By Dr. Alan Carlos Hernandez on January 10, 2017
HOLLYWOOD (Herald de Paris) — Â Whilst his achievements during his first decade as a recording artist would have been more than enough to ensure his iconic status, Ian Hunter has never been one to coast on past glories. Indeed, in the past dozen years, heâs made a series of riveting albums that stand with his best and most resonant work, while making a decisive return to touring, delivering incendiary live performances that show his fire to be burning as brightly as ever. He was already a veteran of theLondon music scene by the time he joined Mott The Hoople in1969.
With Mott, he recorded four iconoclastic albums ââMott The Hoopleâ, âMad Shadowsâ, âWildlifeâ and âBrain Capersâ â by the time they hit international stardom with the glam-rock anthem for a generation, the David Bowie penned, âAll The Young Dudesâ. The bandâs artistic and commercial success continued with âMottâ and âThe Hoopleâ, between them, containing the hits,âAll The Way From Memphisâ, âHonaloochie Boogieâ,âRoll Away The Stoneâ and âThe Golden Age Of Rock ânâ Rollâ. On their final tour, they took out a then little known band, Queen, who would have a hit single witha song about their experiences, âNow Iâm Hereâ. It would be the only time Queen would open for anyone and the band members would stay long term friends with Ian, contributing backing vocals to his âAll American Alien Boyâ album.
Mott have also been credited by John Lydon (Sex Pistols) and Mick Jones (The Clash) as being one of the pioneers and inspirations behind the burgeoning punk / new wave movement.
Later on, Ian would go on to produce Generation Xâs âValley Of The Dollsâ album and The Clash would play on Ianâs âShort Back ânâ Sidesâ release. Not many, if any, other artists could claim to have influenced bands diverse as Queen and the Sex Pistols.
Mott disbanded in 1974 and Ian moved to New York, segueing into a celebrated solo career and quickly building a formidable body of solo work. The albums, âIan Hunterâ, âAll American Alien Boyâ, Overnight Angelsâ, âYouâre Never Alone With A Schizophrenicâ, âShort Back ânâ Sidesâ and âAll Of The Good Ones Are Takenâ between them featuring such diverse talents as the aforementioned Queen and The Clash, Mick Ronson, the then unknown jazz sensation, Jaco Pastorious and The E Street Band, of Bruce Springsteen fame.
Barry Manilow took one of Ianâs most personal songs, âShipsâ into the charts and Great White had a international hit with their cover of, âOnce Bitten, Twice Shy.â Ian took time out to produce in the â80âs, returning in 1993, prompted by the death of his long time collaborator, Mick Ronson.
Since then, Ian has produced what many critics feel to be his best work to date, âThe Artful Dodger,â âRant,â âShrunken Heads,â Man Overboard,â and âWhen Iâm President.â There are now a new generation of artists name-checking Ian as an influence; Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) to name but three.
Mott The Hoople have reformed twice and played two hugely successful tours. If anyone had any doubts as to the long lasting appeal and influence of Ianâs music, you would only have needed to peek at the sceneâs in Mott The Hoopleâs dressing room after their London show where they were joined by; Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Mick Jones (The Clash), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) and John Squire (The Stone Roses). But, as always, whilst proud of his past achievements, Ian would prefer to focus on the future. âTo me, music is holy,â Hunter asserts, adding, âFor the first fifteen years of my life, I had no idea what I was here for. But then Elvis came out and it was, ‘Oh, thatâs what I am here for.’ Rock ânâ roll got me out and gave me a great life and I donât know what I would have done without it. Itâs all I know and my identity is all tied up with it.â
Ian Hunterâs latest studio album, Fingers Crossed unveils ten new, self-penned songs including his much-anticipated homage to David Bowie âDandyâ. Recorded at HOBO Studios in New Jersey, and co-produced by Hunter and Andy York, the record features his magnificent Rant Band and is the follow-up to 2012âs acclaimed âWhen Iâm President.â Released on September 16th on JJM Records. Proper Records 30-Disc anthology box set, Stranded in Reality which was released on 2 September, 2016 is a strictly limited edition of 2,500 units for sale to worldwide customers from Proper Records.
Herald de Paris Consulting Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez was honored to have a conversation with the seminal music legend, Ian Hunter.
AC: You were a part of the music scene in London before Mott, what kind of music were you playing, I understand you love the classic Rockers like Chuck Berry?
IH: I was in various semi-pro bands before Mott the Hoople. I played bass with Freddie Fingers Lee (the English Jerry Lee Lewis) Billy Fury and Mike Berry. My favorite artists were Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry.
AC: What does Mott the Hoople mean? What did you bring to the band?
IH: Mott the Hoople is the title of a book by Willard Manus. I guess I brought a rockânâ roll sensibility to the band.
AC: How did this whole Glam rock thing come about and what was your part in it?
IH: Iâve no idea how glam started. Itâs just a label. I guess everybody decided the gigs were drab, so we decided to dress up a bit.
AC: I am aware that your album âBrain Capersâ is credited with birthing the Punk Music movement?
IH: âBrain Capersâ was a work of frustration and desperation with an added dab of lunacy. People say it heralded punk, but there were punks in the 1950âs. Gene Vincent was a punk â and he was good.
AC: Clash founding members would go to every Mott gig, can you tell us about Mick Jones and John Lydon of The Sex Pistols as to how you inspired them?
IH: Itâs true certain people went to gigs that later became famous in their own right. I remember Mick Jones because he was a sharp dresser. Youâd have to ask them how we
AC: You produced Generation X?
IH: Yes, I produced âGeneration Xâ. Not easy. I liked Der (the guitarist). They had a couple of hits, so that was OK.
AC: I understand you met David Bowie though your bass player at a time when Mott was breaking up? Bowie was an up and comer who encouraged you to stay together?
IH: Mottâs bass player, Pete Watts approached David for a gig when Mott split, but it turned out that David was a Mott the Hoople fan â so thatâs how that all started.
AC: Tell us about your tune, âAll The Young dudesâ that made you superstars? What is the song about?
IH: We all went down to an office off Regent Street in London and David sat on the floor with an acoustic guitar and played us âDudesâ. My first thought was â âI can sing thisâ and my second thought was âwhy is he giving this away?â It turns out he had tried it with his band already and it hadnât worked out. It had been in a different key and heâd put a lot of alto sax on it.
AC: What was the whole âGlamâ scene about, how do you think History will remember it?
IH: We were never really part of the âglamâ movement as you put it. Sure we dressed up, but we were more in the Stones camp (who dressed up!) I couldnât care less if history remembers âglamâ. I just hope they remember our music, most of which is still available, so Iguess they do.
IH: Queen wrote good songs â that was the difference.
AC: You have said the Mott was oftentimes, before and occasionally after music trends, what does that mean?
IH: Mott missed the big time because they made poor choices in the management area â we were too flaky.
AC: After Mott disbanded in 1974 you came to New York and started a very successful solo career, you worked with cats like Jaco Pastorious, Mick Ronson and the E Street band, it seems you have an uncanny ability to discern future superstars?
IH: Itâs true I played with a lot of great people over the years. I donât know how or why it happened â it just did.
AC: Who else did you work with during those years on The East Coast what was the sound you were going after?
IH: I wasnât going after any particular sound. I wrote the songs and we played âem.
AC: Tell us about Barry Manilow and your song âShipsâ
IH: I wrote âShipsâ for an album called âYour Never Alone with a Schizophrenicâ and Clive Davis liked it and played it to Barry Manilow. It was his last top ten hit.
AC: How about your tune done by the band Great White, “Once bittern twice shy?â
IH: âOnce Bittenâ was written in ten hours in Mick Ronsonâs flat at the back of the Albert Hall in London. Mick had a little drum machine with rumba â samba â rock sounds on it. I pressed them all and out came the groove I worked with. Great White took it to number 5 in Billboard. I took it to number 9 in the UK.
AC: Who else has performed some of your songs?
IH: Iâve had hundreds of covers. Some chap in France actually found them all â too many to list here.
AC: Mott has regrouped a couple of times what were some of the most memorable gigs? Will you ever tour again as Mott?
IH: Mott reformed twice â the first time was amazing the second time anticlimactic. Never again.
AC: Over the years you have performed and recorded with an astounding amount of artists, who are some of the people that you wished you could have worked with?
IH: Iâd have liked to have worked with Leon Russell , Bob Dylan and The Band (in their heyday).
AC: Tell us about âThe Hollywood Vampiresâ your work with them is all over You Tube? How did that come about?
IH: Ross Halfin is a famous British photographer who was photographing the Vipers and said Johnny Depp liked a book I had written. JD rang me up and asked me to the New York show. Johnny was extremely gracious as were the band.
AC: Tell us about Proper Records 30-Disc anthology box set, Stranded in Reality released on September, 2016 is a strictly limited edition of 2,500 units from Proper Records?
IH: I sort of knew about the box set for a while, but I didnât participate until they were well on the way. They needed unreleased material, so Campbell Devine came and stayed with me for a while and we fished around the archives. I think there are over 350 tracks on it â plus a book and a newspaper and DVDs. I was in two minds about it.
On the one hand it was flattering they would do all this and on the other hand it was like â well thatâ it then â game over! Fortunately, I had a new album âFingers Crossedâ come out at the same time and thatâs been well received.
AC: What kinds of things are you working on now?
IH: Right now we are gearing up for the next tour which stats in the spring.
AC: Anything left on the Bucket list?
IH: Never really had a bucket list in the first place. Some people would call it a
career â I would call it a life. I donât like planning â I like surprises.
AC: When its all said and done what would you like your legacy to be how would you like history to remember you?
IH: Legacies are in the eyes of the beholders. It ainât gonna bother me much.
Edited By, Mariam Salarian