Short of a concert appearance by The Man himself, nothing excites David Bowie fans more than seeing the rock ‘n’ roll trend setter’s two most illustrious proteges, Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, perform together on the same stage.
Singer Hunter is the erstwhile leader of Mott the Hoople, which Bowie propelled to glamour-rock stardom in 1972 by writing their big hit, “All the Young Dudes,” and producing their breakthrough album of the same name. Guitarist Ronson was a charter member of Bowie’s celebrated Spiders From Mars backup band before joining Mott the Hoople on its final tour in 1974.
When the group broke up less than a year later, Hunter and Ronson began an uneasy alliance, both on the road and in the studio. Artistically, the match was a dream, but logistically it was a nightmare, since both partners had to answer to separate managers and separate record companies.
By 1981, Hunter and Ronson had had enough. Hunter released a few more solo albums before retiring to his farm in Upstate New York, where he bred German shepherds. Ronson concentrated on producing albums for other artists; he had already established himself in the field by working with ex-Byrd Roger McGuinn and punk-rocker David Johansen, formerly with the New York Dolls.
Two years ago, however, Hunter moved back to Manhattan, determined to resume his musical career. “I realized that I function best in filth,” he said with a laugh, “and I started writing a lot of new songs. Then, last April, I called up Mick, just to see how he was doing, and he told me he had gotten bored stiff with producing and was anxious to play guitar again.”
After playing a few practice dates together “at strip joints in Canada,” Hunter said, “it started to kick in, and we decided to tour for the first time in seven years.”
The tour began two weeks ago in Toronto, and consists of 60 shows in 60 cities throughout Canada and the United States, Hunter said--including a concert tonight at the Bacchanal in Kearny Mesa.
“And this time, the things that were against us before are no longer against us,” Hunter said. “We now have the same manager, and there’s a good chance we’re going to be on the same record label. Before, trying to stay together was impossible; now it’s almost inevitable.
“I’ve got holes he fills, and he’s got holes I fill.”
The Sammis Pavilion’s days as a pop concert venue are officially over. Last month, Carlsbad City Manager Ray Patchett yanked Bill Silva’s permit to produce concerts at the Batiquitos Lagoon Educational Park’s amphitheater because of traffic and security problems at an Aug. 6 Bob Dylan show.
But the San Diego promoter was given a reprieve: He was allowed to do one more concert at Sammis--an Oct. 2 appearance by jazz singer Basia--and, if no further problems occurred, Patchett would consider lifting the ban.
In an attempt to ease traffic congestion, Silva agreed to reduce maximum attendance from 7,000 to 4,000, he doubled the size of the parking lot and he beefed up security. But there were still problems. Before the show, traffic was backed up all the way to the freeway.
Patchett blames Silva’s decision to charge for parking, which he said prevented a smooth flow of traffic into the lot. Silva associate John Nelson blames Patchett for imposing a 9:30 p.m. curfew, which forced the promoter to start the show an hour earlier, at 7 p.m.
“That’s just too early, particularly for a Saturday night,” Nelson said. “So, instead of a steady influx of people, everyone arrived at once.”
In any event, Silva said he’d rather switch than fight and has taken the three remaining shows tentatively booked into the Sammis Pavilion to Balboa Park’s Starlight Bowl. The first of the three programs, Steel Pulse, was held Saturday. Left to go: Roy Orbison, Oct. 21; and the Taxi Gang, Sly and Robbie, Freddie MacGregor and Maxi Priest on Oct. 22.
Patchett said he welcomes Silva’s decision: “I think there is a need for some kind of theater-type facility in Carlsbad and North County, but that particular site is becoming less and less desirable because it’s in a growing residential neighborhood. The problems we’re facing right now could be overcome, but there would only be more problems in the future.”
On my own: After three years as lead singer of Lone Justice, the critically acclaimed Los Angeles band hailed for its gritty hybrid of
country and rock ‘n’ roll, Maria McKee has struck out on her own. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter, whom Times pop critic Robert Hilburn once praised for her “intoxicating artistic vision,” will be at the Bacchanal Thursday night. She’ll be previewing songs from her debut solo album, which is scheduled to be released next January on Geffen Records.
“Most of the set is going to consist of new stuff I’ve been working on,” McKee said by phone from her home in Los Angeles. “It’s a little more personal, a little more subtle, than what I was doing with the band. You’ll be able to hear my voice better, and the instrumentation will be more diverse.”
McKee added that she hasn’t ruled out a Lone Justice reunion sometime in the future, but that “for the time being, I just need the freedom to sing whatever I want, write whatever I want and make more of a personal statement with my music.”
Bits and pieces: After a month in the studio, recording a Christmas single, local “blue-eyed” soulsters the Jacks are back in action. Friday night, they’ll be at Rio’s in Loma Portal . . . Neil Young will be making a rare San Diego concert appearance Oct. 27 at downtown’s Golden Hall . . . Tickets go on sale Saturday for Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Nov. 6 show at the California Theatre, also downtown.