My Generation

from Chapter Seven - YOU WEAR IT WELL

...The artifice was most evident, of course, in the make-up and the clothes. Bolan began with relatively uncontroversial clothes, albeit accessorized with a feather boa and with glittery cosmetics, but Bowie had been photographed wearing a dress designed by Mr Fish for the cover of his 1971 album The Man Who Sold the World, and the idea of dressing-up became the defining feature of glam.

‘The first time I ever saw Bowie wearing make-up was on John Peel’s show,’ remembered his bassist, Trevor Bolder. ‘I’d seen him in jeans and t-shirt, and all of a sudden this guy comes out wearing a bloody dress, covered in make-up. And it was a radio show. So no one was going to see him.’

Amongst those most committed to the dressing-up box was Dave Hill of Slade: ‘What I wore on Top of the Pops on our first hit record, which was “Get Down And Get With It”, was a pink woman’s coat. I had diamonds on my dungarees, under the pink coat, into my boots.’ He then bought a long black coat and sprayed it silver: ‘The silver coat used to work great on a black and white TV, because people didn’t need colour to see it, it would reflect,’ he reasoned, this being a time when only twelve per cent of British households had colour television.

The concern with television was important, for glam exhibited none of the disdain for the medium seen in other quarters – Led Zeppelin, for example, made no appearances at all on British television in their heyday.

‘Glam rock was all about putting on a spectacle,’ said Mike Leander, who had worked as arranger on records for Marianne Faithfull and the Beatles ('She’s Leaving Home’) before going on to co-write and produce Gary Glitter’s hits. ‘The records, too, were constructed to be seen, whereas in the late-Sixties they were constructed to be heard, preferably with a joint dangling from your mouth...’

Gary Glitter
Gary Glitter
Harry Goodwin (© Harry Goodwin)

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