[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]


David Bowie, photocredit unidentified

New York Dolls, photocredit unidentified


Glam rock is a style of rock music popularised in the 1970s, and was mostly a British phenomenon and confined to larger cities in the U.S. such as New York and Los Angeles. It was distinguished by the costumes and stage acts of the performers rather than any particular aspect of their music. The emphasis was on superficiality and an unabashed embracing of decadence, fame and sexuality, a statement of sorts against such acts as Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes and Genesis, whose music was often referred to by critics as art rock.

Glam performers often dressed androgynously in make up and glittery, outrageous costumes, not dissimilar to the kind of thing Liberace or Elvis Presley wore when performing in cabaret. The most famous example is David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase. Sexual ambiguity became a game; Bowie told the press he was gay simply for the publicity, while the late Jobriath is thought really to have been rock's first openly gay star. But probably one of the most famous examples of a homosexual (or presumed-to-be) glam rocker, is Freddie Mercury of Queen, who eventually died in 1991 of complications due to AIDS. This further reinforced the view that Mercury was in fact homosexual or bisexual.

Although credit for starting the trend in Britain is often given to David Bowie, it was probably Roxy Music, headed by former art teacher Bryan Ferry who led the field, though they avoided the excesses of many of their imitators. Ferry's brainwave was to give his young audience an excuse to dress up for concerts; as he put it, "It would be like a night at the opera for them." Some also credit Marc Bolan of T. Rex as the progenitor of glam rock, but, for instance, Alice Cooper sketched the first hints of glam rock when, during their early years (1968-69, two years before T. Rex did it), they used a transvestite-like look and an overt sexual innuendo attitude as part of their outrageousness and bizarreness. Other bands/acts who might be considered part of the glam scene include:

ABBA - Alice Cooper - Angel - Another Pretty Face - Alvin Stardust - Bay City Rollers - David Bowie - David Essex - Elton John - Electric Light Orchestra - Gary Glitter - Iggy Pop - Jobriath - Kiss - Klaus Nomi - LaBelle - Lou Reed - Mott the Hoople - Mud - The New York Dolls - The Rubettes - Queen - Skyhooks - Slade - Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel - Suzi Quatro - Sweet - T. Rex - Wizzard

Glam rock was a major influence upon the late 1970s UK punk rock movement, particularly the Sex Pistols.

Glam rock also was reflected in the movies: Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, are instances of it (both considered as ones of the most famous Cult Movies). Some Glam rock bands also starred some films with them: David Bowie's "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust", Alice Cooper's "Good to See You Again", Slade's *"Flame", etc. John Cameron Mitchell's off-Broadway glam rock musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (1998), became a full-length cult movie in 2001. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glam_rock [Mar 2005]

Glam Rock

"Glam rock [in America] was nowhere near the teen-driven phenomenon it was in the U.K.," says director Haynes. "I was aware of Bowie, didn't have his records, and was actually rather spooked by those unbelievable images of him on the covers of the records in the record stores and at friend's houses. I sensed it was something I was going to want to know more about, but at that time I knew I wasn't ready." Most Americans weren't. The New York Dolls might've been ultracool, and glam might have influenced heavy hitsters like Kiss, as well as imports Elton John and Queen. But the original glam acts made barely a ripple on the sea of American cheese that was Top 40 radio." --Todd Haynes


Making his name as a scenester during the heady days of the '70s New York punk scene, Wayne County later gained renown as rock's most prominent transsexual, billing herself as Jayne County in 1980. Born Wayne Rogers around 1947, Wayne County assumed his stage name for a production of the play Femme Fatale. County acted in several Warhol-associated theater pieces and from there became the DJ at Max's Kansas City. [...]


  1. The New York Dolls - The New York Dolls [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    In 1972, when rock & roll was all but dead in Manhattan, five cross-dressing glam punks from the boroughs convened and began hammering out crude, sub-Chuck Berry rock for the downtown in-crowd. It took another year before a record company dared to sign them, thus foisting The New York Dolls on an essentially uninterested world. Taking their cue from the band's guitarist/Keefalike Johnny Thunders, hardcore Dolls fans pooh-poohed Todd Rundgren's production as wimpy: twenty-five years after its release, songs like "Personality Crisis" and "Looking for a Kiss" sound more trashily invigorating than ever. With the Rolling Stones finished as a vital force by '73, the doomed Dolls were there to step into the void. A classic. --Barney Hoskyns
  2. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust (1972) - David Bowie [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    After flirting with heavy guitar rock ("The Man Who Sold the World") and lighter pop ("Hunky Dory"), Bowie found middle ground on Ziggy Stardust. The creation of the Ziggy Stardust persona would live on well after Bowie shed the alien skin, marking the first rock concept album by a sexually ambiguous, artistically bent musician who confounded critics at every turn. A blend of dramatic strings, swaggering saxophones, jagged guitars, and theatrical arrangements, the album's darker rock numbers like "It Ain't Easy," "Moonage Daydream," "Ziggy Stardust," and the irresistible "Suffragette City," still serve as solid excursions into the future (then and now) of rock. The buoyant "Hang on to Yourself" and the dreamy "Star" offer hints of optimism in Ziggy's bleak world. The dramatic "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" and the image-heavy "Star Man" ("he'd like to come and meet us but thinks he'd blow our minds!") no doubt provided plenty of stage-worthy moments when Ziggy toured in the '70s, but years later they still thrill. Bowie blew our minds! --Lorry Fleming for amazon.com [...]


  1. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) - John Cameron Mitchell [Amazon US]
    Sometimes grace and hope come in surprising packages. The title character of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a would-be glam-rock star from East Germany, undergoes a botched gender-change operation in order to escape from the Soviet bloc, only to watch the Berlin Wall come down on TV after being abandoned in a trailer park in middle America. Hedwig gets involved with Tommy, an adolescent boy who steals her songs and becomes a stadium-filling musical act. Suffering from a broken heart and a lust for revenge, Hedwig follows Tommy's tour, playing with her band (the Angry Inch) at tacky theme restaurants. Into this simple storyline, writer-director-star John Cameron Mitchell packs an astonishing mix of sadness, yearning, humor, and kick-ass songs with a little Platonic philosophy tucked inside for good measure. A visually dazzling gem of a movie. --Bret Fetzer for Amazon.com

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications