ronson’s death in 1993. Hunter’s first single from his eponymous solo album was the UK Top 40 hit “Once Bitten Twice Shy”. Hunter and Ronson then parted professionally, reportedly due to Hunter’s refusal to deal with Ronson’s manager, Tony DeFries.
Hunter’s second solo album, All American Alien Boy (1976), was a more soul-infused work which featured saxophonist David Sanborn and bassist Jaco Pastorius. Queen, once an opening act for Mott the Hoople, provided backing vocals on one track.
Hunter’s next album, Overnight Angels (1977), was produced by Roy Thomas Baker and featured a heavier guitar sound courtesy of former Bowie sideman Earl Slick. Hunter’s record label in America, Columbia Records, refused to release the album in the US due to issues concerning Hunter’s management: “Overnight Angels was not released in the US because I fired my manager, Fred Heller, during the English promotional tour – just before it was to be released in America. Columbia said they didn’t want to release it until I had new management and that dragged on until it became too late.”
In late 1978, Hunter produced Generation X’s second LP Valley of the Dolls (1979).
Mick Ronson returned as producer and guitarist on Hunter’s 1979 album, You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic, which also featured John Cale and several members of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Two songs from …Schizophrenic became successes for other artists: Barry Manilow’s version of “Ships” became a top ten US hit in late 1979, and the Presidents of the United States of America’s 1997 cover of “Cleveland Rocks” was used as the theme song for The Drew Carey Show. “Cleveland Rocks” is arguably Hunter’s most enduring solo song; a de facto anthem in Cleveland, Ohio, where it is sometimes used as a victory song for the city’s sports teams. Hunter was given the key to the city by Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich on 19 June 1979.
The best-selling status of …Schizophrenic led Hunter’s record label, Chrysalis Records, to commission the release of the double album Welcome to the Club (1980). Primarily a live album, it also featured some original studio material. Todd Rundgren played lead guitar on Hunter’s eleven-show 1980 US tour but does not appear on the live album.
Hunter’s first studio album of the 1980s was Short Back ‘n’ Sides (1981), produced in collaboration with Ronson and Clash guitarist Mick Jones. Ronson’s input on Hunter’s next album, All of the Good Ones Are Taken (1983), was restricted to playing guitar on a single track. The title track became a minor hit in the US, after MTV put the song’s video into heavy rotation. In the same year, Ronson travelled to Canada to produce the Payolas’ album Hammer on a Drum, to which Hunter contributed backing vocals.
This concert is from that 1980 U.S. tour and was recorded by the BBC for broadcast on Radio 1’s In Concert series.
In case you missed it the first time – here it is. You also might want to line for tickets for the upcoming Mott The Hoople Reunion tour, it is rumored to be everything they initially did in 1974. Should be fun.