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Friday, 12 November, 1999, 18:55 GMT
All that Glitters isn't gold

Gary Glitter: The Leader in his heyday


It was Gary Glitter, along with his fellow glam rockers of the early 1970s, who helped put the pomp in pop music.

Decked out in lamé, his cheeks sucked in and his etched on eyebrows permanently cocked, Glitter cut a formidable stage figure.

And unlike many of his glam contemporaries, such as Mud, Wizard, the Sweet and T Rex, he showed a staying power that won him new appreciation in the 1980s and 90s.

He became a rock institution, taking his own unique brand of pantomime on the road Christmas after Christmas.


As a young man: Paul Gadd worked hard for stardom
But his enduring appeal and popularity was dealt a heavy blow with his conviction on 54 counts of possessing child pornography.

Glitter, born Paul Gadd in Banbury, Oxfordshire, in 1944, was an illegitimate child who never met his father.

Brought up by his grandmother and his young mother, who often struggled to cope, he led a wayward childhood. 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.

He cut a record for Decca at 14 and set off on his quest for stardom.

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

Warm-up man

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

"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.


Flamboyant as ever: Glitter on the front of one of his albums
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. The song reached number two in the UK in 1972 and topped the American Charts.

The following year was his most successful. Glitter scored a string of chart hits penned 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, 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.

Multi-million seller

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 who are now in their 30s, and spent a short while living in Australia. He went bankrupt owing 170,000.


He had a formidable stage presence
But in the 80s Glitter bounced back, scoring a 1984 hit with his single Dance Me Up. He turned to Buddhism and became a vegetarian and took his show back on the road.

But in 1986 he was hospitalised after taking an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. His third drink-driving conviction brought a 10-year ban and he narrowly escaped jail.

In the early 1990s he found new favour among students who embraced his high-camp image for its irony. His appeared in advertising posters for Heinz soup and British Rail.

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

But the Glitter story hit the rocks in 1997 when he was arrested in a computer store after images of pornography were found on his computer's hard disk.

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See also:
12 Nov 99 |  UK
Glitter jailed over child porn
12 Nov 99 |  UK
Glitter cleared of sex charges
12 Nov 99 |  UK
Cash for court 'confessions'
12 Nov 99 |  UK
Press on trial after Glitter case

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