The Roots of Glam Rock

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Glam Rock (less commonly Glitter Rock), a style of rock music popularized in the 1970s, was mostly a British phenomenon and confined to larger cities in the U.S., such as New York and Los Angeles. It was distinguished by the costumes and stage acts of the performers rather than any particular aspect of their music. The emphasis was on superficiality and an unabashed embracing of decadence, fame, and sexuality.

Glam performers often dressed androgynously in make up and glittery, outrageous costumes, not dissimilar to costumes that Liberace or Elvis Presley wore when performing in cabaret. The most famous example is David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust phase. Sexual ambiguity became a game; Bowie told the press he was bisexual simply for the publicity while the late Jobriath is thought really to have been rock's first openly gay star. But probably one of the most famous examples of a homosexual (or presumed-to-be) glam rocker is Freddie Mercury of Queen, who eventually died in 1991 of complications due to AIDS.

Although credit for starting the trend in Britain is often given to David Bowie, it was probably Roxy Music, headed by Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, that led the wave. Some also credit Marc Bolan of T. Rex as the progenitor of glam rock. However, in 1968-69, Alice Cooper sketched the first hints of glam rock when they used a transvestite look and an overtly sexual attitude as part of their outrageousness.

Some of the early Glam Rock bands include; Slade, T. Rex, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Sweet, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople, Jobriath & Gary Glitter.

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