Born in Oswestry, Shropshire and fuelled musically by the likes of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, Ian Hunter Patterson played in various bands throughout the sixties, including The New Yardbirds and, as a bass player, backed Billy Fury, Freddie Fingers Lee, The Young Idea and David McWilliams. He also worked as a journalist and staff songwriter for Francis Day and Hunter before joining Herefordshire band, Silence, in 1969.
Renamed Mott the Hoople by manic mentor and producer Guy Stevens, Hunter became the group’s vocalist, principal songwriter and focal point with visually striking corkscrew hair and omnipresent dark glasses. Mott recorded four crazed but critically-acclaimed and highly influential albums for Island Records and possessed enormous live prowess, but poor record sales led to a temporary split and a move to CBS/Columbia. With David Bowie’s All The Young Dudes as the launch pad, Mott the Hoople hit superstar status between 1972 and 1974 - seven hit singles, four chart albums (including Mott - still regarded as a seventies’ classic); they were the first rock band to sell out a week of Broadway concerts in New York’s theatre land, and Ian wrote his universally acclaimed book, Diary of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.
Hunter’s lyrical foresight and percipience were astonishing – “The Moon Upstairs” (1971) pre-empted Punk Rock by five years, “Crash Street Kidds” (1974) predicted social unrest and British street riots in the early ‘80s and Queen must have been listening to Ian’s five minute operetta, “Marionette”, an obvious precursor to their Number One smash hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody”.
Various personnel changes in Mott the Hoople ended with the recruitment of the highly talented Mick Ronson as lead guitarist, but personality clashes and strains within the group resulted in its demise after Hunter suffered a physical breakdown in the USA. In spite of the considerable pleadings of their original guiding light, Guy Stevens, Ian traded the safety of Mott the Hoople for unknown and risk-laden solo territory.
On paper, the combined potential of Mott and Ronson was frightening and Ian’s first stunning solo album, recorded with Mick, illustrated the considerable opportunity that was missed. Hunter was soon trailblazing again and his second LP, released fifteen months later, whilst labeled commercial suicide, was soon mirrored by Sting after he quit The Police and issued his first solo records in a style reminiscent of All American Alien Boy.
Hunter continued to pool his vocal and writing expertise with Ronson’s instrumental and studio capabilities over the next fifteen years, both for recording and production work. The latter included Generation X, Ellen Foley, Hanoi Rocks and Urgent. By the mid ‘80s however, Ian’s output was less frequent, being restricted to occasional songs for movie soundtracks, until he resumed his partnership with Mick in 1988, when they recorded and toured for the first and only time as The Hunter Ronson Band.
Ian has been cited as a major inspiration and reference point for numerous bands including The Clash, Kiss, Def Leppard, R.E.M., Motley Crue, Blur and Oasis. Hunter’s influence has remained incalculable; accompanied on stage by Ian Astbury of The Cult, Axl Rose and Slash, Roger Daltrey, Meat Loaf and Bryan Adams amongst others (and at their request), there are now over 50 different cover versions of Ian’s songs from artists as diverse as Great White, The Presidents of the United States of America, Status Quo, Blue Oyster Cult, Bonnie Tyler, Barry Manilow, The Pointer Sisters, Willie Nelson, Thunder and The Monkees - further evidence, surely, that he is one of our greatest-ever songwriters.
Freddie Mercury of Queen enquired of a former Mott member in the ‘80s why Hunter had never reformed such a successful and influential group, a resistance which Mercury failed to comprehend. The clue is in the unprecedented diversity of albums such as All American Alien Boy, You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic, Short Back n’ Sides and YUI Orta which bear witness to Ian’s belief that artistic honesty and independence outweigh any commercial consideration whatsoever. The quality of Hunter’s recorded repertoire has never wavered from the very highest caliber and consistency.
Man Overboard (2009) is Ian Hunter s thirteenth solo album since his eponymous debut in 1975. Recorded in late 2008 in Pawling, New York, the eleven-song set is a stunning follow up to the overwhelmingly critically acclaimed Shrunken Heads album. Man Overboard was produced by Andy York (veteran guitarist for John Mellencamp) and Ian Hunter and features a backing band of superstar talent comprised of Steve Holley on drums and percussion (Wings, Joe Cocker), Paul Page on bass (Dion), Jack Petruzzelli on electric guitar (Rufus Wainwright, Joan Osbourne), James Mastro on electric guitar (Patti Smith, John Cale), Andy Burton on piano and organ (The Dbs) and Producer Andy York on guitar and backing vocals. Many of the band members are returning from the Shrunken Heads sessions.
Regarding Man Overboard, Ian Hunter states, “When we did Shrunken Heads, I felt like we had a good thing going so I wanted to revisit the experience before anything changed, and that’s what we did.”
When I’m President (2012) is Ian’s 20th album of original songs, and the latest highlight in a storied career that’s produced immortal anthems like “All The Young Dudes,” “All the Way From Memphis,” “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” and “Cleveland Rocks.”
The 2012 album’s eleven Hunter originals include such infectious, personally charged numbers as the wry, socially conscious title track, the gently introspective “Fatally Flawed,” the bittersweet ballad “Black Tears,” the chugging rocker “Wild Bunch,” the swaggering “I Don’t Know What You Want” (which features a guest vocal by Hunter’s son Jesse) and the vivid, haunting “Ta Shunka Witco (Crazy Horse)” all of which showcase the jagged immediacy of Hunter’s one-of-a-kind voice and the punchy authority of his longstanding all-star backup combo the Rant Band.