published: 16 /
As part of our series 'The Image That Made Me Weep', we are inviting a different guest with each edition to write of a music photograph that has had an impact on them. Idiot Son frontman Andy Thompson writes of a 2009 Mott The Hoople reunion gig and a photograph from his own collection.
2016 is where the story ended but certainly not where it began. 2016, the year when music lost a whole host of its luminaries. Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Colin Vearncombe, Billy Paul, it was a long list, but the one that got to me most was Dale ‘Buffin’ Griffin, drummer with the pomptastic Mott The Hoople. I was, after all, a part of the Drummers Union. Mott The Hoople were a huge part of my transitioning, the umbilical that led me from the powderpop of The Sweet, Slade and Mud to the euphoric racket of Punk Rock. That Buffin died in 2016 was not in itself a surprise, as he had for a long time been battling "his little bug" dementia.
This story is rooted in 2009 when Mott The Hoople played a re-union at the Hammersmith Odeon, the venue where they had recorded the exhilarating 'Live’ album in 1973 (produced by Buffin, he later went on to record a good many of the beloved John Peel sessions). My dad had died shortly before the gig due to complications from advanced dementia and my mother had just been diagnosed the same, and I was struggling. It had been announced that Buffin was too ill to play the gig which incredibly was to have featured the original line-up. His substitute, the rather capable Martin Chambers, drummer with the Pretenders, took his place and we duly sang along with all the hits, "Shalalala Push-Pushing" in all the right places, and then, before it had even begun the set was over.
We knew they’d be back. 'All the Young Dudes' was still in the locker. What we hadn’t expected was to see Buffin take to the stage. Frankly, he looked a little lost, a little bewildered, an expression I’d come to know a little too well within my own family circumstance, and I felt suddenly hollow. And that’s when the encore kicked in, and that’s when Buffin lit up pounding the pigskin for all he was worth, and that’s when I wept, a huge surge of love for a man I’d never met but whose music had carried me a long way along this road. Sadly I have no pictures of the night to endorse this memory but that image of Buffin has stayed with me to this day. Naturally, I bought the T-shirt.