It’s easy to hear this song and think it’s one of David Bowie’s and you would be almost correct. But he wrote and produced it, specifically for one of his favorite UK bands, Mott The Hoople, which was on the verge of splitting. David gave them this song and helped them record a new LP, which also included one of the first covers of the Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane. Bowie easily could have recorded it and broke out into the US mainstream with this one, but instead, was a generous bloke.
It would be another 3 years before Bowie would have his first Top 40 hit in the US. That’s right, Mott The Hoople broke through in the US before David Bowie. Of course Bowie was garnering lots of critical praise and his LPs were getting notice. But his singles weren’t getting played until Space Oddity in 1973. Maybe Mott’s success was what David needed to get radio’s attention. It sure didn’t help Mott very much. Though this single climbed to #37, they never had any more chart hits and member Mick Ralphs left the band to form the blander (and obviously more mainstream) Bad Company. That said, All The Young Dudes stands as an all-time Glam rock anthem, a tune that says and Ian Hunter can sing this anywhere and get folks to open their lighters, sway side to side and sing along.
Mott The Hoople obviously had a strong influence of other bands. They’re name-checked by Queen in Now I’m Here (and then leapfrogged them in success) as well as in Reunion’s 1974 Top 10, Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me). The song itself namechecks the Beatles, the Stones and T-Rex.
By the way the band’s name came from Guy Stevens who worked at Island Records and became the group’s manager. He got it from the title of a 1966 book by Willard Manus, from which a Hoople is a ‘square’ or mainstream guy, the ‘man’ if you will. Mott was an ex-hippie who would have probably sang this song when it came on the radio saying the kids are alright, man.