Give up? It was Ian Hunter. Remember who he was?
Well, the title of the song that line is from gives it away. The title is Ballad of Mott the Hoople.
The band changed lineups as time went on, but the nucleus of Mott the Hoople was lead vocalist and guitarist Ian Hunter, bassist Peter Overend Watts, and drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin. If you remember any of their songs, the one you probably remember is All the Young Dudes, the glam rock anthem written for them by David Bowie.
I know, glam rock is probably really a bridge too far for for most of you. Only a real loser nostalgist like me is going to listen to any of that stuff now, right? Even my wife laughed when I mentioned that a box of old records that I discovered in our closet contained an album by Mott the Hoople (two, in fact).
Wait, stick with me here. Believe it or not, Mott the Hoople was a pretty fair rock ensemble, with, or actually because they had, you guessed it, a tight, quality rhythm section.
By the way, the lack of quotation marks in his name earlier in this post is not a typo. According to at least one source I found, Overend is Overend Watts' actual middle name, not a nickname.
Anyway, if you listen to their material, you'll hear that Overend and Buffin, and whoever was playing rhythm guitar (Hunter,or perhaps Mick Ralphs), made a tight ensemble. No, they'll never be mentioned in the same sentence as John Entwhistle and Keith Moon, let alone Geddy Lee and Neil Peart, but Overend and Buffin provided a solid accompaniment to Hunter's entertaining vocals. Even though you may wonder now why you wasted so much time listening to so much dreck, these bands that I'm talking about didn't become successful entirely by accident, as I like to say.
Just listen to any of the up-tempo songs on the two albums that are in the box I pulled out of our closet, "Mott" and "All the Young Dudes." You won't hear anything groundbreaking, but you will hear a cooking band. Buffin's playing on the intros to Violence and One of the Boys is particularly noteworthy,
Just forget about the whole glam rock thing and I think you'll find some enjoyable listening on those old Mott the Hoople albums. I'll confess, the fact that I thought David Bowie was cool I can only chalk up to being a socially undeveloped male high school sophomore at the time. But that doesn't mean I can't block all that out and enjoy the good music that came out of that place and time.
One last thing. I know it undercuts my whole argument about the glam rock business, but how can you not be entertained by a group that looked like these guys? Overend (he's the shirtless one in picture #5 of the collection at the link) really was (just) a rock 'n roll star.