Page last updated at 21:07 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 22:07 UK

Profile: Gary Glitter

Former pop star Gary Glitter has been deported to the UK after completing a jail term for child abuse in Vietnam. BBC News looks back at his life, career and fall from grace.

Gary Glitter, 1970s
Glitter also considered calling himself Terry Tinsel or Vicky Vomit

Decked out in spangly silver, his cheeks sucked in and his etched-on eyebrows permanently raised, Gary Glitter cut a formidable - if eccentric - figure at the height of his pop career.

Unlike many of his 1970s glam contemporaries, he showed a staying power that won him new appreciation into the 1980s and 90s.

Glitter became a rock institution, taking his own unique brand of pantomime on the road Christmas after Christmas until the beginning of his dramatic downfall.

Born Paul Gadd in Banbury, Oxfordshire, in 1944, Glitter led a wayward childhood and never met his father.

He was brought up by his grandmother and his young mother, who often struggled to cope.

At the age of 10, he and his brother were taken into care.

In later years he might have looked a born showman, but fame did not come easily to Glitter.

Gadd performed under a variety of names, such as Paul Russell, Paul Raven and Rubber Bucket, releasing records that mostly never charted.

In 1961 he took a job as a warm-up man for the pop show Ready Steady Go.

Chart hits

"I knew I could do better than a whole lot of the performers going on the show, yet there I was just entertaining the studio audience," he said later of the experience.

Fame and fortune finally came at the age of 28, when Glitter hitched his act to the emerging glam rock scene of the early 1970s.

He picked the name Gary Glitter from a choice of Terry Tinsel, Stanley Sparkle and Vicky Vomit.

His breakthrough single, Rock 'n' Roll (Parts 1 and 2), was a 15-minute drum-heavy chant with minimal vocals and a simple guitar hook.

Gary Glitter (young)
Gadd worked hard to gain international stardom

The song reached number two in the UK in 1972 and topped the US charts.

The following year was his most successful.

Glitter scored a string of chart hits written by himself and his producer Mike Leander, including I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock and Roll), I Love You Love and Do You Wanna Touch Me.

It was also the year of I'm the Leader of the Gang, the song that became his anthem and that of his growing fanbase.

By 1975 Glitter had sold 18 million records.

But, as the glam fashion made way for punk, he struggled to keep his place in the public eye.

He divorced his wife of nine years, Ann, with whom he had two children, and spent a short time living in Australia.

Glitter went bankrupt owing 170,000, but bounced back in the 1980s, scoring a 1984 hit with the single Dance Me Up.

The singer turned to Buddhism, became a vegetarian and took his show back on the road.

'Deep regret'

But in 1986 he needed hospital treatment after taking an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

Then a third drink-driving conviction brought a 10-year ban and he narrowly escaped jail.

In the early 1990s Glitter found new favour among students who embraced his high-camp image for its irony.

His face appeared in advertising posters for Heinz soup and British Rail.

Gary Glitter after jail
Glitter went to Cuba in 2000 after being released from jail

When Oasis paid tribute to him on their second album, borrowing a flavour of Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again, he bought a yacht with the royalties.

But the Glitter story hit the rocks later that decade when he was arrested in a computer store in Britain, after dozens of images of child sex abuse were found on his computer's hard disk.

Sex abuse claims have followed Glitter, now 64, since.

In November 1999 he was sentenced to four months in a UK prison for possessing the images.

Upon being freed in January 2000 after two months, he spoke of his "deep regret" during a hastily-arranged photocall in central London.

Arriving in a red Mercedes with blacked out windows, he removed dark glasses to pose briefly for photographers before making a short statement.

He then left immediately without answering questions - leading to accusations that he had stage-managed the event.

Glitter's last words to journalists were: "I have served my time. I want to put it all behind me and live my life."

He subsequently travelled to Cuba with his Cuban girlfriend before moving on to Cambodia, which permanently expelled him in 2002 over unspecified allegations.

It was after his move to Vietnam that his life reached a new low.

It culminated in his conviction for the sexual abuse of two Vietnamese girls in March 2006.

The former chart-topping singer had molested two girls aged 10 and 11.

Gary Glitter in Vietnam
Glitter's fall from grace has been spectacular

During the two-day trial, most of which was held behind closed doors, he was said to have committed a series of "lewd" acts while the girls were at his beach house in the southern coastal city of Vung Tau.

Glitter, who stood accused of kissing, fondling and engaging in other sexual acts with the girls, had previously evaded more serious charges of child rape, which carry a maximum penalty of death by firing squad.

After he was sentenced, Glitter told gathered journalists: "I haven't done anything - I am innocent. It is a conspiracy by you know who."

He suggested some British newspapers were part of a conspiracy against him.

But shortly before his release from prison in Vietnam, Glitter seemed undaunted by his very public demise.

Gadd suggested that he believed the Gary Glitter story could still end on a high, telling a British newspaper he was considering making a comeback as a singer.



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