5 Songs You Didn’t Know Ian Hunter Wrote for Other Artists

Mott the Hoople were a tectonic shift of rock’s platform. United by a hodgepodge of musicians, they somehow took rock and roll back into its soul, pulling pieces from the era of Bill Haley, Fats Domino, and Buddy Holly, while fostering a more glam rock aesthetic and sound. Ready to break up, the band released their breakthrough album, All the Young Dudes in 1972, which was produced by David Bowie, who also penned the title track for the band, but they wouldn’t last much longer.

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Throughout Mott’s short lifespan — parting ways after seventh album The Hoople in 1974 — the band’s legacy is their impact on dozens of bands that would come around after, from Queen, Def Leppard, and Guns N’ Roses, among many others.

After parting ways with Mott, singer Ian Hunter, born June 3, 1939, went on to build a musical catalog far exceeding his former band, often working with friend and David Bowie‘s former Spider from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson, who would produce many of his albums. The two worked on Hunter’s self-titled debut in 1975, featuring his biggest hit “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” and many more of his releases through YUI Orta in 1989, which was the final album both would work on together before Ronson’s death in 1993.

Enchanted by his poetic storytelling, Barry Manilow (“Ships”), the Pointer Sisters (“Who Do You Love”), Great White (Once Bitten, Twice Shy”), and The Monkees (“Every Step of the Way”), are just a number of artists who have pulled songs from Hunter’s catalog over the years.

Coming full circle, many of the artists Hunter influenced over the decades contributed to his most recent album, Defiance Part 1, featuring Ringo Starr, Mike Campbell, Johnny Depp, the late Jeff Beck, and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, along with members of Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses, and Metallica, among many more.

Within his career, Hunter also wrote songs outside of his own. Here are five songs he penned for other artists.

1. “Goin’ Through the Motions,” Blue Öyster Cult (1977)
Written by Ian Hunter and Eric Bloom

Off Blue Öyster Cult‘s fifth album, Spectres, Hunter co-wrote the heart-pulsing “Goin’ Through the Motions,” with the Cult’s guitarist and singer Eric Bloom. Spectres also birthed one of the band’s biggest hits: “Godzilla.”

Too wild to care, you got that animal stare
You got stay anywhere in your eyes
And you’re leading me on, but you can be anyone
‘Cause I know you’ll be gone ‘fore I rise
And we’re going through the motions
Yeah, we’re going through the motions

2. “Don’t Let Go,” Ellen Foley (1979)
Written and produced by Ian Hunter

A longtime backing vocalist for Meat Loaf, Ellen Foley began working on her debut album, Night Out, in the late ’70s. Produced by Mick Ronson and Hunter, Foley also co-wrote a number of the tracks on the album and threw in a number of covers, including Graham Nash‘s “Thunder and Rain” and The Rolling Stones’ “Stupid Girl.” Night Out closes with a Hunter original “Don’t Let Go.” On the album, Hunter also contributed keyboards and guitar with Ronson doing the same along with backing vocals.

I know that it’s so easy to advise
But I hear someone callin’
And I feel somethin’ fallin’
Through the money in your eyes
When all faith has gone
And you ain’t got the strength to carry on
Like a child bathed in me
Hide away from the lovin that you seek
But don’t let go, don’t let go, don’t let go, don’t let go

3. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” Hanoi Rocks (1984)
Written by Ian Hunter, Andy McCoy, Bob Ezrin

In 1984, Finnish rockers Hanoi Rocks released their fifth studio album, Two Steps from the Move, which was also their final one with drummer Razzle (Nicholas Charles Dingley), who died in a car accident on December 8, 1984. At the time of his death, the band was on their first U.S. tour and ultimately broke up after Dingley’s death—later regrouping with a slightly different lineup in the early 2000s. Longtime fans of Mott the Hoople and Hunter’s solo work, it was an honor for the band when he came on board to co-write two tracks for the album, including the addictive gutter-glam rocker “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”

Along with producer Bob Ezrin and Hanoi guitarist Andy McCoy, Hunter also co-wrote “I Can’t Get It” for Two Steps From the Move, in addition to “Shakes,” which was released as a one-off single that same year.

Do I have to tell you that I need you
Do I have to show you that I care
Do I have to lie and steal to have you
Do I have to sell myself somewhere
Then we can dance all night together
You’ll be my queen I’ll be your slave
And we can stay awake forever
Until we’re dancing on my grave

4. “Red Letter Day,” Scott Folsom (1987)
Written by Ian Hunter

Singer Scott Folsom released the softer pop-rocker “Red Letter Day” on his 1987 album, Simple Talk. In 1995, Hunter took the song and turned it into a sermon of love—choir and all—on his eighth album, Dirty Laundry.

Late at night
I drift away somewhere
Walking on a moon
Talking to the air
I miss you babe
I miss you
In my empty room

5. “Just Wanna Hold,” Mick Jones, featuring Billy Joel (1989)
Written by Ian Hunter, Mick Jagger, and Mick Jones

When Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones released his debut solo album in 1989, he had a few friends on board, including guest singers Carly Simon and Billy Joel, who appears on the opening track “Just Wanna Hold.” The song was co-written by Jones, along with Mick Jagger, who is credited as “M. Phillips” and Hunter.

Permission to speak
The time we have is running out
There’s a fire in my heart
And I don’t wanna put it out

Because I just wanna hold
I just wanna hold you
I just wanna hold
I just wanna hold you, all night long

Photo: Kevin Kane/Getty Images For The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

One Comment

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  1. I get so tired of these filler articles…. In most cases (as in several of these), the songwriter doesn’t write the song FOR someone else, but he writes them WITH someone else who records it. Otherwise, often it is a cover of a song that the writer has already recorded. Very few times is it a writer actually writing FOR someone else (as was the case for Ellen Foley on this list)… The other 4 songs listed here were cowritten WITH the artist who recorded it.

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