memories of the ’70s – Mott the Hoople

In the early 1970s, the radio playlists added a new must play song by Brit band Mott the Hoople.

Created from two bands, The Soulents and The Buddies, who had members form a new band called The Doc Thomas Group. Trying to get a record deal, the band decided to replace Stan Tippins on lead vocal with Ian Hunter.

The band’s name came from the book Mott the Hoople, about an eccentric who works in a circus freak show.

Producing their first album with Island Records in 1969, Mott the Hoople’s first effort was a cult success, gaining them radio airplay and plenty of Brit fans, including fellow performer David Bowie.

Consequent albums Mad Shadows and Wildlife didn’t fare as well, and the band thought about breaking up. But uber-fan Bowie persuaded them to stay together, and offered them the song Suffragette City,.

They didn’t like that song, but took another song offered by Bowie – All the Young Dudes, which he produced for the band, bringing them into the glam rock category.

Released as a single in July 1972, the song climbed the charts and became their first single. Two other songs did well for the band and the album sold well, but the newfound fame may have been a negative.

The music magazine New Music Express did an article on the band, showing how fame had negatively effected them and revealing the band’s animosities.

The band replaced a few members and then morphed into Mott, touring the UK and the US. But its the David Bowie connection that gave the band its fame, and the song All the Young Dudes its longlasting popularity.

memories of the ’70s – New York Dolls

In the early 1970s, the mixture of art, glam, punk and music was best found in the one of early adopters of the New York punk scene: the New York Dolls.

Influenced by the sounds of MC5 and The Stooges, the New York Dolls in its early incarnation had a changing lineup, but for its first official gig, featured David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain, Billy Murcia, Johnny Thunders and Arthur “Killer” Kane.

Sylvain and Murcia had gone to highschool together and had been in the band Dolls with Johnny Thunders, which broke up after Sylvain went to the UK for several months.

Meanwhile Kane and Thunders had been in a band Actress which released their album Dawn of the Dolls in 1971.

The first gig for the New York Dolls was a New York City homeless shelter, the Endicott Hotel on Christmas Eve 1971.

Getting some attention for their unique mix of rock and blues and distinct stage presence, the band was invited to the UK by Rod Stewart to be his opening act for a London concert. Murcia unfortunately died during this trip, drowning after heavily partying on drugs and alcohol.

The band hired Jerry Nolan to be their new drummer, signed a record deal with Mercury Records and headed into the studio to record their first album New York Dolls, produced by singer Todd Rundgren.

Despite the mixed reviews when the album was released in 1973, the band performed regularly and started touring, eventually touring across Europe, with their song “Personality Crisis” becoming a live favourite.

Critics described them as punk, glam rock, protopunk and glam punk – coupled with outlandish and unforgettable stage presence and elaborate makeup and costumes, the band was definitely making its mark on the music industry.

In 1973, New York Dolls were voted the best and worst new band of the year in Creem Magazine. Their next album Too Much Too Soon, was produced by Shadow Morton in 1974, well known for his work with girl groups. This would be their last studio album, as Mercury Records dropped the band from the label in 1975.

During a tour through Florida in 1975, Thunders and Nolan left the band, while the remaining three hired replacements as they continued on to tour Japan, resulting in a live album Tokyo Dolls Live. Johansen and Sylvain continued on for two more years with various musicians as the New York Dolls, with their final live shows in 1977.

I remember reading an interview with David Johansen in the late 1980s, then a solo artist, and went looking for the New York Dolls music, which I soon found had influenced many bands, from KISS to the Talking Heads.

A bright flash of a few years led this band to be in the spotlight of New York City’s music scene – a bright flash that influenced many later bands to make a musical statement.

memories of the ’70s – Marc Bolan

From the psychedelia of the late 1960s, Marc Bolan emerged as one of the forerunners of the age of British glam rock.

Born in east London, Mark Feld was always enamoured with music, being a fan of Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry and as he grew older, becoming a Mod. He formed his first band at age nine and was also a men’s fashion model, before he became friends with his future manager Allan Warren, and changed his name to Toby Tyler.

Warren tried to get Tyler a deal but ended up selling the recordings to his landlord for three months of back rent. Tyler’s mother went after the landlord for lack of support for her son’s music career and he willingly gave back the rights to the then-named Tyler.

Toby Tyler transformed into Marc Bolan and joined the band John’s Children, which had limited success in the London music scene; from the ashes of John’s Children Bolan and fellow musician Steve Peregrine Took created Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Seeking out more influences, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bolan replaced Took with Mickey Finn and recorded a “Ride a White Swan”, and shortened the band name to T. Rex. Recording the single in July 1970 with producer Tony Viscounti, Bolan’s song slowly rose to number two on the British charts, creating glam rock in the process.

Bolan began to wear feather boas, a top hat and glitter on stage, influencing his friends David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart. He expanded T. Rex to a four piece group and recorded the single Hot Love and then a gritty Get It On, both spending several weeks at number one on the British charts.

Renamed for the US market, Bang a gong, Get it on reached the top 10 on the Billboard charts in 1972. Bolan continued to create hits in 1972 and 1973 with Telegram Sam, Metal Guru, Children of the Revolution, Ma Ma Ma Belle (with Jeff Lynne of ELO) and the number three hit Twentieth Century Boy. In 1974, Bolan worked with Ike and Tina Turner, playing on their hits Nutbush City Limits, Sexy Ida (part III) and Baby Get it On.

T. Rex broke up in 1975, with Bolan spending more time in the US, experimenting with music and releasing singles which got little notice from the music world. In 1977, Bolan returned to the UK and starred in his own television six part series for the BBC called Marc, which introduced new and established bands. The last show featured him and his close friend, David Bowie.

I never saw Marc Bolan perform or really knew who he was, until I started researching more about David Bowie and saw how Bolan influenced Bowie’s style at the time. Bolan’s musical contributions in the early part of the 1970s and glam rock is still noted today for its distinct style and production.

In September 1977, Bolan died in a car accident, two weeks before his 30th birthday. Although his creativity period was cut short, his influence on rock music still continues.