Mott the Hoople Bassist Peter Overend Watts Dies
Ex-Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter confirmed Watts' passing. "Oh dear," he said via Twitter. "My extremely eccentric, lovely mate – Peter Overend Watts – has left the building. Devastated."
Watts helped start the Buddies with Mick Ralphs, a band that evolved into Mott the Hoople after periods in which it was known as the Doc Thomas Group, the Shakedown Sound, then Silence. They became Mott the Hoople after Hunter joined in 1969.
Born near Birmingham, England, Watts began his musical career on guitar before switching to bass. He reportedly assumed the name "Overend" at the suggestion of manager Guy Stevens, then went on to participate in a string of subsequent variations on Mott the Hoople when the band morphed into Mott and then into British Lions as their personnel shifted.
Ralphs, who is also battling health issues, Verden Allen and Ian Hunter now remain from the classic Mott the Hoople lineup, best known for their 1972 No. 3 U.K. hit "All the Young Dudes." Drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin died last January after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.
Watch Peter Overend Watts Reunite With Mott the Hoople
Watts struggled for years to find success with Mott the Hoople. Their self-titled album, released in November 1969, stalled at No. 66 in the U.K., and only reached No. 185 in the U.S. The band's next two studio projects finished just inside the U.K. Top 50. By 1971, when Brain Capers failed to chart, Mott the Hoople contemplated breaking up.
That's when David Bowie offered them "All the Young Dudes." "Bowie played me this song, 'All The Young Dudes,' on his acoustic guitar," Watts told Mojo in 1998. "He hadn't got all the words but the song just blew me away, especially when he hit the chorus."
Momentum from that single carried the follow-up album, 1973's Mott, into the Top 10 in the U.K. and the Top 40 in America. The Hoople, released the following year, became the band's biggest U.S. hit, reaching No. 28. But soon Watts would have to persevere through the exits of Ralphs, who left to co-found Bad Company, and then Hunter.
After Hunter's departure, they released two albums at Mott, 1975's Drive On and 1976's Shouting and Pointing. Peter Overend Watts then joined singer Nigel Benjamin and former Mott members Stephen Morgan Fisher and Dale Griffin in British Lions; they issued a 1977 self-titled debut as well as 1982's Trouble with Women. Watts subsequently worked as a producer with Hanoi Rocks (1983's Back to Mystery City), before taking part in Mott-related reunions in 2009 and 2013.
In other sad music news, Jaki Liebezeit, drummer and founding member of Krautrock legends Can, has also died. The 78-year-old had recently been stricken with a case of pneumonia. Liebezeit also appeared on Brian Eno’s Before and After Science.