Mott the Hoople were formed in 1966 as the Doc Thomas Group with Mick Ralphs on guitar, Stan Tippins on vocals, and Pete Overend Watts on bass. Ralphs and Tippins had been in a local Hereford band the Buddies, and Watts had been in a local Ross-on-Wye band the Soulents with Dale "Buffin" Griffin on drums. The Doc Thomas Group had a concert residency at a nightclub in a resort town in Italy. The group was offered a recording contract with the Italian label Dischi Interrecord, and released an eponymous album in January 1967. By 1968, Griffin and organist Verden Allen had joined the band.
Although the group toured and recorded in Italy as the Doc Thomas Group, their gigs in the UK were played under the names of the Shakedown Sound and later, as Silence. Silence recorded demos at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, which were shopped to EMI, Polydor, Immediate and Apple with no success. The group came to the attention of Guy Stevens at Island, who liked the group but not with Tippins as lead singer. Advertisements were placed ("Singer wanted, must be image-minded and hungry"), and Ian Hunter was selected as lead singer and piano player. Tippins assumed the role of road manager.