Glam rock

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Glam rock (also known as glitter rock) is a style of rock and pop music that developed in the UK in the early 1970s, which was performed by singers and musicians who wore outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform-soled boots and glitter.[1] The flamboyant costumes and visual styles of glam performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been connected with new views of gender roles. Glam rock visuals peaked during the mid 1970s with artists including T. Rex, David Bowie, Roxy Music and Gary Glitter in the UK and New York Dolls, Lou Reed and Jobriath in the US.

Contents

History

Glam rock emerged out of the English psychedelic and art rock scenes of the late 1960s and can be seen as both an extension of, and reaction against, those trends.[2] Musically it was very diverse, varying between the simple rock and roll revivalism of figures like Alvin Stardust to the complex art rock of Roxy Music, and can be seen as much as a fashion as a musical sub-genre.[2] Visually it was a mesh of various styles, ranging from 1930s Hollywood glamor, through 1950s pin-up sex appeal, pre-war Cabaret theatrics, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, to ancient and occult mysticism and mythology; manifesting itself in outrageous clothes, makeup, hairstyles, and platform-soled boots.[3] Glam is most noted for its sexual and gender ambiguity and representations of androgyny, beside extensive use of theatrics.[4] It was prefigured by the showmanship and gender identity manipulation of American acts such as The Cockettes and Alice Cooper.[5]

The origins of glam rock are associated with Marc Bolan, who had renamed his folk duo to T. Rex and taken up electric instruments by the end of the 1960s. Often cited as the moment of inception is his appearance on the UK TV programme Top of the Pops in March 1971 wearing glitter and satins, to perform what would be his second Top 10 hit and first #1 single "Hot Love".[6] From late 1971, already a minor star, David Bowie developed his Ziggy Stardust persona, incorporating elements of professional make up, mime and performance into his act.[7] These performers were soon followed in the style by acts including Roxy Music, Sweet, Slade, Mott the Hoople, Mud and Alvin Stardust.[7] While highly successful in the single charts in the UK, very few of these musicians were able to make a serious impact in the United States; Bowie was the major exception becoming an international superstar and prompting the adoption of glam styles among acts like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, New York Dolls and Jobriath, often known as "glitter rock" and with a darker lyrical content than their British counterparts.[8]

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