Guy Stevens

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Guy Stevens
Guy Stevens.png
Background information
Birth name Guy Stevens
Born (1943-04-13)13 April 1943
East Dulwich, London
Died 28 August 1981(1981-08-28) (aged 38)
South London
Occupation(s) Producer, manager
Years active 1967–1981
Associated acts Procol Harum
Mott the Hoople
Spooky Tooth
The Clash

Guy Stevens (13 April 1943 – 28 August 1981) born in East Dulwich, London, worked in a number of different roles in the British music industry including producer and manager. He gave the rock bands Procol Harum[1] and Mott the Hoople their distinctive names.


Stevens was involved in the early history of Island Records and also ran the UK division of the Sue record label for Chris Blackwell. Stevens used the Sue label to put out obscure American singles not only from the U.S. Sue group of labels, but from any number of tiny independent record companies, and some of the bigger ones. It became widely influential. Stevens was also president of the Chuck Berry Appreciation Society, and had a say in the UK releases that Pye International put out by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and others on the Chess and Checker labels. It was Guy Stevens who brought Berry to the UK for his first tour after paying his bail to get him out of jail for offences under the Mann Act.[2]

Mott the Hoople

While working for Island, Stevens was fundamental in the formation of Mott the Hoople. The band was originally called "Silence," with the line-up of Stan Tippins on vocals, Mick Ralphs on lead guitar, Verden Allen on keyboards, Overend Watts on bass, and Dale Griffin on drums. Envisioning a band with a sound that would be a combination of The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Stevens recruited and mentored Ian Hunter as lead singer, and demoted Stan Tippins to road manager. Stevens also named the band after the Willard Manus novel, that he had read while in prison serving time for a drug offence.[3]

Stevens served as the Mott's manager, and produced their eponymous 1969 debut album and its 1970 follow-up, Mad Shadows (1970). After Mad Shadows met with poor sales and negative reviews, Mott dispensed with Stevens' services and produced their third album, Wildlife (1971), by themselves. After that album's commercial failure, Mott re-recruited Stevens to produce the Brain Capers album (1971). On the verge of splitting up in 1972, Mott again dropped Stevens, and signed to Tony DeFries' company MainMan. Mott's fifth album, All the Young Dudes, was produced by David Bowie.

The Clash

In 1979 Stevens produced The Clash's acclaimed album, London Calling. The band themselves have always held up Stevens' input as a major factor in the album's popularity and quality. However it was not the first time Stevens had worked with The Clash. In 1976 Stevens was present, although not clearly as a producer on a demo session the band undertook before they were signed.

Mick Jones recalled that:

At the session, Guy was there for a while and then he got upset about something. I think the other guys, the sound engineer Vic Smith and Chris Perry from Polydor, just wanted to record a demonstration session and take it to A&R and get the band signed. They didn't know how to deal with Guy, because everything with Guy was like a major number.

The Clash involved Stevens because they recognized the influential role he had played in the British beat and blues booms of the 1960s. The Who, The Small Faces, The Rolling Stones and many others used Stevens' knowledge of the American R&B and soul scene, as a source for their own repertoire,[citation needed] having heard of him through his deejaying at the influential New Scene Club in Ham Yard, London W.1, where he exercised his obsessive love of rock and roll, R&B, ska, jazz and soul for an audience that counted The Beatles and Eric Clapton amongst them.[citation needed]

Stevens' involvement with the production of London Calling is explored extensively in Marcus Grey's book Route 19 Revisited: The Clash and the Making of London Calling (2012).

Death and legacy[edit]

Stevens died on 28 August 1981, at the age of 38 years, having overdosed on the prescription drugs he was taking to reduce his alcohol dependency.[4]

In 1981, The Clash wrote a song for, or about Stevens, who had died the same year: "Midnight to Stevens". It is a lush sweeping song that sounds unlike almost anything the Clash recorded despite the range of styles on Sandinista! and Combat Rock. It was released originally as the b-side of a 12" Clash single in the summer of 1982. It was later released in 1991, when it appeared on disc three of Clash on Broadway.

Stevens' involvement in Mott the Hoople's early career was covered in the 2011 documentary, The Ballad of Mott the Hoople.[5][6] Stevens also produced Free's debut album Tons of Sobs, the eponymous debut album of Mighty Baby, and the debut of Spooky Tooth, Supernatural Fairy Tales.

A poem in tribute to Stevens was included by Ian Hunter on the lyric sheet of his 1983 CBS album All Of The Good Ones Are Taken, which concluded: "I remember the guy with the electric hair at that first rehearsal standing there. You gave your heart - you gave your soul. God bless you, Guy - Rock n Roll!"

In assessing himself, Stevens stated, "There are only two Phil Spectors in the world... and I'm one of them!"[5]


  1. ^ "Guy Stevens: uniter of Brooker and Reid". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  2. ^ "The Generalist: CULT MUSIC: GUY STEVENS". 2012-02-26. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  3. ^ "Guy Stevens: some Hoople history". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  4. ^ "London Calling". Retrieved 2008-01-11. 
  5. ^ a b Tim Dowling. "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople – TV review | Television & radio". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  6. ^ "The Ballad of Mott the Hoople (2011)". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 

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