Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople fame is no longer “a young dude.”
But judging by Hunter’s new album and it’s catchy title track, “When I’m President,” along with clips of the tour that takes the onetime glam-rocker and his trademark shades into Town Ballroom today to headline the Feed the City benefit, he shows no signs of slowing down.
“It’s like anything else, you get better at it as you go. Some people peak in their 20s, which is really a nightmare, because what do you do with the rest of your life?,” said the raspy-voiced Hunter, 73, in a recent phone interview.
The guitarist and songwriter has had no such problem. He was already 30 when he became Mott the Hoople’s frontman in 1969. The band enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic during its five-year run, beginning with the David Bowie-penned and -produced “All the Young Dudes.”
Mott peaked with glam rock – a theatrical marriage of rock and pop marked by androgyny and flamboyant fashion reflected in such British acts as T. Rex, featuring Marc Bolan, and especially Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust period. Lou Reed and the New York Dolls were among the U.S. counterparts.
Hunter also wrote one of the first accounts of life on the road with “Diary of a Rock ’n’ Roll Star,” which chronicled the band’s five-week U.S. tour in 1972.
The next year, on Oct. 17, Mott and the New York Dolls, along with an unheralded Boston band named Aerosmith, played Kleinhans Music Hall.
“Everyone I’ve talked to who went on in the music scene in Buffalo was at that show. It was a really galvanizing moment,” said Mott fan Donny Kutzbach of Funtime Presents, which is promoting Hunter’s first Buffalo appearance in more than 20 years.
After the band broke up, Hunter played several years with guitarist Mick Ronson before taking a hiatus through much of the 1980s. After resurfacing, he continued to chalk up critically acclaimed solo albums, which included “You’re Never Alone with a Schizophrenic” and “Shrunken Heads.”
“Ian Hunter cut a memorable figure. He was never the teen heartthrob that Marc Bolan was and tried to be, or Bowie for that matter. He was far more mysterious and opaque a figure,” said Howard Kramer, a curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, where Hunter donated the piano he wrote “Cleveland Rocks” on.
“His solo records are as good as anything he’s ever done, and his songwriting, in particular, shows how enduring he is. That’s not to take away from his singing; he’s a great singer.”
Hunter, a father of three who lives near Danbury, Conn., was first drawn to the United States like so many of his British contemporaries by Hollywood and rock ’n’ roll.
“When I was 16, something like that, out came Elvis and out came Jerry Lee [Lewis] and out came Little Richard and Buddy Holly, and it was like, ‘Wow, that’s why I’m alive.’ ”
Recent years have seen Hunter’s material turn more political; on the new album, he takes aim at the 1 percent. So whatever happened to “We never got it off on that revolution stuff/ What a drag/ Too many snags,” sung so convincingly in “All the Young Dudes”?
“Well, I didn’t write that, David did. And nothing seems to change much when you look at it. It’s the same corporate immorality, and right-wing stupidity, and I don’t know what’s going on with the left, they’re invisible,” Hunter said.
And though he wrote “When I’m President,” Hunter adds: “Obama is a good guy, but I wouldn’t want that gig.”
Hunter will play the Feed the City benefit concert with the Rant Band. He’s expected to take the stage at 9:30 p.m. preceded by the Villagers, Ruby Spirit and Breckenwood, which goes on first at 6:30 p.m.
Hunter said his set will be evenly split between the new album, solo career and Mott the Hoople, which reunited briefly in 2009. He said he doesn’t believe that to play past hits is both a meal ticket and a curse.
“I saw Procol Harum once, and they didn’t play ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale,’ and it really annoyed me,” he said.