The Making Of Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes”

The story behind Mott's classic hit...

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VERDEN ALLEN [organ]
Coming back from Switzerland there was talk of splitting up but I couldn’t see it happening. Ok, we didn’t have a hit, but we were still going down great live. Island had arranged the rock ‘n’ roll circus [a variety package rather shamelessly aping the Rolling Stones’ 1969 TV special] with a knife thrower, performing dogs and Max Wall. When we told Chris Blackwell we were going to pack it in, he said “If you do that, I’ll see to it none of you work again.” I was bloody happy he said that – I didn’t want to pack up. Why pack up after struggling so hard? The ironic thing is that when we had the hit with “… Dudes” I went and left, like an idiot. I could kick myself in the arse now.

Bowie was a little nervous when he played the song. We were all crowded round him in a circle. We went on tour and he sent us flowers and congratulatory telegrams to our dressing room, telling us the studio was booked.

At the recording he held us back, it was different approach to working with Guy – he wanted it basic and commercial. Later when Bowie tried to do the same thing on the album, things went a bit iffy. There was a buzz around when we were recording it – Mickie Most turned up to see what was happening. You knew something was happening when hit makers started sniffing around.

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At first, when Bowie mixed it, the organ was extremely low. There was a bloke sat in the corner, I never knew his name but he was obviously a top guy at CBS. He could see I wasn’t very happy and he came over and said “I think you’d better mix it again, Dave.” He rebooked the studio for the next day with the instruction – “Organ track up”. I thought: what a great bloke! He was very important to the record.

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Doing Top Of The Pops wasn’t very good for me. I had my Hammond with a bloody swastika on the back, crazy when you think about it. I was a bit naïve then, it was something I bought in Chris Farlowe’s shop and it fitted a hole that had been blown in the back of the organ. There were a lot of Jewish people at the studio; nobody said anything but they just pushed the organ to the side of the stage.

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The girl at CBS was phoning us up everyday with sales figures – in the end it was like “Do us a favour, love, and let us get some sleep.” We weren’t really that excited because the song had come from someone else, not from the group.
The gay society of LA welcomed us with bouquets. Our roadies Lee and Zee were ultra gay – they picked blokes up everywhere we played. The Mott sound changed after I left – brass, backing singers and it became Ian’s band, they had more hits but never got higher than “All The Young Dudes”.

MICK JONES [Mott fan]
I used to love Mott. Me and my friends at school would go and see them all the time – great nights at the Sundown in Edmonton! We were called The Mott Lot. I was living in Hampstead when I first heard “All The Young Dudes”. It came on the radio one night, it was probably on the John Peel Show. As soon as I heard it I knew it was going to be massive and change everything. It was like when you first heard “Ride A White Swan”. Mott were on their last legs at that point, but Bowie saved them from the abyss. He gave them the song, came in and produced it and turned their career around completely. It’s a landmark track, their “Hey Jude”.

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