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"All the Young Dudes" is a song written by David Bowie, originally recorded and released as a single by Mott the Hoople in 1972. NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have described the track as "one of that rare breed: rock songs which hymn the solidarity of the disaffected without distress or sentimentality". In 2004, Rolling Stone rated "All the Young Dudes" #253 in its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is also one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Music and lyrics

Regarded as one of glam rock's anthems, the song originated after Bowie came into contact with Mott the Hoople's bassist Peter Watts and learned that the band was ready to split due to continued lack of commercial success. When Mott rejected his first offer of a composition, "Suffragette City" (from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars), Bowie wrote "All the Young Dudes" in short order specially for them, allegedly sitting cross-legged on the floor of a room in Regent Street, London, in front of the band's lead singer, Ian Hunter.

With its dirge-like music, youth suicide references and calls to an imaginary audience, the song bore similarities to Bowie's own "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide", the final track from Ziggy Stardust. Described as being to glam rock what "All You Need Is Love" was to the hippie era, the lyrics name-checked contemporary star T.Rex and contained references to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones ("My brother's back at home with his Beatles and his Stones/We never got it off on that revolution stuff") in a "wearied swipe at the previous generation".

Bowie himself once claimed that the song was not intended to be an anthem for glam, instead it carried a darker message of apocalypse. According to an interview Bowie gave to Rolling Stone magazine in 1973, the boys are carrying the same news that the news guy was carrying in the song "Five Years" from Ziggy Stardust, a message that the Earth only had five years left to live: "'All the Young Dudes' is a song about this news. It's no hymn to the youth, as people thought. It is completely the opposite."

Release and aftermath

Mott the Hoople's single was released in July 1972 and made #3 in the UK charts and #31 in Canada. In November that year, Bowie introduced the band on stage at the Tower near Philadelphiamarker and performed the song with Hunter (released on All the Way from Stockholm to Philadelphia in 1998 and the expanded version of All The Young Dudes in 2006). Bowie took to performing "All the Young Dudes" on his own 1973 tour, and a medley version appears on the album Ziggy Stardust - The Motion Picture, the live recording of the last Ziggy show that was finally released officially in 1983. It was also featured during Bowie's 2003-2004 A Reality Tour tour, and can be heard on the DVD of the same name.

David Bowie's own studio version from 1973's sessions for 'Aladdin Sane', went unreleased until 1994 when it appeared on the semi-legal album RarestOneBowie. It was subsequently included on The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974, the 30th Anniversary edition of Aladdin Sane, and the 2-disc US version of Best of Bowie). The composer's first released version was in 1974 on the David Live double LP. Bowie also used the music in reverse as the basis for "Move On", a track on his 1979 album, Lodger. In 1992, twenty years after their duet in Philadelphia, Bowie and Hunter again performed the song together with the surviving members of Queen, Mick Ronson, and Def Leppard's Joe Elliott and Phil Collen at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert.

"All the Young Dudes" was featured in the 1995 film Clueless, the 2007 Jason Reitman film Juno and the 2008 film The Wackness.

7" single track listing

  1. "All the Young Dudes" (David Bowie) – 3:32
  2. "One of the Boys" (Mick Ralphs, Ian Hunter) – 6:46


Cover versions

"All the Young Dudes" has been covered by several artists including Bruce Dickinson on his album, Tattooed Millionaire (also released as a single), Ringo Starr (solo), Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Zoo, Angel, Billy Bragg, Mick Ronson, Travis, The Church, Rolf Harris, Cybernauts, Tesla, The F-Ups, World Party, Gene Loves Jezebel, Massive Attack, Mongo, The Smashing Pumpkins (live, with Bowie), Cyndi Lauper [Alejandro Escovedo]], Switchblade Kittens, The Skids, Judas Priest (live), The New Standards, Jimmy Barnes, Ian Hunter (solo), Enrico Ruggeri, Two Cow Garage, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs (duet), and John Frusciante & Wavegroup for the video game Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. There are two Japanese versions of the song: one sung by Hironobu Kageyama, the other by female metal singer Misako Honjoh on her album Dreamer. The Clash, whose members included fans of Mott the Hoople, paid homage to the song with their track "All the Young Punks (New Boots and Contracts)" from Give 'Em Enough Rope. Marvelous 3 also featured an interpolation of "All the Young Dudes" in the song "Cigarette Lighter Love Song".

An early recording of "Whatever" by Oasis contained a reference to the song, in the line "All the young blues carry the news." Though the "blues" refers to the Gallagher brothers' beloved Manchester City Football Club, legal disputes over the line and its melody kept the song from being released on Oasis' debut album Definitely Maybe. Subsequent live performances of the song retained the line, though the version that was released as a single did not.


  1. Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.117
  2. Rolling Stone 500 Songs
  3. David Buckley (2005). Strange Fascination - David Bowie: The Definitive Story: p.131
  4. Story of the Song All the Young Dudes

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