‘On tour as support to Mott The Hoople (the only time Queen ever supported anyone), I was always conscious that we were in the presence of something great, something highly evolved, close to the centre of the Spirit of Rock ‘n’ Roll, something to breathe in and learn from.’
- Brian May, Queen
The five original members of Mott The Hoople are Verden Allen, Dale Griffin, Ian Hunter, Mick Ralphs and Pete Overend Watts. Guy Stevens at Island Records took a Hereford band called Silence under his wing in 1969, and the group was completed when Ian Hunter auditioned for a spot as the singer and pianist. Mott The Hoople formed in 1969, signing to Island Records and releasing four albums with the label. The group switched to CBS Records in 1972 with the release of the All The Young Dudes album, produced by David Bowie. The group issued three additional albums for CBS before calling it quits at the end of 1974.
Drummer Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin grew up in Ross-on-Wye, where in 1963 he first teamed up with Pete Watts in the Anchors. The pair spent much of the 1960s together, in groupls like the Soulents, the Shakedown Sound, the Doc Thomas Group, and Silence. After Mott The Hoople, the pair continued to work together in Mott and British Lions. For much of the 1980s and 1990s Dale was a prolific producer for the BBC, overseeing thousands of recording sessions for John Peel’s program and many others. Buffin has been instrumental in keeping the memory of Mott The Hoople alive, writing liner notes and providing rare photographs for numerous compilations and reissues, and contributing regularly to the group’s official fan magazine.
Bass player Pete ‘Overend’ Watts was a childhood friend of Dale Griffin, and the pair teamed up regularly through the Sixties in Hereford groups like the Anchors, the Soulents, the Shakedown Sound, the Doc Thomas Group, and Silence. Like Griffin he remained with Mott The Hoople for the duration, and continued to work with Dale in Mott and British Lions. Overend chose to leave the music business at the end of the Seventies, and has dabbled in antiques and curios, first in London and later as the proprietor of a shop in Hereford. More recently, he has passed the time with nocturnal carp fishing expeditions and extended walks over the length and breadth of England.
Organist Terence Allen moved to Hereford from South Wales in the early sixties, and cut his teeth in local bands The Inmates and The Astrals before moving on to Jimmy Cliff’s backing band The Shakedown Sound. Mick Ralphs and Dale Griffin, and the trio eventaully returned to Hereford and formed Silence, the group that would become Mott The Hoople. Verden was the first of the original five members to leave Mott The Hoople, when he dropped out in early 1973. He spent the remainder of the 1970s recording and touring with his own bands, before taking a break from the music business for most of the 1980s. He resurfaced in the 1990s, and has since released four solo albums.
Guitarist Mick Ralphs hails from Bromyard, and begain his career with a top local act called The Buddies. He eventually fell in with the other Mott The Hoople members from Hereford, spending time with Griffin, Watts, and Allen in the Shakedown Sound, Doc Thomas Group, and Silence. After leaving Mott The Hoople in late 1973, Mick teamed up with former Free members Paul Rodgers and Simon Kirke to form Bad Company, a group that regularly topped the charts throughout the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties.
Singer Ian Hunter was the final piece of the Mott The Hoople puzzle, joining the group in May 1969 after reluctantly trekking to Regent Sound in London for an audition. Raised in Shrewsbury, he moved to Northampton in the late 1950s and passed through a number of local groups before making his way to London in the late 1960s. With his signature shades, Dylan-esque phrasing, and impressive songwriting skills, Hunter has remained at the top of his game.