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All that Glitters….


Rocky Horror Picture Show

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.

Zero doing 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?

arrow15 Responses

  1. Peter McLennan on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    nice piece. re Tone Loc – last I heard, he was managing his property investments….

  2. Isn’t he a pedophile?

  3. Shayne P Carter on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    Hell yeah – the *sound* of the Glitter Band… As well as the two drummers they also overdubbed, over and over, two blocks of wood being whacked together. That mega beat is still the backbone of the NBA ! Also the guitars, bass and saxes all played the one dumb thing . Great vocal sound, genius production – courtesy of Mike Leander..

  4. Johnny Tucker on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    was fortunate to catch him and band in ’75, at a theatre in palmerston north. Mark Williams was playing support with the guitarist & rhythm section from ‘highway’. As friends, they had invited me to the gig.
    “The Gary Glitter Show” was brilliant…hard driving dirty rock with pure showbiz glam…
    Still remember his entrance down stairs through curtains singing the opening lines of “It’s Good to be Back” as an encore….the crowd going off….class act

  5. Simon Grigg on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    Or at least he was a class act on stage! Off stage in the years to come, he was anything but. Three countries convicted him the stuff Alison mentions above.

  6. Johnny Tucker on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    agreed Simon…became extremely self indulgent….not cool at all….talking with him after the show, he was in awe of my then ‘back to the land ‘ lifestyle, and felt he was trapped in a ‘crazed show biz bs world’….he didn’t make the quality choice….you get what you sow….but as shayne says, the music was exceptional

  7. Michael Higgins on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    When Gary Glitter was here in 1975 he was filmed by TVNZ lip synching to one of his songs at the (still quite new but now badly broken) QE2 pool. Part of the sequence involved him going up the high diving platform. Apparently, a bad case of vertigo followed. Gary Glitter and a swimming pool. Why not?

  8. Simon Grigg on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    Does it still exist?

  9. Michael Higgins on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    It was part of the Pop Co Christmas special. Most of it is up at NZ On Screen except Gary’s bit (I think the TV Archive is concerned about clearance issues) and a Ragnarok number which has gone completely (It featured them in all their glory with Lea Maalfrid). http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/pop-co-special-1974

  10. Simon Grigg on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    Must be publishing issues. Saw Ragkarok twice. Not a band I have fond memories of…

  11. Simon Grigg on Facebook
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    He did well went he went plastic soul but the Glam stuff stiffed until Diamond Dogs and even that wasn’t a massive seller . Most of his early albums went gold etc but it took years. His first US top 20 hit was Fame

  12. Jim Salter
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    He came to Sydney in it must have been 1980, 81 and Zero and I caught up with him in a couple of pubs and clubs. We took a taxi way out west with Christine S and Gary’s son Paul Jnr to see the show at (spare me but it was) Penrith RSL or somewhere – I remember Emu Plains came into it, and also mustard yellow and emerald carpets and plenty of pokies. It was alien territory, but it was a brilliant show. Gary had pneumonia or something, facing the perception that he was yesterday’s news even then, and needed pharmaceutical inducement to get through the set (no seriously, from an MD,for the brochia) but it was a SHOW. I was impressed.

  13. Jim Salter
    30 mos, 1 wk ago

    That was ‘bronchia’ of course.

  14. His soul wasn’t “plastic” as he was smart enough to put a Luther Vandross song on his LP. But it was bullshit when he told Luther he couldn’t sing the original lyrics for FUNKY MUSIC (cos he wasn’t black!? Bogus reason!) so he changed it to FASCINATION and probably got 50% of the songwriting bucks for writing the new lyric. But YOUNG AMERICANS is a pretty cool album for a Brit!?

  15. Simon
    30 mos ago

    YA is a great album but I think it was Bowie who tagged it plastic soul.

    You were the person who first played me the Luther version of Funky Music / Fascination as far as I can recall. A revelation.

    I remember when Ava Cherry was in Auckland and hanging out at Cause Celebre. She told us that Luther was gay – it wasn’t public knowledge then – and we quickly worked out that all those wonderful songs were about guys, not that it mattered. She also told us some great stories about the Young Americans sessions and how in awe Bowie was of the singers he was using and the Philly Studios (Sigma Sound).

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