Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson on reuniting and getting lean and mean after 40: “Might even want to prove something”

kevin statham photo


By Steve Newton

Whatever happened to Ian Hunter, the former leader of one of Britain’s most influential pre-punk rock bands Mott the Hoople: the corkscrew-haired singer with the ever-present shades and Cockney twang; the gifted songwriter who penned such classics as “All the Way from Memphis”, “The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, and “Roll Away the Stone”?

And what about Mick Ronson, the former guitarist for David Bowie’s unforgettable Spiders from Mars band; the one with the muscles and platinum hair who used to do rude things with his white Les Paul while Bowie did even ruder things onstage during the glitter-spangled glory days of glam rock?

Where are they now? You might well ask. Where are they when–more than ever–we need genuine rock heroes to save us from the hordes of fast-buck phonies flooding the airwaves?

Next Friday (September 30) they’ll be at 86 Street. Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson together. In a Vancouver club. On a weekend.

There may be a God after all.

As for where they’ve been, I caught up with Hunter in New York recently and got the story straightened out.

“After the last album that I did, [1983’s All of the Good Ones Are Taken], CBS wanted me to do another one, but they’d stiffed that one, so I didn’t see any point in carrying on. Part of the deal I did with ’em was they gave me a 16-track, so I started learning to record. I wanted to get to the point where I knew enough that I could argue with people and get what I wanted in the studio.

“Then I started to write again, and the writing was pretty poor. I realized it was probably something to do with the fact that I lived in Rolling Acres in upstate New York. So, two-and-a-half years ago, I moved back into New York City, and the writing started to improve.

“Then I started going up to Canada to sing with a guy called Roy Young, and the last time I went up there I invited Mick to come along. After a while, it kicked in–whatever it is that me and him do that works–and we decided we should get back to where we were around ’75. Lean and mean, you know. So we got a band.

“At first we were just going to do two weeks of live shows, just to see if we could do it–’cause me and Mick have run-ins now and again; we don’t get on all the time. But his attitude is great at the moment–and I think mine is too. We’re going out there ’cause we want to, not for any other reason. Might even want to prove something. I don’t know what.”

Hunter doesn’t have to prove anything to his die-hard fans, the ones that totally embraced Mott the Hoople and then followed his up-and-down solo career, which kicked off with a bang on his self-titled ’75 album but never got any better than that. Mick Ronson played guitar and keyboards on that record, did the arrangements, and co-produced it along with Hunter.

A New Yorker like Hunter, Ronson has also been out of the spotlight in recent years. He’s kept busy in the studio, though, producing acts like Vancouver’s own Payola$ (1982’s No Stranger to Danger) and, more recently, country artist David Lynn Jones.

Considering his glitter-rock beginnings, and the rollicking boogie he recorded with Hunter, it’s rather surprising that Ronson has been spending so much time in Nashville of late. But it’s just a natural progression for him, he says.

“I’ve been involved in all different kinds of music, and I think one has to do that,” he explains on the line from the Big Apple. “I always find it a great shame if somebody’s real short-sighted and only plays one type of music and that’s all. I find that a bit sad, you know.”

Both in their forties, Hunter and Ronson have seen a lot of what the rock world has to offer. They played 20,000-seat stadiums in the mid-’70s, but are now on the club circuit again. Hunter says that doesn’t bother him a bit.

“Clubs are what I like to play,” he says. “I don’t like playin’ big places. I feel at home in clubs, and I like people up close, where I can see ’em.”

Ronson says he can’t wait to get back on the road and rockin’ again, and the excitement in his voice underscores that desire. Hunter is looking forward to it as well.

“It’s an opportunity to give my undivided attention to music,” he says. “Very often, when you’ve got a couple of wives and three kids and dogs and God knows what else, your attention can get swayed. And I really enjoy touring for the camaraderie–a bunch of guys together, you know. I’m somewhat of a chauvinist.”

Hunter and Ronson will be accompanied by three musicians from Toronto–a drummer, a keyboardist, and a 22-year-old bassist whom Hunter enthusiastically compares to the late, great Jaco Pastorius (whom he played with on his ’76 All American Alien Boy album).

Ronson expects the band to be “smokin'” by the time it gets to Vancouver on its nine-week tour. And he boasts that buddy Hunter is still quite capable of rocking out. “I think once it’s in your system, that basically it’s always there.”

On the recording front, Hunter says he has nine songs set for the next Hunter-Ronson album, which he hopes to start recording in January and have out by the summer of ’89. Currently there are a number of record labels haggling over the upcoming release, and if–as Ronson says–the old Hunter spark is there, it could well be comeback time for the veteran rocker.

But as for a Mott the Hoople reunion, don’t hold your breath.

“I don’t particularly want to do it,” says Ian. “A couple of ’em want to do it–in fact I got a call a few days back. But it seems a bit funny after all these years to do something like that. It’s like, ‘All the Young Dudes’? Quite peculiar.”

A Mott the Hoople reunion wouldn’t be possible at this time anyway, unless guitarist Mick Ralphs split up with the latest incarnation of Bad Company–a group that certainly hasn’t impressed Hunter with its new material.

“I don’t like the record,” says the straight-shooting singer. “I think they’re all great players, but I don’t like the record.”

And how does he feel about the state of rock music in general these days?

“I don’t really concern myself with it, because when I first started out, I loved Bob Dylan, and I started sounding like Bob Dylan. Then I loved Bowie, and I started sounding like Bowie. So I hardly ever listen anymore.

“To me, what sells Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter–or what doesn’t sell Ian Hunter is Ian Hunter. So I might as well just do what I’m gonna do, and sooner or later things’ll kick in.”


To hear the full audio of my 1988 interview with Ian Hunter–and my 1988 and ’89 interviews with Mick Ronson–subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 300 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

John Cougar, 1983
Cy Curnin of the Fixx, 1984
James Young from Styx, 1986
Steve Morse of Deep Purple, 1998
Lenny Kravitz, 1998
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1998
Tinsley Ellis, 1992
Matt Minglewood, 1985
Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana of the Pleasure Barons, 1993
Bill Davis of Dash Rip Rock, 1992
Sue Foley, 1992
Tom Keifer of Cinderella, 1991
Terry Adams of NRBQ, 1997
Mark Hollis of Talk Talk, 1984
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 2010
Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Slash’s Snakepit, 1995
Peter Goalby of Uriah Heep, 1983
Lenny Zakatek of the Alan Parsons Project, 1983
Marc Storace of Krokus, 1983
Chris Whitley, 1991
Buddy Cage of New Riders of the Purple Sage, 2006
Bill Elm of Friends of Dean Martinez, 1995
Simon Townshend, 1983
John Bush of Anthrax, 1993
Aldo Nova, 1983
Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses, 2011
Mick Ronson, 1989
Tom Morello, 2011
Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, 1993
Colin Hay of Men at Work, 1983
Mark Kelly of Marillion, 1986
Luther Allison, 1995
Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats, 2007
J. Geils from the J. Geils Band, 2006
Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, 1997
Jason Newsted of Newsted (and Metallica), 2013
Marshall Crenshaw, 2013
Dan Hartman, 1984
Sean Costello, 2006
Roger Hodgson from Supertramp, 1998
Tommy Stinson from the Replacements, 1993
Brian Blush of the Refreshments, 1997
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, 2003
Craig Northey of Strippers Union, 2021
Melissa Etheridge, 1990
Joe Jackson, 2003
Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity, 2001
David Ellefson of Megadeth, 1992
David Lee Roth, 2003
Grant Walmsley of the Screaming Jets, 1991
John Popper of Blues Traveler, 1991
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 2012
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1993
Ellen McIlwaine, 2001
Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks, 2012
J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, 1992
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions, 1992
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
Mike Smith of Sandbox (and Trailer Park Boys), 1996
Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
Robert Randolph of the Family Band, 2003
Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, 2003
Todd Kerns, 2016
Bill Payne of Little Feat, 2002
Robbin Crosby of Ratt, 1989
Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, 2001
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1985
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

….with hundreds more to come

Leave a Reply