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Live: Mott The Hoople, Civic Hall, Guildford

Mott The Hoople performed at Guildford’s Civic Hall on 9 April 1972.

Bowie joined them onstage during the encores. At the time he was on a three-week break in the Ziggy Stardust Tour.

Bowie had recently heard that Mott The Hoople were on the verge of splitting up, following their UK tour dates. He had recently sent the band a copy of ‘Suffragette City’, and their bassist, Pete ‘Overend’ Watts, phoned to thank him.

Overend, who had always been a big fan of Bowie, phoned him up. He’d got his phone number from a tape David sent us of ‘Suffragette City’, which he thought we might like to do for a single. He said, ‘The band’s split, y’know, what’s happening with you?’ – hoping for some job as a bass player, maybe. David was quite shocked that the band had broken and said, ‘Listen, don’t do anything. I’ll work something out, you mustn’t break up.
Dale Griffin, Mott The Hoople drummer
Changes: The David Bowie Story, BBC Radio 1, May 1976

Bowie was upset to hear of the band’s problems, and called back shortly afterwards to offer them a new song – ‘All The Young Dudes’.

It was the first song I’ve written for somebody else. They were at the point of breaking up as a band and I told them not to, because I thought they were a very good band. I told them I’d write them a hit single. And I did. It was easy.
David Bowie, 1972
Mojo, May 2009

At a meeting held shortly afterwards, Bowie played the incredulous Watts the song.

Bowie played me this song, ‘All The Young Dudes’, on his acoustic guitar. He hadn’t got all the words but the song just blew me away, especially when he hit the chorus.
Michael Watts
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg

A meeting with the band was convened at Bowie’s publishing company Gem’s central London offices. Upon hearing ‘All The Young Dudes’, the band were more than happy to accept it.

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.
Dale Griffin, drummer
The Complete David Bowie, Nicholas Pegg

Bowie offered to produce the single for the band. The recording session took place at Olympic Sound Studios on 14 May 1972.

His manager Tony Defries also set about negotiating a new record deal with CBS, and arranged to add Mott to his MainMan artist stable. Hunter, however, was suspicious of Defries, and kept the unsigned management contracts away from the band.

On 9 April David, Angie, and manager Tony Defries turned up at Mott the Hoople’s gig at the Civic Hall in Guildford, Surrey.

She told me David had taken four hours to get ready. He was shaking, real nervous. He thought we were a lot heavier than we were… heavy duty punks. He was slightly disappointed to encounter ‘ordinary blokes’. He just liked what we represented.
Ian Hunter
Mojo, May 2009

Bowie’s own Ziggy Stardust Tour called at Guildford’s Civic Hall on 27 May 1973.

Last updated: 10 May 2023
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