WZMF Interview With Mick Ronson
1 April 1975
WZMF: There have been some stories saying that you're being considered for the Rolling Stones. What is the status on that?
MICK: Well the thing with the Stones really was just a rumor. I'm working with Ian Hunter. We just completed an album with Ian. What we're doing is we're going to be doing a few concerts in England, which we are heading for right now. Then we are going over to the States and doing a few concerts in the States too. Spending quite a lot of time in the States this year.
WZMF: In fact you are scheduled to come here to Milwaukee I think. Is that true?
MICK: That's right.
WZMF: Yes, Good. How did this happen? Tell us the story of-how you guys got together and how this whole thing came about. Did that happen subsequent to his leaving Mott or what was the story on that?
MICK: I played with Mott for a very short while and we were going to do the English tour when Ian became ill and he went to New York when we were about to start the English tour. I flew over to New York to talk to him, to see him, and he said he didn't want to go back to Mott anyway. It seemed as though Mott was on their last legs a bit.
WZMF: Is Mott still planning to keep a band going without him?
MICK: Yes, The rest is fine. They're all still together but it's just Ian who left and I left anyway.
WZMF: I guess it's kind of early to ask, but do you have any feeling that this is going to be a long term thing between the two of you, or are you just going to kind of tour and play and see what comes of that and then take it from there?
MICK: The thing is that I have a solo album out and when we do concerts we'll be doing a lot of Ian's numbers and some of my numbers and we're going on the road as Hunter and Ronson. And then what we are going to do in the future is record a whole band album.
WZMF: That sounds exciting. There's already a lot of excitement here for your coming. People are pretty up for it, to say the least.
MICK: It is going really good. The rehearsals have been working out really well. We have got a great young band.
WZMF: Who are some of the other people in the band who are playing with you?
MICK: They are all unknown musicians. A German by the name of Dennis Elliot, a bass player by the name of Jeff Appleby, and a piano player who is an American guy. A pianist from Washington. It's a real nice band.
WZMF: It sounds good. Let me ask you just to kind of satisfy my own curiosity and to go back in time a bit I'm curious about why you parted ways with David Bowie and why you decided to stop doing albums with him. Was that a case of his going off in a direction that you didn't want to go in or did you just feel the time had come for you to go solo? What was going on with you when you decided to leave Bowie?
MICK: Well, First of all it wasn't really a case of leaving. The thing was that we did this big tour of England and then towards the end of the tour it was planned for David to start working, not to do any more tours. It came to the end of the tour dates and that was it. He said, I'm not touring anymore, I'm finished, and after that we went to do the 'Pin Ups' album. After the 'Pin Ups' I album David didn't really have any plans, he didn't really know what he was going to do. So I didn't really just want to sit around so I thought I'd do some recording myself, which David was going to work with me on. And then he decided not to work with it because he got some ideas to do some other things. Although I had already booked the studio so I was getting involved with my own things. And then David went to work on some writing and stuff. And we just sort of drifted apart that way. We're still friends. We still call each other and I still talk to him.
WZMF: In the work that you are doing now are you aware of a lot of stuff either in your music or in your production techniques that you picked up from him and that he picked up from you? Do you still feel that a lot, or have you been away from him long enough that it's a separate thing?
MICK: No, it's not totally separate. I mean it was quite a big part in our lives.
WZMF: I can imagine so.
MICK: And it was good - you know. I mean it was really good while it lasted. And obviously, like the ideas, what people learned through all that period are going to stay there because first of all that was one thing which they became known for. That was the one element where they were being successful. And what you don't do is just throw that all to one side and start completely fresh from there. All you do is just alter a few things around here and there and do material in different ways you just develop it all the time.
WZMF: Have you found people at any point relating to you primarily because of having been with David Bowie? Have you had any Problem in going your own way just because Bowie is such a tremendous force in music? It is hard to think of many people who are a bigger force than he is. Have you felt any problem in separating yourself or have you felt good about it in that you've managed to plot your own course as you wanted?
MICK: It was a bit J a problem at first. All everybody was doing was associating us together. I didn't mind that anyway because it was true, I guess. It's not really a problem now. I think people have forgotten about it a little bit and sort of accepted it.
WZMF: Tell me about it, the experience for you, the distance now between 'Slaughter on Tenth Avenue' and 'Play Don't Worry', and the changes that you've gone through. The mood of the second album is a slight bit different from the first album. What has happened to you between those albums and how did 'Play Don't Worry' come about?
MICK: 'Play Don't Worry' was a bit of a sticky album actually. It took a while for me to make. I got myself in a little bit of a mess here and there. It wasn't that enjoyable to make. I mean, musically I was flitting about from studio to studio and I wasn't using any kind of set musicians. Musicians just didn't seem to work out. I guess I was feeling really down at that time and I wasn't communicating with the musicians well enough, as well as I should have been doing. So I wasn't really getting any kind of effort out of any musicians and I wasn't putting too much energy into it. I guess I went through a bit of a down period. And I guess I was wondering what to do, I was thinking about … should I get a regular set of musicians or should I carry it on my own? I just didn't know what to do. I really wasn't talking to anybody from the management side of things and so I was sort of hiding myself away a little bit, which was a bit bad for me. Now I'm really happy that we've got this band thing together. It's good for me musically too, you know. It's helping me to write and I'm developing more of a style for writing. And I'm getting back into a lot more guitar playing which is really nice.
WZMF: That's good to hear. It sounds like the situation you're in now with Ian and the band is exactly the opposite of the situation you just described with 'Play Don't Worry'.
MICK: I think it's been real good for me. It's nice because you've got other people to talk to and discuss some problems with and you can tell other people some problems if you've got some. If you've got some musical ideas you can give them to somebody else, you can feed off people for different things which all helps in music. And that's really nice and I never ever did that before. I was wondering what was wrong. That's all it was really. All I needed was some friends around me, a band. Somebody you like to play with, and to sort of get off on the musicians - to just belt thrash out. I was getting like all inside myself playing acoustic guitar and singing songs on the piano. I was getting like very laid back really and I was really getting into myself. It's been a good experience because I know I won't ever have to do that again. I know I should be very wary if I feel myself having to do that thing again.
WZMF: Well that makes it doubly exciting to anticipate your visit here. Because, as I said, the people here are just really very excited about it. It is still a few months off and I get calls at the station every night from people wanting to know if it is definite that you are coming and when you are coming.
MICK: We're coming on April 18th.
WZMF: When you come we want you to come by here and talk some more because we are looking forward to it.
MICK: Yes, I'd like to.