Hey guys!! Today’s post is another instalment of my Famous People from Hull posts and it’s all about Mick Ronson in remembrance on the anniversary of his death. Mick Ronson was an acclaimed song writer, guitarist, musician, arranger and producer who originated from Hull. He soared to fame after being employed by David Bowie along with his band, the renamed ‘spiders from Mars’, as his backing band. His other claims to fame include touring in bands alongside Bob Dylan and Van Morrison and collaborating with David Bowie, Ian Hunter and Morrissey. Mick achieved incredible things with his music and I’m extremely proud of the fact that such an amazing musician was the spawn of two Hullenzians. So in today’s post, I’m going to recount the life of Mick Ronson and explain why he’s such an important famous person from Hull.
Mick was born 26th May 1946 in Hull to a family of Mormons. His love of music first developed while at school, as he learnt to read music and received piano and violin lessons. The slow progression of his fellow students with these instruments motivated him to adopt the practice of guitar playing since he could play it in a similar way to a violin due to them both possessing strings. His classical background assisted his talent for mentally composing songs before so much as handling his instrument. Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck were among those who inspired Mick to fuse his classical roots with his new skill of guitar playing.
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At 17 years old, Mick entwined with his first ever band ‘The Mariners’ and debuted with them at Brough village Hall where the band was paid just 10 shillings (50p). After his time with the Mariners, he served as part as another Hull born group ‘The Crestas’ who attained a solid reputation with Mick on board and by 1965, he moved on to London, searching for work. In 1966, after belonging to a couple of bands in London such as ‘The Voice’ and ‘The Wanted’, Mick returned to his home land again to connect with popular local band ‘The Rats’ who recorded some wonderful singles but failed to capture a lot of attention. Skipping ahead to 1970, Mick left Hull to record with Michael Chapman and actually got to meet David Bowie. Bowie’s much celebrated album ‘The Man Who Sold The Moon’ highlights the guitar playing and song arranging of Mick Ronson. Bowie decided to recruit ‘The Rats’ as his backing group with a name change for them to ‘The Spiders of Mars’. Three years later, Bowie and Ronson co- produced Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’ album and collaborated again on the pop classic ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ with the addition of Ronson’s unique string arrangement. After that, Mick sought out a solo career where he released two records ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue’, a classic pop melodrama and ‘Play Don’t Worry’. He also gained the opportunity to tour to publicise these records. Next, Ronson proceeded to afix with punk group ‘Mott The Hoople’ and issued one single with them before quitting along with the group’s singer Ian Hunter. A steady friendship and working partnership developed between them which blossomed through several albums before Mick’s passing.
In the breaks between these albums, Mick earned some huge opportunities; he colluded with Bob Dylan on his amazing ‘Rolling Thunder’ concerts and toured with Van Morrison. Also, Mick arranged a series of unique and different artists such as David Johansen, Roger McGuinn and Morrissey for his album ‘Your Arsenal’. As far as his love life occurred, he married the aforesaid hairdresser of David Bowie, Suzy Fussey with whom he had a daughter, named Lisa. Later on in 1991, Mick was unfortunately diagnosed with liver cancer. Before his death, he collaborated with various artists including the likes of David Bowie and Chrissie Hynde on his third and final solo album. Although he fatigued more easily, he was complimented as still being ‘optimistic’ and ‘chipper’. The day before Mick’s passing, Ian Hunter visited London to record his track for his friend. Mick passed away on 29th April 1993, aged 46 and will forever be remembered as one of Hull’s best musicians. In remembrance of him, the Mick Ronson Memorial stage was assembled in Queen’s Gardens of Hull.
Thanks for reading this post!! Who’s your favourite musician? Let me know in the comments!! There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!!
Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull