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 another term used to refer to a more extreme version of glam.
The UK charts were inundated with glam rock acts from 1971 to 1975, with glam also manifesting in all areas of British popular culture during this period. 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, Freddie Mercury of Queen, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Slade, Elton John, Mud, Roxy Music and Gary Glitter. 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, Iggy Pop and Jobriath. It declined after the mid-1970s, but influenced other musical genres including punk rock, glam metal, New Romantic, and gothic rock and has sporadically revived since the 1990s.
|Cultural origins||Early 1970s, United Kingdom|
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. 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 all 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. 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:
For music from a year in the 1970s, go to 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79This article includes an overview of the major events and trends in popular music in the 1970s.
In North America, Europe, and Oceania, the decade saw the rise of disco, which became one of the biggest genres of the decade, especially in the mid-to-late 1970s. In Europe, a variant known as Euro disco rose in popularity towards the end of the 1970s. Aside from disco, funk, smooth jazz, jazz fusion, and soul remained popular throughout the decade. It is this influx of popular music that soon transformed into rock and roll during the Early 1970s. Rock music played an important part in the Western musical scene, with punk rock thriving throughout the mid to late 1970s. Other subgenres of rock, particularly glam rock, hard rock, progressive, art rock and heavy metal achieved various amounts of success. Other genres such as reggae were innovative throughout the decade and grew a significant following. Hip hop emerged during this decade, but was slow to start and did not become significant until the late 1980s. Classical began losing a little momentum; however, through invention and theoretical development, this particular genre gave rise to experimental classical and minimalist music by classical composers. A subgenre of classical, film scores, remained popular with movie-goers. Alongside the popularity of experimental music, the decade was notable for its contributions to electronic music, which rose in popularity with the continued development of synthesizers and harmonizers; more composers embraced this particular genre, gaining the notice of listeners who were looking for something new and different. Its rising popularity, mixed with the popular music of the period, led to the creation of synthpop. Pop also had a popularity role in the 1970s.
In Asia, music continued to follow varying trends. In Japan, the decade saw several musical phases, including the highly popular folk-influenced fōku, as well as greater experimentation with electronic music, ranging from developments in synthpop, electro, and Electronic Dance Music, created through different Japanese artists and bands such as Yellow Magic Orchestra.In Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, the Nueva canción movement peaked in popularity and was adopted as the music of the hippie, Liberation Theology, and New Left movements. Cumbia music began its internationalization as regional scenes rose outside Colombia. Merengue experienced mainstream exposure across Latin America and the southern US border states.
In Africa, especially Nigeria, the genre known as Afrobeat gained a following throughout the 1970s.Fat Bottomed Girls
"Fat Bottomed Girls" is a song by the British rock band Queen. Written by guitarist Brian May, the track featured on their 1978 album Jazz and later on their compilation album Greatest Hits. When released as a single with "Bicycle Race", the song reached number 11 in the UK Singles Chart and number 24 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.The song is formed around an open bluesy, metallic guitar tuning, and opens with its chorus. It was one of the few Queen songs played in an alternative (drop D) guitar tuning. The song's music video was filmed at the Dallas Convention Center in Texas in October 1978.Glam metal
Glam metal (also known pejoratively as hair metal and often used synonymously with pop metal) is a subgenre of heavy metal, which features pop-influenced hooks and guitar riffs, and borrows from the fashion of 1970s glam rock.
Glam metal can be traced back to music acts like Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick, Kiss, the New York Dolls, and Van Halen. It arose in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the United States, particularly on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip music scene, pioneered by bands such as Mötley Crüe, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Stryper, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Dokken. It was popular throughout the mid-late 1980s and early 1990s, bringing to prominence bands including Poison, Skid Row, Cinderella, and Warrant. Glam metal was associated with flashy clothing, makeup and notable for an overall androgynous aesthetic. Poison, for example, had long shaggy or backcombed hair, accessories, metal studs, leather, and make-up during their live performances.
Glam metal lost mainstream interest in the early 1990s as the perceived excesses of glam metal created a backlash against the genre. A factor in the decline of glam metal was the rise of grunge in the early 1990s, which had a stripped-down aesthetic and a complete rejection of the glam metal visual style. Glam metal has enjoyed a revival since the late 1990s with reunions of many popular acts from the genre's 1980s heyday, as well as the retro styling of newer bands including the Darkness, Santa Cruz and Steel Panther.Glam punk
Glam punk (sometimes called mock rock) is a term used retrospectively to describe a short lived trend for bands which produced a form of proto-punk that incorporated elements of glam rock, initially in the early to mid-1970s. Acts included New York Dolls and Harlots of 42nd Street.Golden Retriever (song)
"Golden Retriever" is a song by Super Furry Animals. It was the first single to be issued from the album Phantom Power and reached number 13 on the UK Singles Chart on its release in July 2003. The song is about the relationship between singer Gruff Rhys's girlfriend's two dogs and was written in the same key, with the same guitar tuning and around the same time as several other songs from Phantom Power.Critical reaction to the track was generally positive with many reviewers commenting on its "catchiness" and "glam rock" style. A Jake & Jim directed music video was produced to accompany the song's release as a single featuring the band dressed as yetis. A Killa Kela remix of "Golden Retriever" appears on the album Phantom Phorce and the DVD release of Phantom Power.Horror of Glam Rock
Horror of Glam Rock is an audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. This audio drama was produced by Big Finish Productions and was broadcast on BBC 7 on 14 January 2007.Japan (band)
Japan were an English band formed in 1974 in Catford, South London by David Sylvian (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Steve Jansen (drums), Richard Barbieri (keyboards) and Mick Karn (bass guitar). Initially a glam rock-inspired band, Japan developed their sound and androgynous look to incorporate electronic music and foreign influences, eventually becoming an influence on the UK's early-1980s New Romantic scene.Japan achieved success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, releasing nine UK Top 40 hits, including the 1982 Top 5 hit single "Ghosts", and scoring a UK Top 5 with the live album Oil on Canvas (1983). The band split in December 1982, just as they were beginning to experience commercial success in the UK and abroad. Its members went on to pursue other musical projects, though they reformed briefly in the early 1990s under the name Rain Tree Crow, releasing an album in 1991.Killer Queen
"Killer Queen" is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by lead singer Freddie Mercury and recorded for their third album Sheer Heart Attack in 1974. It was their first international hit, reaching number two in the UK and becoming their first US hit. The song is about a high-class call girl and has been characterised as "Mercury's piano-led paean to a Moët-quaffing courtesan".Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan ( BOH-lən; born Mark Feld; 30 September 1947 – 16 September 1977) was an English singer-songwriter, musician, guitarist, and poet. He was best known as the lead singer of the glam rock band T. Rex. Bolan was one of the pioneers of the glam rock movement of the 1970s. He died at the age of 29 in a car accident a fortnight before his 30th birthday. In 1997, a memorial stone and bust of Bolan, Marc Bolan's Rock Shrine, was unveiled at the site where he died in Barnes, London.
Bolan’s appearance on the BBC's music show Top of the Pops in March 1971, wearing glitter and satins, is often cited as the beginning of the glam rock movement. Music critic Ken Barnes called Bolan "the man who started it all". T. Rex’s 1971 album Electric Warrior, with all songs written by Bolan, including the UK chart topper “Get It On”, has been described by AllMusic as “the album that essentially kick-started the UK glam rock craze.” Producer Tony Visconti, who would also work with the other major glam rock pioneer David Bowie, stated, “What I saw in Marc Bolan had nothing to do with strings, or very high standards of artistry; what I saw in him was raw talent. I saw genius. I saw a potential rock star in Marc – right from the minute, the hour I met him.”Mott the Hoople
Mott the Hoople are an English rock band with strong R&B roots, popular in the glam rock era of the early to mid-1970s. They are best known for the song "All the Young Dudes", written for them by David Bowie and appearing on their 1972 album of the same name.Mud (band)
Mud (now Mud II) are an English glam rock band, formed in February 1966. Their earlier success came in a pop and then glam rock style, while later hits were influenced by 1950s rock and roll, and are best remembered for their hit singles "Tiger Feet", which was the UK's best-selling single of 1974, and "Lonely This Christmas" which reached Christmas number 1 in December 1974. After signing to Rak Records and teaming up with songwriters/producers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, the band had fourteen UK Top 20 hits between 1973 and 1976, including three number ones.Negative (Finnish band)
Negative is a Finnish glam rock band founded in 1997. The band itself labels the music as ”emotional rock’n roll”.Prick (band)
Prick was an American industrial rock band, founded in 1992 in Los Angeles by guitarist and songwriter Kevin McMahon, after his first project Lucky Pierre disbanded. The first line-up of the band featured McMahon on vocals and guitar, Chris Schleyer on guitar and Andy Kubiszewski on drums. The band was known for its glam rock and new wave influences.T. Rex (band)
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 shift from the band's early acoustic sound to an electric one. The following year, he shortened their name to T. Rex. The 1970 release of the single "Ride a White Swan" marked the culmination of this development, and the group soon became a commercial success as part of the emerging glam rock scene.
From 1970 until 1973, T. Rex encountered a popularity in the UK comparable to that of the Beatles, with a run of eleven singles in the UK top ten. One of the most prominent acts in British popular culture, they scored four UK number one hits, "Hot Love", "Get It On", "Telegram Sam" and "Metal Guru". The band's 1971 album Electric Warrior received critical acclaim as a pioneering glam rock album. It reached number 1 in the UK. The 1972 follow-up, The Slider, entered the top 20 in the US. Following the release of "20th Century Boy" in 1973, which reached number three in the UK, T. Rex began to experience less commercial success but continued recording one album per year.
In 1977, Bolan died in a car crash several months after the release of the band's final studio album Dandy in the Underworld. Since then, T. Rex have continued to exert a vast influence on a variety of subsequent artists.Terry Chimes
Terence "Terry" Chimes (born 5 July 1956, Stepney, London, England) is an English musician, best known as the original drummer of punk rock group The Clash. He originally played with them from July 1976 to November 1976, January 1977 to April 1977, and again from May 1982 to February 1983. He later drummed for Hanoi Rocks in 1985, before the band broke up that same year. He briefly toured with Black Sabbath from July 1987 through December 1987, and in a one-off gig in May 1988. He also appeared as their drummer in Black Sabbath's music video for their single "The Shining" from their 1987 album The Eternal Idol.The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles
"The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles" is a song by American rock band Marilyn Manson, released as a promotional single from the band's ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor (2015).Trevor Bolder
Trevor Bolder (9 June 1950 – 21 May 2013) was an English rock musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for his long association with Uriah Heep and his tenure with The Spiders from Mars, the one-time backing band for David Bowie, although he also played alongside a variety of musicians from the early 1970s.Visual kei
Visual kei (Japanese: ヴィジュアル系, Hepburn: Vijuaru Kei, lit. "Visual Style" or "Visual System") is a movement among Japanese musicians, that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics, similar to Western glam rock.Some Western sources consider visual kei a music genre, with its sound usually related to glam rock, punk rock and heavy metal. However, visual kei acts play various genres, including those considered by some as unrelated to rock such as electronic, pop, etc. Other sources, including members of the movement themselves, state that it is not a music genre and that the freedom of expression, fashion and participation in the related subculture is what exemplifies the use of the term.Wizzard
Wizzard were an English glam rock band formed by Roy Wood, former member of the Move and co-founder of the Electric Light Orchestra. The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits states, "Wizzard was Roy Wood just as much as Wings was Paul McCartney." They are most famous for their 1973 Christmas song "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday".