April 29, 1993 – Mick Ronson was born May 26, 1946 in in Kingston upon Hull, England. As a child he was trained classically to play piano, recorder, violin, and (later) the harmonium. He initially wanted to be a cellist, but moved to guitar upon discovering the music of Duane Eddy, whose sound on the bass notes of his guitar sounded to Ronson similar to that of the cello.
He moved to London in 1965, after having outplayed the local bands.
After several attempts through the ’60s of making it in London, he got his break in early 1970, when he joined David Bowie’s new backing band called The Hype. The Hype played their first gig at The Roundhouse on 22 February 1970.
(Early in 1970, John Cambridge came back to Hull in search of Ronson, intent upon recruiting him for a new David Bowie backing band called The Hype. He found Ronson marking out a rugby pitch, one of his duties as a Parks Department gardener for Hull City Council. Having failed in his earlier attempts in London, Ronson was reluctant, but eventually agreed to accompany Cambridge to a meeting with Bowie. Two days later, on 5 February, Ronson made his debut with Bowie on John Peel’s national BBC Radio 1 show.)
The Hype also went under the names ‘Harry The Butcher’ and ‘David Bowie’s New Electric Band’ before they became known as The Spiders From Mars. Mick was a key part of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album.
He co-produced Lou Reed’s album Transformer with Bowie, playing lead guitar on the album and piano on the song “Perfect Day”. Again with Bowie, he recut the track “The Man Who Sold The World” for Lulu, released as a single in the UK, and played on a few tracks on the Dana Gillespie album “Weren’t Born a Man”.
He appeared on the 1972 country-rock album Bustin’ Out by Pure Prairie League, and on Bowie’s Aladdin Sane and 1973’s covers album “Pin Ups”. After leaving Bowie after the “Farewell Concert” in 1973, Mick released three solo albums.
His first solo debut Slaughter on 10th Avenue, featured a version of Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender”, as well as Ronson’s most famous solo track, “Only After Dark”. In addition, his sister, Margaret (Maggi) Ronson, provided the backing vocals for the set. Between this and the 1975 follow-up, Ronson had a short-lived stint with Mott the Hoople. He then became a long-time collaborator with Mott’s former leader Ian Hunter, commencing with the album Ian Hunter (UK No. 21) and featuring the UK Singles Chart No. 14 hit “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”, including a spell touring as the Hunter Ronson Band. In 1974, Ronson secured the No. 2 spot from a reader’s poll in Creem magazine as the best guitarist that year (with Jimmy Page taking first place), and Eric Clapton in third place after Ronson.
Ronson contributed guitar to the title track of the 1976 David Cassidy release Getting It in the Street. On 11 February 1977 the single “Billy Porter” (b/w “Seven Days”) was released on RCA Victor Records, but did not chart. Roger Daltrey employed Ronson’s guitar on his 1977 solo release One of the Boys. In 1979, Ronson and Hunter produced and played on the Ellen Foley debut album, Night Out, with “We Belong to the Night” and the hit single “What’s a Matter Baby”.
In 1980, the live album Welcome to the Club was released, including a couple of Ronson contributions, although it also contained a few studio-based tracks – one of which was a Hunter/Ronson composition.
In 1982, Ronson worked with John Mellencamp on his American Fool album, and in particular the song “Jack & Diane”.
Mick kept on working as a musician, writer and record producer with many other acts including Slaughter & The Dogs, Morrissey, The Wildhearts, The Rich Kids, Elton John, Johnny Cougar, T-Bone Burnett, Dalbello, Benny Mardones, Iron City Houserockers and the Italian band Moda and many others.
His last, high profile, live performance was his famed appearance at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992.
Poignantly, he played on “All The Young Dudes” with David Bowie and Ian Hunter, and “Heroes” with Bowie. His last ever recorded session was as a guest on the 1993 Wildhearts album Earth vs The Wildhearts, where he played the guitar solo on the song “My Baby Is A Headfuck”.
Mick Ronson was almost 47 years old when he died from cancer on 29 April 1993.
He was named the 64th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone in 2003 and 41st in 2012 by the same magazine.