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Origins of Glam Rock
Glam rock has its origins in England in the early 70's and is more about a look than a particular musical genre. Early exponents of glam rock include T-rex, David Bowie and Gary Glitter. In the eighties glam rock inspired many of the new romantic bands and the so called "gender benders" led by Boy George and Marilyn. The greatest impact of glam rock was on the heavy metal genre which has given us our sterotypical glam rocker today. So without any further ado. Pull on your bedazled spandex bodysuit, put on your warpaint and tease that long hair. Its time look at the Glam Rockers.
Marc Bolan formed Tyrannosaurus Rex in 1967. Originally a folk band they changed with the times in the seventies. The bands name was shortened to T-Rex, Accoustic guitars were swapped for electric and the music became a little heavier. Many of the T-rex clips feature fairly plain clothing with perhaps a silver suit jacket here or some reflective material on the face. The clip I have selected is a compilation of T-Rex footage set to their hit song "Children of the Revolution". Sadly Marc Bolan died in a car accident in 1977.
David Bowies career is too long and diverse to cover on this page. Bowie emerged at the end of the psychedelic sixties. it's probably fair to say that at the time it was cool to be on hard drugs and have androgynous dress sense. Bowie added these attributes, a red granny mullet and his undisputable musical talents (writing and performing) to the mix. Bowies "Ziggy Stardust" period was a benchmark for emerging glam rockers. Love or hate the Bowie you will be thankful that I didn't post a Gary Glitter video on this page.
Or did I?
Personally I am bemused by Gary Glitter. Undoubtedly successfull in the 70's. He managed to release essentially the same song thrice with "Rock & Roll Part 1" part 2 and part 3. His other lyrical masterpieces included "Do You Want to be in my Gang" and "Koo Cachoo". He is also credited with one of the most successfull Christmas tracks of all time. Apparently girls were moved to tears by the appearance of a large sparkly man with a hairy chest. Is it just me or does he look like a bad Elvis Impersonator? If you think this song is a bit of a train wreck have a look at his later court cases. Featuring arrests and imprisonment in Vietnam and more recently an arrest in the UK in connection with the Jimmy Saville investigation.
From its diverse origins in the early 70's Glam moved in many directions. Suzie Quatro is credited as a glam act although all I see in a Suzie Quatro video is an attractive petite woman usually in leathers. Not much glam in the attire. Pretty amazing voice though.
As mentioned earlier. Many of the punk, new romantic and gender bender acts of the eighties glammed it up. The major proponents of Glam in the late 70's and early eighties was in Heavy Metal. Bands like Kiss, Motley Crue and Van Halen took glam to a whole new level.
Kiss are the first rock group I ever heard. They had enormous popularity in the late 70's and have stood the test of time. Their song lyrics are still good and they still put on a good concert. It was very hard to find one of their earlier videos on youtube because their is so much good footage from the 90s and naughties. Kiss need no introduction just turn up the volume and enjoy...
Legend has it that Eddie Van Halen found his brother Alex playing his drumkit, picked up Alex's guitar and said "I'll play this then". To save money the brothers let David Lee Roth be lead singer in return for the use of his sound system and a super group was born. Van Halen were noted for Eddies brillaince with the guitar and David Lee Roths outrageous antics and partying. Harmony was strictly for the songs and the band has had three lead singers since inception.
Who was the best Van Halen lead singer?
Drugs, bad behavior, brushes with the law and of course Girls Girls Girls epitomise Motley Crue. They are probably the heaviest act on this page and are the benchmark of what glam has become. The bands hit "Kickstart my heart" was inspired by Nikki SIxxs near fatal heroin overdose. Motley Crues greatest success came in 1989 after the bands managers refused to allow a tour to Europe until they had been through rehab. The album was Dr Feelgood.
The Glam Fades
By the early nineties grunge music had started to emerge. Grunge featured darker melancholic lyrics that didn't really fit with the glam image. Don't despair. Glam may have had its day but every now & then one of the old groups will tour or a new band will take up the glam baton. In the meantime enjoy the last video file below or visit my 80's rock Cringers page.