It’s not often that you get to talk to a bona fide rock legend—and one of your biggest heroes to boot. So I was thrilled to get the opportunity to speak by phone with Sir (I added that myself; why wait for the Queen to get around to it?) Ian Hunter, of Mott the Hoople and solo artist fame. I’ve been listening to Mott since I was 14, and getting the opportunity to speak one on one with him was something I never considered possible. It seemed to me as likely as getting the chance to talk to Robert Johnson, or Napoleon.
Anyway, Ian Hunter and band are coming to The Hamilton in Washington D.C. on Sunday, November 2, and Hunter was interested in hyping the show. Unfortunately he was talking to a deranged fanatic, and he had to remind me of that fact about three-quarters of the way through our hour-long interview. My sincerest apologies, Ian. But I learned a lot.
I’ve heard rumors of a Mott reunion? True?
We’ve done two, and I think that’s enough. We’re all a bit older now and I think we’ve done enough.
Damn. Well, let’s start at the beginning. You were a Teddy Boy?
I came out of gangs. Teddy Boys—they were all about style. Edwardian clothes and violence. Drainpipe trousers, jackets that came down to your knees. There was a lot of fighting involved. I’d be playing pubs, so I wasn’t engaging in much violence. But they had my back. If somebody hit me, all I had to do was call some guys, and there’d be five Teddy Boys tapping the guilty party on his shoulder. They were poor people, a lot of them had grown up in boy’s homes, but they weren’t stupid. They were angry, but not stupid.
Do you have an all-time favorite rocker?
Little Richard. “Whole Lotta Shakin’.” I found your American artists’ names very confusing. I thought Jerry Lee Lewis was Jerry Lewis (of The Nutty Professor fame), and as for Elvis Presley, what kind of name was Elvis? What was up with that? I saw Little Richard in 1957. In those days artists couldn’t afford to bring their own bands to England, so Sounds Inc. [a British instrumental pop group] served as Little Richard’s backing band. And he had Sam Cooke singing back up. It’s funny about Sam Cooke—he always sounded very quiet on record, but he had a very loud voice on stage.