How Mott the Hoople Prompted the Royal Albert Hall’s Rock Ban
Mott the Hoople took the stage for the first of a two-night stand at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1971. They were never invited back for the second.
Unruly fans prompted an infamous (and relatively short-lived) ban on rock shows, as the renowned venue's website later explained — and it all went down in the aftermath of Mott the Hoople's July 8 concert.
The site's report includes correspondence between Albert Hall rep Marion Herrod — who admitted she was "rather alarmed" after listening to a radio report describing Mott as a band "at whose concerts the audience habitually participate and one which often causes a 'riot'" — and John Glover, an exec at the group's label, Island Records. Needless to say, Glover attempted to calm Herrod's fears.
"The report you heard on the radio about the group was greatly exaggerated," Glover wrote in response. "'Mott the Hoople' usually get a very good receptions at all their concerts; but as far as we know, there have never been any riots or damage caused to any of the places where they have appeared."
Unfortunately, Mott the Hoople's show included exactly the sort of behavior Herrod was worried about. As she told Glover the following day: "Some members of the audience in Second Tier boxes became so enthusiastic and jumped and stamped around so much that the ceilings in two boxes in the Grand Tier below fell in. It is for reasons like this that we here do not like concerts at which the audience stamps and dances."
Refused permission to play their second show and billed for damages, Mott the Hoople faced further setbacks in a year of struggle that saw two albums (Wildfire and Brain Capers) underperform, and ended with plans to split up.
As far as the Royal Albert Hall was concerned, however, Mott were far from the only offenders. Only one of the more than 20 rock shows held there during 1971 "passed without disorder," as another page on the venue's site points out.
The Royal Albert Hall eventually reversed its ban on rock concerts — and in a big way: By 2015, Eric Clapton had played 200 show at the venue.