Tag Archives: Marc Bolan

children of the revolution

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, March 2021

As sub-genre’s go ‘Glam Rock’ has got to be one of the most influential, but for the most part people are usually pretty sniffy about it and it rarely gets the respect it’s due.

Ask people what their favourite 70s music was and they’ll probably say Rock, Disco, Punk, or Reggae but they’ll very rarely say Glam Rock, preferring to say Bowie or Roxy or T-Rex.

Maybe Glam Rock gets a bad rep because for every Roxy Music or T-Rex there was a Chicory Tip or a Kenny.



Maybe it’s because six-inch platform boots, glittery capes, satin loons and feather boas don’t wear quite so well several decades later.

The genesis of Glam Rock is credited to Marc Bolan and his appearance on Top of the Pops (TOTP) in March 1971 with his new single – ‘Hot Love’.

Ex-hippy Marc, bopped along with teardrops of silver glitter under his eyes, gold satin pants, a catchy chorus, and kicked the whole thing off as the unofficial Prince of Glam Rock, with lyrics aimed at his target audience….

Ah she’s my woman of gold
And she’s not very old a Ha Ha

Girls loved him, guys accepted him and parents were a bit confused by him, which as we all know now is the perfect cocktail for pop stardom.

On the back of T-Rex’s impactful TOTP appearance Hot Love went straight to number one and stayed there for 6 weeks.

Get it on (Bang a gong), came hot on its heels, and also made the number one spot its own, ditto the album Electric Warrior and with a sell out tour playing to legions of adoring fans, there was no stopping T-Rex.

‘Jeepster’ was the next release, and the second single I ever bought after ‘Maggie May’.
I remember being particularly impressed with the B side, ‘Life’s a Gas’, and naively thinking that all B sides must be great as Rod’s ‘Reason to Believe’ wasn’t too shabby either.

Frustratingly for T-Rex fans Jeepster would remain at number 2 for six weeks – kept off the top spot firstly by new Glam sensations Slade, and then by of all people – Benny Hill, probably the antithesis of Glam Rock, who reached the coveted Xmas number one spot in 1971, ahead of T-Rex.  

Looking back now it’s quite funny to picture the Bolan devotees huddled around their radios on consecutive Sunday’s, counting down the top 20 and waiting to lip-synch Jeepster’s dreamy lyrics, as it reached the top spot….

You slide so good
With bones so fair
You’ve got the universe
Reclining in your hair

Only to find the slightly less dreamy lyrics of that weeks actual number one, the un-glamest song ever – ‘Ernie the Fastest Milkman in the West’ with the chirpy west country droll of Benny Hill, assaulting their eardrums.

Now Ernie loved a widow, a lady known as Sue,
She lived all alone in Liddley Lane at number 22.
They said she was too good for him, she was haughty, proud and chic,
But Ernie got his cocoa there three times every week

SORRY I COULDN’T RESIST….

When Benny Hill was finally ousted from the number one spot it wasn’t by T-Rex it was by the New Seekers with, ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing’.

It was Glam Rocks first bloody nose – being beaten to the number one spot by upstarts like Slade was one thing but to be kept off the top spot by a roly-poly comedian with a comedy song and then by a TV jingle for coca-cola was an affront to the T Rex acolytes.

Despite this setback, in the space of 12 short months Marc Bolan had become the poster boy (quite literally) of Glam Rock, he was front and centre of every teen mag and plastered on the bedroom walls of most teenage girls, and quite a few boys as well.


Bolan’s success had been meteoric and he quickly became the Pied Piper of the Glam movement, inspiring others to follow with varying degrees of success

There were those artists who jumped on the bandwagon and did it well:

Slade were the perfect example, prior to donning top-hats, satin and glitter they were wearing doc martins and braces as a skinhead band, but Bolan had shown them there was another way, and the lads from Wolverhampton went on to carve out a great career using Glam Rock as their platform.

Similarly, The Sweet, changed lanes, initially a bubble-gum pop band covering Archies songs with aspirations to be the new Monkees, they updated their line-up, beefed up their sound and found a commercial niche within Glam Rock.

Other artists who carved out successful Glam Rock careers in this category include Suzi Quatro, Gary Glitter and Wizzard.

Then there were the hustlers – the bands/artists who flirted with Glam Rock to gain a foothold before using their talents to carve sustainable careers.

David Bowie
Roxy Music
Elton John
New York Dolls

Sparks
Alice Cooper
Mott the Hoople
Lou Reed

And finally there were those artists who jumped on the bandwagon and had their 15 minutes of fame before disappearing off into the sunset.

Bands like – Kenny, Chicory Tip, Racey, Geordie and Hello

The Glam Rock movement probably peaked in 1973, but just as acts like Wizzard and The Sweet were topping the charts, T-Rex’s star was beginning to wane and their last big hit was 20th Century Boy.

The chart below offer a snapshot of the top 20 from May 1973 and as you’ll see, Glam Rock was riding high with 4 of the top 10 singles coming from Glam acts.


By 1973 Bowie was the one carrying the torch for Glam Rock as well as influencing others like Lou Reed and Mott the Hoople to follow in his footsteps. We were soon to find out however that Bowie was the master of reinvention and it wan’t long before he had moved on from Glam and was recording a soul album – Young Americans.

BOWIE, RONSON & HUNTER REUNION

Glam Rock at it’s best was a series of well-crafted, well-produced, 3-4 minute pop songs with a bit of theatre, that didn’t pretend to be anything else. It was commercial, accessible and catchy.
(see Glam Rock playlist below)

In terms of Glam Rock’s legacy, we all know how far reaching Bowie’s influence has been and you only need to listen to the first two Oasis albums to hear T-Rex & Slade riffs aplenty.
Bands as diverse as The Sex Pistols and Chic have also credited Roxy Music’s influence on their careers and acts like Alice Cooper, Sparks and Elton John are still going strong today.

Bolan’s activity waned heading into the mid seventies which was understandable given his prolific output and he found domestic bliss to replace the mayhem.
He was on the comeback trail by 1977 and hosted a TV pop show called imaginatively – ‘Marc’, inviting his old buddy David Bowie to perform Heroes in the final episode.

With a successful TV show a newly released album and a planned tour, things were looking up for Marc when he was involved in a fatal car accident at the tender age of 29.

In terms of Glam Rock fashion, I need to declare that it wasn’t very accessible for the majority of us who didn’t have connections with avant garde designers like Bowie, Ferry or Glitter or who wanted to look like scarecrows on acid like Roy Wood.
Platform shoes and broken ankles were probably as Glam as it got for most of us guys.

YOU COULDN’T BUY THIS IN KRAZY HOUSE!

When it came around, Punk was a lot easier all you needed was a pair of scissors and some safety pins.

I’m probably a tad defensive about Glam Rock because the period it represents, 1971-74 holds a lot of great memories and correlates with my peer groups formative years – a period when we started to have a bit of freedom and a social life.

‘Glam-Rock’ anthems like Get It On, Jean Genie, Virginia Plane and This Town Aint Big Enough for Both of Us, made up the soundtrack to much of that youth, and when I hear those songs today they bring back memories of Teen Discos, and gatherings at friends houses when T-Rex devotees like Elaine Neal (nee Currie) would turn up with her copy of Electric Warrior place the needle on the vinyl – first track, side one, Mambo Sun……

Beneath the bebop moon
I want to croon with you

Beneath the mambo sun
I got to be the one with you

the dating game

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – February 2021)

Prologue…

Bewitched.

As a kid in 1960s America, I grew up on a diet of  TV sitcoms and game shows that portrayed wholesome American family values: My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver, Bewitched, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I love Lucy, The Dating Game and even the Addams Family,  My mother stayed at home to raise me and my brothers and  my teacher Dad would come through the front door at the end of the day in his trade mark trilby and trench coat with his pipe in hand:  “Hi Honey, I’m home!” Think ‘Pleasantville’.

 I never questioned that I would one day date a handsome, wholesome boy. We’d go for a soda-pop and a hot dog after a baseball game, get engaged and get married.  That’s how it worked, right? The first I heard of  Women’s Lib was in the summer of ’69 when my older cousin ventured outside her house without wearing a bra; causing our grandmother to have a conniption fit and haul her back inside for a lecture.  That was the end of THAT! Where we grew up, women weren’t decent unless they wore at very least a full Playtex Cross-Your-Heart bra, under-slip, pantihose and a girdle. I had a training bra at the age of ten, which amounted to no more than two triangles of cotton fabric on an elastic band. But I still had one. My best friend Catherine even had a training girdle but Mom put her foot down:

“That will squish your ovaries honey.”

I didn’t know what or where my ovaries were at ten years old!

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A Match Made, not in Heaven…but in Edgbaston

After we had moved to Birmingham, West Midlands in 1970, my mother – being a Southern Belle of ‘good stock’ – wasted no time in seeking out the ‘right sort of people’ in her eagerness to make ‘good connections.’ Not easy on the border of the Black Country. After seeing the skulking lads from the church hall disco at my fifteenth birthday party, she took matters into her own hands to get me on the right track to finding a suitably wholesome date – preferably a rich one.

My parents met a couple called the Handcocks from Edgbaston (“good area honey”) at a dinner party. Dad was impressed:

“Mr. Handcock works in Engineering. He’s a ‘self-made’ man – yesiree-bob.” (Parents seems to put great store by this.) 

The Handcocks had a son called Douglas who was shorter than me. Great. Douglas was no oil painting either and I know, I know – beauty lies within – but when you have raging hormones and your bedroom walls are festooned with pull-out posters of your favourite heartthrobs from Jackie Magazine: David Cassidy, Marc Bolan and David Essex –  I hoped at least for a dazzling smile and dimple. Jeeze – even the lads at the church hall disco had an element of cheeky charm tucked up their Ben Sherman shirts sleeves. Worst still, Douglas wanted to become an accountant.  I mean, who actually wanted to be an accountant? I thought he was deadly dull. I hoped for a boyfriend with a tad of charisma.

Mrs. Handcock and my mother were in cahoots and arranged a date between me and Douglas. I  was apoplectic. He was awful – so B – O – RING! Mom came back swiftly at me with, 

“Just stick with him Honey; he might have nice friends.” 

That’s how her mind worked. Never mind that I couldn’t stand him; he was rich and lived in a detached house: STICK WITH HIM! 

I had three dates with Douglas – way beyond the line of duty. On our first date, he took me to a party  in a splendid, gothic house complete with sweeping staircase, stained glass windows  and grand, marble fireplaces.

Mom would have loved it and would have probably have tried to marry me off to the boy whose party we were attending. Mr. Handcock picked me up in his Bentley which went down well with my mother.

“Class will always out, honey.”

As soon as we stepped through the Minton tiled entrance hall, I ditched Douglas and made a bee- line for a tall, lanky, captivating boy who sported a navy capped-sleeve t-shirt, Levi’s and a fetching string of shell love beads around his Adam’s apple.  His floppy fringe hid brooding dark brown eyes. I hung around his neck as we slow danced to 10.C.C.’s ‘I’m Not in Love’. Poor Douglas didn’t stand a chance. In fact, I ignored him until his dad picked us up. We sat on the back seat of the Bentley in silence all the way to my front door.

“Goodnight, Mr. Handcock and thank you, Douglas – for a lovely evening!” 

God, I was cruel – but then, kids can be.

Despite my complete indifference towards Douglas he invited me – or rather, his mother invited me – to their house for dinner and to stay the night, so that she and Mr. Handcock could become better acquainted with me (in other words, ‘size me up’ as a suitable girlfriend for their only, darling son).My mother made me a new long flowery ‘frock’ like those in Laura Ashley, with a ruffle at the hem and big sleeves with a sash, which I hated. I looked like a Holly Hobby doll.

Impressing Mom with their obvious ‘good breeding’, Douglas and his father picked me up at seven-thirty sharp, one Saturday evening in 1975.  Douglas awkwardly thrust a bouquet of pink carnations in my hands.

“Here. These are for you.” I handed them to Mom who gushed like she was the schoolgirl:

 “Oh my, why Douglas you’re so thoughtful. Andrea  – what do you say? I’ll find a vase.”

I rolled my eyes and climbed into the back seat of the Bentley.

At dinner, I was seated between Douglas and his mother as I tackled the typical 1970s fare;  Honeydew melon with a cherry on top, Steak Diane followed by Black Forest Gateau and a cheese board.

The Handcocks enjoyed a bottle of Chianti in raffia.  Despite my acute embarrassment, I managed to mind my p’s and q’s and even to use the correct cutlery (well, I was born to be a Southern Belle) as I fielded questions from Mr and Mrs Handcock

 “Andrea , your mother tell us that you play the piano. You must play something for us after dinner.” (Oh shit! My hands would sweat and slide on the keys.)

“And where do you got to school Andrea? The God Awful School? I don’t believe we know that  one.”

As I flopped into bed in their luxurious guest room (Who had those? When my grandmother visited us from the States, she had to be farmed out to a family down the road because my brothers shared a room and I had the box room.) the thought fleetingly crossed my mind that if my mother’s hunch was right – I too could one day own a house with two bathrooms and four-ply towels.

For our third and final date, Douglas took me to see ‘Airport ’75’ at the movies, where I coughed throughout the entire film. A man seated behind me tapped my shoulder and offered me two Polo mints.

“Shur-up for fuck’s sake!”

 I gagged and coughed all the way up the gangway. Douglas did the decent thing and followed me, called his dad on a public payphone and never saw me again.

This didn’t stop our parents from meeting socially from time to time, but the penny had finally dropped.

My mother was right of course; I did meet some nice friends through Douglas… and I didn’t become an accountant’s wife!

(Copyright: Andrea Burn March 20th, 2021)

                                           


teenybopper.

(Post by Andrea Grace Burn of East Yorkshire – February 2021)

 The Summer of Love in 1967 may have swept America coast to coast, but not in our house. Flower Power didn’t wash with Dad, who got uptight just thinking about the louche morals of “those goddamn hippies”. He held Mick Jagger personally responsible for the breakdown in American society, along with Elvis Presley and his snake hips.

As men landed on the moon, Vietnam raged and the assassination of Martin Luther King rocked the nation, Mum and Dad decided to up-sticks from our all-American life and seek a better one in Jolly Olde England. Without so much as a by-your-leave they boarded a plane with me, aged ten, and my two teenage brothers.  We touched down in Birmingham, West Midlands in the autumn of 1970, for our new life as Brummies.

1970s Birmingham was an exciting place to be a teenager, especially having lived in rural Virginia, where the most exciting thing that happened was the time a bull escaped from a farmer’s field and charged up State Street.

       I discovered Glam Rock and boys at the local church Youth Club disco in 1974, wearing a tank top with flares and strawberry flavoured lip gloss.  The lads sported Oxford Bags and feather cuts as they hovered in nervous groups around the edge of the hall, before summoning the courage to sidle up to me and my group of friends: Becky, Shaz and Julie.

 Teetering on our rubber wedged platforms, we giggled wildly and closed rank in a tightly formed pack around our suede tasselled handbags; dancing in unison to ‘Tiger Feet’ and ‘Jean Jeanie’ as we feigned indifference to these “spotty oiks” and the invitation to have a shag – whatever that was.   Arm-in-arm, we stomped across the dancefloor together to the serving hatch, where the vicar was on hand to serve us with four packets of cheese and onion and bottles of Vimto. We went en mass to the toilets to apply more lippy and talk about the boys, “He never!” “He DID!” The music stopped abruptly at 9pm when the cleaning lights beamed down like search lights (as indeed they were); but not before the lads tried their luck once more with a last dance (I say this loosely) which involved various lewd moves to the chorus of ‘Hi-ho, Silver Lining’. Good job the vicar didn’t notice.

      David Cassidy stole my teenybopper heart when he was in the Partridge Family – but he wasn’t quite disco, was he? When Marc Bolan burst onto Top of the Pops in 1971 – all tight satin trousers, glitter and black eyeliner singing ‘Bang A Gong’ – Becky and I became ‘children of the revolution’ overnight and ditched David Cassidy like a brick outhouse. So fickle is Youth.

The dark church hall helped hide our blushes and the boy’s thin facial hair. Sweat dripped from the walls and trickled down the back of our Lurex jumpers, especially after getting ‘Down, Down’ to the Quo.  One of the lads finally asked Shaz for a dance:

“No ta – yam aroight Bab; yow betta dance with me mayte. I’m a bit sweatay.” He never recovered his poise – or his ‘Coo-ca-choo’

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My crush on Darryl Smith, with his David Essex bedroom eyes and dimple, went unrequited.  I watched him from afar at the disco, with girls hanging on his every word and lipstick on his big lapels.

Disclaimer! NOT Andrea.

 While space-hopping nonchalantly one afternoon along the central reservation of the dual carriage-way near my house, I spotted Darryl across the road, hanging upside down from the metal railings outside his parent’s newsagent shop.  This was my big chance! I bounced across the road, fell off the space hopper and took a spectacular nose dive. Darryl fell off his railing, helpless with laughter,
“Barmy slag!”

With tears welling, I gathered the shreds of my dignity along with my space hopper and trudged home, vowing to hate boys for ever. Becky came round and we played our precious handful of 45’s on the stereogram, chomping aniseed balls and plotting our revenge: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” 


   ********

Make-up in the ‘70s was gloriously garish.  I smeared on half-moons of iridescent green cream eye shadow and a slick of Mum’s ‘Burnt Sienna’ lipstick before offering to nip to the shops on the off-chance of running into Darryl Smith. Becky sat on the bath and watched with disdain:

“Moi mum says that if we were meant to wear moike-up, we’d be born with it on!”

“That’s rubbish,” I retorted; squeezing a blackhead in the mirror, “My mum doesn’t make a move until she’d plucked and tweezed and slapped half-a-ton of pan-cake foundation on her face – and two coats of lippy.”

My mother once remarked to me after recoiling at Becky’s bushy eyebrows;

“All that girl needs is a good pluck!”

********

As my fifteenth birthday approached, I cajoled Mum and Dad into letting me have a teenage party. At the church disco, Becky and I got up the nerve to invite some of the lads. They turned up with a handful of warm beers shoved in their socks. Dad was on patrol – even sprucing up for the occasion with a clean undershirt and a dab of Brylcreem. My Southern Belle mother retired upstairs in her blue quilted dressing gown, taking the small black and white rented TV and the dog with her. Setting up a couple of Watney’s party barrels in the kitchen to make lemonade shandies, Dad took charge of the bar for the night; shrewdly frisking the boys at the door in his usual, friendly American manner.

“Hey boys – what-cha got there? I’ll just take those and put ’em on the bar. Better take it easy.”

Andrea in 15th Birthday party gear.


Becky and I compiled a playlist of singles with a mix of fast records for dancing and slow ones for snogging: ‘Kung-Foo Fighting’ by Carol Douglas; ‘The Bump’ by Kenny and Minnie Ripperton’s ‘Lovin’ You’.  One record really pissed Dad off: 10cc’s ‘Wall Street Shuffle’. I played it one morning at breakfast, sparking an almighty row as I sang along glibly through my cornflakes … to the part where they mention screwing.

“Andrea – turn that Dadgum trash off!”

“Oh Dad – you’re so square!”

As the party got underway one of the boys turned the overhead light off in the back room, where several teenaged kids groped and snogged on Mum’s precious velvet sofa, behind the door and in the dark recess of the alcove behind the cheese plant.  Dad – sensing ‘trouble’ – stepped lively and flipped the light switch on in a haze of Old Spice.

“Hey kids – kind-a dark in here – can’t see what we’re doin’… puttin’ the lite bub on.”

There were tuts and groans as the lads filed back into the kitchen for one last flat pint before leaving; nobody would ‘pull’ tonight. I was mortified, yet quietly relieved to have reached my fifteenth in-tacto.

Mum came down after it was all over; gliding into the living room in her blue quilted robe. There was no evidence that the ‘lite bub’ had been switched off or that her velvet sofa had been debauched.

(Copyright: Andrea Burn , February 2021)

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Andrea Grace Burn is an Anglo / American writer, comic, storyteller & broadcaster.

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