Mick Ronson RememberedOctober 20, 2008
A recent conversation with a friend about Mick Ronson brought to my pal the startling realization that Mick Ronson has been gone for 15 years now which is hard to believe. Ronson was a gifted guitarist, arranger, songwriter and producer who made his mark in rock ‘n roll and to this day has a strong following. Ronson lost his battle with liver cancer on April 30, 1993 at age 47 but his accomplishments won’t soon be forgotten.
I first became aware of Ronson during his stint with David Bowie in the early 70’s as Ronson led the Spiders From Mars and helped Bowie construct more than a handful of now classic songs and albums, particularly The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars. The first time I saw Ronson perform live was with Bowie and the Spiders on September 22, 1972 at the Music Hall in Cleveland, OH.
After Ariel Bender had left Mott The Hoople in 1974 Ronson joined the band in September of that year. I was ecstatic! One of my favorite guitar players was joining one of my all time favorite bands. I couldn’t wait for Mott The Hoople to tour the USA so I could catch Ronson with the band but alas, they never made a USA tour as Ian Hunter fell ill and soon after left the band with Ronson in tow.
When Ian Hunter started his solo career Ronson was on board and eventually the Hunter-Ronson Band started gigging throughout the USA and I was fortunate to catch several of their shows, the first on April 26, 1975 at the Music Hall in Cleveland, OH with the band Bonaroo as support.
A really cool gig I was fortunate to see up close was on June 18, 1979 at the Cleveland Agora with the Iron City Houserockers opening. Another reason I remember this gig is two days later my daughter was born two months early (and she spent consider time in an incubator at Akron Children’s Hospital)! Hunter and Ronson and company were just totally on fire that night and an appearance with the band by Ellen Foley capped a great night.
The Hunter-Ronson Band came back to the Cleveland area three months later headlining the Richfield Coliseum with the David Johansen Group. Hunter’s You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic was red hot in northeast Ohio and the band, once again, was on fire. Great show.
The last time I saw the Hunter-Ronson Band in its original incarnation was the following year when they returned to the Richfield Coliseum on June 7, 1980. The show was advertised with Hunter-Ronson headlining but when we showed up for the concert the promoters put Heart as the headliner. Mistake. While Heart did a great job, it was a bit of a let down and anti-climatic after Hunter-Ronson and associates had the huge crowd rocking the rafters. Intense performance by the band and Heart had to be dismayed following Hunter-Ronson that night.
I bought everything on vinyl that featured Ronson back in the day, including his solo LPs Slaughter On 10th Avenue and Play Don’t Worry. He continued working with a number of bands and performers but to me, his best collaborations were with Ian Hunter on his studio LPs and his, to me, classic live LP, Welcome To The Club.
For those unfamiliar with Ronson spend some time on the Mick Ronson website and find out how much of an impact he had on rock ‘n roll. His resume is one of the most varied and impressive of any rock ‘n roll guitarist. And be sure and check out Ronson’s daughter Lisa’ s band, The Secret Society (Lisa Likes Rock ‘N Roll, ya know!).
Yes, he was THAT good!