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Horse’s Mouth

December 20, 2022

Horse’s Mouth (Issue #240, December 2022)

The Horse’s Mouth

Q: “If inflation’s so rampant, why are we spending billions going to the moon?”
IH: Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments, but it still doesn’t add up.

Claire: ” ‘Irene Wilde’ – 3 generations rock to your songs – hoping it will be four!”
IH: Me too!

Will K: “Strawberry Alarm clock?”
IH: Nah – heard of them, but never met any of them.

Nathan Moore: “Thrilled to learn Alejandro Escovedo is fronting the Rant Band in Austin in celebration of the ‘Mott’ album anniversary! Arriba! Vamanos!”
IH: Good ho!

Pat: “Congrats on your wedding anniversary. Who did the string and horn arrangements on Mott songs?” (Various people did the arranging.) Are you a big Stones fan?”
IH: Yup.
Pat: “Who did their wonderful horn arrangements?”
IH: Dunno – google it up.

Stonefly: “I was reading a recent article by Brian Eno – he was asked what makes an artist into one who has ‘Star Quality’. His response – ‘ I think charisma comes out of the sense you have that not only is somebody different, but they’re also confident about it, committed to it, obsessed by it even. We don’t find uncertainty charismatic.’ I know you stood out amongst your bandmates in that manner, and it has kept me drawn to you over the years for that reason. Question: Would you agree with Eno about the qualities that create the sense of a star? Any other inherent traits you might include?”
IH: I’ve always thought that audiences like to be led – you’re basically in charge of the situation and they like it that way.

Laurent: “My question today comes from the French music news. A famous French singer who was a top act in the 70’s just recorded a new album and it reminded me of how he looked in the mid-late 70’s….curly blonde hair and shades…I then said ‘Oh, reminds me of Ian Hunter now.”
IH: His name is Michel Polnareff.” Never heard of him.

Keith Nickless: “A question was asked about the BBC TV show ‘Mastermind’ in the latest HM. You said you wanted some help with the answer. LTH were a specialist subject of ‘Mastermind’ on show broadcast Friday, November 12th 2010. The person answered all 18 questions correctly and went on to add another 16 points in the general knowledge to win with a total of 34 points and qualify for the semifinals. How do I know this? It was me. In the green room afterward, I had a disagreement with a typical Pearl ‘n’ Roy couple who thought MTH was not a proper subject for Mastermind. Their son had answered questions on the previous show on Greek mythology and had scored a total of 22. They got very upset with me when I challenged their son to a quiz – the loser paid 100 GBP to charity!”
IH: Thanks for the help, Keith. Knowledge is a great thing, but without creativity – there would be no knowledge. Take your pick!

Tony S: Hey Ian, look forward the ‘mouth’ each month.

John Nebergall: “Recently saw the movie ‘Billy Budd’ based on the Melville novel. Seemed familiar to me. A few weeks later I was playing ‘Fingers Crossed and….ohh.”

Les Vineyard: “Merry Christmas and thank you for the great music for so much of our lives (blush). Is there a certain moment during the process when you decide to write the song on guitar or on piano?”
IH: Actually, I woke up this morning with a song in my head! First thing is the key – second thing is the speed – piano/guitar – doesn’t matter – just get the thing on tape as quickly as possible. Words to come later – sometimes you get a few lines if you’re lucky (yes, I know – tape!) It’s just easier at 7 am this way! Then – back to bed! If you don’t do all this – you forget it.

Liz K: “Happy Anniversary dear Ian and Trudi – and many more. Looking forward to the new album.”
IH: Keep your eyes on my socials in early 2023 for more information.
Oour Wullie: “When you gigging agen? May go to Austin.”
IH: Bit of a schlepp there Wullie – but he’s really good.

David Griffiths MBE: “There’s a suggestion you wrote “Don’t Let Go’ for Blue Oyster Cult’ (No, I didn’t.) (Mark Hunter – no relation.) Also, heard you wrote or co-wrote “Goin’ Thru the Motions’?
IH: I co-wrote ‘Goin’ Thru the Motions’ with Eric Bloom BOC’s singer. Good guy.

Pasquale: We got it, Pasquale!!! It was devoured by us and a fair few friends – thank you so much. Nothing like the real thing!!

Twmas: “Did you ever come across Deke Leonard who recently passed – played with Mann and the Bystanders?”
IH: Sure we knew Deke – great guitarist – funny as hell. I didn’t know he left the building; condolences to all.

Marty G: Marty is reminiscing as he approaches his 70th. (Happy Birthday!) “You’ve been with me for 53 years.” (Great – thank you) He remembers the Radio City disaster (P.A. went out); Hunter/Ronson gigs/ reunions etc. “Please consider this a deeply sincere thank you for everything you’ve done and how much it meant throughout the majority of my life. (Blush – cubed!)

Jordan recently came across a podcast by Andrew Hickey about rock ‘n’ roll. He mentions He mentions ‘Buck Ram’ (songwriter/manager). I read once, Overend said the name for the Mott song came off a wall at the Pied Bull, Islington – any ideas?”
IH: That was the very first place we rehearsed, so I’m inclined to believe Pet. Mick Ralphs and I I wrote ‘Half Moon Bay’ there as well.

Joe Basile: “Saw you and Ronno at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh circa 1981. Awe-awe-awe-awesome! Any stories about touring or recording?
IH: Mick and I used to share a double room on tour bad then – more fun that way. I’d wake up and he’d be arguing with ‘The Price is Right’. We did ‘Laugh at Me’ because I was a Sonny Bono fan. He was a great writer – simplicity.

James Nasuta: “Thank you for helping me get my Ph.D. (Congrats!) Mott and your solo work gave me relief and kept my mood up.”
IH: I have a niece, Ellie, who’s going for her PH.D.

Fred Cooper: Who came up with the distinctive guitar intro to ‘Dudes’? (I’m assuming it as Mick Ralphs?)
IH: It was Mick Ralphs – one of the best ever. (I talked to him recently – he’s improving.)

Bob Boyle is commenting on Jethro Tull – “Why didn’t John Evans record a solo album?”
IH: Dunno. He obviously found something else he preferred doing.

Giovanni: “Did Ronno use the Marshall Major on the Mott the Hoople ‘Lounge Lizard’ demo and on the first Ian Hunter solo album? The tone (and playing) is great.”
IH: Dunno – but he could plug into the tiniest amp and it was still him – it’s not the amp so much as the ears.

John: “Ever meet Alvin Lee”
IH:(way back in Nottingham)
John: “Ever meet Van Morrison”
John: “Ever meet Alice Cooper.”
IH:Met Alice a few times – genuinely nice guy. The original band is lovely too – Dennis is truly a one-off!

Dru: “The concept of ‘All American Alien Boy’ does not fail.”
IH: It did at the time!

Bob Jack: “It’s a long shot, but did you ever meet John Entwistle?
IH: Nah – met the other three who were all great.

Mike Costanzo: “Saw Verden Allen sold his original Hammond C3 organ used on ‘Dudes’ at an auction. Surprised it was still around. That organ had a great sound (and don’t forget the two Leslies) but gawd – was it ugly – straight outa Grandma’s parlor.”
IH: Try lugging that thing up stairs to clubs in the early days! One time it veered over and caught my head between it and the wall – broke my shades (5 shillings and nine pence). He wouldn’t reimburse me so I never carried that thing again. At the reunion rehearsals in Monmouth, Phally gave me an envelop – in it was 5/9 pence in three penny bits. No longer in circulation……

Stephen Green: “Enjoying a video of you doing ‘Is Your Love in Vain’ – awesome performance.”
IH: Yeah, Mark Clarke on bass, Robbie Alter on guitar – great harmonies. Mark is a great harmony arranger.

Chris: “Ever consider working with Marty Stuart?”
IH: I recommended his ‘Badlands’ album to you years ago. He has a great band and Mike Campbell produced an album called ‘Way Out West’ but you probably know all this.” I’m not up on this, but anything Mike Campbell is involved in is great by me. I’ll have a look.

Ivar Samset: Just around the corner from Trident Studios in London is the pub ‘The Ship’. Lots of famous artists (Lennon and Hendrix amongst others) waited for studio time and partied there. Any memories?”
IH: Oh sure! I’d have just enough money for one pint – and I’d stand there (pre-MTH) waiting to be ‘discovered’. Needless to say – I wasn’t. I met Tommy Cooper on the Ship. I saw ‘The Animals’ there – it was not only because of Trident Studios – it was The Marquee Club that was just a few doors down. Great pub – and the last time I went there it was still the same. The II Eyes has gone – that was the original bar where it all started.

David Gabe: “Anything you miss about the UK?”
IH: Family.
David Gabe: “We can’t throw stones – given our political mess – but a returning Trump?”
IH: Not gonna happen.

Dru: “I wonder if other artist’s monthly edition of HM get the question of, ‘Do you think Ian Hunter is kind of overlooked?'”
IH: Marketing, marketing, marketing is – everything!!!

Alan in Portlandia: “I think it’s insanity what people pay for an ancient guitar like a 50s Les Paul or Strat.”
IH: They gain in value because they’re art. Having said that, play whatever feels good to you. It’s what suits you and the sound you want in your head. Ronno would play anything – and did. Ralphs was much more particular – a student of guitars, I would say.

Mark F: “What are your favorite non-new songs to perform on stage?
IH: We have fun with ‘All American alien Boy’, ‘Standing in My Light’, ‘Man Overboard’ – I dunno, it varies. I used to love doing ‘Wings’ when Ronno and Pat Kilbride were in the band along with Howard Helm and, of course, Steve Holley.

Richard Mills is glad I’m still alive.
IH: Gee, thanks!
Richard Mills: “I’ve seen Ronno at his best – what was his Achilles heel?”
IH: When I used to shower, I’d sometimes forget and leave the shower curtain outside the tub. Drove him nuts. You always knew when he was angry – his nostrils flared.

Andy: “Merry Christmas to you and yours. Do you have any of the stage clothes from the Mott years or the early solo career years packed away – the suits and boots and such?”
IH: We’ve moved around a bit over the years. I’m not a collector of anything – but Trudi might have some things salvaged from the past.

Lynne likes the new format, but is fed up about record’s delay.

Ruediger Marx: “‘We slipped down snakes into yesterday’s news’ What does this mean?”
IH: Snakes ‘n’ Ladders is an English game. It means you’re losing ground – ladders go up – snakes go down.

Kyle Telleson: “I had my own ‘Irene Wilde’ 50 years later – she’s a bit of a loon.” (Lucky boy.). “Winterland shows, they were epic.”
IH: Ta.

Javier Saenz: “Do you recall stopping in the middle of a song to bitch at the person at the console for the poor sound? Bumbershoot, Seattle, Sep/2/2012. It just confirmed to me what an honest musician you are. Love you even more since.”
IH: Sound guys can ruin a performance and the band gets the blame. Fortunately we’ve been using excellent people of late – so there’s no excuse!!

George Miller: “Come to Atlanta!”
IH: Great town for music.

Sarah Donahue: “Do you like to travel or have you done enough miles on the wheels?”
IH: Travelling’s not what it used to be be. Trudi likes to travel – I’m not so keen.

Wayne Page: “Who was the better songwriter, Bowie or Freddie Mercury? Who’s music do you own and listen to the most?”
IH:I think Bowie wrote Bowie music and Fred wrote Queen music – both artists had incredible help.

BTW, I thought the ‘news’ was on television. It isn’t – it’s all ads – which leads me to CNN and Fox – which leads me to switch the television off. Just thought I’d get that in.

David E – re: Mastermind – thanks.

Michael Mills: “In ‘World was Round’ you say, ‘You win some, you lose some, you only got two shots?’
IH: What are the 2 shots?” Alternatives.

Fred Burkhardt: Same to you!

Peter Jordan: “As a writer have you ever found that you wrote something that now means something completely different to you now? Is there a particular line or verse that you’re especially happy you wrote?”
IH:I really don’t look back. I’m more concerned with the current outpourings!

Ailen Muller: “Hi Ian, how are you? I’m 22 this year discovered your music and I love your style. One of my favourite song is Bastard. 1) How do you chose the name ‘Vestal Virginia’? Is it related to the Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome or it’s just a ‘real name’?”
IH: Actually, I remember writing that line. Trudi was driving and Mick and Susie Ronson were in the back. I don’t know where we were going, but we were coming from Woodstock, NY (where they lived). I always keep bits of paper and pens in the car and it just came into my head – the music was already done. Once you get the first line – it’s plain sailing (most of the time).

Ken: “Your opinion of Trump?”
IH:I think he has an unfortunate personality. We definitely need an overhaul, politically, Washington’s too cozy. An eagle’s only got two wings – if one falls off – it’s a goner.

Craig Keaney: “Any memories of San Francisco Winterland?”
IH: All good – Fillmore West good too. Great town for music.

Jerry Ross: Milwaukee!! We have the plaque!

Mark Garcia: “Any chance you’ll go the Nick Lowe route an give us a Christmas album?”
IH: If it comes – it comes.

Adrian Perkins: “In 2009 – after the middle section of the set at Hammersmith Odeon – the last night – you threw your harmonica and harness into the audience (extravagant!). I was lucky enough to catch it. How do I go about getting it authenticated? I can send photos of it via Justin Purington or Mick Brown if required. I have no intention of selling it – I’m just thinking of what I’ll leave my kids when the time comes (cheerful!). I think it’s called ‘provenance’ – some kind of proof it really was yours – thanks.”
IH: Let me get back to you about this. Remind me.

Phil T says I’m getting better and better!

Oour Wullie: “Have you ever thought of writing a Christmas record?” IH: Still game, Wullie – still game. Let’s go doon the Clansman for a wee bit ‘o karaoke!!

Tall Paul: “Recently attended the final night of Celebrating Bowie at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. Todd Rundgren did a staller cover of ‘Dudes’ to close the pre-encore part of the show.”
IH: Todd has amazing chops – I’m jealous!

John Dalton: “Did you know Squeeze?” Know of them, not personally.
IH: Love Paul Carrack’s voice.
John Dalton:“How was Jools Holland?”
IH: I got the impression neither he nor the orchestra liked me very much. The rehearsals were spiritless affairs – they seemed bored. The actual show – they did so much better – I’d forgotten what session guys are like. Afterward a few of them wanted an autograph! I said, ‘I thought you hated me!’ They looked non-plussed – ‘effin TV!

David Morgan: “Loved your work on the latest Dirty Knobs album. Is Mike Campbell on your upcoming albums?”
IH: He’s on two of the tracks on the first one and he’s ‘effing amazing!!!

Leigh Henry: “Read somewhere that MTH used to do a song called ‘Yma Sumac’ about the Peruvian singer I guess. Was it ever recorded?”
IH: Very vague – it strikes a bell – like it was something that was never completed – got lost.

Gary Herman has two daughters, Sarah and Sabrina who are ‘pleading’ to see me with the ‘Ranters’.
IH: Tell them – how sweet!!

Mick McKenzie is enjoying listening to the remastered ‘Overnight Angels’. His wife asks why he needs so many versions of the same album.”
IH: Me, too. Actually, I’m hearing good things about it too. Amazing what they can do nowadays.

Tim Willis: “Do you ever put everything aside and re-hash your stuff to make it better?”
IH: Can’t be bothered. Once it’s done – it’s done.

Nick Namaqui: “Bloody hell, Nick. How long did that take?”
IH: How lovely – thanks for taking the time. I’ll see if Trudi can get this up.

A few years back – I would guess 2016, given the lyrics – you had written ‘Dandy’ for Bowie and the superlative ‘Michael Picasso’ for Ronson, and ‘Boy’ (for Sid Vicious?), and I thought it was about time someone wrote something about you, be they ever so ‘umble. So I did. Sadly, I can’t sing, so the lyrics are silent and the song, ‘Someone else’s life,’ is instrumental, dammit! I am very proud of the words: I know what it’s like To live your life To wrestle with your demons To fall in love with your wife I know how you started In a grim factory job That your dad was a cop The day you escaped through the bar I know you were a writer Who loved rock ‘n’ roll And wanted to write music That would never grow old I know all about Alice And that whiz kid from New York And Irene in the bus station And Rose on the sidewalk You had your revolution You were one of the boys Up and down the freeways In some luminous yo-yo toy You were drowning in a gas tank When the dandy rolled by And suggested All the Young Dudes Would make it all right We all know all things must change We all know all things must age You’ve painted with Picasso Who stayed at your house Your guitarist and your chef Before he was laid out When the world was round It washed us all away With pails of soap and water With the coming of the day You can stand in your light You can walk on water if you wish Just ask Resurrection Mary If the after-life exists You’ve become an elder statesman Under all that curly hair Because you tell it like it is Before we get outta here You’ve lived in your heart As you’ve followed your own journey Never a marionette The original mixed up kid ​It’s been a long time It’s really been a blast And with both our fates in the balance We’ve got our fingers crossed … and the tune is not too shit: Anyway, there you are … If you can get anyone to sing it for your birthday next June, I would be delighted. Failing that, you know that a nearly-lifelong fan knows more about your life than he does about his own, and is deeply appreciative for it. Nick.

David Newton: “Ever met Colin Hay (Men at Work)?”
IH: Never had the privilege.

Mathew Giarizzo: “Do you have a favourite holiday film?”
IH: Kinda like ‘Elf’ but not incessantly over a three month period! Christmas in the U.S. begins in July!

Tim Hands: “I play in a covers band in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and recently recruited a new drummer, Peter ‘Flute’ Varnfield. He says he did a couple of gigs with you a long time back with Freddie Fingers Lee. He was in a band called ‘Coast to Coast’ in the 80’s.”
IH: No idea – such a long time ago.

Francesco Ficco: “I’m honored I can ask you a question. How do you feel about MTH considered as a proto hard rock band? I’m referring to great songs like ‘Thunderbuck Ram’ or ‘Violence’. Fran from Italy.”

Nils-Oken Andersson: I’ve met you a few times back stage carrying a glass of white wine – don’t you like red wine?”
IH: In my 40’s and 50’s I drank two bottles of red every night starting at 8 pm. What you saw in my hand was probably Champagne (it’s in our rider).

David: “Are there any songs you’d feel uncomfortable singing in the modern era?”
IH: ‘Sucker’ is a tad off these days, but what can you do – they love it! S’only Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Bill C: Went to Disney with my wife to celebrate our 30th because I have too much money and I needed to burn some. (Whoa – good for you!) I thought I saw Paul Page, but I didn’t. Did you ever go to Epcot/Disney?”
IH: Sure – been to Disney and Epcot in Florida and the one in LA as well as Universal. Epcot was fun – you get to sit down a lot!

Mike Costanzo: “Ozzy should do ‘Marionette’.”

Joan and Bill: All the greetings– with thanks.

So, off you all go holiday shopping. Happy Christmas and a special New Year.

Wake up kids – we need a happy medium, too.

Your obedient servant – IH
The Horse’s Mouth

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