What happens when pop stars go wrong? can you still listen to the music?

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What happens when pop stars go wrong?

What happens when your favourite artist goes bad.

Can you still like the music? Or is it tainted for ever? Can you dissociate the real life of an artist from their music? Or are the two entwined.

This is not a debate about Gary Glitter- the courts have already decided his case. This is about the music that is left behind.

Pop culture is full of genius records made by buffoons, creeps and desperadoes. Magical music made by people you would never want as your next door neighbour. Generally they are harmless but stressfully odd individuals with repulsive habits and good PR’s polishing up the truth.

We listen to music by all manner of dark characters and airbrush their lives from the song. Should we do this?

Sometimes though you can be really, really challenged.

Gary Glitter is a convicted pedophile. A dark past that saw him punished in court. Where does that leave the fan? Does that make his ‘rock n roll- part one’ any better or worse to listen to? For some people the music has gone the way of the singer and is never to be listened to again. And that’s understandable.

But it is difficult to ignore the record- even if it never gets played and a few of those early Glitter singles were quite brilliant. The get out clause is that the records were made by Mike Leander and Glitter was brought in to shout over the top of them. By ignoring the records are we ignoring the genius of Mike Leander or is Glitter’s personal life too much to take?

Mike Leander was a great producer who wrote ‘rock n roll part one’ in the downtime of a David Essex session when Essex could not make it due to having a cold. Leander told the engineer to record him playing the drums and laid down twenty minus of that tribal beat before playing the rest of the instruments himself. The brass parts were supplied by John Rossall who went on to play with Glitter and the Glitterband and for the vocals they got in Paul Gadd who had been had been around the music scene for years. Gadd then became Gary Glitter and the most unlikely pop star of his time.

Massively popular at the time he is now a taboo subject. This blog is not about understanding what he did or excusing what he did- because it doesn’t in any way at all- it’s just asking the simple question- can you still listen to his records or can’t you?

Below Dennis and Lois, two legendary New York music fans, who know everyone and had a song written about them by the Happy Mondays and were the closest confidantes  of the Ramones are still reeling from the confusion caused by Glitter’s conviction. It’s the confusion of the fan.

Garry Glitter vs. Paul Gadd by Dennis Anderson

It’s a real shame that the great music Gary Glitter created has been overshadowed by the acts of Paul Gadd. Glitter was a creation of Paul Gadd, sure, but he was his own entity. The same way Chris Sievey was and was not Frank Sidebottom and Robert Lopez is and isn’t El Vez, When he put on his wig, glitter outfit and hit the stage, Paul Gadd morphed into Gary Glitter.
We knew Glitter but never knew Gadd.

America was never caught up in the glitter thing. Slade, T Rex, The Sweet, Suzie Quatro never caught on here. Bowie did but even as Ziggy he wasn’t really glitter. We always were tuned into what was happening in the UK more so than what trends existed in the States. We became aware of Gary early on and loved his music. On one of our trips to England in the late 70’s or early 80’s we were happy to see that he was on tour and so we got a train ticket and headed to Manchester.

We arrived early at the venue. It was called The Garter (?) and on the outskirts of town. We went to the door and found out it was a supper club and we were denied admittance since we were wearing jeans, trainers, and leather jackets. We waited for Gary to arrive hoping he could do something. He arrived with band, listened to our plight, and on the verge of tears admitted that there was nothing he could do. He mentioned this incident in his autobiography and credits it with his deciding to abandon supper clubs and play universities and this lead to larger and larger venues. His star was on the rise again.

We met him many times after that. He would always make sure we were on his guest list and had great seats. He would meet us after the show in his dressing room or before hand in his hotel. He always treated us with kindness and respect. Gary Glitter was a major talent and a very nice person.

Whatever demons possessed Paul Gadd should be condemned. I am not here to judge him, especially since I don’t know all the facts and what degree of truth they contain. If he did what he was accused of he deserves his punishment, and I am sure he was guilty to some degree. While not excusing his actions I wonder how many of his accusers are just as guilty if not more so. If Gary Glitter was not perceived as a joke because of his appearance would he have been absolved like other bigger stars.

I realise that defending Gary Glitter is not a popular stance but to hell with popularity. I feel that it’s a crime to deny the impact of Gary’s music because of the crimes of Paul Gadd.

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22 comments on “What happens when pop stars go wrong? can you still listen to the music?”

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  1. I saw Saint Bob Gillespie namechecking Glitter’s music quite recently, you can’t deny how awesome some of those records were and still are. Just hope a Sun / Daily Mail reader doesn’t report me to the police if I play one of them.

  2. I think its a funny subject as people like Charlie Chaplin , elvis etc are celebrated as some sort of Gods , yet when Garry glitter got caught , he was ostracised , and rightly so i think . I just dont understand why people decide to hate on some and not all ? Charlie Chaplin fathered a child to a 13 year old , Elvis moved his wife into the family home when she was 14 , yet this is fine with the judging masses . I still think some of Glitters stuff is amazing , but also see him as an abhorration . anyway , rant over

  3. Marc Pearson-The Glitter Band

    The records were made by Gary Glitter. The crimes were committed by Paul Gadd. Separate the monster from the music, else everyone of a certain age simply has to rewrite it’s youth and that is just plain wrong.

    There have been dozens of vile… characters in music over the decades, including the aforementioned Jerry Lee, but nobody has been vilified in quite the same way as Glitter. My feeling is because he was SUCH a national treasure prior to his arrest. Put “Leader” on in any club or party and the dance floor would fill with generations of revelers loving the record.

    His spectacular fall from grace left an entire generation, actually, SEVERAL generations, feeling cheated out of their own history. Suddenly we were all expected to expunge Glitter and his great records from our precious memories. The degree of hatred felt towards him now is directly proportionate to the love that was previously felt for him.

    As much as I despise what he did, AND I DO, you CANNOT have one rule for Gary Glitter and another for the rest of the world. Either execute the man or punish him for his crimes. If you choose not to execute the bugger then you have to allow him to serve his punishment, whatever that may be deemed to be, then get on with his life without further punishment, lest he offends again.

    If that had been the situation with Glitter then maybe the other members of The Glitter Band might not have had their careers decimated by tenuous association.

    He’s done his jail time and should be allowed to earn a living in any way he can. OF COURSE he is never going to tour or record again, but better he lives off royalties of his own earning than be a burden on the tax payer.

    I have also noted that Gweneth Paltrow is now being emotionally blackmailed by Children’s Charities, into donating her salary for her performance. This is totally disgusting opportunism. WHY should this woman give her hard earned money away? It’s PC BULLYING, nothing more and nothing less.

    Let’s have a little perspective people

    • I agree if Jackson had not have been found not Guilty what would have happened to his music and the other jackson family would we have ever listened to their music? And would it be fair to the fans they did nothing wrong but just to enjoy their youth and the sounds that they grew up with. You have to separate art from the artist.

  4. Im not sure. I know the Glitter Band lost thier career when the leader of the gang was found to be a bit wrong. I have trouble listening to michael jackson without that hint of doubt.
    Its a tough one that.

  5. I don’t remember the idiot reply.In fact i agree with that comment.I may have had one too many at that piont.

  6. I know i spelt point wrong not too well at this time terrible cold. Not concentrating.

  7. Auferstanden aus Ruinen

    It only makes me want to listen more. Preferably very loud with a bunch of Sun reading scum passing by my window!

  8. Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…”

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  14. Robin Brunskill

    Excellent blog. Great detail. Very interesting to read that Gary Glitter looked after his fans, and I think it prooves that most people come into the world as good people… but… life contains pain, and what do you do with pain? Some turn it into art, literature, music, sculpture and find peace. Some gain peace from these arts. But some people split into another personality, and pain the pain worse, by giving pain to others…..under some sort of smokescreen, ….could be “religion” could be “ambition/education..” and in Paul Gadd’s case it was “healthy hedonism….” (or so he will have thought.) . the “permissive society.. ” that danced to Aleistar Crowley’s tune of “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law….” One of the most kind, funny, deep, respectful and intelligent characters that I knew in life, (so much so that we agreed to get married..) … got into the “if it feels good, do it” and with no restraint, ended up on the very harsh side of life, the dangerous side of sensuality, the degrading criminal mindset, and this person is now dead. It wasn’t just the heroin…..it was the lack of restraint and recognition that we all have a dark side, we all have pain and insanity, and the drugs don’t take it away…Had this person made music it would have been wildly sensual and witty and dangerous, because he was, and the things he did were criminal…but would the music have been any the less intoxicating because of who he was? No. Shakespeare said, “Music be the food of love” but love has many weird formations and can be dangerous. Do we like danger in music?

  15. Since Mike Leander wrote the songs ( in conjunction with Glitter) and played all the instruments (except the brass instruments) on the recordings, and since the songs are so awesome (even today) it is possible to justify listening to the music since Glitter’s downfall without too much shame…

  16. Gary will go on forever much sadness but he created tremendous happiness for thousands in the darkest of times live forever and may forgiveness be found your music was so profound .

  17. Gareth Cheeseman

    What have people got against badgers? They’re cute, furry and have great taste in trousers but mention them on the radio these days and you get punched in the face by an albatross. Is that fair? Is it? IS IT?

  18. I am much more disturbed by people so hating Gary Glitter that they seek out Youtube videos and message boards claiming that his music should be banned, or what horrible things they would do to him if allowed usually in all caps with several exclamation marks. These are people who I would definitely keep my kids away from. They are mentally dangerous and unstable. I agree that the art is separate from the artist once it becomes popular and there is a fanbase. To the mentally deranged who do not think so….get buggered!!!

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