Yesterday saw the sad passing of David Bowie. In a day and age when the word legend is sometimes very loosely bandied around, David Bowie was indeed a true legend of the modern music era. While his many songs are well known, some of them might not be as well known as others, so rather than play one of the songs of his which are so well known, I would like to play a clip of a song of his which he wrote, and then allowed another band to record the song, and the story behind how this happened shows just another side to David Bowie.
Vale David Bowie, ‘The Thin White Duke’.
Today’s music video is All The Young Dudes, sung here in this clip by the English band Mott The Hoople.
This video was posted to You Tube by The1stGunner
I knew of David Bowie as a rock star from his first hit Space Oddity, which was released in 1969, and while David had written the song earlier in the year and was performing the song in his live performances, it had not yet been recorded. David was already almost four years into what was basically a struggling music career. He had changed his name and also changed his image, and recorded and released his first album, but until the fortuitous release of this song only five days before the launch of Apollo 11, he was not all that well known outside of some local areas in his home, the UK. That song was just huge, and from then on, his career was assured. His next three albums turned him into one of the biggest names in modern music.
That brings us then to the song I have featured as the main video for today. It comes from what is now categorised as Glam Rock, a term which was not used until this style of music became popular probably some years even after it started, and in fact, David Bowie was one of those instrumental in the early years of this genre of music, and, as it became popular, so many other artists and bands just copied what he was doing. The music is basically similar to what was already out there, but it became known as Glam Rock mainly because the solo artists and the bands dressed up in showy clothes and all their performances were also done in these showy clothes, as, mainly the men, dressed up in these sometimes outrageous clothes. If you closed your eyes and just listened to the music, it was basically the same as all the other stuff that was around at the time.
The band featured today is one probably not even heard of at all in the U.S. Mott The Hoople, a band which was only around for a few years anyway, and which only had a couple of very minor hits, even in their home Country, the UK, and probably only this one here in Australia. The leader of the band, Ian Hunter did go on to a long and distinguished career, but Mott The Hoople was just another of those fleeting comets who came suddenly, and then just quietly disappeared.
As I have mentioned, one of the early stars of Glam Rock was David Bowie, who, while such a huge name now, was a fan of this band Mott The Hoople, who had been around for almost 4 years, and already had produced four Studio albums, which ensured the band got regular gigs, but not enough to make the band a commercial success, or a household name, if you see the point here.
David heard that this band was about to disband, due mainly to lack of success. He liked the band, and he offered them one of his new songs for them to record, a song from his already released Ziggy Stardust album, but the band’s leader Ian Hunter was not all that enamoured with the song which looked like it might become a hit for David, (which it did) so their cover version would always be seen as being just that, a cover. So, David just sat down and wrote this song on the spur of the moment. That song was the one I have featured today, All The Young Dudes. Straight away, the song became a huge hit for the band as it soared up the UK charts, finally topping out at Number Two.
The song actually got the band in some trouble with the main radio broadcaster in the UK, the BBC. If you listen closely at the 24 second mark of the clip, you’ll hear the following line.
“Wendy’s stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks.”
This was a reference to the large UK Department Store chain, Marks and Spencer, and the BBC was concerned that broadcasting this would breach broadcasting regulations with respect to on air advertising, so for radio airplay, that line was changed to the following.
“Wendy’s stealing clothes from unlocked cars”.
The lyrics of this song also mention the band T Rex, an English band fronted by Marc Bolan, a band that for almost three years lived in the Top Two songs on the UK charts with 11 consecutive Singles either going all the way to Number One (5 of them) four of them at Number Two, and the other two songs at Three and Four. Early in David Bowie’s career, he actually toured with this band on the undercard as the third act, with T Rex as the main Act.
When I first heard this song, I went out and bought the album, pictured above. The liner notes on that album mention that David Bowie produced the album, and also played the saxophones, and sang some backing vocals.
While the song went back to the recording studio for rewording of that one line, the band always performed the song with the original lyrics, and this clip shown here has those original lyrics.
Despite being a huge hit, that only meant that the band could in a form, cash in on this, and they produced only 2 more albums before finally folding in 1974. The album immediately following this one, Mott, was their biggest charting album.
This song, All The Young Dudes is now regarded as one of the anthems of the Glam Rock period, and in fact is included in the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time from Rolling Stone magazine, as well as being one of the songs that shaped modern music.
At a later date David recorded the song himself, and at the concert to recognise the passing of Freddie Mercury, the singer for the band Queen, David appeared on stage with a reformed Mott The Hoople and played the saxophone while the band performed this song, as he did on the original studio recording of the song, with the remaining members of Queen also singing along as well.
So, while David Bowie was one of the biggest stars of modern music, he also had a hand in helping out other musicians as well, in this case, Mott The Hoople.
The music World has lost one of its biggest stars.
Vale David Bowie.