It’s been 40 years since Mott the Hoople released the single “All the Young Dudes,” but the track, originally offered up by David Bowie to keep the group together, has had a lasting impact on rock and roll.
The English rockers found cult success in the late 60s with the release of their self-titled album thanks to their unique blend of hard and glam rock, but by the early 70s the group was in the process of breaking up. Around this time, “Mott” bassist Pete Overend Watts auditioned for a spot in David Bowie’s band. Bowie, being an early fan of Mott, offered them his song “Suffragette City” in hopes of keeping them together.
“Pete Watts, the bass player, applied for a job with David and David said, ‘Well you’re in Mott’ and Pete said, ‘No I’m not’ and David said, ‘Oh, you can’t split up,’ you know,” said Mott lead singer Ian Hunter. “And he offered us ‘Suffragette City,’ which we turned down ’cause we didn’t think it was strong enough.”
Bowie then offered up the song “All the Young Dudes” which the group accepted.
“He offered us ‘All the Young Dudes.’ The first thing I thought was, ‘I can sing that,’ because I have a peculiar voice,” Hunter said. “And the second thing I thought was, ‘It’s a monster,’ and it was.”
The single would go on to be the band’s biggest hit, peaking at number three in England and number 37 in the U.S. In the four decades since its release, the song has seen consistent use in movies and advertisements and has been listed on both Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All-Time” and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”
“That is a slow paced song and it’s a really well written song, very melodic, so I’ve never had a problem singing it,” Hunter said. “But if I’d been doing ‘Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep’ for the last 40 years I might have jumped off a pier by now, you know.”
- John Milligan / 98.5 WNCX