|Cultural origins||Early 1970s, United Kingdom|
Glam rock is a style of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s performed by musicians who wore outrageous costumes, makeup, and hairstyles, particularly platform shoes and glitter.Glam artists drew on diverse sources across music and throwaway pop culture, ranging from bubblegum pop and 1950s rock and roll to cabaret, science fiction, and complex art rock. The flamboyant clothing and visual styles of performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been described as playing with nontraditional gender roles. Glitter rock was a more extreme version of glam.
The UK charts were inundated with glam rock acts from 1971 to 1975.The March 1971 appearance of T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan on the BBC's music show Top of the Pops , wearing glitter and satins, is often cited as the beginning of the movement. Other British glam rock artists include David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Slade, Mud, Roxy Music and Gary Glitter. Those not central to the genre, such as Elton John, Rod Stewart and Freddie Mercury of Queen, also adopted glam styles. In the US the scene was much less prevalent, with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed the only American artists to score a hit. Other US glam artists include New York Dolls, Sparks, Suzi Quatro, Iggy Pop and Jobriath. It declined after the mid-1970s, but influenced other musical genres including punk rock, glam metal, New Romantic, deathrock and gothic rock.
Glam rock can be seen as a fashion as well as musical subgenre.Glam artists rejected the revolutionary rhetoric of the late 1960s rock scene, instead glorifying decadence, superficiality, and the simple structures of earlier pop music. In response to these characteristics, scholars such as I.Taylor and D. Wall criticized Glam rock as "offensive, commercial, and cultural emasculation".
Artists drew on such musical influences as bubblegum pop, the brash guitar riffs of hard rock, stomping rhythms, and 1950s rock and roll, filtering them through the recording innovations of the late 1960s.Ultimately it became very diverse, varying between the simple rock and roll revivalism of figures like Alvin Stardust to the complex art pop of Roxy Music. In its beginning, however, it was a youth-oriented reaction to the creeping dominance of progressive rock and concept albums – what Bomp! called the "overall denim dullness" of "a deadly boring, prematurely matured music scene".
Visually it was a mesh of various styles, ranging from 1930s Hollywood glamour, through 1950s pin-up sex appeal, pre-war cabaret theatrics, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, to ancient and occult mysticism and mythology; manifesting itself in outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots.Glam is most noted for its sexual and gender ambiguity and representations of androgyny, beside extensive use of theatrics.
It was prefigured by the flamboyant English composer Noël Coward, especially his 1931 song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen", with music writer Daryl Easlea stating, "Noël Coward's influence on people like Bowie, Roxy Music and Cockney Rebel was absolutely immense. It suggested style, artifice and surface were equally as important as depth and substance. Time magazine noted Coward's 'sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise'. It reads like a glam manifesto."Showmanship and gender identity manipulation acts included the Cockettes and Alice Cooper, the latter of which combined glam with shock rock.
Glam rock emerged from the English psychedelic and art rock scenes of the late 1960s and can be seen as both an extension of, and a reaction against, those trends.Its origins are associated with Marc Bolan, who had renamed his acoustic duo T. Rex and taken up electric instruments by the end of the 1960s. Bolan was, in the words of music critic Ken Barnes, "the man who started it all". Often cited as the moment of inception is Bolan's appearance on the BBC music show Top of the Pops in March 1971 wearing glitter and satins, to perform what would be his second UK Top 10 hit (and first UK Number 1 hit), "Hot Love". The Independent states that Bolan's appearance on Top of the Pops “permitted a generation of teeny-boppers to begin playing with the idea of androgyny”. T. Rex's 1971 album Electric Warrior received critical acclaim as a pioneering glam rock album. In 1973, a few months after the release of the album Tanx , Bolan captured the front cover of Melody Maker magazine with the declaration "Glam rock is dead!".
From late 1971, already a minor star, David Bowie developed his Ziggy Stardust persona, incorporating elements of professional makeup, mime and performance into his act.Bowie, in a 1972 interview in which he noted that other artists described as glam rock were doing different work, said "I think glam rock is a lovely way to categorize me and it's even nicer to be one of the leaders of it". Bolan and Bowie were soon followed in the style by acts including Roxy Music, Sweet, Slade, Mott the Hoople, Mud and Alvin Stardust. The popularity of glam rock in the UK was such that three glam rock bands had major UK Christmas hit singles; "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade, "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" by Wizzard and "Lonely This Christmas" by Mud, all of which have remained hugely popular. Glam was not only a highly successful trend in UK popular music, it became dominant in other aspects of British popular culture during the 1970s.
A heavier variant of glam rock, emphasising guitar riff centric songs, driving rhythms and live performance with audience participation, were represented by bands like Slade and Mott the Hoople, with later followers such as Def Leppard, Cheap Trick, Poison, Kiss, Bon Jovi, and Quiet Riot, some of which either covered Slade compositions or composed new songs based on Slade templates. While highly successful in the single charts in the UK, very few of these musicians were able to make a serious impact in the US; David Bowie was the major exception, becoming an international superstar and prompting the adoption of glam styles among acts like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls and Jobriath, often known as "glitter rock" and with a darker lyrical content than their British counterparts.
In the UK, the term glitter rock was most often used to refer to the extreme version of glam pursued by Gary Glitter and the independent band with whom he often performed known as the Glitter Band. The Glitter Band and Gary Glitter had between them eighteen top ten singles in the UK between 1972 and 1975.A second wave of glam rock acts, including Suzi Quatro, Roy Wood's Wizzard and Sparks, had hits on the British single charts in 1973 and 1974. Quatro directly inspired the pioneering Los Angeles based all-girl group The Runaways. Existing acts, some not usually considered central to the genre, also adopted glam styles, including Rod Stewart, Elton John, Queen and, for a time, The Rolling Stones. Punk rock, often seen as a reaction to the artifice of glam rock, but using some elements of the genre, including makeup and involving cover versions of glam rock records, helped end the fashion for glam from about 1976.
While glam rock was exclusively a British cultural phenomenon, with Steven Wells in The Guardian writing "Americans only got glam second hand via the posh Bowie version", covers of British glam rock classics are now piped-muzak staples at US sporting events.Glam rock was a background influence for Richard O'Brien, writer of the 1973 London musical The Rocky Horror Show . Although glam rock went into a steep decline in popularity in the UK in the second half of the 1970s, it had a direct influence on acts that rose to prominence later, including Kiss and American glam metal acts like Quiet Riot, W.A.S.P., Twisted Sister and Mötley Crüe.
New Romantics in the UK; acts like Adam Ant and Flock of Seagulls extended glam, and its androgyny and sexual politics were picked up by acts including Culture Club, Bronski Beat and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.Gothic rock was largely informed by the makeup, clothes, theatricality and sound of glam, and punk rock adopted some of the performance and persona-creating tendencies of glam, as well as the genre's emphasis on pop-art qualities and simple but powerful instrumentation.
In Japan in the 1980s, visual kei was strongly influenced by glam rock aesthetics.Glam has since enjoyed continued influence and sporadic modest revivals in R&B crossover act Prince, and bands such as Marilyn Manson, Suede, Placebo, Chainsaw Kittens, Spacehog and the Darkness.
Movies that reflect glam rock aesthetics include:
Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred on perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.
Glam metal is a subgenre of heavy metal, which features pop-influenced hooks and guitar riffs, and borrows heavily from the fashion and image of 1970s glam rock.
The New Romantic movement was a pop culture movement that originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The movement emerged from the nightclub scene in London and Birmingham at venues such as Billy's and The Blitz. The New Romantic movement was characterised by flamboyant, eccentric fashion inspired by fashion boutiques such as Kahn and Bell in Birmingham and PX in London. Early adherents of the movement were often referred to by the press by such names as Blitz Kids, New Dandies and Romantic Rebels.
Marc Bolan was an English singer, songwriter, musician and poet. He was the lead singer of the band T. Rex and was one of the pioneers of the glam rock movement of the 1970s.
Popular music of the United Kingdom in the 1970s built upon the new forms of music developed from blues rock towards the end of the 1960s, including folk rock and psychedelic rock. Several important and influential subgenres were created in Britain in this period, by pursuing the limitations of rock music, including British folk rock and glam rock, a process that reached its apogee in the development of progressive rock and one of the most enduring subgenres in heavy metal music. Britain also began to be increasingly influenced by third world music, including Jamaican and Indian music, resulting in new music scenes and subgenres. In the middle years of the decade the influence of the pub rock and American punk rock movements led to the British intensification of punk, which swept away much of the existing landscape of popular music, replacing it with much more diverse new wave and post punk bands who mixed different forms of music and influences to dominate rock and pop music into the 1980s.
Velvet Goldmine is a 1998 musical drama film written and directed by Todd Haynes from a story by Haynes and James Lyons. It is set in Britain during the glam rock days of the early 1970s; it tells the story of a fictional pop star, Brian Slade. The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and won the award for the Best Artistic Contribution. Sandy Powell received a BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. The film utilizes non-linear storytelling to achieve exposition while interweaving the vignettes of its various characters.
Cock rock is a genre of rock music that emphasizes a form of male sexuality. The style developed in the later 1960s, came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, and continues into the present day.
American rock has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and country music, and also drew on folk music, jazz, blues, and classical music. American rock music was further influenced by the British Invasion of the American pop charts from 1964 and resulted in the development of psychedelic rock.
The Man Who Sold the World is the third studio album by English rock singer-songwriter David Bowie. It was originally released by Mercury Records in the United States in November 1970, and in April 1971, with different artwork, in the United Kingdom. The album was reissued by RCA Records in 1972 used a black-and-white picture of Ziggy Stardust as the artwork, but subsequent reissues since 1990 have used the original UK cover as the official artwork.
Pop rock is rock music with a greater emphasis on professional songwriting and recording craft, and less emphasis on attitude. Originating in the late 1950s as an alternative to normal rock and roll, early pop rock was influenced by the beat, arrangements, and original style of rock and roll. It may be viewed as a distinct genre field, rather than music that overlaps with pop and rock. The detractors of pop rock often deride it as a slick, commercial product, less authentic than rock music.
Barney Hoskyns is a British music critic and editorial director of the online music journalism archive Rock's Backpages.
Paul Francis Gadd, known professionally as Gary Glitter, is an English glam rock singer who achieved success in the 1970s and 1980s. He was known for his extreme glam image of glitter suits, make-up and platform boots, and his energetic live performances. He sold over 20 million records, had 26 hit singles which spent a total of 180 weeks in the UK Singles Chart; twelve reaching the Top 10, with three charting at number-one. He is listed in the Top 100 UK most successful chart acts. He was imprisoned for downloading child pornography in 1999, and child sexual abuse and attempted rape in 2006 and 2015. Formerly one of the best-loved entertainers in British music history, in 2015 Glitter was described by Alexis Petridis of The Guardian as a "public hate figure".
British pop music is popular music, produced commercially in the United Kingdom. It emerged in the mid-to late 1950s as a softer alternative to American rock 'n' roll. Like American pop music it has a focus on commercial recording, often orientated towards a youth market, as well as that of the Singles Chart usually through the medium of relatively short and simple love songs. While these basic elements of the genre have remained fairly constant, pop music has absorbed influences from most other forms of popular music, particularly borrowing from the development of rock music, and utilising key technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes. From the British Invasion of rock bands in the 1960s, led by The Beatles, British pop music has alternated between acts and genres with national appeal and those with international success that have had a considerable impact on the development of the wider genre and on popular music in general.
T. Rex were an English rock band, formed in 1967 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Marc Bolan. The band was initially called Tyrannosaurus Rex, and released four psychedelic folk albums under this name. In 1969, Bolan began to change the band's style towards electric rock, and shortened their name to T. Rex the following year. This development culminated in 1970's "Ride a White Swan", and the group soon became pioneers of the glam rock movement.
Art pop is a loosely defined style of pop music influenced by pop art's integration of high and low culture, and which emphasizes the manipulation of signs, style, and gesture over personal expression. Art pop artists may be inspired by postmodern approaches or art theories as well as other forms of art, such as fashion, fine art, cinema, and avant-garde literature. They may deviate from traditional pop audiences and rock music conventions, instead exploring ideas such as pop's status as commercial art, notions of artifice and the self, and questions of historical authenticity.
Gastank was an English television show that aired between 1982–1983 in the United Kingdom on Channel 4. Hosted by former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman,, along with keyboardist Tony Ashton, the show featured a mix of interviews with 1970s musicians and impromptu performances where the guest artist would join Wakeman and his house band in playing re-arranged versions of their classic songs, or entirely new pieces created for the show. The format was very informal with the setting likened to a bar where Wakeman would interview the guest over a drink or two followed by their performance in front of a small studio audience sitting in groups at tables. Wakeman would frequently cite the show as an opportunity for musicians from different bands to get the opportunity to work together. During its run, the show featured guests as diverse as Ian Paice, Steve Hackett, Andy Fairweather Low, John Entwistle, Godley and Creme, Eric Burdon and Phil Lynott.
Hype was a band formed by David Bowie in 1970. The band were originally titled The David Bowie Band for their first gig on February 22nd 1970 at the Roundhouse, London. The second Hype gig on the 23rd February at the Streatham Arms, London was performed under the name Harry the Butcher, for their third gig they were billed as David Bowie's New Electric Band with the subtitle So New They Haven't Got A Name Yet. Bowie settled on the name Hype. "A phone call sparked a discussion over what to call themselves, with a chance remark – “The whole thing is just one big hype” – providing a name that seemed to suit". The band has been credited with helping to form the glam rock scene in the 1970s. The band was also the debut for Mick Ronson when they played at the Roundhouse supporting Noel Redding's Fat Mattress on 22 February 1970.
Brill Building is a subgenre of pop music originating from the Brill Building in New York City, where numerous teams of professional songwriters penned material for girl groups and teen idols in the early 1960s. The term has also become a catch-all for the period in which those songwriting teams flourished. In actuality, most hits of the mid 1950s and early 1960s were written elsewhere.