Gary Glitter – Rock And Roll (Part 2)

8th July 1972 · 1970s, 1972, Glam, Music

Gary Glitter brought panto-style parody into Glam and this was the song that launched a career that would come to epitomise a meteoric rise and catastrophic fall.

Ok… just move along if you prefer. Nobody is going to force anyone to watch this. But back in 1972, when none of us were any the wiser, this was a landmark moment in pop – the day Glam began to parody itself.

Of course you could argue that Glam was always about parody: the way that Slade and Sweet looked like boot boys dressed up as girls for a laugh, for example. But this guy did it all for laughs. Even his name was a joke.

An unlikely star was born when a mediocre crooner called Paul Raven (real name Paul Gadd) who had recorded with a pre-Beatles George Martin in the early Sixties, chose himself a new name and a new look for the nascent Glam era.

Reputedly he worked his way backwards through the alphabet from Z, considering and wisely rejecting other alliterative options including Vicky Vomit (four or five years too early for that), Terry Tinsel and Stanley Sparkle.

Finally settling on G, he dressed up in a suit that appeared to be made entirely of kitchen foil, usually ripped open to display the hairiest of hairy chests, with enormous platform boots, huge bugger-hugger sideburns and a quiff that looked like a wig decades before we knew he was bald as a coot.

He first appeared on Top of the Pops in 1972 singing this, his panto persona emphasised by his jerky stage movements and a signature move of posing in a kind of freeze-frame, mouth agape and eyebrows raised to the max. Much like Caitlin Moran in the Times Magazine on a Saturday.

The song began life as a 15-minute jam session before being chopped down into two three-minute segments released on each side of a single. Over the course of six months, the B-side became popular with radio DJs and eventually rose to No.2 in June 1972.

In more recent times the song, long associated with sports events in America, was notably used to soundtrack Joaqin Phoenix’s transformation into The Joker in a brilliantly choreographed scene on a set of steps in the street.

We all know what happened next. For the record, he long ago sold his publishing so he didn’t receive royalties from his song being featured in Joker – or anywhere else. Which means you really can listen without prejudice. But don’t feel obliged.