January 22, 2017 – Peter Overend Watts was born in the Yardley neighborhood of Birmingham, England on 13 May, 1947.
Watts began playing the guitar at the age of 13 and by 1965, he had switched to bass guitar and became a professional musician. Watts attended Ross Grammar School in 1963 and met his lifelong friend Dale Griffin aka Buffin and they played in local bands together such as The Anchors, Wild Dogs Hellhounds and The Silence when they met a rival band The Buddies who had Mick Ralphs and Stan Tippins as members and they collectively formed The Doc Thomas Group. Changes to that line-up occurred in 1968 and keyboard player Verden Allen joined and they changed their name to The Shakedown Sound.
In 1969 they all moved to London and came to the attention of record producer Guy Stevens who auditioned Ian Hunter and appointed him as their lead singer instead of Tippins and Mott The Hoople was formed. Watts was instrumental in getting David Bowie to write a song for the band and initially was offered the song “Suffragette City” which he turned down before David wrote especially for the band their now anthem “All The Young Dudes”. Mott The Hoople quickly built up a fearsome reputation as a dynamic live attraction playing gloriously ragged rock’n’roll and much of the group’s raw energy emanated from the bands propulsive engine room: the thunderous rhythm section of Overend and Dale. Visually the band also stood out and it was hard not to notice Watts in his thigh high platform boots, silver hair with a custom made bass guitar in the shape of a swallow!
Following the departure of Hunter from Mott The Hoople in 1974, Watts along with Griffin and Morgan Fisher formed MOTT with Ray Majors and Nigel Benjamin. In 1976 following the departure of Benjamin the remaining members regrouped as British Lions with former Medicine Head singer songwriter John Fiddler until their demise in the late 70’s when punk hit with a vengeance. They released the albums British Lions which reached No. 83 in the US (1977) and Trouble with Women (1982). He later became a record producer, producing albums for artists including Hanoi Rocks and Dumb Blondes.
During the 80’s Watts and Griffin formed a production company Grimtone Productions and produced albums for Hanoi Rocks and The Cult as well as hit singles such as Department S “Is Vic There”. Watts then turned his hand to dealing in antiques in the London area before opening a large retro store in Hereford which proved popular with customers from UK and abroad with its specialist clothing, unusual antiquities, instruments and rare music. In 2003 after selling the store at the age of 55 he turned his energies to fishing and walking and walked the SW Coast Path National Trail-all 650 miles of it. He then over the years completed numerous national trails and then wrote a book “The Man Who Hated Walking” which was published in 2013. In 2012 DJ Khaled had a USA Top 20 Billboard hit with a song he co-wrote “Hip Hop” which was on the album “Kiss The Ring”.
Overend was a warm, highly intelligent and witty man who throughout his adult life was both an immensely likeable character and an enigma. Such was his personal standing that in 2009 American rock group Mambo Sons released a song in tribute to him called “Overend Watts”. In January 2009 it was announced that the original members of Mott The Hoople would reform for three 40th Anniversary concerts at Hammersmith Apollo which was extended to five shows due to public demand. His friend Dale Griffin (died January 2016) due to his illness with Alzheimer’s disease was only able to play encores with the band but it was a magical experience for the fans. In November 2013 the band reunited again for the final time (with Martin Chambers on drums) for a series of farewell UK gigs in Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle before Mott The Hoople’s last ever performance at The 02 London.
Watts’s bass of choice was a white Gibson Thunderbird, one of which was later sold to Wishbone Ash bassist Martin Turner.
In August 2009 American rock music group Mambo Sons released their double album Heavy Days featuring a song in tribute to him entitled “Overend Watts”.
In November 2013 Mott the Hoople again reunited, with Martin Chambers once again sitting in (for an ailing Buffin) on drums, for a series of UK gigs in Birmingham, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester, before concluding at the o2 in London.
Watts died on 22 January 2017 from throat cancer at the age of 69 and became the second member of Mott the Hoople’s classic lineup, best known for 1972’s “All the Young Dudes,” to die in just over a year.