The cast

Oral histories



'Are You Ready For Gary Glitter?'
by Julie Webb
from New Musical Express, 1 July 1972

Gary Glitter had the same musical beginning as many entertainers. He was a mirror freak - standing there as a child clasping a tennis racquet in his hands, strumming away on the cross section of the strings and miming to Buddy Holly records.

While Youth Employment officers were diligently trying to fit school kids into box jobs - was it not Glitter who stood up in class and proclaiming he was going to be a singing star?

Small beginnings maybe - but with a rock & roll record in the charts, he must feel it was all worthwhile.

Gary Glitter is not his real name as you might have suspected. He's really Paul Raven - an outrageous extrovert, overtly camp, who wears lime green satin suits during the day and garish glitter gear on stage. He enjoys talking, but worries what the end result will be. 'Do you think I ought to say that?' he says as he answers questions.

At twenty-six - the music business is not a new toy he is playing with. More something that he has grown up with. At thirteen he used to sing in his father's London club although he admits at the time he was highly pretentious in his approach.

'When I was young I modelled myself on Elvis and Ray Charles and I made my first record at 14. It was a ballad thing that was right out of character with what I was doing. But you get into a publisher's office and they convince you, "this is the right thing to do".'

At fifteen he was playing in rock & roll groups - as a soloist with a backing band but it was in Germany that most of his 'dues' were paid.

'Between '65 and '69 I was resident in Germany playing places like the Top Ten club. If you play for hours and hours you can really get into a good thing. Maybe we'd only work for three or four hours in a day but starting at four in the afternoon and finishing finally at seven in the morning it was pretty hard going.

'The attraction was that it was the only place I could earn any bread. And once you get there it's the sort of place you don't want to leave. The beer shop was the place where you'd talk music all the time.'

To begin with the money was 30 a week. But when he left, Gary was earning around 300 a week. He was resident at a time that enabled him to play on the same bill as people like Little Richard, Bill Haley and Britain's own raver, Tony Ashton - all good rocking experience.

Yet all the time he was in Germany, records were released in England under the name of Paul Raven - and he'd make the odd trip back to Britain. On one such trip he landed a part in the Jesus Christ Superstar album which was recorded on MCA - and it was at MCA that he met producer Mike Leander.

'Mike wanted to capture what I was doing on stage in Germany and somehow put it on record. And with "Rock & Roll Part 1 and 2" I think he's done it. I haven't done any gigs under the name Gary Glitter yet, but we're going to start soon.

'It's funny really because we both had lots of ideas of what we wanted to do - and watching Slade on television, I can see a lot of things there. The guy who wears the glitter - that's exactly what we wanted to do. But we've still got a few ideas up our sleeves.'

There was a time when Gary Glitter might have become Terry Tinsel odd though that may sound. Glitter tells all, 'A few people were getting together some joke names - like Apple Crumble, Terry Tinsel and Horace Hydrogen - and Gary Glitter was one of them. I remember thinking at the time that it was good for a laugh.'

'"Rock & Roll Part 1 and 2" was released as a single a few months ago,' Glitter says. 'After three weeks I went into Bell Records and said "Look it's all over, it will never take off now," so it seems incredible that it's now selling.

'It didn't get a lot of airplay in the beginning - Alan Freeman was about the only person who played it. He's been really good about it all.'

For the stage act, which is up and coming in a few weeks, Glitter tells us to expect 'something physical. Expect all sorts of things. I want people to get up and have a good time.' Sha Na Na were right - rock & roll is here to stay.

see also 'Nobody else could have been Gary'

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