Gary Glitter

May 8, 1944

Gary Glitter Artistfacts

  • In the mid-'70s, Glitter bedazzled crowds with a primal version of Glam Rock. Unlike David Bowie and T. Rex, he dumbed down the lyrics and cranked up the volume with songs that were essentially group chants. His first single, Rock And Roll Part 2, was his most successful. Released in 1972, it went to #2 in the UK and #7 in the US, but never really went away, as the repeated "hey!" chant became a huge crowd pleaser at sporting events.
  • Before he was Gary Glitter, he was Paul Gadd (his birth name), and then Paul Raven, the name he performed under before his spangly transformation.
  • He was the audience warm-up act on the British TV series Ready Steady Go!, where he met the producer Mike Leander, who helped him write songs and develop the Gary Glitter persona.
  • Stage names he considered include Stanley Sparkle, Turk Thrust and Terry Tinsel.
  • When his boisterous music and stage shows found an audience, it confounded critics, who couldn't understand how a 30-something, portly entertainer with limited musical talent and a trashy Elvis look could succeed. He made many "worst of" lists and was savaged with scathing (but clever) descriptions, like "vaudeville mortician."
  • Glitter became one of the most despised figures in music when it became clear that he was a sexual predator. For decades, he got away with his crimes, but in 1997 incriminating images were found on his computer when he brought it in for repair, and he was sent to prison for two months. He fled to Cambodia after his release but was ejected from the country; his next stop was Vietnam, where he continued to assault minors, earning him a three-year jail sentence there in 2006. Returned to England upon his release, he was arrested in a 2012 sting operation and in 2015 sentenced to 16 years in prison.
  • With his career in decline, he announced his retirement in 1976. After selling his house, he travelled the world for nearly two years until he ran out of money and declared bankruptcy. He staged a series of comebacks that went nowhere in the '70s but produced modest results in the '80s; he landed a seasonal hit with "Another Rock and Roll Christmas" in 1984.


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