At the end of the 1960’s there was much turmoil from politics. Music experienced psychedelia, folk, and lots of drugs. What came next was quite a turn…
Young men started bands. Influenced by artists who put out their first records in the 1970’s they continued a style and mantra critics saw as a flash in the pan.
Glam. Fancy dress. Machismo. Electric guitars. Rock players who had worn t-shirts and jeans now displayed leather and satin. Studded belts and wristbands accessorized the look.
KISS released their debut in 1973. The band’s name was set in glitter. Paul Stanley saw the New York Dolls dress up in satins. He took this style into a much heavier rock music.
Alice Cooper went solo in 1975 unleashing his version of this heavier rock music on the masses. He became one of the leaders in hard rock wearing satin outfits onstage as well as leather.
Slade from England and T-Rex also led the glam charge. The next wave of music would take this even further to create glam metal.
The guys who looked like girls in the 1970s like David Bowie or Marc Bolan would evolve into bands that looked fem but played hard with macho looks.
Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Hanoi Rocks, and Guns n Roses come to fame during this era.
Big hair, leather, spandex nd make-up are it. Labels sign bands like Twisted Sister, Ratt, Winger, Bullet Boys, Warrant and many others in their wake.
Funny enough that KISS retired their trademark makeup at a time when their progeny put it on.
I came of age at this time. My first hard rock record was “Blizzard of Ozz” by Ozzy Osbourne, the former lead vocalist of Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast ” was my first metal record.
While glam metal started up many bands from the previous era developed into heavy metal—Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Both bands to this day are regarded as the top two acts in all of metal.
Scorpions from Germany also became one of the biggest metal acts in the world. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” was fierce; “Winds Of Change” was a ballad that appealed across the globe.
During these years, Rob Halford of Judas Priest wore leather outfits head to toe with studded jewelry. Paul DiAnno, the singer on the first two Iron Maiden albums wore leather pants as did the entire group on their early tours.
Every fan wanted to dress like their heroes. The black leather motorcycle jacket became synonymous with the art form. Guys wore band tee shirts too. The truly passionate wore leather pants as well.
I attended many concerts during this era. The concerts were KISS shows from the 1970’s brought up to date with new effects and sound equipment. Lighting rigs were state of the art.
When you went to the record shop you could easily pick out the hard rock/metal groups because of their image. A band’s logo was another tell tale sign.
Jagged type with dripping letters highlighted in primary colors were a big part of the logo.
The albums of these groups sold millions upon millions. There were several records released in the Glam era that are all-time best sellers including Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” and Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”.
Debut albums from Skid Row, Cinderella, Motley Crue, and Poison also sold millions.
Glam’s influence would impact other groups too. From Cheap Trick’s “One On One” to Judas Priest’s “Turbo” the sound of glam metal appealed across the spectrum of sounds.
Billy Squire would have his biggest records, “Don’t Say No”, “Emotions In Motion”, and “Signs Of Life” during the glam metal years.
I went to live shows to see Ratt perform their hits like ‘Round and Round’ and ‘You Think You’re Tough’ but also to be a part of the metal community.
Fans showed up to the Meadowlands arena in New Jersey in full leather outfits! Guys had long hair too. It was amazing.
The music happened to be great. The bands that got play on MTV had videos that matched their looks. Twisted Sister’s videos are among the most memorable ever produced.
The outfits, the logos, the hair, and the music made it all possible. Two of the components on every record were anthems and ballads.
KISS had anthems like ‘Rock N Roll All Nite’ and ballads like ‘Beth’. Every 80’s glam metal act would follow suit.
Skid Row had ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and ’18 and Life’; Twisted Sister had ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘The Price’. Quiet Riot would score with cover songs by Slade: ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ and ‘Mama, We’re All Crazee Now’ catapulted them to the top.
Glam metal fans continue to be devoted to their favorites. Today we are drowned by commercial mainstream pop. While not all of it is bad we yearn for heavy guitar chords to return us to former glam glories. There are new listeners today discovering these sounds for the first time.
Having begun to re-listen I have found how much I still love this type of music too. I do not have long hair anymore, but I do love the look and sound of glam.
A couple of bands making great music today are Blind Guardian and Dragonforce. Considered Power Metal I think they use some glam elements in their productions.
Their lyrics are akin to reading a fantasy epic by Tolkien along with guitar instrumentation that updates that glam metal sound from the eighties.
This art form is a form of escapist entertainment that has had its share of adversity.
During the 1980’s there were attempts to censor lyrics which led to labeling records ‘explicit’.
Organized religion especially Catholicism has often been at odds with metal music. What they view as satanic others see as rebellion.
Many metallers are just devil-may-care in their attitude. And sure, some do worship the dark lord, not that there is anything wrong with it.
Ghost are a perfect example of a current group that took all of its former influences from The Doors and Queen to Priest & Maiden producing a fresh blast of glam metal on the dark side. If you love music check them out.
In fact the opposition to all metal music enables it to continue to thrive.
There are now a multitude of radio stations that play it and magazines publish articles everyday updating a listener following that spans the entire world.
Loudwire, Rock N Roll Garage, Metal Voice are a few of the websites that publish every day.
Sirius XM has Ozzy’s Boneyard that plays classic metal.
I think it’s time for glam and metal to make a return. Perhaps 2020 will see it rise again. Tool topped the charts with “Fear Inoculum ” this year. A good sign for metal.