The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Glam rock

Glam rock (less commonly glitter 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:

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 usually listed amongst some of the most famous cult films ever made). 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.

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Last updated: 05-20-2005 03:29:51