Ian Hunter Biography

3 June 1946, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England. Having served a musical apprenticeship in several contrasting groups, Hunter was employed as a contract songwriter when approached to audition for a new act recently signed by Island Records. Initially known as Silence, the band took the name Mott The Hoople on his installation and Hunter’s gravelly vocals and image-conscious looks - omnipresent dark glasses framed by long Dylanesque curly hair - established the vocalist/pianist as their focal point. He remained the band’s driving force until 1974 when, having collapsed from physical exhaustion, he left the now-fractious line-up to begin a career as a solo artist. Late-period Mott guitarist Mick Ronson quit at the same time and the pair agreed to pool resources for particular projects. Ronson produced and played on 1975’s Ian Hunter, which contained the singer’s sole UK hit, ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ (number 14). Having toured together as Hunter/Ronson with Peter Arnesen (keyboards), Jeff Appleby (bass) and Dennis Elliott (drums), the colleagues embarked on separate paths. All American Alien Boy contained contributions from Aynsley Dunbar, David Sanborn and several members of Queen, but despite several promising tracks, the set lacked the artist’s erstwhile passion. Overnight Angels continued this trend towards musical conservatism, although following a period of seclusion, Hunter aligned himself with the punk movement by producing The Valley Of The Dolls for Generation X. You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic marked his reunion with Ronson and subsequent live dates were commemorated on Welcome To The Club, which drew material from their respective careers. Hunter’s output during the 80s was minimal, occasionally recording songs for film soundtracks, but in 1989 he resumed his partnership with Ronson on YUI Orta. He made an appearance at the 1992 Freddie Mercury AIDS benefit and in 1995 was once again tempted out of retirement to front the all-star band, Ian Hunter’s Dirty Laundry, which featured ex-Crybabys Darrell Barth and Honest John Plain, plus Vom (ex-Doctor And The Medics), Casino Steel (ex-Hollywood Brats) and Glen Matlock. He released a worthy new studio album, The Artful Dodger, in 1997. The 2-CD compilation set Once Bitten Twice Shy and the live selection Missing In Action offer excellent overviews of Hunter’s career.

Hunter is now permanently residing in the USA and only infrequently returns to his homeland, as he did in 2001 to promote his new studio album. Being domiciled abroad has given Hunter the opportunity to observe Britain from afar, and on Rant a noticeable element of nostalgia crept into his lyrics.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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