Glam rock is a subgenre of Rock & Roll
that developed mainly in Britain during The Seventies
. As far as the music itself went, glam bands was the mainstream alternative to the nascent Progressive Rock
and Heavy Metal
genres, with songs that evoked the kind of good old fashioned rock 'n' roll
of The Fifties
and The Sixties
, which won a lot of glam bands the same kind of huge teenage audiences that had screamed at the The Beatles
and The Rolling Stones
in the last decade.
What really identifies glam rock and set it apart was its focus on image. This was the age of outlandish costumes and theatrical on-stage antics, often highly sexualised
. Just as the music often seemed like it was trying to evoke rock's rebellious attitude, the fashion and energetic performances aimed to dress it up in over-the-top grandeur.
As mentioned above, glam rock was primarily popular in the UK, where the genre was split into three subgenres. For the artistically-inclined listener there was the artsy stylings of David Bowie
in his Ziggy Stardust persona, the over the top operatic art rock of Queen
, and the synth-trickery of Roxy Music
. Beloved by teenagers were the straight-up rock and roll acts such as T. Rex
, Gary Glitter, Mott the Hoople
and Showaddywaddy. Finally, there were harder rocking groups like Slade and Sweet
, whose fusion of pop-melodies with loud guitars and drums would be a significant influence on Hair Metal
ten years later.
Although its heyday has long since passed, glam rock has been highly influential in the development of popular music. Hair Metal
is an obvious result, but you'd also be hard pressed to find a British Punk Rock
, New Romantic
or New Wave
band not influnced by Bowie or Bryan Ferry, while the simple style and image conscious approach have been a major influnce on Britpop
and a lot of contemporary Indie rock.
Often associated with Hair Metal
- Bishōnen: Bloody everywhere, young Bowie and Bolan being particularly notable examples.
- Bishie Sparkle: Yes, they did this in real life... with glitter and it was awesome.
- Christmas Songs: For some inexplicable reason there was a bit of a craze for glam rock Christmas songs. See Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody" and Mud's "Lonely This Christmas", both of which were Christmas number-one singles in the 1970s.
- British Rockstar: This genre was mainly popular in Britain.
- Cover Version: Bowie's album Pinups was nothing but glammed up covers of British Invasion tunes. Almost every hit single released by Showaddywaddy was a cover of an old rock and roll number.
- Everything's Better With Sparkles: Basically the defining characteristic of stage costumes for this genre.
- Faux Yay: David Bowie and Mick Ronson used to be the page image for this... so yeah.
- Ho Yay: And lots of it.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Sequined everything.
- Intercourse with You: "Get It On" by T. Rex is this to the Nth degree.
- Long Title: T. Rex's (then know as Tyrannosaurus Rex) debut album My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows
- Rockstar Song: "Ziggy Stardust" and "Lady Stardust" by David Bowie are both this, as are a lot of Mott the Hoople songs.
- Stage Name: David Bowie is a stage name, but he then took the stage name "Ziggy Stardust" on top of that, Marc Bolan was a stage name, Jobriath... you get the point.
- Teen Idol: Most of the big names were hugely popular with teens. Much like Beatlemania in the previous decade, music historians have started to refer to T. Rex's peak period as "T. Rexstasy".
- Which, by the way, is the name of a tribute band
- Trope Maker or Trope Codifier: Either T. Rex or David Bowie.
- X Treme Kool Letterz/Funetik Aksent: All of Slade's song titles ("Cum On Feel The Noize", "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" and so on). An old joke was that they'd wanted to call themselves "Slide", but they didn't know how to spell it.
- Or maybe they were aiming for "slayed".
- Which by the way was the title of their most acclaimed album. Well, actually the title was "Slayed?"...