The British Lions were born from the ashes of Mott, after Nigel Benjamin left in December 1976. In March 1977, the remaining members of Mott hooked up with Steve Hyams, an old friend of the band who had lived at their Lower Sloane Street flat in the early days. Hyams secured financing from Arista, and the group recorded a few demos at The Argonaut, Richard Branson's floating studio on the Regents Park Canal.
Sounds got wind of a potential Mott The Hoople reunion, and in a moment of weakness the group decided to play along. The Rainbow Theatre was booked for a photo sessions and live showcase, during which the band failed to impress either the band or themselves. Half-hearted attempts to find a producer - including a meeting with Frank Zappa - came to nothing. The situation was no doubt hampered by the advent of punk rock, and also by Hyams dependence on heroin and subsequent bout with hepatitis. Hyams was eventually offered a solo deal with Arista, and the fledgling Mott The Hoople Mark II was mercifully put to rest. The demos recorded with Hyams remained out of reach until 1993, when the See For Miles label released a CD EP with the rather unoriginal and misleading title Mott The Hoople Featuring Steve Hyams.
In the summer of 1977, the remaining members of Mott set about the task of finding a new frontman. Morgan Fisher suggested John Fiddler, whose group Medicine Head had just disbanded. Morgan had played on the last Medicine Head album, and in March 1977 filled in on their tour when Peter Hope-Evans quit the group. Although Fiddler's hippy appearance - long hair, moustache, and glasses - didn't fit the group's hard rock image, he was asked to an audition and secured the job.
John Fiddler adjusted to his new role at center stage in a rock band. After a quick makeover - which did away with the moustache and glasses and took ten years off his appearance - the group rehearsed some of John's new material and recorded a few demos. Status Quo manager Colin Johnson was approached, and agreed to take them on. After a brief spell using the name Big Ben, the band called itself British Lions and secured a deal with Vertigo/Phonogram.
With Fiddler providing most of the material, British Lions entered The Manor in Oxfordshire on September 23rd, and had finished recording their debut album by October 8th. The British Lions LP appeared in the UK on February 10, 1978 on the Vertigo label. In the USA, the disc was released by RSO. For the first single, Vertigo chose One More Chance To Run b/w Booster and followed it quickly with International Heroes b/w Eat The Rich. In the USA, RSO chose the Garland Jeffreys-penned Wild In The Streets b/w Booster.
The band toured the UK in November and December 1977 supporting Status Quo, also handled by Colin Johnson. The band gigged extensively to promote the album, headlining a couple tours in early 1978. In May 1978 they toured the UK once again, this time in support of AC/DC.
The British Lions album did fairly well in the USA, charting almost immediately - but the band didn't tour there until August 1978, when they landed a two-month slot supporting Blue Oyster Cult. That tour unfortunately missed most of the major cities, however, and the band often found themselves playing in the middle of nowhere. After two months in the States, they returned to the UK to record their next album.
The group set to work on a follow-up album, but ran into trouble from the start. They entered RAK in London in November 1978 without any new material, because their constant touring schedule had left them without any time to write new songs. To compound their problems, Ray Majors was hospitalized with hepatitis for most of the sessions. Vertigo insisted that the record be targeted toward the US market, but the label didn't like the album that resulted. In the end, their US label RSO decided against releasing the album and in the UK Vertigo quickly followed suit.
In addition to the lack of support from their labels, the group was also in a stalemate over how to promote themselves. Watts and Griffin wanted to concentrate gigging in the USA with tours at larger venues, while management and the rest of band were content to play Britain in smaller clubs and building a following from the ground up. In the end Watts and Griffin decided to leave and the band, which then dissolved, in April 1979. The second British Lions album remained in the vaults for over a year, until Cherry Red licensed the material and released Trouble With Women in May 1980.