Pete Overend Watts, who founded and played bass for Mott the Hoople, has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
Born in Yardley, Birmingham, Watts started on guitar while at Ross Grammar School. He switched to bass when he was 18 and eventually started playing professionally with guitarist Mick Ralphs in The Buddies. The band mostly played in German clubs and went through several name changes – Doc Thomas Group, Shakedown Sound, and Silence – before adding lead singer Ian Hunter to become Mott the Hoople in 1969. It was the same time that band manager Guy Stevens suggested Watts go by his unusual middle name, Overend.
The band put out two albums before teetering on the edge of breaking up. Watts told the news to David Bowie, who was a fan of the band, and Bowie persuaded the band to stay together. He first offered the song “Suffragette City” from his then unreleased Ziggy Stardust album, which they refused. He then wrote “All the Young Dudes”, which became the band’s biggest hit. They rode the success of the song and subsequent album for two more years before Hunter left their ranks.
Watts continued with the band, then renamed to Mott, and recorded two more albums. After more lineup changes, they formed British Lions, which also released two studio albums.
After British Lions split in 1979, Watts became a record producer for artists including Hanoi Rocks and Dumb Blondes. He participated in several Mott the Hoople reunion concerts and also wrote a book entitled The Man Who Hated Walking.
Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Pete Overend Watts.