26 May 2017

15 things you might not know about Mick Ronson

We celebrate the Spider from Hull’s 71st birthday with some little-known facts.

Although best known for his work as the guitarist for David Bowie’s backing band The Spiders from Mars, Mick Ronson (AKA Ronno), was also a fantastic songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and producer.

He worked with all sorts of established artists too, like Ian Hunter, David Cassidy and Morrissey. He was also part of Bob Dylan’s concert tour Rolling Thunder Revue and worked on a number of his own solo projects.

If you fancy digging deeper in to the story of Mick, the show Turn And Face The Strange will highlight his incredible talent through an exhibition of photographs, rare memorabilia and live performance on 15 – 19 August at The Freedom Centre. Tickets are available now.

Today we celebrate what would have been the platinum-haired Hull boy’s 71st birthday with 15 things you might (or might not) know about Mick Ronson.

  1. From an early age, Mick would often come home from the local cinema and figure out theme tunes to films on his accordion, his first instrument.
  1. Mick once had a hair-raising incident with one of his early bands, The Crestas. When Mick put his hand on his guitar strings and simultaneously touched the microphone stand, a faulty electricity outlet caused him to electrocute himself and fly off the stage. He also somersaulted and landed on a table.
  1. Mick always wanted to come up to the standards of Jeff Beck, who he very much admired.
  1. During his early years, Mick often came in for strings and plectrums at Hammonds department store in Hull, where he was known to be quiet, polite and took his playing much more seriously than a lot of other local musicians.
  1. He was rather keen on Jane Fonda.
  1. When Mick was asked to join David Bowie’s band, it took more persuading than imagined. He was happy with his progress as a musician locally and was enjoying his job as a gardener.
  1. Mick had a very dry sense of humour and often used to make David Bowie laugh by telling him dirty jokes.
  1. The first time David Bowie asked Mick to wear a gold suit, he packed his bags and headed to the nearest train station. He returned later that day.
  1. Mick wasn’t the only member of the Spiders from Mars to come from Hull – bassist Trevor Bolder also hailed from the city and Mick Woodmansey came from nearby Driffield.
  1. When Mick was 19, he longed to live in a luxury mews house in Chelsea fitted with expensive high tech equipment so he could listen to Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix all day.
  1. After working on his second solo album, “Play Don’t Worry” in 1975, Mick had decided that solo vocal projects weren’t right for him as he felt uncomfortable singing and didn’t believe in what he was singing.
  1. Mick always appreciated the effort and dedication of his fans and liked to take care of them. If fans were outside on hotel steps, he would often pay for their accommodation.
  1. Mick would never tune his guitar with a tuner, he always tuned it out of tune so when he played it, he compensated for how he bent the strings because of his long nails.
  1. Once when performing with David Bowie, Mick’s guitar strap flew off and his guitar came crashing to the ground. Mick then turned the accident into a Hendrix-style performance by repeatedly slamming his guitar on the floor and spinning it with his left hand.
  1. Mick always used to hate fast guitar players, who always baffled him. He once said ‘They may as well be draftsmen or something, because they’re not saying anything’.

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