Joe Elliot from Def Leppard is just one of many seventies youth who were thrilled and empowered by the great Mott The Hoople. Years later he is the special guest at the reformation shows and, along with Mick Jones, is one of the band’s famous fans and proof of Mott’s broad influence. We spoke to him about how and why the band have been so important in his life.
‘The first time I heard Mott the Hoople was on radio Luxembourg in 1971 when Downtown was on all time. I was transfixed. It was the single of the week and they played it every hour on the hour. It was nothing like anything I had heard before and I was instantly a total fan. After that there was series of events that got me even more into the band. I bought these Island Records compilations that were in the local second hand record shop and they were on there as well and those songs were brilliant as well.
They had a fantastic blend of rockers and ballads- and I use that term sparingly because I hate that word- ballads because it makes you think of hair rock ballads but Mott were different, they had epic songs like Looking Glassí
I never saw them live at the time, I was only 11 or 12 then. That is why these gigs are so exciting, I’ve seen every other combination apart from Mott the Hoople- I saw Hunter Ronson in 1975, Mott, British Lions with Nigel Benjamin and of course Ian Hunter solo many times.
I’ve already told my agent that we don’t play any gigs that week and if any of my family or friends dies they go in the fridge till the gigs are over!
Mott The Hoople’s influence is everywhere. I’m sure Queen got the idea for Bohemian Rhapsody from the Mott song, Marionette, they supported them at the time and both songs are made up of several parts- you can hear it in there.
I got to know some of the band over the years I even went round to Overend Watts house once and he had the famous stack heeled boots nailed to his wall which was quite impressive!
There are so many reasons why I love them from Ian Hunter’s image of the hair and the shades, his mannerisms, his voice, his lyrics of the outsider that make the band so great. Songs like Ballad of Mott and Hymn For the Dudes are where you can really see his songwriting develop, I’m sure Bowie had a word in his ear and told him to do the songwriting and take the band over at that time.
In all fairness as individuals they were not great musicians but together they were a great band which is perfect for me. I don’t like musos playing all that jazz rock bollocks. That’s not for me. It has no soul and Mott the Hoople, like the New York Dolls played rock n roll the way it should be played. That original 5 piece line up really had something special more than many many other bands and that has stuck with me all my life.