He's probably the only singer that's ever made it on an instrumental.
That's the weird thing about it. Because it was the instrumental
side that was a hit.
Gary's bit, which he's very good at, is being on stage and being
Gary Glitter. Let's be honest, at the end of the day you're not
talking about a great singer here; I mean, the recording technique
was pretty good and to put it over, you'd give Gary 100% on his
public performance - he could put it across, but he had a lot
to contend with.
Nobody else could have been Gary - I've actually thought about
all that. I mean, because of the hits, the ego takes over, but
it requires an enormous amount of ego to be that character. Nobody
else can come near him as far as ego goes, and to match that whole
larger-than-lifeness. It had to be him. It couldn't be anybody
I think Gary's like a lovable rogue. If other people did the things
he does, you'd laugh, but he gets away with it. It's like seeing
Dirty Harry films - it's a bit repetitive but you can still sell
it because people know what they're going to get. You just know
what he'll give you in that hour and a half. He does it so brilliantly
well, no one could do it any better, could they?
On a personal basis, Mike Leander, Gary and I were very much three
mates together, you know what I mean? I met Gary through Mike
when I started working for him, and we had a friendship on and
off for a long long time. Mike had made records with Gary under
various names, and I was involved in most of those. We made a
record as Paul Monday, and we made a record with him under the
name Rubber Bucket, which was a version of 'Amazing Grace' that
I wrote a different lyric to. We used to go around together socially,
the three of us, before he broke as Gary Glitter.
I'll tell you what it was. Gary was being Elvis, and I was being
Colonel Tom Parker. That's the way we saw it. I had him under
Mike was alright, but public school background and all that goes
with it, all the attitude that goes with it - very schoolteacher
attitude. It was very much like being in the headmaster's study
with Mike. If you look at like The Beatles and George Martin,
I would imagine their relationship as being very, very stiff. And
I think Mike had that sort of knock-on effect, being: I'm in control,
I'm in charge. Almost dictatorial, but not quite. He'd open the
door a little bit to let you have a little bit of an angle, but
he would always have the last say. It would not be democratic
and he would not mix by committee. Once you've done the track,
that's it, you're gone, they'd mix it. Which I think for that
time was right - it's the only way to do it. You have one mind
Mike Leander and I went to school together. When he left school, he went and studied law for a few years. I was in advertising, and I didn't see him for a year or two; when I saw him again he was no longer in law, he was working in music publishing, so he went into the business first. First he started as an arranger, then he became a producer, but was always a very, very good writer: all-round he was actually very clever - in terms of pop history, he made an important contribution. 'She's Leaving Home' he arranged, but it's not credited on the album, because he was just so delighted to do it - he got a session fee. He'd done a lot because he worked with Decca: the Stones, Marianne Faithful, Joe Cocker, the list is endless.
And while I was still working in advertising we started writing together. We had one fairly big hit with 'Early in the Morning' [for Vanity Fare] and then I left my job and came into the music business. That was 1970.
I was very saddened by Mike's death. I didn't realize how much
of an influence he was on me, and even now - he's been dead for
over a year now - I still don't think he's gone. There is certainly
something about his presence that is still there for me. I don't
know what it is, but even now if I'm doing something musically
and I get stuck, I look up there and I go, 'What's next? What
do I do now?' Because he was brilliant in the studio, he was a
great arranger, great man for all the harmonies. Very talented
The Glitter Band had the most original sound of an English band,
and their stuff was played in clubs as well, cos people could
dance to it. Something went wrong there 'cos they should have
had a lot more critical acclaim and respect than they got. If
they'd done their career right, they would still be around now
as a major force. Cos that was a really novel idea, that slide
guitar tuning and the big drum sound.
The early Gary stuff, it was largely Mike. At that time Gary was
in the studio for moral support, but he was out of it for most
of the time anyway. Most of that, 'Leader of the Gang' and so
on, was probably 95% Mike. He was also a very good musician; he
played everything on the Gary Glitter records apart from the brass
- he played any keyboard, guitars and drums, there was only brass
that might have been added from outside, but otherwise everything
you heard on the original Gary Glitter records was Mike.
And that sound that everybody tried to copy, that just happened
by accident through a little funny old amp that happened to be
lying in the studio, but nobody knew that. Because every record
after that, people were desperately trying to copy the Gary Glitter
drum sound - a distinctive sound on the guitar and on the drums.
It was quite a revolutionary concept that people at the time tried
Harvey Ellison and myself were the only guys to play on Gary's
records. And if Mike Leander could have played brass, we wouldn't
have been on them either. And I can't be fairer than that. He
did all the drums in a loop, then added bass, then added guitar
bits, then him and Gary did some of the backing vocals, and me
and Harvey came along, did the brass bits, did some handclaps
with them and beefed up the backing vocals with them.
It was all very dramatic and top secret with Mike. We couldn't
even get a rough copy of the mix. Although we knew what the song
was, the band would get it to rehearse like two days before Top
of the Pops, because there was all this espionage bit going
on - people nicking ideas.
On them records there's two saxes, baritone sax and trombone.
The trombone gave it like a hard edge, which linked with the guitar
sound because the brass parts were mostly along with the guitar
licks, and that mixed together. It used to be a very compressed
I was very influenced by Dr John and the whole Afro-rock sound.
There was a lot of very good black voodoo rock coming out of New
Orleans, and all this music was coming over just as I was trying
to turn away from bubblegum and get involved in rhythm and drums.
I had my own technique of playing drums, which was very African-based
- lots of tom toms - and the sound effects we got on the drums
and various other instruments. So it was a combination of my drumming
and John Hudson's wizardry on the knobs.
There were four of The Bostons originally in The Glitter Band.
There was John White the drummer, Ray Moxley the bass-player,
Harvey Ellison, Gerry Shephard and myself. Gary took exception
to Ray Moxley so I had to fire him - he peed in Gary's beer while
he was onstage and Gary sussed it was him.
I didn't have a gig, so I started looking through the Melody
Maker; in fact my mum's still got the original ad - she kept
it, bless her - and it said: 'Bass player/vocals wanted for chart
band'. So I rung up and the guy I spoke to was Steve Hackett,
who was the tour manager. He said, 'Well the band's based in Sheffield.'
That was John Rossall's decision, cos he was the leader of the
band at that time, and he wanted to live in Sheffield - who the
fuck wants to live in Sheffield, I do not know. So the audition
was in Sheffield. This was on the Thursday night I rang him and
he said, 'Gary's going to be on Top of the Pops tonight,
check him out.'
I'd never seen him before and I think he was doing 'I Didn't Know
I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock & Roll)', the second single.
And I looked at him and I thought, 'I don't know about this at
all, I really don't know.' Cos I was like the rest of the brigade
with grandad t-shirts and flared jeans and all that. Very Free-looking,
you know, Paul Rodgers and all that.
And I looked at it and I thought, it's Benny Hill. I immediately
thought 'Benny Hill' when I saw him - bad thing to think. And
I said to my mum, 'I can't join that; what about my image?' And
she said, 'What image? You haven't got one.' And I thought, yeah
she's right. As soon as Top of the Pops had finished, Steve rang
me back and said: 'Are you coming up?' And I said, 'Yeah, okay.'
I heard about four or five bass-players that day and there were
better bass-players than John, but what swung it for John was
his height. I designed the whole band so I had two big tall drummers
and four fairly short guys; so Harvey, Gerry, Springy and me were
within about an inch of each other. There was one bloke was about
six foot four, and he would have looked ridiculous alongside us.
Not to take anything away from John's playing.
I actually gave Gary three singles and an album when I first joined,
cos I didn't think he was going to last. I thought, this is just
like one of those five-minute pop jobs. Shows you how wrong you
It felt at the time, and still does, that being Gary's MD was
no mean job - the tantrums, you know. I used to get it from Gary:
'You better tell that guitar-player to tune that effing guitar.'
And there'd be nothing wrong with it. And I'd get it from the
band: 'If that big ... you know, he can get up there on his own.'
And Mike Leander: 'John, can't you control the situation.' Terrible,
absolutely terrible. So I used to despair of it all. That was
one of the reasons I left eventually, because it got too much.
these words were brought to you by
and the late Mike Leander
see also Are You Ready For Gary Glitter?