Published by Cherry Red Books; ISBN 1901447057
Mott The Hoople were one of the seminal British rock bands of the early 70's. Undervalued at the time, they have since been cited as major influences by members of Queen, Def Leppard, Oasis, REM, Kiss, Motley Crue and The Clash. In 1998, some 24 years after their demise they still had a loyal and fanatical following, so it was surprising they hadn't been covered in any great depth in the printed media. But then came the 3-CD Anthology and this biography.
This, the definitive biography of Mott The Hoople and their vocalist Ian Hunter, finally puts that right. Written by long-time fan Campbell Devine, this book has been some six years in the making. Campbell has wisely avoided recycling old press clippings but has instead interviewed all the members of Mott The Hoople. The result is an entirely fresh treatment of the subject, and for that he is to be commended.
Running to some 400 pages of close type, this book is no lightweight but is absolutely fascinating from start to finish. It traces the early (pre-Mott) careers of all band founder members, through their time at Island, their meeting with Bowie and the switch to CBS, the rise to international stardom and on to their break-up, their subsequent careers up to the present day.
Fresh insights are provided into various aspects of Mott's career including much-debated topics such as Mott's break-up at the end of 1974, Ian's relative inactivity during the 1980's, and the chances (in the late 90's) of a fully-fledged reunion. It seems there is something on every page I didn't know before, so thorough is Campbell's research.
This book is the most comprehensive work on the subject, and could well be the most detailed book written about any band. As such, it is essential reading not just for fans of Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson and Mott The Hoople but for the casual fan as well.
Although they were interviewed extensively for the book, following publication both Dale Griffin and Overend Watts disowned the book and were scathing about it and the author. There are (supposedly) mistakes that they'd hoped would be corrected prior to publication and they felt the book concentrated too much upon Ian, making it more of a hagiography than a true biography.
The book's author is clearly a fan and there is certainly a treasure trove of facts and trivia here, but he is not a professional author. The text is heavy going, and could do with the polish an established journalist/writer would bring. Don Arden, Don Powell and Lemmy all used professional writers to assist their autobiographies, and if ever there is an updated edition I think such a move would be of benefit here. Interspersing the text with contemporaneous photos would also help I think. Check out Slade's Feel The Noize (published in 1984, and written by rock journalist Chris Charlesworth), which was a joy to read from start to finish.
I understand Campbell is working on bringing the Ian Hunter story up to date, possibly with a publication date of 2018, although whether this will be a treatise just of Ian or an update to this book I don't know.
The book runs to 26 chapters, with coverage as follows:
The book also has several appendices:
There are also over 40 rare/previously unseen photos covering all stages of the band's career.