THE music world is mourning the death of Dale 'Buffin' Griffin, drummer with iconic Herefordshire band Mott The Hoople, at the age of 67, after suffering from alzheimer's.

Griffin was a founder member of the trailblazing glam rock band which had a string of hits in the 1970s and famously topped the charts with the Bowie track All the Young Dudes.

Mott guitarist and friend Mike Ralph has called him the "engine room" of the band.

In the 80s he became producer for John Peel coaxing performances out of young bands - it's estimated he worked on 2,000 sessions.

Last night Billy Bragg was among those from the music world paying tribute.

He said he was "sorry" to hear the news and recalled how Griffin had produced some of his sessions.

Queen guitarist Bryan May also paid tribute - calling him an "old comrade".

Griffin died in his sleep on Sunday night according to Pete Purnell, Mott's manager.

Keyboardist Verden Allen had only spoken to the Hereford Times last week, paying tribute to Bowie - he said he was shocked to hear of another sad loss much closer to home.

"I can't believe it - Dale was like family, we were very close - we went through a lot together," said Allen.

"I got a call from our manager Pete Purnell this morning and he told me.

"Dale was a nice, well-spoken man and a brilliant drummer, it's unbelievable that he's gone."

"I remember us getting signed in 1969 and travelling to London together for the first time - seeing the big city, it was a great time."

Griffin had suffered from alzheimer's since he was diagnosed at the age of 58 and was living in a care home near Brecon, his partner Jean Smith was looking after him.

Allen said despite his illness, his old friend and Mott colleague had managed to join the band on stage at London's Apollo in 2009 for the band's 40th anniversary gigs.

"He played three songs with us, including All the Young Dudes," he said.

"I suppose in some ways it's a release for him now - he had suffered for many years.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Jean and the family at this time."

Mott guitarist tweeted this message:

 


 

The core of of Mott the Hoople came together from Herefordshire - guitarist Mick Ralphs is from Stoke Lacy, while bass player Pete Watts and Dale Griffin were from Ross, both growing up together and attending Ross Grammar school in the town.

The band  were constantly recording and touring throughout the late 60s, but it wasn’t until their fifth album that they tasted real success.

As Mick Ralphs told the Hereford Times in an earlier interview: “We were very frustrated I think, touring and playing gigs was great, and we had a real cult following, but we definitely wanted success.”

And the band was granted that wish when David Bowie, hearing they were on the verge of splitting offered them a couple of tracks.

Bowie it seemed  was a bit of a fan. He told the band not to split up and offered them a choice between two tracks - All the Young Dudes or Suffragette City.

Mott clicked instantly with the former and the rest is history, though success came at a price.

The original line-up splintered after the band's hit album of the same name in 1972, with Ralphs heading off to join Paul Rogers in Bad Company, while Allen joined with future Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, also from Herefordshire, to work on other projects. Chambers took Griffin's place during reunions as the latter's health began to deteriorate, including the 40th anniversary concerts in 2009.

Mott in action in Worcester in 1973

Hunter left the band in 1974, after he had cancelled their entire European tour, and rumours spread that he was recording with Bowie's guitarist Mick Ronson.

Griffin, Watts and Fisher continued to play and record under the name Mott, but split up two years later.

During the 80s, Griffin and Watts formed a production company and produced albums for Hanoi Rocks and The Cult. Griffin then joined the BBC and produced many of John Peel's Radio 1 sessions from 1981 to 1994, including Pulp, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

Rolling Stone reported: One such session, an October 1990 studio visit by Nirvana, resulted in the Incesticide tracks "Molly's Lips" and "Son of a Gun" (originally by the Vaselines) as well as a cover of Devo's "Turnaround."

 

Billy Bragg paid tribute to Griffin last night:

 


Queen guitarist Bryan May paid his tribute - also making reference to Glen Frey who died on Monday.