Thanksgiving service for a rock star – Pete Overend Watts

By Catherine Barkley in Local People

The funeral of Pete Overend Watts, the bassist in Mott the Hoople, took place on Friday, February 10th, at Brockhampton Church.

The picturesque church was full to the brim, with well-wishers hoping to pay their respects.

Reverend Jill Groves led the service. She welcomed the congregation, and read a tribute from Pete’s sister, Jane, who said that her brother had a love of music and performing from a very young age.

The Watts family moved from Birmingham to Ross, when he was 13. He began to learn the guitar on his father’s instrument, and was given a Hofner Colorama 2 electric guitar for Christmas in 1961. While attending Ross Grammar School, he met Dale Griffin (later nicknamed Buffin), who became a lifelong friend and eventually Mott the Hoople’s drummer.

After leaving school Watts trained to be an architect during the day and musician at night, but by the end of 1965, Watts (now playing bass) had opted to become a full-time musician. he eventually went on to form Mott The Hoople, with Dale Griffin, Mick Ralphs, Ian Hunter and Verden Allen.

Pete Watts played on the group’s most well-known known hit, All The Young Dudes, which was written and produced by David Bowie.

After Mott the Hoople disbanded in 1974, Pete moved to London for a couple of years, where he ran an antiques shop, before he moved back to Ross-on-Wye.

When he returned to the area, he ran ‘Dinosaw Market’ in Hereford, a vintage shop which sold clothing, vinyl records, and other antiquities.

He also developed a love of long-distance walking, where he would carry everything he needed – shelter and food – in his backpack. Pete walked more than 650 miles along the South West Coast Path National Trail, wearing a pair of walking boots that he had found at a car boot sale. Soon afterwards, Pete revealed he had a talent for writing, and he wrote ‘The Man Who Hated Walking.’

Speakers at the service included Paul Jeffries, a childhood friend of Pete’s, who had been in a band with him and Dale Griffin, before Mott the Hoople was formed; Verden Allen, one of Pete’s bandmates from Mott the Hoople; Mark Bower, a family friend; Allan Ricketts, who had accompanied Pete on some of his long-distance walks; and Nick Stephens, a close friend of Pete’s.

The speakers described Pete’s warmth, his love of music, his larger than life personality, and his tremendous sense of humour. His flamboyant nature was remembered in the Order of Service, which also included pictures of Pete as a young boy, with his guitar at his Ross-on-Wye home and out fishing.

Pete died at St Michel’s Hospice cancer at the age of 69. In Jane’s tribute, she said that he hated to hear the phrase, “a battle with cancer,” as he felt it was more appropriate to say that it was a battle against a negative frame of mind. Jane said, in this respect, Pete was succesful in his battle.

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