On this day in 1948, drummer Dale Griffin was born in Ross-on-Wye, England. Griffin
was a founding member of Mott the Hoople, the '70s metal/glam-rock band that failed to
achieve superstardom, but influenced British groups in the punk era.
Griffin joined Overend Pete Watts' group the Anchors in the early '60s. The band
eventually became Silence and opened shows for the Yardbirds, the Who and the
After the band split, Griffin joined Watts in the Doc Thomas Group, also known as the
Buddies. But Silence eventually re-formed and included guitarist Mick Ralphs and
organist Verden Allen in addition to Watts and Griffin.
Upon adding singer Stan Tippens, the band landed a deal with Island Records. A&R
man/producer Guy Stevens changed its name to Mott the Hoople, after a Willard Manus
novel. But Tippens was soon fired and became the band's road manager, making way
for new vocalist Ian Hunter.
Hunter's songwriting was a big asset to Mott the Hoople; he also became their
unconventional frontman, flirting with gay imagery and a glam-rock style. Mott the
Hoople's eponymous debut album was released in 1969 and it became an underground
hit due to the incorporation of Bob Dylan-like cynicism in its metal sound. The LP
included an instrumental of the Kinks' smash, "You Really Got Me."
Neither the debut LP nor 1970's Mad Shadows sold enough to make Mott the
Hoople truly successful. The countryish Wildlife (1971) was an outright bomb. But
the band's steady touring brought it a cult fanbase in Great Britain. At the Royal Albert
Hall in 1971, Mott the Hoople fans got so riotous that the London venue banned rock
concerts for a while. But after that year's Brain Capers did poorly, the band was
ready to call it quits.
David Bowie convinced Mott the Hoople to stick it out by offering to produce their next
album and giving them his song "Suffragette City." They agreed to the production help,
but chose Bowie's gay-themed
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record instead. The song was Mott the Hoople's breakthrough and became an anthem of
the glam-rock era. An LP titled after the song became a hit in the U.S. and the U.K.
Mott (1973), a concept album about a band's struggle to succeed, was
well-received and made #7 in Britain and #35 in the U.S. The LP's "All the Way From
Memphis" and "Roll Away the Stone" also became British top-10 hits.
But Mott the Hoople were beginning to break apart. Ralphs was upset over Allen's
decision to leave and also by the fact that Hunter couldn't sing his "Can't Get Enough."
So Ralphs quit and brought the song to his next band, the successful Bad Company.
Mott the Hoople soldiered on with a new lineup for 1974's hit live LP and the studio
offering The Hoople, which included the singles "The Golden Age of Rock and
Roll" and "Foxy Foxy."
Hunter soon left the band, which shortened its name to Mott for 1975's Drive On
and 1976's Shouting and Pointing. With a new lead singer, the band, still
including Griffin, became the British Lions for two years before splitting up.
Griffin, sometimes known as Buffin, produced sessions for the BBC in the ensuing years.
He worked with Sony on this year's U.K.-released Mott the Hoople box set.
Other birthdays: Bill Wyman (ex-Rolling Stones), 62; Jerry Edmonton (Steppenwolf), 52;
Steven Greenberg (Lipps, Inc.), 48; and Rowland S. Howard (Nick Cave and the Bad
Seeds, The Birthday Party), 39.