The Story of a Five Star Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – part four
Widowed by Mott the Dog
Made by Ella Crew
their hugely successful tour of Britain, Mott the Hoople, with brand-new
guitarist Ariel Bender in tow, entered Trident studios to record the follow up
to the previous year’s smash hit album ‘Mott’ (1973). At first all was
well. Ian Hunter, after having established his position as leader of the band
again, was chock-a-block full of songs.
The first song to be put down on tape was ‘The Golden Age
Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’, a superb slice of glam rock. All Ariel Bender had to
do was slip in a crazed guitar solo in the middle section. When the single was
released it went Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic. Ariel Bender’s
contribution was the talk of the town.
Ariel Bender left a huge impression on Mott the Hoople, but
due to mounting tensions and Ariel Bender finding it more and more difficult to
get to grips with Ian Hunter’s structured songs, he left a year after he
arrived. In a splash of publicity Mick Ronson replaced Ariel Bender, but the
game was up and Mott the Hoople folded in another six months.
Posthumously a live album from Mott the Hoople was released
with the Ariel Bender line-up, featuring on one side songs from the Hammersmith
Odeon Christmas gigs, and one side from the Uris Theatre on Broadway. It is
pure unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll with the guitar playing of Ariel Bender
being the major feature. The Hammersmith Odeon closing medley of classic
standards and Mott the Hoople signature songs coming in at over seventeen
minutes is spectacular. It contains some of the greatest guitar pyrotechnics
ever put down on tape.
This band should have conquered the world. At least those of
us who were lucky enough to see the band can refresh their memories by
listening to the musical drama unfold on these recordings. Mercifully, the
complete recordings from both concerts have been released in their entirety,
with a re-release of the Live album (May 2004) on a double CD. Slip the disc
into your player, turn the volume up to eleven, and let Ariel Bender blow away
After a brief recuperation Luther Grosvenor decided to keep
the Ariel Bender persona and formed a new band, a rock ‘n’ roll band that
would fit the monster that Ariel Bender had become. After several false starts
‘Widowmaker’ made their public debut. What a band!
Ariel Bender still held down lead guitar responsibilities
and spotlight in live concert, backed by Hugh Lloyd Langton, ex Hawkwind, on
second guitar; Steve Ellis, the voice behind the hit single by Love Affair
‘Ever Lasting Love’; Bob Daisley on bass, who was later with Ozzy Osbourne,
Uriah Heep, and Rainbow; plus powerhouse drummer Paul Nicholls, ex Lindisfarne.
The band got management through Don Arden, father of Sharon, wife of Ozzy
Widowmaker set out on the road with support slots for the
Who, Electric Light Orchestra, Aerosmith, and two headlining tours of Britain.
The first album was recorded and released (1976) under the band’s moniker.
The musically explosive band on stage was also musically explosive off stage,
and before somebody ended up in hospital, Steve Ellis left the band after the
first American tour. He was replaced by John Butler and another album was
recorded aptly titled ‘Too Late To Cry’ (1977). Tours of Europe and the
States were completed before more internal strife and the arrival of punk rock
left the band nowhere to go. So they split up. After leaving the stage at
Carlisle Winter Gardens, the band members never spoke to each other again.
Ariel Bender then shed his skin and became Luther Grosvenor
again. Taking a good long look at the rock ‘n’ roll world, Luther Grosvenor
on his thirty second birthday decided enough was enough. Luther Grosvenor gave
up the Ariel Bender business and started a painting and decorating business.
For the next fifteen years Luther Grosvenor did not even pick up a guitar, a
tragic waste of such a stunning talent. But although having contributed to some
of the most legendary concerts in rock ‘n’ roll’ history, and having been
involved in two of its classic albums with Spooky Two (1969) and ‘The
Hoople’ (1974), still being broke and unemployed, who can blame him?
Luther Grosvenor went home to Evesham. It was not until
local friend and workmate John Ledson coaxed him into forming an ad hoc blues
band called ‘Blues 92’ (after the year) to play the local pubs that Luther
got his fingers back. They grabbed the attention of record executive Bob Laul,
who then spent three years plotting and scheming to get Luther Grosvenor back
into the spotlight. Luther himself was not keen on the idea and resisted all
sorts of enticements. But everybody has a chink in their armour; his was found
when asked to play on a Peter Green tribute album. At first Grosvenor was
reluctant, having been away from the recording studio for such a long time.
However, he finally decided to go for it when he found himself surrounded by
old friends like Mike Kellie, ex-Spooky Tooth, and record label mate Jess
Roden. They recorded two tracks for the ‘Rattlesnake Guitar’ album,
‘Crying Won’t Bring You Back’ and ‘Merry Go Round’.
The results were stunning and Luther Grosvenor was an
instant star again. Then Bob Laul asked Luther to record his second solo album.
Luther took a year to think about it, but eventually agreed, and the studio was
Would the magic still be there? Would Luther Grosvenor be
able to control Ariel Bender back in the studio? All will be revealed next
Albums featuring Ariel Bender
in this period
The Hoople - Mott the Hoople
Live - Mott the Hoople
Albums with Luther Grosvenor
Peter Green Tribute album
To contact Mott the Dog
email: [email protected]