All the Young Dudes

May 30, 2024

This month I’m focusing on One Hit Wonders of the 70s.

Today our song is:  All the Young Dudes

Wikipedia tells us this about the song:

By 1972, Mott the Hoople were on the verge of splitting up. Having been together for three years, the band had released four well-received albums and developed a small loyal following but had failed to garner commercial success. An appearance on the BBC television programme Top of the Pops in late 1971 was not enough to push their recent single "Midnight Lady" onto the charts. The band had also finished a tour which left them financially unstable.

On 4 February 1972, David Bowie sent the band a demo of "Suffragette City" in hopes they would record it. The band played it and believed it did not fit their style. Bassist Pete Watts contacted Bowie in late March 1972 and politely rejected it, stating the band broke up. Upon learning this, Bowie contacted Watts back two hours later and said, "I've written a song for you since we spoke, which could be great." Bowie had just finished recording two albums consecutively and had another single, "John, I'm Only Dancing", prepared for release, so he was eager to write for other artists. While Bowie's manager Tony Defries worked on signing the band with CBS Records, Bowie met with Watts a few days later and played "All the Young Dudes" on acoustic guitar. Watts recalled: "He hadn't got all the words but the song just blew me away, especially when he hit the chorus." Watts then introduced Bowie to the rest of the band at an office located at Regent Street in London, where Bowie sat cross-legged on the floor and played the band the song.

The band were ecstatic. Ian Hunter recalled: "He just played it on an acoustic guitar. I knew straight away it was a hit. There were chills going down my spine. It's only happened to me a few times in my life, when you know that this is a biggie". Drummer Dale Griffin said: "We couldn't believe it. In the office at Regent Street he's strumming it on his guitar and I'm thinking, he wants to give us that? He must be crazy! We broke our necks to say yes! You couldn't fail to see it was a great song." After playing it, Bowie told them he would produce the track for release as a single while his manager, Tony Defries, informed them he would become their manager. Knowing the track would be a hit, the band agreed to not break up.

Mott the Hoople recorded "All the Young Dudes" at Olympic Studios in London on 14 May 1972, with Bowie producing. The song was engineered and mixed by Keith Harwood, and featured handclaps by Nicky Graham and security guard Stuey George. Describing the session, Hunter said: "It was a high, because we knew we were singing a hit." Bowie recorded a guide vocal for Hunter, which was remixed over the original backing track and released on the 1998 box set All the Young Dudes: The Anthology.

As recounted by Robert Christgau in a 1972 Newsday review, the band added a long extended fadeout to the song. "As the chorus repeats to a fade, Hunter calls out: 'Hey, you there. You with the glasses. I want you. I want you in the front. Now.' Soon, he loves and faces down his victim, who I imagine as some hapless Emerson, Lake & Palmer fan. 'How did it feel?' someone asks. Hunter's reply is barely audible, the last word of the song: 'Sick.'" In his book Rock on the Wild Side: Gay Male Images in Popular Music of the Rock Era, Wayne Studer refers to this as Hunter "camping it up."



  1. Very interesting backstory. Didn't know Bowie wrote this.


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