Mott The Hoople were a British pub rock group consisting of Ian Hunter on vocals, guitar and piano, Mick Ralphs on guitar and vocals, Verden Allen on organ and vocals, Pete Overend Watts on bass and Dale “Buffin” Griffin on drums. By 1972, the band had released four poorly received albums and was ready to throw in the towel.
Enter David Bowie to the rescue!
Bowie was much too big a fan of the band to let them call it quits, so he urged them to glam up their image, offered to produce their next album, set them up with Tony Defries and MainMan management and gave a new song to them called “Suffragette City” as the album’s first single. Ian Hunter and company weren’t to keen on “Suffragette City,” so Bowie quickly wrote another song for them to record called “All The Young Dudes,” resulting in their biggest hit and the title cut for their next album.
All The Young Dudes opens with a cover of The Velvet Underground classic “Sweet Jane,” which was written by Lou Reed who would soon also jump onto the glam wagon after benefitting from a Bowie makeover. His Bowie-produced 1972 album Transformer yielded the huge hit “Walk On The Wild Side.” Mott had never heard the original version of “Sweet Jane” and learned if from Bowie right before committing it to tape
The band’s songwriting really came into its own here, and some of Mott’s greatest rockers including “One Of The Boys,” “Mama’s Little Jewel,” “Jerkin’ Crocus” and today’s Song Of The Day, “Sucker” – a raunchy S&M rocker and clearly the albums best song – have all become Mott classics.
Guitarist Mick Ralphs wrote “Ready For Love,” and later took the song with him when he left to form Bad Company. The song was one of the highlights of Bad Company’s debut album. “Soft Ground” was written and sung by Verden Allen who left the group shortly after recording Dudes, and the album’s closer “Sea Diver” featured a string arrangement courtesy of Bowie sideman and Spiders From Mars guitarist, Mick Ronson.
The band toured opening for Aerosmith in support of the album and enlisted ex-Spooky Tooth guitarist Luther Grosvenor to join them. They renamed him Ariel Bender, with “Bender” being British slang for homosexual. They also totally glammed up their style by wearing high platform shoes and feminine clothing on stage.
While All The Young Dudes was the album that saved Mott The Hoople from obscurity, the band’s follow up record called Mott was actually their greatest achievement.
Fun fact: The melody of the song “Move On” from Bowie’s 1979 album Lodger, was written by reversing the melody of “All The Young Dudes.”