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Glam rock

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Glam rock

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Glam Rock
Stylistic origins: rock and roll, garage rock
Cultural origins: 1970s United Kingdom. Detroit and New York in the United States
Typical instruments: Guitar - Bass - Drums - Synthesizers
Mainstream popularity: Largely popular in the UK during the 70s and to a lesser extent in the United States
Derivative forms: Punk rock, Gothic rock, New wave, Pub rock
Fusion genres
Glam Metal

Glam rock (less commonly, and mostly in the USA, known also as Glitter rock), was a style of rock music popularised in the early 1970s. It was mostly a British phenomenon, at its peak between the years of 1971 and 1973, made famous by acts such as Slade, David Bowie, Gary Glitter and T. Rex and had influence on groups such as Queen and Kiss. In the USA, Glam made less of an impression and was largely confined to selected music fans in the cities of New York and Los Angeles, although Alice Cooper incorporated a lot of the glam rock style.

Glam was distinguished by the glittery, sparkly costumes of the performers, perceived as glamourous by fans, and its bouncy rock n‘ roll songs. Lyrical emphasis was often on "teenage revolution" (T. Rex's - "Children of the Revolution", Sweet’s - "Teenage Rampage") as well as sexuality, decadence and fame.

Glam performers often dressed androgynously in make up and glittery, florid costumes not dissimilar to costumes that Liberace or Elvis Presley wore when performing in cabaret. An example would be David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane phases. Sexual ambiguity was briefly in vogue: some bands took to playing in drag outfits for a while and Bowie told the press he was bisexual, although he later denied it, whilst the late Jobriath was among rock's first openly gay stars.



Credit for starting the Glam genre is often given to Marc Bolan of T. Rex or David Bowie. Proponents included Slade, Mud, Gary Glitter, Sweet, Mott The Hoople and early Roxy Music including Brian Eno.

In America, glam rock was most prominently represented by the proto-punk New York Dolls, whose Rolling Stones-influenced rawk-n-roll was matched by the feminine look of the band. Another key American influence on glam rock, although commonly over-looked, Iggy Pop was very important to the development of the genre. Earlier, in 1968-69, Alice Cooper had arguably sketched the first hints of glam rock when they used a transvestite look and an overtly sexual attitude as part of their image.

In Italy, Renato Zero had already (and probably independently from abroad tendencies) used disguisements, androgine appearance and heavy make-up in the late 1960s, but with little success. After he became popular in the late-1970s, he was criticized as having borrowed the look from Bowie and Cooper.

Glam rock in theatre and cinema

Theatre and Cinema played an important role in the Glam rock movement.

The stars of Andy Warhol's stage play Pork are considered influential on the movement. Wayne County was in particular an influence on David Bowie. Another Andy Warhol Superstar, Jackie Curtis, was influential on the look and dress of glam rock.

Some examples of movies that reflect Glam Rock include: Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise; The Rocky Horror Picture Show; T. Rex's documentary Born To Boogie; David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust; Alice Cooper's Good to See You Again; Gary Glitter's Remember Me This Way; Slade's Flame; Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine; and most recently the film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Subsequent influence

Glam rock was a major influence upon the late 1970s UK punk rock movement, notably the Sex Pistols. It was also an influence on the British Goth rock movement, particularly the bands who played at the Batcave in London.

The glam rock movement even made the shores of Japan at the turn of the 1970s, with local bands the Sadistic Mika Band and Vodka Collins having successful glam recordings on EMI records.

A trend amongst some Glam rock groups was releasing a Christmas single, examples of this are Slade's "Merry Christmas Everybody", Wizzard’s "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday", and Gary Glitter's "Another Rock N' Roll Christmas". These tracks receive heavy rotation in the United Kingdom every Christmas.

Today, the glam rock legacy is carried out by few worldwide; for example, The Darkness.

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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