As the perennially sunglassed frontman of Mott The Hoople, Ian Hunter made some of the finest music of the '70s, including "All the Way From Memphis," "Honaloochie Boogie," and the David Bowie-penned
As the perennially sunglassed frontman of Mott The Hoople, Ian Hunter made some of the finest music of the '70s, including "All the Way From Memphis," "Honaloochie Boogie," and the David Bowie-penned "All the Young Dudes." But the band was mortally wounded when lead guitarist Mick Ralphs departed in 1973 to form Bad Company, and only issued one more album before splitting. Now, for the first time in three decades, Hunter is planning a U.K. tour with Ralphs, beginning May 7 in Bristol, England.
Hunter's artistic reunion with Ralphs will inevitably arouse speculation about his future intentions with his former Mott-mate. "It's no big deal," Hunter tells Billboard.com. "It's just [that] he's coming in and sitting in with my band. We're not reading any significance into it at all other than, 'Well, let's have a go and see what happens.' I might write with him. I might not do anything."
What about resurrecting Mott The Hoople in some form? "This is what people like you say, but it's not what the fans say," Hunter says. "I think a true Mott fan would not want Mott The Hoople to reform. I think they're much happier with their memories of it. Or rumors. One of the two."
Hunter's career has been far from dormant in recent years. Last year, his "Rant" EP was selected as an album of the year in several U.S periodicals. "[It's] a great record," he enthuses. "It ain't sold much but it's sold infinitely more than I've sold in the last God-knows-how-long." His latest recording project is a combined DVD/CD package recorded over a series of gigs in Oslo, for which an 18-piece orchestra backed his regular six-piece band.
"That was incredible," he says of the experience, which the public should be able to hear by early next year. "There's three new songs on that one and a new cover and then the rest of it is radically reworked songs from the past to the point where 'Memphis' is kind of reggae-ish. A whole different ballgame."
Hunter doesn't like to come across as a curmudgeon but admits that contemporary popular music does little for him. "The world moves on," he says. "To me, it's jumped up disco. I can't take it. But I'm an old guy now." Indeed, rumor has it that Hunter is the most senior of all his contemporaries, possibly in his mid-60s. "I'd like to clear that up, but I ain't going to," he says. "I've had more mileage out of that than anything else!"
Here are Ian Hunter/Mick Ralphs tour dates:
May 7: Bristol, England (Fleece & Firkin)
May 8: Birkenhead, England (Pacific Arts Centre)
May 9: Sheffield, England (Leadmill)
May 10: London (Astoria)
May 11: Cambridge, England (Corn Exchange)
May 12: Northampton, England (Roadmenders)
May 13: Crewe, England (Limelight)
May 14: Leeds, England (Irish Centre)
May 16: Burnley, England (Burnley Mechanics)
May 17: Glasgow (Garage)
May 18: Newcastle, England (Opera House)
May 19: Manchester, England (Life Cafe)
May 20: Nottingham, England (Rock City)
May 21: Cambridge, England (Junction)
May 22: Wolverhampton, England (Wulfrun Hall)