Mick Ronson R.I.P.
15 May 1993
Mick Ronson, legendary guitarist, arrangerand producer, died in London on April 29 from cancer of the liver. Ronson, famed for his work with David Bowie, Bob Dylan, lan Hunter, and more recently, Morrissey, was 45.
He leaves a wife, Suzy, and a daughter, Lisa.
Ronson's contemporaries were in mourning this week, most too upset to comment. But, at the some time, plans were being finalised For the release of the solo album Ronson was working on at the time at his death.
Mick Ronson was brought up in Hull. At school, he learned violin, piano and guitar, and was also taught to read music. He bought his first guitar from a back street shop and paid five shillings a week for it. His first band was a semi-pro out?t called The Mariners, whose debut gig attracted 'about two' people and earned the band the princely sum of five shillings. His next two bands were The Rats and the short-lived Ronno.
Eventually, Ronson came south to London, where he was offered session work For Michael Chapman on his 'Fully Qualilied Survivor' album. It was around this time that he met Tony Visconti, who knew that David Bowie was looking for a guitarist.
A meeting was arranged, as a result of which Bowie and Ronson did a John Peel show together. Ronson then joined Bowie full-time as a guitarist and musical co-ordinator For the acclaimed 1970 album, 'The Man Who Sold The World', and the following 'Hunky Dory', 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'Aladdin Sane'.
In his capacity as one of the Spiders From Mars, Ronson - with his startling blond hair and black eye makeup - personi?ed the new breed of glam rocking, androgynous guitar players, his role exploding on to the front page of Melody Mcier when Bowie knelt down and simulated oral sex on Ronson's guitar.
The Bowie period also marked Ronson's contributions to Lou Reed's classic 'Transformer' album. He co-produced it with Bowie, and provided the string arrangement For 'Walk On the Wild Side'.
Ronson left Bowie to pursue a solo career, although their collaborations would continue on and off right up to the time of Ronson's death.
He released two LPs, 'Slaughter On Tenth Avenue' and 'Play Don't Worry', in 1974 and l975, by which time he had joined - and left - Ian Hunter's Mott The Hoople.
By April 1975, he was in Hunter/Ronson, with the former Mott frontman, as guitarist, arranger and producer - another liaison which would continue throughout his career, resurfacing, again as Hunter/Ronson, in 1990.
In 1977, Ronson teamed up with Bob Dylan on the Rolling Thunder Revue. He went on to tour with Van Morrison, and became producer and arranger for Roger McGuinn, formerly of The Byrds, ex-New York Dolls vocalist David Johansen and - last year - Morrissey, with 'Your Arsenal'.
His final live appearance was at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert on April 20 1992, when he appeared with Ian Hunter alongside Bowie and Queen.
David Bowie this week issued a short statement to say, 'I shall miss him tremendously.'
Only a short time betore Ronson's death, Bowie told a Record Collector interviewer about Mick's contribution to the 'Black Tie White Noise' sessions. 'We sort of kept track of each other through the years,' said Bowie. 'Every time I go on tour, Mick turns up somewhere along the line and guests on my show.
It was just synchronistic that we happened to be in the same city at the same time. 'I asked him if he'd come and work on a song that we both liked very much, which was Cream's 'I Feel Free'. He said he'd be delighted, and he turned up and played his usual breathtaking solo. Extraordinary man, extraordinary guitar player.'
Bowie and Ronson together again recently, with Bowie contributing vocals to recordings for Mick's forthcoming solo album, which he spent the last year of his life working on.
Guest musicians also include Chrissie Hynde, Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott and John Cougar Mellencamp.
Ian Hunter had flown to London for the sessions the Sunday before Ronson died.
Ronson, whose illness had been diagnosed two years ago, suddenly took a turn for the worse the day before the recordings were due to happen. They were immediately called off.
A spokesman tor Hunter said, 'Ian and Mick were as close as you can get without being brothers. Mick was a special person. He didn't bother with rock star trappings. He was just a guy with this incredible talent. He could play any musical instrument that existed.'
Ronson's widow is due to go the States this week with the master tapes of the album, which is said to be 80 percent finished. It will then be mixed, and some of the vocals 'cleaned up', for a proposed release by Epic in the autumn.
Included, with Queen's permission, is the Hunter/Ronson version of 'All The Young Dudes', recorded at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert.
A church service For Ronson, a Mormon, was held in London on Thursday (May 6). He was due to be buried in Hull the next day.