My Mom was a huge fan of Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck (I can't believe I just wrote that), The Beach Boys, and The 5th Dimension. My Dad listened to Neil Diamond, Andy Williams, Perry Como...you get the picture. Pretty middle-of-the-road and predictable. Then along came the Beatles in 1962 and my parents already had three kids and were locked into the "Hunt for the American Dream." This left no time to explore the music scene--heck they couldn't explore any scene that did not include diapers and nap time...so I believe the music kept evolving but they got off the carousel.
Anyway, along comes the 1970's and us kids (now five strong) are starting to search for our own identities and things and people we can connect with. Music was an obvious step in the walk through youth, and rock 'n' roll had not only grown--it had changed. Man, had it changed. Rare Earth, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendrix, Derek and the Dominoes, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and countless other bands were filling the airwaves of underground radio stations. My parents didn't know what to make of it, and quite frankly were too busy trying to hang on to what they had to really take notice. But as a kid time was all I seemed to have, and I was ready to explore.
I can honestly say now that there is no real rhyme or reason to the music I listen to. I do profess a strong connection to progressive rock and a strong disdain for country, rap, and disco. However I respect people who make their living in those genres. For example; Chet Atkins is a great guitar player, I just don't appreciate that spectrum of the music world. So back on course...most of what I listen to has a connection to some part of my life, which is why there are bands I do like and those I do not...even if it seems the choices are illogical based solely on who the bands/musicians are. Remembering that the title to this blog installment is Glamrock, I will now try to explain my connection to this wing of the industry...
Glamrock was initially something that my parents hated. They thought it was a waste of time, money, and energy, and the musicians were all talent-less and drugged up "punks in girls clothes." But I knew better; The New York Dolls, Lou Reed, T. Rex, Gary Glitter, David Bowie, Roxy Music, and Alice Cooper among others were a slap in the Victorian face to all that was normal. Gender lines were smudged and the male/female roles would never be the same. But from the smoke and glitter arose some very talented musicians. Phil Manzanera, Brian Eno, David Johansen (AKA Buster Poindexter later in life), Andy Mackay, Dave Hill, Marc Bolan, and the aforementioned David Bowie are just a handful of the talent that was alive and well wearing make-up, flashy clothes, and sky high boots.
So while my first attraction to the music was the reaction from mom and dad, I soon I realized there was something to this glamrock stuff. David Bowie's Diamond Dog days were some of his best, and prior to "Love is the Drug" not many people in the US knew much about Roxy Music. T. Rex scored big with "Get it On (Bang a Gong)," Gary Glitter was doing his thing...and does anyone out there remember the band Mud? The novelty of Glam wore off around 1976 but the music lived on...and a new breed of band was emerging as well. The Tubes came out of San Francisco in 1975 with "White Punks on Dope," Sweet came from across the ocean around 1974, while Mott the Hoople and Be Bop Deluxe were busy making their marks. The glamrock "movement" was still alive and well; I just believe there was more emphasis on the music and less on the shock value...even Fee Waybill had toned it down from his early days. Bill Nelson is another guitarist with a stellar resume.
Like all things rock 'n' roll, some of the bands whose roots were sewn in glamrock soil were not so good--and some just plain sucked (IMO). Bay City Rollers, Poison, Hanoi Rocks, David Essex, and Kiss are not bands and/or musicians I would choose to listen to...but many others did. I prefer bands and musicians that have substance; I also understand that is an extremely subjective statement. I believe the old saying is, "One man's fruit is another man's poison."
Glamrock was an important era in the evolution of rock 'n' roll. It refused to follow norms, shocked our parents, and was fun to listen to; it also produced some musical heavyweights. In the late 70's and through the 90's though, it morphed into something that pushed the envelope even further...Marilyn Manson and Bon Jovi for example...not my cup of meat but to each his own.
What separates the haves from the have-nots for me is talent, and again I understand that is a subjective thing. Artists like Brian Eno went on to accomplish more in the music industry than many artists could ever hope to imagine. Phil Manzanera has performed with John Cale, David Gilmour, Steve Winwood, and Godley & Creme among others. David Johansen went on to be the band leader for Saturday Night Live in the 80's under the pseudonym Buster Poindexter.
Yeah it was a fun time, but like all good things it came to an end. Some bands still live on and most of the musicians who still have a pulse are performing somewhere, but it ain't the same. Somehow the thought of a 70 year old Iggy Pop leaping around shirtless makes my retinas bleed...
I found this clip on YouTube...The New York Dolls in their prime...should be self explanatory. This one is for you Dad...