Released: 28 July 1972 (Mott the Hoople); May 1995 (Bowie)
David Bowie: vocals, saxophone
Mick Ronson: guitar, vocals
Mike Garson: piano
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Mick Woodmansey: drums
Ken Fordham, Brian ‘Bux’ Wilshaw: tenor saxophone
Donated to Mott the Hoople to revitalise their career in 1972, ‘All The Young Dudes’ became one of David Bowie’s most enduring and best-loved songs.
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.
Mojo, May 2009
‘All The Young Dudes’ was the quintessence of Bowie’s glam rock era. Not only did it namecheck his chart rivals T. Rex, it also took in cross-dressing (“Now Jimmy looking sweet, though he dresses like a queen”) and implied homosexuality (“It’s a real mean team/We can love/Oh we can love”).
Bowie also namechecked Freddie Burretti and Wendy Kirby, friends from the gay nightclub Yours Or Mine underneath the El Sombrero restaurant in Kensington. Burretti was Bowie’s clothes designer, playing a key role in shaping the Ziggy Stardust look.
We were the ‘young dudes’ who shaved off our eyebrows just for camp, because you could paint them on higher up – that gave us a strange unearthly look which David adopted. He was always open to suggestions and went through our wardrobes like a magpie!
Shapers of the 80s
The song was an anthem for the young, from the title to the crazy “television man … saying we’re juvenile delinquent wrecks”. Bowie took a wrecking ball to social norms and personal limits (“Is that concrete all around, or is it in my head?”), and drew a clear line between the old 1960s generation and the wondrous new decade that belonged to him:
In 1974 Rolling Stone magazine brought Bowie and author William Burroughs together for an interview. Burroughs asked about the apocalyptic five years concept of the Ziggy Stardust album, and Bowie explained the relationship of ‘All The Young Dudes’ to it.
The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of a lack of natural resources. Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock and roll band and the kids no longer want rock and roll. There’s no electricity to play it. Ziggy’s adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, ’cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news. ‘All The Young Dudes’ is a song about this news. It is no hymn to the youth as people thought. It is completely the opposite.
Rolling Stone, 28 February 1974