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ON THE RECORD: Mott the Hoople got its name from book title

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Q: Where did Mott the Hoople get its name?

A: Mott the Hoople refers to the popular British band of the early ’70s that took its name from the mid-'60s book of the same name written by Willard Manus.

Manus’ book was published in 1966, but did not sell well. It wound up in the hands of record producer Guy Stevens, who, in 1969, was working at the time with a band called Silence. Liking the title of the book, the band changed its name to Mott the Hoople.

The five original members of Mott the Hoople were organist Verden Allen, drummer Dale Griffin, singer Ian Hunter, guitarist Mick Ralphs and bassit Pete “Overend” Watts. After releasing a few moderately selling albums, they called it quits in 1972.

When Watts called David Bowie asking for a job, Bowie persuaded the group to re-form and record a song he’d written called “All the Young Dudes.”

The song became their biggest hit in Britain, reaching No. 3, and their only American Top 40 hit. They enjoyed a few more years of success before disbanding in the mid-’70s.

Besides “All the Young Dudes,” Mott the Hoople is remembered today for guitarist Mick Ralphs, who would later form Bad Company, and singer Ian Hunter, who had a moderately successful solo career.

Q: When Frank Sinatra was buried, his daughter Nancy put a roll of dimes in his pocket. I’ve always wondered why. Do you know?

A: On Dec. 8, 1963, 19-year-old Frank Sinatra, Jr. was kidnapped from a casino in Lake Tahoe. The three kidnappers demanded a $240,000 ransom and told Sinatra Sr. to only communicate with them via payphones.For this reason, Sinatra carried a roll of dimes in his pocket.

His son was released unharmed two days later after the ransom was paid, but Sinatra continued the habit of carrying the roll of dimes in his pocket for the rest of his life. At his funeral, he was buried with a roll of dimes, courtesy of his daughter Nancy, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Q: I’ve heard that the song “House of the Rising Sun” goes back many years. How old is it?

A: The origin of “House of the Rising Sun” is not exactly known. Some music historians have stated that it may date back to the Civil War.

Although its age is uncertain, the song had been around for many decades when it was finally recorded in 1937. While compiling songs for the Library of Congress, music historian Alan Lomax recorded 16-year-old Georgia Turner as she sang one of her favorite songs, “Rising Sun Blues.”

After Lomax included the song in a collection of folk songs, it became very popular among American folk singers. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger included it in their repertoires. Bob Dylan included it on his debut album in 1962, calling it “House of the Rising Sun.”

Across the Atlantic, Chas Chandler heard a version by the American blues/folk singer Josh White and immediately liked it. He brought it back to his group, the Animals, who recorded the most-famous version of the song to date. Their version of “House of the Rising Sun" reached No. 1 in the U.S and the U.K. in 1964.

What’s the name of that song? Where are they now? What does that lyric mean? Send your questions about songs, albums, and the musicians who make them to Bradford Brady and John Maron are freelance music writers based in Raleigh, N.C.

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