“Coming back from Switzerland there was talk of splitting up but I couldn’t see it happening. OK, we didn’t have a hit, but we were still going doing great live. Island [Records] had arranged the rock ‘n’ roll circus [a variety package similar to the Rolling Stones’ 1969 TV special] with a knife thrower, performing dogs and Max Wall. When we told Chris Blackwell we were going to pack it in, he said, “If you do, I’ll see to it that none of you work again.” I was bloody happy he said that – I didn’t want to pack up. Why pack up after struggling so hard? The ironic thing is that when we had the hit with “…Dudes,” I went and left, like an idiot. I could kick myself in the arse now.
“Bowie was a little nervous when he played the song. We were all crowded around him in a circle. We went on tour and he sent us flowers and congratulatory telegrams to our dressing room, telling us the studio was booked.
“At the recording he held back; it was a different approach to working with Guy [Stevens] – he wanted it basic and commercial. Later when Bowie tried to do the same thing on the album, things went a bit iffy. There was a buzz around when we were recording it – Mickie Most turned up to see what was happening. You knew something was happening when hit makers started sniffing around.
At first, when Bowie mixed it, the organ was extremely low. There was a bloke sat in the corner, I never knew his name but he was obviously a top guy at CBS. He could see I wasn’t very happy and he came over and said, “I think you’d better mix it again, Dave.” He rebooked the studio the next day with the instruction: “Organ track up!” I thought: what a great bloke. He was very important to the record.
“Doing Top of the Pops wasn’t very good for me. I had my Hammond with a bloody swastika on the back. I was a bit naïve then, it was something I brought in to Chris Farlowe’s shop and it fitted a hole that had been blown at the back of the organ. There were a lot of Jewish people at the studio: nobody said anything, but they just pushed the organ to the side of the stage.
“The girl at CBS was phoning us up everyday with sales figures – in the end it was like: “Do us a favour, love, and let us get some sleep.” We weren’t really that excited because the song had come from someone else, not from the group.
“The gay society of LA welcomed us with bouquets. Our roadies Lee and Zee were ultra gay – they picked up blokes wherever we played. The Mott sound changed after I left – brass, backing singers and it became Ian’s band, they had more hits but never got higher than “All the Young Dudes.””
Verden Allen, Uncut #128, January 2008, p.38