WITH GLAM ROCK FLAGS already at half mast, it’s a double blow to learn of the passing of Mott The Hoople drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin (pictured above, middle-top). A staple on Herefordshire’s early rock scene, Griffin came to the embryonic Mott from The Soulents, who also featured future Mott bassist Pete Overend Watts. With guitarist Mick Ralphs and keyboard player Verden Allen in the mix and under the wing of A&R maverick Guy Stevens, the group gained a singer – Ian Hunter – a name nicked from a Willard Manus novel and a reputation amongst the cognoscenti for rough-hewn romanticism and locomotive boogie.
“Griffin made an incalculable contribution to British music culture.”
It was too specialised for the pop mainstream, and it took the intervention of superfan David Bowie – himself not long risen from obscurity – to establish their chart credentials when he gave them the anthemic All The Young Dudes, a Number 3 UK single in 1972. More hits followed in the shape of All The Way From Memphis and Roll Away The Stone, making an impact on the coming generation of no-nonsense rockers – including The Clash’s Mick Jones.
After Mott, Griffin went on to make an incalculable additional contribution to British music culture, producing BBC radio sessions, including many landmark John Peel recordings, including Nirvana’s 1990 session that brought forth Molly’s Lips and Son Of A Gun.
Griffin was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2006, aged 58, but was involved in Mott The Hoople’s rapturously received 2009 reformation, playing the encores with the help of The Pretenders’ Martin Chambers.
He was much loved by fans, and Mott’s support for their comrade reflected well on them.
A more fulsome MOJO tribute will follow.