The Iron City Houserockers (1980)
Led by singer/guitarist Joe Grushecky, The Iron City Houserockers were a working-class band from Pittsburg PA. They signed to Steve Popovich's Cleveland International label in 1977, and soon became a regular part of the Cleveland International family alongside with Meatloaf, Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, and Ellen Foley. They would often appear onstage at each other's gigs, especially in the Cleveland area.
In February 1980, Steve Popovich and Mick Ronson put together musicians for the Houserocker's second album, Have a Good Time But Get Out Alive, which was recorded at Media Sound in New York. Ian Hunter was also brought in, along with Bruce Springsteen guitarist Steve Van Zandt. Mick co-produced the album (along with Steve Popovich and Marty Mooney, billed as the 'Slimmer Twins') and is listed as the arranger for the album. He also played piano on 'Rock Ola' and mandolin on 'Old Man Bar'.
The Johnny Average Band (1980)
Englishman Mick Hodgkinson came to Woodstock NY in the late 1970s, and soon formed a band called Johnny Average and the Falcons, whose members worked regularly at Bearsville Studios. membership in The Falcons required you to assume an alter ego: Hodgkinson became Johnny Average, guitarist John Holbrook became Brian Briggs, and guitarist Mick Barakan became Shane Mundane, and then later Shane Fontayne. John Sebastian, of Lovin' Spoonful fame, would occasionally play with the band under the name Bobby Subterranean. These pseudonyms were used interchangeably with their own names - often on the same album! The Falcons would later form the basis for Mick Ronson's The New York Yanquis, along with a group of backup singers called The Falconettes: Nicole (Nikki) Wills, Anne Lange, Dede Washburn, and Cindy Cashdollar. The Falcons never released an album of their own, but members of the group released several solo projects. One such off-shoot was The Johnny Average Band, featuring Johnny Average, Nikki Wills, Shane Fontayne, and Frank Campbell. The album was entitled Some People and was released by Bearsville in 1980. Mick Ronson added lead guitar to one song on the album, 'Gotta Go Home'. (Later, Nikki Wills would record again with Mick Ronson as a member of The Phantoms.)
Lennex was a rock band from Niagara Falls Canada, fronted by Rick Rose. Mick first ran across the group in 1981, when they supported Mick's band The New York Yanquis in Hartford CT. Rick Rose gave Mick a demo tape, and about a year later Mick began producing Lennex. They recorded a three-song demo which secured a deal with Attic Records in Toronto, and then began work on an album called Midnight In Niagara. The album was never released, although one track called 'Struggle' did appear on a flexidisc given away with Music Express magazine, with credits to Mick Ronson for production and backing vocals. After the Lennex album was shelved Lennex would undergo a lineup change, write new material, and emerge in 1983 as Perfect Affair.
Visit the Rick Rose website
Stanley Frank (1981)
Canadian recording artist Stanley Frank first came to prominence in 1975, with his critically acclaimed single 'S'cool Days'. He continued to release singles throughout the Seventies, before issuing his debut LP for A+M Records in 1980. Following the release of his debut, Stanley came to Bearsville Studios on two occasions to record demos with Mick Ronson, in 1981 and 1982. Two of the songs Mick produced, 'Canadian Boy' and 'Run For The Sun', are available on the Stanley Frank website. Over the next few years, Mick developed a relationship with A+M records in Canada, consulting on a number of projects with ther up-and-coming artists.
Stanley Frank: 'Nothing was released on vinyl. All the songs were demos recorded while I was on A+M Records. I worked two sessions with Mick, both at Bearsville Studios. Aside from producing the sessions, Mick also sang and played some guitar on a couple of the tunes. I enjoyed meeting Mick and his wife Suzie. They were very cordial while I was staying at their home in upstate New York.'
Visit the Stanley Frank website
The Proof (1981)
The Proof were an underrated East Coast power pop quartet, consisting of Tom Cohen (lead vocals, guitar), Michael Hommel (bass, vocals), Michael Newman (guitar, vocals), and Jeff Cohen (drums). The group's lone LP, It's Safe, was issued in 1980 by CBS/Nemperor and was produced by John Leckie (XTC). In early 1981, the group met with Eddie Offord, the legendary producer of Yes, with an eye toward recording a followup. Offord suggested Mick Ronson as a co-producer, and the group went to Offord's studio in Woodstock NY later that year.
Tom Cohen: 'One of our managers, Debbie Schwartz, contacted Eddie Offord about producing our second record. Eddie was the one who suggested bringing in Mick Ronson as co-producer. The day we were scheduled to meet, we found ourselves waiting for Mick to show. Finally, Debbie went out for some food and came back with Mick, whom she had found roaming around 72nd street. CBS came up with a small budget, and we recorded four songs in Eddie’s studio in Woodstock. The studio was in a big barn, which had previously belonged to Levon Helm of The Band. There was no control booth or anything - Eddie simply set up his 24-track equipment in the same large room where the musicians played. Mick was very subdued and serious the entire weekend. In fact, he hardly offered any comments or criticism; instead, he sat on the couch and sort of observed passively. The four tracks recorded in Woodstock were 'Real But Invisible', 'It Ain't Enough', 'If I Work Nights', and 'It Don't Really Kill Me'.The band and management were happy with the tapes, but the
music industry was complaining of declining profits that year, and after signing New Wave bands indiscriminately in the late 1970s CBS began dumping
them left and right in the 1980s, they shelved the project.'
The Payola$ (1981-1983)
Lisa Bade (1982)
In 1982, Mick Ronson played guitar and keyboards on five songs on Lisa Bade's debut album Suspicion, alongside his New York Yanquis bandmate Shane Fontayne. Bade's album consisted mostly of cover songs by contemporary artists such as Bryan Adams, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, Nils Lofgren, Joan Armatrading, and Tom Waits.
Los Illegals (1982)
Mick was heavily involved in the making of Internal Exile, the 1983 debut album by the Mexican-American band Los Illegals. Based in East L.A., the group was led by artist Willie Herron and also included Jesus Velo, Bill Reyes, Antonio Valdez, and Manuel Valdez. Mick is credited with producing, arranging, and mixing the album, as well as playing guitar and singing backing vocals.
Jesus Velo: 'Man that vato was truly loco, and ran the alleys and streets with us and started the whole 'Rock en Espanol' scene with us. He made an analogy of Mexico/USA/East L.A. and Ireland/England/Hull. I know this sounds far-fetched y really loco too, but such was his thinking and he was right. We got a million stories about taking that vato cruising in our '57 Chevy, running around like some bad Mexican TV show. Mick was becoming hip to the fact that we used 'Calo', which is our term for Chicano slang, and he was getting good at it too - although with a British accent! Oh yeah, he always had that fuzzy-haired vato around that never took off his glasses - he was a little nervous around us, but was well-liked in the barrio 'cuz of El Mick.'
Les Fradkin (1982)
Les Fradkin was a singer, guitarist, and producer who in the early Seventies worked with a number of bands including The Left Banke, The Godz, Edison Lighthouse, Stories, and Hello People. He was also an original member Beatlemania!, performing as George Harrison. In 1982, Les was in New York recording with drummer Hilly Michaels and keyboard player Tommy Mandel, both veterans of the Ian Hunter Band. Hilly suggested using Mick Ronson on guitar, and soon they decided to form a band and try to get a record deal. A few songs were recorded, but no deal was offered and the group fell apart. In 2006, however, one song fromt eh sessions - 'Spare Change', was issued by Les Fradkin on his album Going Back.
Les Fradkin, inteviewed by to Sven Gusevik: 'Hilly Michaels was interested in working with me and he suggested Mick for the lead guitar slot. Mick came over to my apartment and heard my material and loved it. He then decided we should join together as a band to get a record deal. I played bass and sang. Our keyboardist on this session was Tommy Mandel. The Rickenbacker 12 string was overdubbed by me. I sang lead and Hilly and I did the background vocals. My favorite bit in the tune 'Spare Change' was how Mick and I got the 12-string sound with so much echo. My old apartment building in NYC had very long hallways (350') so we recorded the sound of my guitar in that hallway as an overdub to achieve this. For years, no one could figure out how we did this! We worked in 1982, but never performed live as a band. We didn't get a deal, alas. That kind stopped us cold.'
Visit the Les Fradkin website
The Mamas and The Papas (1982)
In 1982, Mick Ronson was invited to put together a band for John Phillips and The Mamas and The Papas.
He asked his old friend Shane Fontayne to come along, along with bassist Hugh McDonald, kayboard player Arthur Stead, and drummer Gary Burke.
The lineup recorded four songs at Electric Ladyland with John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Spanky McFarlane and Mackenzie Phillips.
The songs, which included a cover of the Moody Blues' 'Go Now' and originals 'Yachts', 'Babies' and 'Not Too Cool', were not released at the time. None of the songs would ever be mistaken for a guitar showcase.
Mick declined an offer to tour with the group, and handed his role off to Shane Fontayne. (Shane stayed with The Mamas and the Papas until 1984, and evenutally married Mackenzie Phillips.)
The tracks surfaced on 2010 on the John Phillips album Many Mamas, Many Papas.
Shane Fontayne: 'Mick asked if I would come along and we went to New York to rehearse before going into Electric Ladyland studios in Greenwich Village to record. We recorded four songs and soon John wanted to do some shows. Mick didn't want to go on the road, and proposed that I do The Mamas and The Papas tour instead.'
The Mundanes (1982)
The Mundanes were a new wave band based in Providence RI, and featured a female vocalist in Marsha Armitage. The band released one single 'Make It The Same' on Portable Records in 1981, before drummer Kevin Tooley and keyboard player John Linnell (They Might Be Giants) left the band. By 1982, the band found themselves managed by Englishman David Hemmings, who had previously managed Pat Travers and Ozzy Osbourne. Hemmings introduced them to Mick Ronson, who produced a demo for them in 1982. The lineup at the time was Marsha Armitage, Jonathan Gregg, John Andrews, Jim Gillson, and Peter Clemente.
Jonathan Gregg: 'David became our manager and arranged for us to work with Mick on a demo. We hit it off immediately when he said one of his favorite bands was NRBQ, a band we loved and had opened for on many occasions. The sessions took place at RCA studios in Manhattan. We recorded three tunes: 'Dream Life', 'Sleepless Stephanie', and 'Who's That Man'. One of my songs, 'Who's That Man', was rearranged based on Mick's idea. Mick couldn't have been nicer and he was easy to work with and it went quite well. He didn't appear on the recording, but he came to several rehearsals and I remember handing him my guitar for approval and noticing how long his fingernails had grown - he wasn't doing much guitar playing at that point evidently.'
Visit The Mundanes on MySpace
T Bone Burnett (1982-1983)
T Bone Burnett and Mick Ronson first teamed up in 1975, when they played with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. T Bone helped out Mick in between the two legs of that Dylan tour, recording demos with Mick and other members of the Rolling Thunder band at Sundragon studios in New York City. After the Dylan tour ended, Burnett formed the Aplha Band with a few other members Rolling Thunder, releasing three albums. The band re-recorded a couple of the songs that were originally recorded at the Sundragon sessions.
In October 1982, T Bone was offered a few dates opening for The Who's on their farewell tour. Mick Ronson agreed to play in T Bone's band, and turned down a far more lucrative offer from Bob Seger in order to do it. They played the Who dates, and T Bone also worked in a few club dates around the Who gigs. Following the tour, Mick went into the studio to help record Brunett's next album Proof Through The Night, released in 1983. Ronson played guitar on four songs: 'The Murder Weapon', 'The Sixties', and 'Pressure'.
Visit the T Bone Burnett website
Perfect Affair (1983)
Perfect Affair grew out of the band Lennex, which Mick had worked with since 1981. The group changed its name to Perfect Affair, and signed a deal with the Canadian label Attic Records. Mick Ronson produced the album, which was reocrded at Phase One Studios in Toronto Canada. Mick also sang backing vocals and played keyboards and guitar on the album. Near the end of the session Mick had to leave to fulfull prior obligations with The Payolas and Lisa Dal Bello, so Walter Zwol took over. The resulting album, Visions, was issued in Canada by Attic Records in 1983.
Rick Rose: Making this album was an unbelievable experience. Everything I thought about how to make records was thrown out the window. Mick suggested 'drama on tape - forget about trying to make something radio would like, let's make art'.
Visit the Rick Rose website
The Visible Targets (1983)
Starting out in Yakima Washington as Wreckless, the Visible Targets centered on three sister - Laura Keane (vocals), Pamela Golden (guitar), and Rebecca Hamilton (bass). They produced a self-title EP in 1982, scored a college-radio hit with 'Life In The Twilight Zone' and toured in support of Simple Minds. The band and brought in Mick Ronson to produce their second EP, Autistic Savant, which was released in 1983 and featured a remake of 'Life In The Twilight Zone'.
Ron Simmons: 'We were all BIG Bowie fans and we had been playing at the Showbox, and around town quite a bit, and we had our first version of 'Twilite Zone' playing on local radio stations in the Seattle area. The manager of Split Enz had heard our song on the radio and he approached our manager. After several meetings, he went back to A&M Records and came back with a list of producers that would be available to work with us, to produce a demo. We looked at the list and immediately saw the name: Mick Ronson. It was kind of a no-brainer at that point, so we hooked up. We never got much movement from A&M for a major deal, but Mick liked our music, so he said he would also produce our EP. He did this incredible piano part on one of our songs on the demo, reminiscent of the Bowie album Aladdin Sane. It never made it to vinyl. Mick was a great person, and not pretentious. We miss him.'
Lisa DalBello (1984)
Continuing his work with Canadian artists, Mick Ronson teamed up with Lisa DalBello in 1984. Lisa had signed with Capitol Records as a teenager, and released three pop albums under her full name from 1977 to 1981 (Lisa Dal Bello, Pretty Girls, and Drastic Measures). Mick saw a CBC documentary about her, and convinced her to record a new album with him. They corresponded for more than a month while Ronson was working in Vancouver with The Payolas. WhoManFourSays ('Human Forces') was released under the name DalBello, and marked a departure into more experimental territory for both DalBello and Ronson. The duo produced, played and mixed the entire album themselves. Mick was reluctant to play guitar, and a CMI Fairlight digital sampler played a prominent role in the sessions. Lisa described their efforts as being 'Like mad scientists in a lab.'
The album was critical success both in Canada as well as in Europe, which Lisa freely attributes to Mick. 'Mick's involvement created a whole career for me in Europe, and back in Canada. It would never have happened without him.' Lisa and Mick undertook a promotional tour of Europe and Scandanavia to promote the album, and appeared on television in Germany and Norway. But when it came to recording a followup album, neither DalBello's record label nor her manager were interested in using Mick, much to Lisa's disappointment.
X Davis (1984)
X Davis hailed from New York City and started out as a quartet called Honey Davis consisting Joe Loretta (vocals), Michael Jeremiah (guitar), James Damone (bass) and Bruce Michael (drums). When Ken Parente replaced Joe Loretta, it prompted a name change to X Davis. The group recorded their first single in 1980 which attracted some radio play, and hooked up with booking agency ATI who placed them as the support act for the Stray Cats. When Parente left, the band stayed a trio with Jeremiah taking over the vocals. The group later hooked up with producer Glenn Rosenstein and manager David Hemming, and before long two LPs had been released: Dancing In The Dark (1983) and Summer of Fire (1984). In June 1984, the group hired Mick Ronson to produce their next sessions.
Michael Jeremiah, to Colin Blade: 'I remember seeing Mick's huge picture on the side of a NYC building for the Slaughter on 10th Avenue album, I was moved to pursue my musical career with that album. We found out through some mutual friends that Mick was going to be available for a few weeks in April, so we reached out and struck a deal with him. We rehearsed for a week, then recorded for another week or two in a studio on 48th Street in NYC. We started five songs, but only completed four ('Stillwell Avenue', 'Crossfire', 'Trust In Me', 'In The City').'
'Mick played guitar on 'Crossfire', and acoustic guitar on 'In the City' - which he loved, and asked me twice if I wrote it. Then, on 'Stillwell Avenue' he played acoustic guitar, piano and that cute little funky flute synth during the solo. He also schooled us on drum delay. On 'Stillwell Avenue' we had Kool and the Gang's trombone and trumpet players, and Sam and Dave's sax man. I had the right people working with me! There was a cat named Gary Corbet on keyboards, still a good friend who's played with everyone.'
'It was a good run and I got to London three times. Ronno got us drunk on one trip, took us to all the good spots where he and David Bowie got into trouble. We had drinks with Bowie one night at CBGB's when he came to see us. I stay in touch with Suzi, and go to watch Lisa's band in NYC, she looks so much like her Dad. Having had Mick in my life, even for a short time will always be a lifetime treasure. 'Stillwell Avenue' is the street that I grew up on and to have Mick give it the 'All The Young Dudes' feel is still warming to my heart, I just gave that track a good listen to and feel like I'm back in the studio with Mick.'
Visit the Jeremiah website
Ian Thomas (1984)
Canadian Ian Thomas recorded a pair of singles with a band called Tranquility Bass before striking out on his own in 1973. His first single, 'Painted Ladies', was a huge hit, and he went on to release several albums on GRT records. In 1980 Thomas left GRT for Rush's label Anthem Records, and his 1984 album Riders On Dark Horses was co-produced by Ian Thomas, Mick Ronson, and Max Norman. Norman had recently produced Ian Hunter's All of The Good Ones Are Taken album, and among the musicians on the Ian Thomas album is sax player John Panchyshyn, who would later tour with Ian Hunter as part of Roy Young's band. Ian Thomas is the brother of comedian Dave Thomas, a Second City veteran who teamed up with Rick Moranis to portray Bob and Doug McKenzie in the movie Strange Brew, for which Ian Thomas recorded the soundtrack. Reports that Mick Ronson played on that movie soundtrack LP appear to be groundless.
Urgent were a Long Island quintent featuring three brothers - Michael, Donnie, and Steve Kehr - alongside bassist Klyph Black and guitarist Yul Vaz. They were a keyboard-oriented AOR band, and Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter were approached to produce their debut album Cast The First Stone. In addition to co-producing, Mick is credited with additional keyboards and guitar on the album, which was released in 1985. Although Hunter admits the project was undertaken primarily because it paid well, he remained friendly with Donnie Kerr, who later contributed vocals to the 1989 Hunter/Ronson album YUI Orta as well as to Ian Hunter's Artful Dodger album in 1996.
Ian Hunter, to Campbell Devine: 'Mick was usually skint. We got together and produced this album in Los Angeles. Mick was looking for money and that project, if we both did it, was $30,000. I did it because he wanted to do it. So I just sat there and let him do it. That was he way happy, and I'd make a few bob as well.'
Urgent's second album was called Thinking Out Loud and was released in 1987. Hunter and declined to produce it this time around, but the apir did contribute to the songwriting and it features two songs co-written by Mick Ronson: 'If This Is Love' and 'Inch By Inch'.
Sandy Dillon (1985)
Sandy Dillon was a singer/songwriter from the Boston area, who attended the Berklee School of Music before heading to New York City. While appearing on Broadway portraying Janis Joplin, she was spotted by Tony DeFries, who signed her to MainMan and got her a deal with Elektra Records. Her first album, Candy From a Stranger, was produced by electronic/dance legend Man Parrish (another MainMan artist) but was never issued by the label. When it came time record a second album, Flowers, Mick Ronson and Dieter Meier handled the production duties. During the early stages of the project, Glen Matlock sat in on bass. But once again, Elektra chose not to release the album.
A single was picked up by RCA, though, and so Sandy and Mick traveled to England to promote 'Flowers'/'Heavy Boys'. Mick and Sandy played a number of shows in the UK together, including Ronnie Scott's, the Roof Gardens in Kensington, and sharing a bill with Angie Bowie at The Fridge in Brixton. At the gigs Mick debuted a couple solo songs, 'Impossible Dream' and 'All Night Long', which unfortunately have never surfaced since. Sandy eventually broke from MainMan, and teamed up with Steve Bywater and ex-Mott guitarist Ray Major. She has issued a number of albums, and remains active as a performer and recording artist. In the 1990s the Trident label planned a compilation of material from Sandy's unreleased albums, but although it was given a catalog number it was never issued.
Visit the Sandy Dillon website
One The Juggler (1985)
One The Juggler was formed in the early 80s by singer/guitarist Rokko Lee (Sham Morris) and bassist Lushi Lee, and are named after the first card in a deck of Tarot cards. They underwent numerous lineup changes, signed to RCA subsidiary Regard Records, and toured supporting artists like Marc-Almond, Elvis COstell, The Eurythmics and Big Country. By 1984 they had a handful of singles and a debut album Nearly a Sin under their belt. Mick Ronson was brought in to produce the follow-up album, Some Strange Fashion.
Sham Morris: 'We went to the record company to pick a producer. They were throwing out the names of current hot producers, as record companies usually do - whatever producer has something in the Top Twenty. We'd say, 'Yeah, sure, get him', but then the guy would be too expensive. So slowly the list went down. We were just sitting and talking one day when someone from the record company - or maybe it was the manager - mentioned Mick's name. We went 'Yeah!', because Mick was our hero when we were kids. We didn't think anything would come of it, but he called up one day and said 'I like the demos, I'd like to do something with them.' We said great, and so he came over and that was that.'
'We did a single first, because the record company wanted to check him out or something. It came out good, so we went ahead and did the album. By the time we got ready to do the album, the whole band was fired, and it was just me, Mick, and the bass player. We just did it like that. Mick had just done the Dalbello album, and so I guess that was why we went that route instead of going with a band. Mick played all the guitars and all the keyboards, and Lushi played bass. We used a drum machine ... but it was a little more than drum machine. In hindsight, I think we should have kept more of a band vibe to it, but it was fun doing it anyway.'
'The album was called Some Strange Fashion. It was quite a project in the end. By the time that album came out, we were on Regard Records, which was a subsidiary of RCA. But Regard folded and we were put under the RCA wing, but we had no one in our camp. As soon as it was finished, we tried to get out of the deal, and take the album and resell it. But they wouldn't let us, and from then on it was a fight to get anything done. I don't think it got released here in America, it just got released over there. And when I say 'released, I think it just got 'put out'. It's a shame, because there were a couple things on it, and it was a good album at the time. Mick played some really good stuff on it.'
After the group broke up, Mick and Sham Morris kept in touch, and even played some gigs together in London as a duo. Sham eventually moved to the USA, and settled near Mick in Woodstock NY. The pair continued to record demos together, and formed a short-lived version of the Mick Ronson Band in 1998. Sham would later feature heavily on Mick's final solo album, Heaven and Hull.
Sham Morris: 'While he was in England we had a band, a duo, with him on electric guitar and me on acoustic guitar. We had a drum machine, just a real cheap drum machine keeping the beat. They were songs that I'd written on acoustic guitar, and then we'd just stretch them out and let Mick do his thing on them. I haven't got any tapes of that; that was one thing I missed. We quite a few gigs like that, opening for bands around London. Not really any big bands, just with friend's bands who were playing. We'd just turn up and open for them. We'd play little clubs around South London, and then we played a couple places in the King's Road.'
Visit the One The Juggler website
Steve Harley (1985)
1985 saw Cockney Rebel frontman Steve Harley in the studio with Mickie Most, recording a new album for Rak called El Grand Senor. Having known Ronson since the Seventies, Harley contacted Mick and asked him to help out, and so Ronson played guitar on a song called 'Lucky Man'. The album was never released, but 'Lucky Man' eventually turned up as a B side to a Harley single. The sessions with Harley put Mick back in touch with Ultravox frontman Midge Ure, who would ask Mick to play on his upcoming solo tour.
Steve Harley, to Weird and Gilly: 'Mick plays guitar ona track called Lucky Man, which was never released. It's a white reggae rhythm. Mick was as easy as could be, musically he was very quick and adaptable. I experimented with several guitar approaches, and naturally they were all well within his scope.'
Visit the Steve Harley website
Midge Ure (1985)
In 1985, Mick Ronson was recruited by Midge Ure to play guitar on his upcoming solo tour alongside Kevin Powell on bass, Kenny Hyslop on drums, and Danny Mitchell on keyboards. The group rehearsed for two weeks, but musical differences - Ure thought Ronson was too 'messy' - put an end to it and Zal Cleminson took over. The group was featured on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test, including a Ure interview and footage of the band performing 'Wastelands' in their rehearsal space. Another rehearsal track that Ronson played on - a remake of Visage's 'Fade To Grey' - was issued as a B side to 'That Certain Smile' in 1985. In his later autobiography, Midge Ure's recollection of the time was highly critical of Ronson and suggested that he was involved with drugs and gangsters.
Visit the Midge Ure website
Kiss That (1986)
Lisa Dominique (1986)
Andi Sexgang (1986)
Andi Sexgang was the leader of the Sex Gang Children, one of the early goth bands from the UK who scored an indie hit with their first single, 'Beasts'. The group continued a small string of hits through 1984, several of them produced by Generation X member Tony James. The band broke up in 1984, with Andi embarking on a solo career that started with the LP Blind in 1985.
Mick Ronson teamed up with Andi for his next album, Love and Danger, recorded in Florence, Italy at Studio Emme and released in 1986 by the Italian label DEA Records and credited to Arco Valley. The album was produced by Mick Ronson, who co-wrote the song 'Belgique Blue' and also received credits for guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, backing vocals, mixing, and arranging. The album show a strong influence of both David Bowie and Marc Bolan, and perhaps hinted at Ronson's later work on Morrissey's acclaimed Your Arsenal album.
Love and Danger was later picked up by Jungle Records for a UK release in 1989, when it was retitled Arco Valley and credited to Andi Sexgang. Subsequent CD reissues in the 1990s have credited it to Andi Sexgang and Mick Ronson. Outtakes from the Arco Valley sessions were issued on a 1994 Andi Sexgang EP called Western Songs For Children, where Mick receives credit for guitar and arrangements.
Visit Andi Sexgang website
Cody Meville (1986)
In the summer of 1986, Mick Ronson and singer / songwriter Cody Melville recorded four songs at Proving Ground Studios in Detroit MI. The four tracks Mick and Cody recorded were 'Voices', 'One More Goodnight', 'Drop The Needle On', and 'International Appeal'. (Mick Ronson co-wrote the song 'Noises'). The songs were recorded with an eye toward getting a record deal, but nothing came of the effort.
Cody Melville: 'I always wanted to work with Mick. He was, and still is, one of my heroes. I contacted The Payola’s manager then in Canada – Bruce Allen I think – I told whoever that I was doing a record and that I wanted to get in touch with Mick to consider producing it. With that they gave me his number in Woodstock. I spoke to Suzie who gave me an address in England where he was staying - producing I believe - Kiss That. I sent him some tapes, then we spoke on the phone about what he thought, and I made changes and sent more tapes – and then at some point he agreed to produce four tracks and with those we would try and find a deal. We did pre-production for a week outside the studio, and then went into the studio for a week. Mick produced the stuff, and played pretty much everything. When we were in the studio we got an offer to open up for Public Image Ltd. In Detroit. We thought about throwing something together quickly just to do it, then better judgment took hold and we passed. But it was nice to be asked. Mick told our new managers he would play with us to get the thing rolling. When we left their office, he told me that it’s always good policy to tell people like them whatever they want to hear!'
Visit Session 86 on MySpace to hear the demos
Rick Rose (1987)
Mick returned to Niagara Falls Canada in 1987 to work with Rick Rose, whose earlier bands Lennex and Perfect Affair were both produced by Mick. Mick and Rick went into C.K. Recording Studios in July 1987, and the sessions resulted in the single 'Gypsy Jewelry' / 'Under The Sky, Under The Moon'. On the single, Mick is credited with producing, co-writing, and singing on the A side only. But when the B side appeared on a CD release in 2001, Mick was also credited with producing and co-writing the B side.
Visit the Rick Rose website
Marie Laure et Lui (1987)
Mick traveled to Geneva, Switzerland in 1987 to produce this French duo, consisting of composer Philippe Bourgogne and singer Marie-Laure Beraud. The sessions resulted in a single for Warner Brothers, issued in France: 'C'est Pas Le Perou' b/w 'Same Me Glace'.
Marie-Laure Beraud: 'We had two tracks to record for Warner Brothers at that time, and I was crazy about Transformer and the guitars on David Bowie's records. So we got in touch with Mick, and as he liked our tracks we decided to work together in a studio in Geneva for one week. He played on my Tele because he broke a string on his. I still have that guitar. He was gentle, clever and such an amazing guitar player. This week spent with him and my partner Philippe Bourgogne was magic.'
Visit the Marie-Laure Beraud website
Visit the Philippe Bourgogne website
David Lynn Jones (1987)
A native of Bexar Arkansas, David Lynn Jones began performing in his teens in the 1960s. He later took work as a session musician while trying to sell songs in Nashville, and got his first break in 1976 when Randy Corner took his song 'Heart Don't Fail Me Now' into the Top 40. By the 1980s Jones had hooked up with producer Richie Albright, and together they submitted a demo tape to Mercury Records. Willie Nelson heard the tape and recorded 'Living In The Promised Land' which went straight to Number 1 in the country charts. When it came time to record his debut album, Hard Times On easy Street, Steve Popovich suggested Mick Ronson as a co-producer. Mick is listed as co-procuder along with Albright and Jones, and also plays on the album although there are no credits that specify his exact contributions.
Steve Popovich, to Weird and Gilly: 'I had this idea to bring Mick down to co-produce with David and his manager Richie Albright. I sent Mick a demo and he loved the songs. Mick came down to stay at my house for a month or two and made this wonderful record. 'Bonnie Jean' was the first single we had, and at the time it was kind of against the tide of what was happening in country music. They didn't want to hear about rock and rollers. That year David was named Best New Country Artist by Billboard.'
A video was shot for 'Bonnie Jean', which features Mick playing his legendary Les Paul guitar. Mick began work on Jones' follow-up album, Wood Wind and Stone, but Mick left before recording sessions started and Albright is credited as producer. Bass player Jerry Bone recalls working with Mick on the follow-up album:
Jerry Bone: 'One of the many highlights of the David Lynn Jones experience was working with the late great Mick Ronson during the pre-production recordings of a project called Wood Wind and Stone. We were recording in Bexar Arkansas in an old converted commissary we called the Alamo. A real gentleman and powerful talent in every respect. His passing was a great loss.'
Funhouse was a five-piece band that evolved from another Minneapolis band called Obsession. Influenced by the likes of Mott The Hoople and Cheap Trick, the group asked Mick Ronson to produce their demo tape. So in November of 1987, Mick traveled to Minneapolis from Nashville, where he had just finished producing David Lynn Jones.
The group consisted of vocalist Neal Sundet, guitarists Jeff Loven and Bryn Arens, bassist Greg Eidem, and drummer Joe Baecker. Mick and Funhouse did four weeks of pre-production at The Sound Gallery, and then went into Prince's Paisley Park Studios for three weeks of recording. Mick and Funhouse were among the first sessions held at the just-opened studio. Bryn Arens remembers a meeting between Prince and Ronson: Prince started rattling off all these songs - Bowie songs and Mott songs - and going, 'I love the guitar on this!' and 'How did you do that?' So Mick just said, [Brynn adopts his best Yorkshire accent] 'Just turn your wah-wah on, and leave it halfway.' And that was all he said about it!
Mick produced eight tracks for Funhouse, but didn't play on the sessions. Guitarist Bryn Arens wishes he had, though: 'Mick didn't play on anything, which is really a shame. He had a grand piano delivered into the studio, tuned up and ready for him at his whim.' Only one Funhouse track from the Mick Ronson sessions has ever been released. 'Twisted Heart' was included on a cassette single, along with two later recordings ('Gotta Let Loose' and 'World On Fire'). The single was credited to Minneapolis Funhouse to avoid confusion with several other bands called Funhouse, and was released on manager Herb Gart's Rainbow Collection label in 1991.
While in Minneapolis, Mick also jammed onstage with Funhouse, and the next year the group opened for Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson at First Avenue (the venue where Prince's Purple Rain was filmed.) Funhouse continued for a couple more years, eventually losing guitarist Jeff Loven and eventually changing their name to Rattling Bones and moving to New York City. After the group finally split, Bryn Arens returned to Minneapolis and formed Flipp, a popular - and outrageous - hard rock outfit now managed by Bill Aucoin and signed to Popularity records, run by Art Alexakis of Everclear.
The Phantoms (1987)
The Phantoms were, and still are, a dance band and vocal group based in Woodstock NY. Mick Ronson contributed the guitar solo to the song 'I Just Forgot', recorded for their debut album, released on cassette in 1987. The song also appears on a local sampler tape released by Wildlife Records called A Woodstock Sampler. The group was led by Joe Veillette, and at the time Nicole Wills was singing with the group. (Wills had worked with Mick Ronson on the Johnny Average Band album, and as a singer with the Falconettes.) In addition to The Phantoms, Joe Veillette is also a member of Blind Mice, a three-piece acoustic group. He is also a world-class luthier, who has made instruments for Eddie Van Halen, Joe Perry, Earl Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, John Sebastian, Steve Miller and Lauryn Hill, among others.
Joe Veillette: 'I met Mick when he moved to Woodstock, through our producer Ralph Legnini, and found myself on stage with him on three or four occasions. He also had me do background vocals on a few projects that he produced. I wrote 'I Just Forgot' with my ex-wife, who was also in the Phantoms. The song was on our only release, a twelve-song all-original cassette that also had appearances by John Sebastian, Jorma Kaukonen, Gary Windo and Rick Danko. An interesting aside is that Todd Rundgren used my daughter Jasmine for the child's voice on XTC's 'Dear God'.'
Fatal Flowers (1988)
Fatal Flowers wanted Mick to produce their second album Younger Days, and met with him in London, but scheduling conflicts prevented this. He was available for their third album, though, and he traveled to Amsterdam in February 1988 to meet with the group. After searching unsuccessfully for a studio in Holland, Mick suggested the group travel to Woodstock and record at Nevessa Studios instead. Recording started soon afterward, swith Mick producing and playing guitar and keyboards. A few local musicians also helped out, including John Sebastian and Ann Lang (of the Falconettes). Lisa and Suzi Ronson also contributed vocals, as part ofthe 'Woodstock Party Chorus'. The album, entitled Johnny D. Is Back, was issued in 1988. A promotional video for the album's title track includes footage of the group at Nevessa Studios with Mick.
Richard Janssen, to Sven Gusevik: 'We were playing Fender guitars, but there was this little part that really should have been played on a Gibson. Mick said, 'Oh, we'll just get my old guitar down' - the guitar he used on all the Bowie stuff. He went out and returned with this really odd wrecked case, and there was the guitar - and it was totally covered in dust! The strings were all rusty. He went, 'Hmmm ... I haven't touched that one for a while.' You'd think he would cherish it, but to him it was just a guitar.'
The Toll (1988)
The Toll was a hard rock outfit based in Columbus OH. After signing with Geffen Records, the group released its debut album The Price of Progression, which was recorded at Bearsville Studios in February, March, and April 1988. The album features Mick Ronson's guitar on the formidable track 'Stand In Winter'.
Brett Mayo: 'We were recording our first album for Geffen at Bearsville Studios. Mick used to come by in the evenings and hang out in the practice barn with us (he was producing the Fatal Flowers album at the time in Woodstock). One night he mentioned that he really liked our song, 'Stand In Winter', and would like to play on it if we were into it. I'm thinking, 'Are you kidding? You can play on any song you want!' The night of the session, Mick came in with his famed Les Paul and an old tape-style echo. It was surreal to say the least to watch and hear him play - sitting out in that studio alone, just his Les Paul and headphones. I'll never forget it.'
Greg Bartram: 'Mick showed up to the studio carrying some effects in a box, and when he went digging into it, he found he'd forgotten a slide. He tried several of our guitar player Rick Silk's slides, but didn't really like any of them. 'That's alright', Mick said, digging into his pocket. 'I'll just use this', and pulled out a Bic cigarette lighter - one of the half-sized plastic ones. I think it was pink. He played the entire song with a plastic lighter.'
Sham Morris (1988)
After One The Juggler, singer/guitarist Sham Morris (Rokko Lee) moved the the United States and settled in Woodstock NY, near Mick Ronson. The pair continued to write record songs together. They had always talked about putting a band together, and in early 1988 they went out on the road as The Mick Ronson Band.
Sham Morris: 'Mick was always talking about getting a band together over here. So I finally came here, and we recorded a few of those songs here at Mick's studio in his house. They changed a little when we recorded them; we beefed them up a bit and made them more 'song-ey'. We recorded a bunch of things at his house, which is something of a studio up here in Woodstock. We did most of them on the eight-track at his place, but I think I have a couple that we mastered.'
'We put a band together and we did about twenty gigs as The Mick Ronson Band. He'd come out and play some songs, and then I'd come out and sing some songs. We did a little tour, and played at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, Asbury Park, and places like that. I can't remember all the places we played. It must have been around 1988. The Chance was the first real gig we did. We did one gig in Woodstock before that, I think, and then we did The Chance. The first gig had Mick and I, with Jerry Morotta on drums and Tony Levin on bass. Jerry lives up here now, and has played with everybody. He's a session drummer, and he played with Pete Gabriel for a long time. Tony lives up here too - he was another session guy. This was the first gig we did up here, and I can't remember who was the keyboard player. When we started gigging more, we changed the bass player and the drummer because they were off doing their own things. So we brought in some other people. Charlie Shue, I think, was the drummer, and a guy called Jeremy - god, I don't know his last name - on bass. He was an Australian guy. Ralph McNeely was on guitar and keyboards.'
Unfortunately, this version of the Mick Ronson Band was put on hold later in 1988, because Ian and Mick reunited for an extensive tour of North America and Europe in 1988, followed by the YUI Orta album and another long tour in 1989. But some of the songs that Sham and Mick worked on in 1988 would later appear on Mick's final solo album Heaven and Hull.
Sham Morris: 'Mick went out with Ian after that. I stayed here - I actually rented Mick's house, and then I put together my own band. That was really the end of playing out with Mick, I don't know if we did anything after that. A few years went by, and then Mick got sick. I went back to live in England for a bit, and he told me he had this album deal, and he wanted me to help out on it. And so that's how we got to do that one. My songs on Heaven and Hull were 'Trouble With You' and 'When The World Falls Down'. Then I wrote a couple with Mick, 'Colour Me' and 'Life's a River'. But then we found out he was really sick, you know, and it was a bittersweet thing doing the album. It was great to get back in the studio with him, but he was really hurting for most of it.'
The Fentons (1988)
Slide guitarist Paul Fenton was an alumni of Ottawa's first punk band The Action, as well as the legendary Rolling Stones-influences band The Blushing Brides. He and his brother Michael then formed The Fenton Brothers Band, which recorded an independent EP in 1985. In 1988 the band signed with Torrid Records, and enlisted Mick Ronson as producer when a meeting with Chris Spedding didn't work out. The group met with Ian and Mick in Toronto in early 1988, and ultimately agreed to travel to Woodstock and record with Mick at Nevessa Studios that September. Five songs were recorded at the sessions.
Paul Fenton: 'On 'Radio Wasteland' Mick broke the 6th string and I was amazed when he proceeded to record the whole song. 'I don't need that string', he said when I suggested that we stop the tape. I love what Mick did to 'Radio Wasteland'. He played all the guitars except the slide lead. The next song he played on was 'Houseboy', and he played the acoustic rhythm on my Martin D35. We watched him record it through the studio window as he complained about the excruciatingly high action on it. On the next song 'Shadow Play', I asked Mick to play all the rhythm guitar, because I play in open tunings and it didn't sound right on the low strings. I sent Rory Gallagher - who wrote 'Shadow Play' - a tape of Mick's version. I'm sure he must have gotten a kick out of it, as it was one of Rory's favorite songs. The next song we recorded was 'Behind All Those Locked Doors', which was a spacey Pink Floyd-ish song. The last night we were in Woodstock, Mick told me how much he liked my solo on it. He said, 'When you hear it, it makes you feel like this' - clenching his fist and making a contorted face. The last song was 'Shake Your Money Maker', a blues standard. Mick arranged this, especially the key change in the solo. We recorded my 1930 National in Nevessa's bathroom for an ambient sound.'
The day the Fentons left Nevessa, Ian Hunter arrived to pick up Mick Ronson for the start of their 1988 tour. The original plan was for the Fentons to return in January 1989 to resume recording, after the Ian Hunter tour ended. But problems with Torrid Records precluded this. This also meant that the five songs financed by the label were relegated to demo tape status, although 'Radio Wasteland' would eventually surface on a 1991 sampler album, sporting the new title 'Radio Has No Sound'. Another song from the sessions, 'Behind That Locked Door' would be re-recorded for a Paul Fenton solo album, with the Mick Ronson arranging credit still intact.
Fatal Flowers (1989)
When it came time for their fourth album, Fatal Flowers once again called on Mick Ronson to produce. Mick traveled to Holland to rehearse with the band, and appeared live with them at a festival in Holland before moving on to Powerplay Studios in Maur, Switzerland for the sessions. Mick brought his own engineer, Lenny de Rose, and recording began in August 1989. Once again, Mick produced and played guitar and keyboards. The resulting album was Pleasure Ground, which as issued in 1990.
Richard Janssen, to Sven Gusevik: 'He would pick up a guitar and go, 'Maybe we should have something like this', and we would press the RECORD button and use it on the album!'
Secret Mission (1990)
Mick traveled to Bergen, Norway for two months in the fall of 1990 to produce the second album by Secret Mission, a Norwegian duo consisting of Kare Kalvenes and Kjerstie Bergesen. The album, Strange Afternoon, was issued in 1991 and is filled with Mick Ronson credits for producing, mixing, and playing. Mick also co-wrote one song, 'Call Out Her Name'.
Randy Vanwarmer (1991)
A Colorado native, Randy Vanwarmer moved from England to Woodstock NY in 1979, and signed with Bearsville Records. His debut album, Warmer, produced the top five hit 'Just When I Needed You Most'. In the late 1980s, Randy also scored a couple country hits. His handful of albums for Bearsville included contributions from many Bearsville regulars who were friends with Mick Ronson, including Shane Fontayne, Brian Briggs, Cyndi Cashdollar, Tony Levin, and Ian Kimmet.
In 1991, Randy went into Bearsville Studios to record a new album, and the musicians he used included Mick Ronson and Shane Fontayne. The sessions eventually saw the light in 1994 as Randy's The Vital Spark album. Interestingly, back in 1978 Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter recorded a version of 'Just When I Needed You Most' with Corky Laing, which was eventually released on the Secret Sessions album.
Leather Nun (1991)
The Swedish band Leather Nun formed in the late 1970s, and got a boost in the early 1980s when John Peel started to play the band's music. They released a live album in 1985, followed by their first studio effort in 1987. For their third album, 1991's Nun Permanent (Wire 157 1246 2), Mick Ronson was tapped as producer, and also played some guitar and keyboards on the album. Unfortunately, the band's label went bankrupt soon afterward and the album never received proper distribution. In 1994, A Seedy Compilation (MGV 117) was issued, which included a previously unreleased song from the 1991 sessions called 'Save My Soul'.
Dag Finn (1991)
Dag Finn was another artist Mick met and worked with during his time in Scandanavia with EC2 and Johan Walstrom. Dag Finn had previously fronted a Norwegian band called Sha-Boom, which issued two albums before they split. Dag Finn's first solo album, The Wonderful World Of D. Finn, was issued in 1991 by Mercury and was co-produced by Andy Scott of Sweet. Mick contributed guitar to three tracks.
Casino Steel (1991)
Although Casino Steel was part of the UK punk scene with the Hollywood Brats and The Boys, he didn;t get to know Mick Ronson until 1990 when Ian and Mick appeared on a Stockhom television show. Mick later returned to Stockholm to produce the Secret Mission album Strange Afternoon, and while he was there Casino called and suggested they work together. Mick moved in with Casino, and recorded an album with him entitled Casino Steel and the Bandits featuring Mick Ronson (Revolution REXCD03). The album was to be followed by a Bandits tour of Norway and Sweden in November 1991, but Mick's illness forced it to be canceled.
Casino Steel: 'I did a TV show in Stockholm with Ian Hunter. Mick was playing with Ian at the time, and I briefly spoke to him. He then came to Norway to produce a band called Secret Mission, and so I called him up and suggested we record something together. Mick was an extremely nice guy as well as being a superstar and he came and stayed at my place. He was such a gentleman it blew me out completely. We went into the studio and did some fantastic things and he straightaway understood exactly what I was talking about. We got on really well and so I enjoyed recording the album a great deal. We were due to go out on the road and the whole tour was booked. The week before we were due to go he called me up and told me he had cancer. So we obviously cancelled the tour.'
In 1992, the album Oh Boy! (Revolution REXCD04) was issued and it was also credited to Casino Steel and the Bandits. It repeats much of the material from the earlier album, but adds three new songsthat do not feature Mick Ronson. Incidentally, Casino Steel would later work with Ian Hunter's Dirty Laundry in 1995.
Casino Steel: 'I was offered a deal in Germany for the Ronson/Steel album. We wanted different versions for Germany, and I’d done some new recordings since then, which became the Oh Boy album. It was compiled specifically with the German market in mind, so I went on tour in Germany to promote that album. The guy who owned the company suddenly disappeared mid-tour, and I never saw him again and so the album never got released. I was sitting there with the finished master tapes, so I pressed up 400 copies just to do something. I know that it appeared on Revolution Records, but it was never officially released.'
Sonic Walthers (1992)
The Sonic Walthers were a Swedish hard rock band who had booked Mick Ronson to produce their next album, Medication (Radium RA91782). Unfortunately, Mick's illness forced him to cancel, although he did mix two tracks ('On The Wall' and 'Time') for the album.
In early 1992, Morrissey was three solo albums removed from the Smiths, and his career was suffering from suggestions that he had already produced his best work. He asked Mick Ronson to produce his fourth solo album, Your Arsenal, and the resulting record served to resurrect Morrissey's flagging career, and to cement Mick Ronson's credentials as a producer. The album is defined by its witty songwriting, sharp production, and Ziggy-like guitar sound. The album sold well, produced a number of hits, and re-established Morrissey as an artist. plans were made for Ronson to peroduce Morrissey's next album, but his illness prevented this.
Morrissey, to Raygun: 'Mick spoke to me a few days before he died, and he was very happy, very enthusiastic about writing songs with me and getting back into the studio. He was very positive about his health, and positive about his future. And it was astonishing, because a few days later, his wife telephoned me and she said, 'My baby's gone.' It was incredibly painful. It was so painful and so sad for me, because I had become so attached to him that I couldn't actually attend the funeral. I would just really like to say that Mick Ronson was one of the most astonishingly human and attractive people that I've ever met - and uplifting. A very, very uplifting person.'
David Bowie (1992)
In 1992, Mick Ronson was in New York, where David Bowie was recording his new album Black Tie White Noise. Bowie called up Ronson and asked him to play guitar on a cover of Cream's 'I Feel Free', which he was happy to do. The pair also collaborated on one other track, a cover of Bob Dylan's 'Like A Rolling Stone', which Bowie gave Ronson permission to shop around as a possible single release. No deal emerged, but this did help jumpstart the idea for Mick to record a solo album, which ultimately resulted in Heaven and Hull. Incidentally, Bowie also chose to record a cover of Morrissey's 'I Know It's Going To Happen Someday' for Black Tie White Noise, a song Ronson had originally produced for Morrissey earlier that same year.
David Bowie: 'He said he would be delighted to do it, and he came along and played his usual breathtaking solo on the song.'
The Wildhearts (1992)
Mick was originally tapped to produce Earth Vs The Wildhearts, the debut album from The Wildhearts, but his poor health ruled that out. Mick did make the album his last guest appearance, though, when he added the guitar solo to 'My Baby Is A Headfuck' during the recording sessions at Wessex Studios in late 1992. When it was released in 1993, the band dedicated the album to Mick.
Ginger: He was originally pencilled in to produce the whole album, then that fell through. I had this song with three solos on it, that I wanted him to play on, and didn't want to record it without him. He had nothing with him but a battered old blue Telecaster, which he didn't even play, opting instead to share our one Gibson that we had at the time. And he made us look like the amateurs that we were.
For more, see Sessions and Guest Appearances, 1960s and 1970s