Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes

Glam rock’s definitive anthem recently turned 49, and this image of a young dude was originally earmarked as the album cover for Mott the Hoople’s All the Young Dudes released in July 1972. 

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Dude ’72 is the name of the image, and the photo of the London boy posing with a cardboard guitar was taken by “The Man Who Shot the Seventies” photographer Mick Rock, in 1972 while walking the streets of Camden Town.

Mick Rock has photographed some of the most iconic images in rock history, everyone from Bowie, Lou Reed, Queen and Iggy Pop, to Bryan Ferry and Blondie, and had he run with the original concept of Mott’s cardboard rockstar in Regent Park Estate, it may well have become one of Rock’s more recognisable images of the era.

The photo appears in his book, Glam! An Eyewitness Account with the intentionally vague caption: “Why it wasn’t used I can’t remember, nor can Ian Hunter, must have been a chemical shift.”

While the Bowie-penned title track climbed to number 3 on the UK charts, and the album the band’s biggest success to date, the concept importantly captures the glam-emboldened kids in England dreaming of a world beyond suburbia’s oppressive notion of normalcy, assimilating perfectly with the anthem of solidarity for the disaffected, consolidated by the song’s stunning introductory chimes of freedom.

In London, adventure parks for British youngsters sprang up in the 1950s on old bomb sites, and today it’s still there as a recreational area with basketball courts and play equipment. In the background stands the ornate Windsor House on Cumberland Market. Unsurprisingly, Mick Rock’s photo was snapped up all too late, used by Third Eye Blind for their album Out of the Vein, released 2003.

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An illustration of a trio of Gatsby-esque frat boys in a 1917 American advertisement for clothing manufacturers ended up replacing the original idea for reasons that aren’t clear. The final sleeve concept and art direction was designed by Mick Rock and George Underwood, fresh off his collaborative work for Hunky Dory, who colour-tinted the vintage illustration that had come from an issue of Saturday Evening Post with old English typeface.

All the Young Dudes put the great Mott the Hoople back on the map. They were a killer live band with four solid but moderately selling rock ‘n roll albums under their belt, but by 1971 they had essentially split up, playing awful gas tanks in Zurich.

Upon returning home to London, Pete Watts had rung Bowie and offered his services as a bass player. When big-Mott-fan Bowie asked why, he explained that they had disbanded. In response, Bowie offered his idols a song he’d written and the opportunity to record it, and his services as a producer.

They all met up at the Mainman offices in Regent Street and it was there where Bowie sat cross-legged on the floor with an acoustic guitar and played them perhaps the best song he ever wrote. Ian Hunter said, “I went cold. I knew that was the one.”

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The guitar intro was Mick Ralphs’, and the wry clarion call for a glam-rock army to kick out the old and begin the new at the end of the song, was Hunter’s. With Bowie adding backing vocals, Mott delivered their breakout hit; the dystopian rock ‘n roll anthem ‘All the Young Dudes’.

The album found them moving away from their earlier rock-jam style to exploring more hooks and choruses, ushering in their golden period and coming through with a genuine classic. From their reworking of Lou Reed’s ‘Sweet Jane‘, through an assemblage of originals such as ‘Jerkin’ Crocus‘, ‘Sucker‘ and Ralphs’ ‘Ready for Love‘ (re-recorded a year later as founder of the mega-selling Bad Company), every song hits the target square down the middle.

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The album also spawned the release of a great spin-off single ‘Honaloochie Boogie‘, catapulting them to the upper echelon of the charts again and to the lights and glamour of Top of the Pops, before following up with the release of two more increasingly successful albums, Mott (1973) and The Hoople (1974), and a further string of hit singles, staking their place as prominent members of the credible glam-rock club.

This entry was posted in Album Covers, Albums That Never Were, David Bowie, European Rock Pilgrimage, Ian Hunter, Images, Lou Reed, Mainman, Mick Rock, Mick Ronson, Mott the Hoople. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes

  1. Just fantastic stuff Press. Hunter is still putting out great music.

  2. thepopman says:

    Bowie offered the band Suffragette City at first. They turned it down, he then put ATYD on the table.

  3. hotfox63 says:

    Everytime, when I hear this song, I wonder, that this song is not from Ian Hunter.

  4. Fraser says:

    I made myself a cardboard guitar in 1972! It was better than that kid’s! Huh!
    I was too young to get into Mott the Hoople at the time, but I’ve been listening to a bit recently – better late than never. Wish it had been sooner, mind. Still, one thing I’ve noticed about them – Super Furry Animals, that’s what. See, if I’d got into Mott a bit sooner I’d have been able to nod sagely at SFA and say ‘Good influence, boyos.’ But I didn’t. Story of my life.

    • Great stuff Fraser. That is very cool. Are you sure that’s not you? Mott are great, all of their albums have some stuff I just love. Ian Hunter is rock god as far as I’m concerned and should be knighted for his services to rock and roll. Super Furry Animals? I have a Gruff Rhys album I adore (Candylion) that I was well into back in the day but that’s about all I know. Will give them a listen and hopefully hear some Mott in there. Like you to Mott, I’m a latecomer to the SFA. Thanks for reading btw and for taking the time to comment.

  5. msjadeli says:

    The Honaloochie one has a distinct ELO flavor to it. Such a good band.

  6. Tom Caulfield says:

    Mott The Hoople were a great band and Ian Hunter is an absolute legend 🙂 Any fans out there in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South East Asia (or fancy a trip here) please join the attached group and show/share your support 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/1539150562994336/

  7. Anfy McGonigle says:

    I grew up on Regents Park Estate where the photo was taken and was a regular visitor to the adventure playground over many years. I can tell you for a fact that the photo was staged. The boy in the photo is a child model and not a local lad.

  8. postpunkmonk says:

    Amazing. I never heard the story of the cover design before. That Mick Rock photos had a lot of charm. I was always impressed with Bowie finally making stardom and then sharing the fame immediately with Mott/Reed/Iggy. To imagine anyone giving away an anthem like ATYD today is unthinkable. At least it worked like a charm. I still can’t believe I finally saw Mott in 2019 in Cleveland, of all places! What a gift that was.

  9. Billy Mills says:

    One of the great records.

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