Whilst in prison in 1968, producer/manager (and future Clash
soundman) Guy Stevens discovered Willard Manus' novel Mott The Hoople and vowed to find a band to match the moniker. After The Silence
successfully auditioned for Stevens in 1969, they reluctantly agreed to change their name. Their original vocalist Stan Tippens
was ousted in favour of Ian Hunter, but he returned as their road manager. Stevens then hustled them into a studio to record their patchy, self-titled album (1969) in a week.
Their second album, Mad Shadow (1970), was a modest hit, but the band became better known as a raucous live act (a ban on 'Rock acts' resulted after one riotous gig at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1971) and grabbed attention in the USA with constant touring (later chronicled memorably in Hunter's Diary Of A Rock 'N' Roll Star). Their album sales were still comparatively weak; 1971's Wildlife reached UK No. 44 while Brain Capers failed to chart.
They reached a nadir in early 1972 when, booked into fourth-rate European venues, they decided to split after a particularly dismal gig in a disused gas holder in Switzerland. Because they were still contracted to tour England, bass player Peter Overend Watts contacted David Bowie, who had offered them Ziggy Stardust's 'Suffragette City'. David Bowie donated the ruefully anthemic 'All The Young Dudes', which became a UK No. 3 in 1972, although their album of the same name stalled at No. 21.
Their hard-rocking follow-ups, 1973's Mott (UK No.7) and 1974's The Hoople (UK No.11), spawned the hits 'Honaloochie Boogie', 'All The Way From Memphis', 'Roll Away The Stone', and 'Golden Age Of Rock 'n' Roll'. However, changes in personnel complicated matters when keyboard player Verden Allen was relpaced by Morgan Fisher in 1972. Guitarist Mick Ralphs fled the following year to Bad Company. He was replaced by Spooky Tooth's Luther Grosvenor, who was contractually obliged to change his name; singer Lynsey De Paul suggested Ariel Bender. This line-up is only heard on the compilation Walkin' With A Mountain (1990).
In late 1974, Bowie's sidekick Mick Ronson (b. 26 May 1946, Hull, England d. 29 Apr 1993) replaced Bender, who left under a cloud. However, the band finally disintregrated two months later.
Ronson found success with Slaughter On Tenth Avenue (1974) and the superior Play Don't Worry (1975) and helped out on Hunter's solo debut Ian Hunter (1975). Their partnership was renewed on 1988's YUI Orta. Ronson's last album, Heaven Or Hull, was posthumously completed by admirers like Def Leppard's Joe Elliot. Meanwhile, the other members re-formed briefly as Mott in 1975 and as The British Lions in 1976 with little success.