All that Glitters….
The above is the publicity shot for the 1978 New Zealand showing of The Rocky Horror Picture show, which featured gilded UK glammer Gary Glitter as lead. On the right is Zero, my flatmate at the time (and still a close friend), also singer for aspiring Enzild punkatroids The Suburban Reptiles, who were about to a) release the classic Saturday Night Stay At Home, and b) publicly fall apart with some acrimony. The Auckland afterparty was at our flat in Parnell.
Below, she’s in a series of shots taken by the Auckland Star’s photographer, (allegedly so the caption goes) putting on her make up for said show. As the artist formerly known as Jimmy Joy (or was it Lino Clone that week, Jim?) said on a prominent social network: I do like the way Zero starts her make up session – wearing make up.
So yes, in July 1978 Gary Glitter came to New Zealand.
This was not the first time: in June 1975 he toured with The Glitter Band but we all thought we were too cool to go. We loved Roxy Music (who toured the same year – a month earlier. I went) and David Bowie (damn, I would’ve crawled across broken oyster shells – if only). I also went to Elton’s massive Yellow Brick Road tour show at Western Springs in 1974. Reggie was on the cusp – albeit the wrong side of the fulcrum as would soon become obvious – of okay then, with the boots and the glasses.
Bolan, like glam-era Bowie, never gave us a showing. It’s a shame.
It’s also a shame we were too cool to Glitter out. Sure the average age was vaguely post-pubescent, but it was about those drums. The Glitter Band defined the sound that defined big parts of rock’n'roll thereafter.
Paul Cook blatantly lifted The Sex Pistols’ whole rhythm pattern from The Glitter Band – he was absolutely open about this, and was himself widely copied in the years afterward. The generation that gave us 1976 were the generation that entered their mid-teens to the glitter stomp. They added noise and words that (sometimes) mattered. We called it UK Punk Rrrrock.
Middle America got it some 13 years later. They called it, amongst other things, Nirvana.
Dave Grohl was always a poor photocopy of Paul Cook and thus the line is drawn. Gary Glitter may have been, and indeed was, guilty of some pretty heinous crimes (under his own name – Paul Gadd), but one he’s yet to be held accountable for are the awful Foo Fighters.
Or Green Day.
What really hits me though, is that Glitter’s trek through New Zealand was only some three years after his last really big UK hit, the uncomfortably titled “Doing Alright with the Boys”. Prior to that he’d had ten Top 10 UK (and global, although the Yanks never got it – they had the same problem with Bowie, Bolan and Roxy: freaks and fags one and all) hits since 1972. He’d sold millions of records. Tens and tens of millions.
And yet, here he was in mid 1978 doing a touring production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a small, pretty parochial at the time, backwater country, for, I guess the work and thus bucks.
Pop’s fame and fortune is fucking whimsical. Is Tone Lōc still working in the car wash?