Mott the Hoople was a band marred by tragedy, but not because anything bad happened to them. The tragedy lies in being too often overlooked. During their prime in the 1970s, they were an unsung fixture in rock and roll, an acquired taste. Time gifted them nothing more than cult status.
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The grimy glam rockers were perhaps ahead of their time. Armed with a muscular sound—part hard rock, part sneering theatrics—the band took on stages costumed and made up in a pre-KISS era. They were different, band name and all, but they rocked just the same.
Behind the Name
Before they were Mott the Hoople, they were Silence. The English rock band—formally comprised of frontman Ian Hunter, guitarist Mick Ralphs, organist Verden Allen, bassist Pete Overend Watts, and drummer Dale “Buffin” Griffin– was first called Silence when they formed in 1968.
The band reluctantly changed their name to Mott the Hoople in 1969 with the promise of a record deal. Their moniker was taken from a 1966 novel of the same name written by Willard Manus. In the book, the main character, Norman Mott thinks of himself as a “hoople,” a word Manus himself borrowed from a newspaper comic strip called Our Boarding House.
“Hoople” is a slang term for a ne’er-do-well. The book’s author once explained the term “[means] variously fool, rogue, buffoon, and even sucker. That’s why my character Norman Mott sometimes thinks of himself as a Hoople.”
With the name secured, Mott the Hoople released their eponymous debut album in the fall of 1969. They saw a handful of underground successes, even finding a fan in the great David Bowie. Agreeing to produce their 1972 album, Bowie also offered the band his recently penned, “All the Young Dudes,” a tune that would become the album’s title track and their biggest hit.
Mott the Hoople Today
Despite the help from Bowie, the band couldn’t match the success of “All the Young Dudes” and called it quits by 1980. By that time, the band had seen Hunter exit, as well as years worth of continued personnel changes. Mott the Hoople, however, has seen various reunions since.
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