Tell Me About Glam Rock?

I was reading online and I came across some artists I hadn’t heard of, but they were listed as “Glam Rock.”

I never heard of that so I looked it up in the Wikipedia, but I don’t think I’m quite getting it.

From the article it doesn’t seem to be a style of music, so much of a style of dress while you’re performing your music.

So what is the deal with Glam Rock. Any info or personal references I’d find interesting


Maybe some video clips would help.

“20th Century Boy” - T. Rex

“Children of the Revolution” - T. Rex

“Get It On” - T. Rex (although this clip is not the best video of the song).

“Ziggy Stardust” - David Bowie

“Jean Genie” - David Bowie

Glam Rock that I remember (and loved) was all about the hair. Of course the 80s were my Glam Rock days so…Poison on the cover of Look What The Cat Dragged In, Warrant, Bon Jovi in the *Slippery When Wet * days, Motley Crue in the Theater of Pain era…all of the big hair and lots of make-up bands at the time. <Wistful Sigh>…they don’t make 'em like they used to…

Yeah but David Bowie was actually good. :slight_smile:

Actually, that’s not Glam Rock, that’s Glam* Metal* which came 10 to 15 years later and is superficially related to but not the same thing.

Sorry, I (and have to disagree, It was an ongoing argument in the 80’s about who was glam who was metal who was whatever other sub category, and while there was some rock/metal crossover and intermingling, glam rock was glam rock; it transcends metal/pop/rock distinctions. :slight_smile:

When I hear the term glam rock I usually think of “Ziggy Stardust”-era Bowie (as mentioned above) or bands like The New York Dolls. More pre-punk than heavy metal.

The '80s bands that MitzeKatze named, I usually think of as “Hair Metal”. Influenced by glam rock bands of the '70s, but not quite the same thing.

You’re both half-right.

The bands we thankfully survived in the 1980s, and the style they played is not popularly known as Glam Metal; it’s (much) more popular moniker is Hair Metal. Hair Metal’s roots can be traced back to the early 1970s and Glam Rock, sure.

Mitze, I wouldn’t put overly much stock in anything that blog says. I gave a few articles a quick read, and see that he places the origins of thrash metal in the early 1990s (he’s 10 years off). And the term Classic Rock was being used to describe Led Zep, Sabbath, Aerosmith, etc. from at least the very early 1980s, serving as a distinctive tag used to keep older rock and roll bands seperate from New Wave artists that were beginning to get airplay and sell records (that blog puts the term into use in 1990).

To the OP: Glam Rock’s overriding charateristics musically include riffcentric repetitive songs with little to no lyrical subtext. The quintessential glam song is Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll, Pt. 2. I’m pretty sure it’s a law that this song has to be played at any indoor team sports event.

Glam was also so-called because of the fashion sense involved, which was, as the name suggest, characterized by a lot of flash and sparkle: Bright colors, reflective materials, diaphonous fabrics… anything that created or suggested spectacle.

Glam was about being over-the-top in a lot of ways. Gender-bending, creating new personas, the embrace of theatrical and acting worlds into the presentation of the music, etc. all combined in their fashion into what we now know as glam. It was dramatic, but it was also firmly rooted in immediacy; i.e. it had a good beat and you didn’t have to wonder what the lyrics meant (usually. There were exceptions, of course like Bowie and NYD and others). Glam was the great loud juke joint drag queen with a funky backing band of rock and roll, ya know what I’m sayin’?

Listen to **Bo **- he knows what he’s talking about.

Glam emerged out of a combination of the British Blues and it’s dip into psychedelia, coupled with, as Traffic put it, “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” - it was the new new way to piss off parents and rebel - there was a genuine punk provocation to the gender-bending and sparkly-boy, Alex-in-Clockwork-Orange look. And the sound was seductive and slippery - lots of chants and repetition but a boogie-punk groove, if you listen to TRex or songs like Hang onto Yourself by Bowie/Ziggy. And Roxy Music deserves a mention here - really pushing things out visually and musically.

Hair metal is a whole ‘nother kettle o’ fish, influenced by glam but not glam.

Yeah, “provocative” is a good word to include in any description of glam. Good catch there, WordMan.

Apart from the bands mentioned (and Bowie!) the epitome of glam rock in the early 70s UK were Sweet and Slade. I’m sure there are some embarrasing youtube videos up of their TOTP performances!

**The Sweet **flat-out rocks. Fox on the Run? Ballroom Blitz? No You Don’t? Little Willie? That’s some good stuff. **Desolation Boulevard **is a classic.

Well, The Sweet were definitely at the bubblegum end of glam rock, but I agree that some of their later hits were fun. Also sort of bubblegummy, but a a bit harder edged, was Slade, and don’t forget Gary Glitter. (Although many would now like to.)

But for my money, by far the best glam rockers, apart from Bowie himself, were Mott the Hoople. In fact, as I remember it, it was Mott’s hit with the Bowie penned “All the Young Dudes,” that really kicked of the movement, and made stars of both them and him.

I do not really think of Roxy Music as glam rock, though they were from that era and had some affinities with it.

I saw Mott The Hoople in the day and they were awesome. Yes it was over the top and almost ridiculous, but so what? So glad I saw it! Wish I had seen Bowie…

I still say Marilyn Manson counts as glam, myself. And possibly Lady Gaga.

I miss the Glam Rock days. I remember my mom and I stayed up waaay late one night to watch Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert (it may have been The Midnight Special) because David Bowie in concert was going to be on. Spectacular!

Mott the Hoople predated glam rock; “All the Young Dudes” was a comeback album. Their first album (with the M.C. Escher cover – the first time most people saw Escher’s work) had the classic rock song “Rock and Roll Queen.” It was Bowie who suggested they change their style (more in appearance than anything else) to glam rock.

Early Alice Cooper was glam rock.

Cool thanks for the comments

I have Desolation Boulevard, but don’t think of it as Glam Rock. Maybe they were more Glam when they put out Little Willie (which every five years or so I rediscover is by Sweet, and I’m always surprised). Looking through Wikipedia, I see they also did Love is Like Oxygen, which seems to be yet a third sound.