Mick Ronson

Mick Ronson

"What I'm good at is putting riffs to things, and hooklines: making things up so songs sound more memorable." Mick Ronson

While Mick Ronson was a renowned guitarist in his own right he is primarily associated with David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase. His guitar playing, coupled with his stage presence and persona, was the perfect foil for Bowie and meant that The Spiders From Mars were never a faceless backing band.

Born in 1946 Mick Ronson (aka 'Ronno') was musical from an early age, learning the violin and playing the harmonium in the local church. At the age of seventeen he bought his first guitar and within a few months was confident enough to join his first band. During the next four years he played in a number of small local groups, practicing his techniques and waiting for fame.

The first step on the rung came in 1967 when he joined The Rats. While the recordings they made were unsuccessful the contacts he made were to become invaluable.

After The Rats split David Bowie was looking to recruit a backing band and on the advice of his ex-Rats drummer Mick Ronson was brought onboard. It was this move that not only gave Ronson the opportunity he deserved but also helped propel Bowie to super stardom.

Ronson's contribution can be first heard in the loud, heavy style of rock on Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World", heavy metal before anyone really understood the term. Following this he arranged half of the songs on "Hunky Dory" before helping Bowie to launch Ziggy Stardust on an unsuspecting world. It was at this point that his career reached its commercial zenith, co-arranging the album, playing all the keyboards, becoming the guitar hero and producing spectacular performances with The Spiders From Mars. The style and music he produced with Bowie, it may be fair to say, was the launch of glam, or glitter, rock.

Following his work with Bowie, Ronson produced some solo recordings, such as "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue", that, although demonstrating his excellent guitar playing, were not well received by the critics. At this point he briefly joined Mott The Hoople where he formed another key partnership with Ian Hunter that would continue, intermittently, for twenty years.

While the lure of the stage remained, 1976 concerts by the Mick Ronson Band were well received, Ronson slowly disappeared from the public eye. He did however remain busy, concentrating on work as both a producer and studio guitarist for numerous artists including Roger McGuinn, Roger Daltrey, the Rich Kids, Slaughter and the Dogs, David Johansen and Meatloaf.

  • One of the most memorable images of the seventies shows Bowie provocatively kneeling in front of Ronson's guitar during "Suffragette City". While this image is now seen as iconic at the time its sexuality led to Ronson temporarily quitting the tour and his parent's front door and new car being daubed in paint.

  • Ronson can be seen in Bob Dylan's file 'Renaldo and Clara' where he appears as a security guard.

  • While never given formal credit, Ronson's first co-production with Bowie was Lou Reed's "Transformer" album it was recorded and mixed in 10 days (60 hours).

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